How to Balance Food over the Holidays.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a “don’t indulge” post because I am the queen of indulging over the holidays. But I’m also not a fan of the “working off”, “detoxing”, or “working-out for” the holiday food either. I think the key to not feeling like you completely let yourself go is in the mindset going into these next few days.

The holidays isn’t a time to completely forget about fueling your body but a time to feed it with what it needs and also what it wants. So I’ve rounded up a couple of my tired and true tips that I’ve incorporated in my holidays to feel fueled and happy.

  • Water, water, water: If you’ve been around here at all you know I love my wine. And during the holidays, I definitely enjoy letting my hair down a bit more. But with my increasing wine consumption, I drink that much more water. Yup, on top of the recommended water you should be drinking each day, increase that when having alcohol. I aim to drink a glass of agua between each glass of wine or stop drinking wine after 3 glasses and drink 3 glasses of water if its close to bedtime. I don’t enjoy waking up dehydrated and my skin dried out so this motivates me to get more water in (especially during the winter time). Drinking plenty of water throughout the holidays will also help you feel food and not overeat or “graze” the appetizer & treat table.
  • Pick Your Treats: Maybe this is where I’m not so fun since I’m not the biggest sweet fan but I determine which treats are worth my indulgence. I LOOOOOOVE caramel puffcorn and only allow myself a batch each Christmas because I would never stop with it so I know I’m going to be going a little crazy with that treat. I also allow myself a few of my favorite homemade cookies. I pick which treats I’m going to enjoy instead of eating everything, even treats I’m not a huge fan of. This helps me manage how many sugary items I’m consuming. I try to limit my sugar intake on any given day and the holidays are not days I take off because I know how sugar drains me and upsets my gut – but I don’t avoid them!
  • Greens: I probably love my greens just as much as I love caramel puffcorn because I know how consuming the recommended amount of vegetables each day can make your body feel. I aim to get in a helping each major meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) if possible. Think about adding spinach into the breakfast egg bake, having a side salad with lunch, and some green beans and brussel sprouts with dinner. If it’s in your normal routine, drink a green supplement smoothie/drink in the morning if you know you won’t have access to many vegetable options at your holiday events. (My favorite green drink)
  • Determine the Quantity: Make a game plan before going in. I’m super type-A so you know I make a plan for what and how much I’m going to eat. I like to limit myself to two plates at dinner – one trying little portions of each item that catches my eye and then a second with more potatoes and (potentially) a protein item or whatever else I really enjoyed. Then I switch to drinking some water, taking some time to see how full or hungry I am and then assess from there.
  • Enjoy Yourself! If you have a plan and roughly stick with it then you can feel confident indulging here and then – guilt free!

If your schedule allows it and it’s part of your normal routine, make sure to get in your vitamins and some movement if possible. Even if it’s just a walk, a virtual workout class, or dance party! This will be a huge part of helping with digesting all that yummy holiday food.

And biggest reminder is that it’s okay to get off your routine and take advantage of the next couple days. It’s not always the holiday season so you know you’re not eating like this every week. Enjoy that cookie, glass of wine, extra helping of potatoes… or three!

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.

Quarantine Pick-Me-Ups.

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As best as we’re trying, we might be feeling down quite often during this “stay-at-home” time. You might not be as productive as you would like or feel you’re getting as much accomplished as you wish. Maybe that workout routine has fallen to the waist side or there are a few too many snack times in the afternoon. And guess what, it might be hard to hear and accept, but it’s actually all alright!

We are going to feel down at points, that is how the body processes situations and emotions and we should learn to embrace them as they come and learn from them. But what’s not alright is wallowing in these down thoughts. They will happen, we’re not meant to be happy all the time and this is a very difficult situation that we’re going through (uncharted waters for literally all of us). It’s great to set goals while we have the free time but if we don’t meet these goals or feel we’ve done our best, life. will. go. on. 

So today I wanted to address some of my practices I embrace if I’m having a hard day or a really emotional week. Like I said before, we shouldn’t shy away from these emotions and attempt to avoid them because that has potential to cause more damage but there are certain healthy things we can do to process through these emotions.

  • Meditation: I recently shared a post for how to create your own meditation practice which is really helpful if you are new to it. This might be scary to attempt to sit with our feelings and emotions when it feels like the last thing we want to do. But addressing these feelings and approaching them with a positive attitude can completeing repaint the way we are handling them. [Stay tuned for an upcoming post about how to work with mantras during meditation]
  • Journaling: Put those thoughts down on paper and let them all out. A journaling practice can feel odd and different if you’re new to it but once you find a stride with writing you can really notice the benefits it provides. Don’t place expectations with your writing either, like ‘you always need to write a full page’ or ‘you always need to write about once certain topic – like what you did that day’. Allow yourself the freedom to just write whatever thoughts are flowing through you at that moment.
  • Setting Routines: You don’t need to map out your enitre day but putting in place a simple daily routine provides your mental health structure – similar to what it is use to when “life is normal”. I just shared a morning routine for a healthy gut and this is a good example of simple daily tasks you can do to provide your life some structure. It can also be as simple as taking a walk outside each day at 3PM or maybe it’s not even daily but every other day you take a really nice bath with all the bells and whistles. Don’t only set a routine of mundane items you need to get done but also things you look forward to do and feel a bit like pampering.
  • Movement: I prefer yoga, barre, and running and I really rotate through these depending on my mood. Find a form of excercise that makes your body feel good that is accessible and you enjoy doing (for the most part because working out isn’t as enjoyable as other things – like eating brownies 😉 I shared my favorite at-home workouts last month so if you’re looking for ideas, check out that post! (Bonus: I also shared my favorite at-home workout equipment and all of it can be found on Amazon)
  • Get Outside: If you have the access and the weather is nice, try to get outside at least once a day. This provides you with a different scenery than inside your home or apartment and gets you body some Vitamin D. I can’t tell you how many times in the last couple weeks I’ve been feeling mentally heavy and how a simple short walk around the block with my dog can completely change my perspective.

If you are truly struggling during these times, no matter what mentally you are battling, I am also here to chat and listen. Feel free to always reach out to me at ashraeeiningyoga@gmail.com. We will get through this together!

 

Setting a Morning Routine for a Happy Gut.

A happy gut equals a more enjoyable life & starting out your routine right away in the morning to make sure you have that happy gut sets everything in the right order. I recently shared all about what the gut is and why it’s important in a recent post so if you’re unfamiliar about it, check out that post now & then head back here for your morning routine.

For this post, we’re diving into more specifics of how you can give your gut biome a start on the right direct early on in your day. That being said, if you’ve had a few days of junk food or a few too many glasses of wine the night before (no judgement!) – this routine won’t completely reset your gut. We all know life is about blanace but making sure our body feel healthy is a continual process of flushing out toxins, feeding ourselves with healthy, nutrious foods and getting plenty of water to hydrate ourselves.

The morning is a perfect time to set up a consistent routine of steps you implement into your lifestyle. Keep noted, you’ll want to find what works for you and make you feel your best so take and leave any suggestion below.

  • Set a time to wake up consistently
    • Getting your body on a routine provides it an opportunity to fully rest when it needs to and be energized when it’s being ask to because it’s on a schedule. Set a timeframe that works throughout your week. For myself, I like setting an alarm for 6:30AM during the week and 7:30AM for weekends. I provide my body a little more rest time on the weekend but I’m not totally throwing off my routine by sleeping into noon. Even though that sounds really nice, my body is so use to this routine that it physically can’t do that.
  • Hydrate
    • We all know the importance of water and it highly needed to rehydrate your body after a night of deep sleep. Try getting in 8-10oz right after waking up.
  • Meditate
    • It doesn’t have to look like the picture-perfect meditation set up. You can simply just sit up on the edge of your bed and provide yourself with 3-5 minutes to simply focus on your breath. I wrote about starting a meditation practice in a recent post that can provide more tips.
  • Journal
    • I prefer to journal at night but a morning practice is also very popular for many people. Journaling allows an opportunity for you to expel your thoughts onto paper and express your emotions in a way you might not have an outlet for in your daily life. The gut has a connection to our brains – we may notice this connection when we are nervous or excited and our stomach begins to feel funny. This is how journaling can have an effect on our gut by providing that outlet. Stay tuned for posts on the Gut + Brain connection and the power of gratitude journaling coming soon. 
  • Move your Body
    • A little exercise in the morning can do wonders for our body by jump starting our digestive system and getting oxygen following to the blood and organs. Keep it simple with walking, yoga, or light strength training if you’re not use to morning exercise.
  • Shower or Clean Up
    • Freshen up and feel good! Cleaning yourself up by showering or simply washing off your face and then getting dress is a mode booster and provides positive vibrations.
  • Probiotic + Vitamin
    • Speak with your doctor and research your options for a good daily probiotic and vitamin.
  • Set a Meal Plan
    • Decide what works best for your body for when your first meal will be. I prefer to have something very light around 10AM, such as a piece of fruit or lara bar. If you are more active in the morning, your schedule might look more like a heavy full meal in the early hours. Experiment and explore the different options to find the right fit.

The most important part of this is finding your routine. When you’re not only being healthy but you also allow your body an opportunity to get into a flow state, that is when it really starts to feel good.

If you try out these tips or like to implement other helpful routine items, feel free to share!

How To Start Meditating.

Meditation can be a scary topic for many as we live in a society that promotes non-stop productivity as the ultimate goal. If we’re not consistently “hustling” than we might feel like we’re failing. But meditation should actually be seen to help benefit our productivity. The practice isn’t only good for our overall health but could actually make us more productive in our daily lives. Taking a moment to slow down helps us to reset & clear our mind, become more present, and appreciate the here & now. This practice will flow into every element of our lives, allowing us to show up more fully in every moment. 

When beginning the journey to meditate, you might feel there are multiple aspects to “get right” but just stepping away to a quiet space to close your eyes and turn inward is really all you need to start.

If you are still stressing to “get meditation right”, here are a few tips to help guide you:

  • Breath
    • If you are a beginner, don’t fret over “calming the mind” but actually focus on the sensations of your breath. Appreciate the smells around you and the feeling of your lungs expanding and clearing. 
  • Mind
    • Focusing on your breath is the easiest way to clear your mind of thoughts. It gives your mind a focal point. When your mind starts to wander (which it will) just recognize you’re thinking and then come back to your breath.
  • Emotions
    • Long-term meditation shows the increased size in brain regions associated with emotional regulation. This can result in the habit of cultivating positive emotions, retain emotional stability, and mindfulness.
  • Arms & Hands
    • Relax your arms & shoulders, letting your hands rest on your thighs or in your lap. 
  • Eyes
    • If working to turn inward, close your eyes. If on days this makes you feel dizzy or emotional, you can anchor yourself to your space by making your eyelids heavy and focusing on the space about a foot out in front of you. 
  • Legs & Feet
    • If you’re sitting in a chair, keep your feet flat on the floor. Draw your spine straight. If you’re sitting cross-legged or on a cushion, make sure your knees are lower than your hips. 
  • Time
    • The length isn’t as important as the frequency so don’t beat yourself up if you’re not sitting for an hour each day. Start in increments aiming to build up over time (i.e. 3 minutes to 5 minutes to 10 minutes). 
    • A timer is very helpful so that you’re not focusing on a clock. There are a lot of app options for a pleasant timer instead of relying on your phone alarm (i.e. Insight Timer, Headspace, Clam). A few of these options will also have a payment option that can then access guided meditation – another great option for beginners. 

Below are a few Breathing Techniques to also try out before or after meditation to calm or energize the body:

  • Warrior Breath
    • Inhale/exhale with no pause 21 times – this super oxygenates the system
    • At the end of the 21 breaths implement the Box Breath for 4 to 5 rounds
  • Box Breath
    • Inhale big for 5 counts
    • Hold for a count of 5
    • Exhale slowly for a count of 5
    • 4-5 rounds
  • 2-7-8 Breathing
    • Inhale for 2
    • Hold for 7 
    • Exhale for 8
  • Skull Shining Breath (Kapalabhati)
    • Take a long, slow inhale
    • Exhale rapidly through the nose by “snapping” in your lower belly for 10
      • Inhale will occur naturally
    • Inhale fully 

Meditation might be intimidating but it doesn’t need to be because all you need is time to give to yourself. Beginning today can help radically change your life for the better. I’d love to hear where your meditation practice is at and what it has helped you learn about your life! 

Sugar-Free Shopping List.

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!

Sugar Free Shopping List

Printable .pdf file available on request: ashraeeiningyoga@gmail.com

How to Have Good Posture with a Desk Jobs.

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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?

 

EMFs + Self-Care

I wanted to take a moment here to discuss EMFs, Electromagnetic Fields, and how we should be interacting with these fields as well as self-care.

What Are EMFs?

The National Cancer Institute defines electric and magnetic fields as invisible areas of energy that are produced by electricity, which is the movement of electrons, or current, through a wire. Electric fields are produced whether or not a device is turned on, whereas magnetic fields are produced only when current is flowing.

We come in contact with this energy every day. This energy helps us communicate, cook, and even solve complex medical issues.

  • Radio Broadcasting Waves
  • Cell Phone Radiation Waves
  • Wifi + Bluetooth Waves
  • Microwaves
  • Infrared Waves
  • X-Ray Waves

Being in a field where I’m constantly interacting with technology makes it difficult to avoid. But there are simple ways we can disconnect more from everyday technology and EMFs!

Tips:

  • Take breaks every 30 minutes – take your hands off the keyboard, move your eyes around the room, take a quick walk, grab a snack. There are so many ways you can step away.
  • Set devices 5-6 feet away from you when watching television.
  • Get outside without devices for 30 minutes to an hour a day. Go for a walk without your phone, layout at the pool, go for a bike ride, have coffee with a friend.
  • Set limits on your Social Media platforms or your phone altogether.
  • Unplug electronics by the bed or remove from your bedroom all together when sleeping.
  • Flip off the circuit breaker to your room.

Can you think of any additional tips that can help you disconnect from your devices?

What To Do When In a Funk.

It happens. I’ve been in a funk myself for the last week and a half. It just seemed to be a consistent trend where I was getting bad news every time I turned around. When it rains it pours right? I’m not even a fan of that saying but it just seems to HAPPEN THAT WAY sometimes.

And you fall into a negative mindset where you’re only focusing on what is going wrong and it can be difficult at times to pull yourself out. But guess what? Only you can make the change!

“Everyday can’t be sunny or else it would all be deserts.”

I’m sharing some simple activities you can do that will build up to a brighter mood! These work together to make a big impact so take what works for you and leave what doesn’t. But try implementing a few of these into your everyday lifestyle and see what shifts and changes for the positive.

  •  Give yourself 10 minutes in the morning. Just sit with your morning coffee or tea, set aside the phone and technology, and just sit with your thoughts.
  • Set a positive mantra for your day. I personally like “Today might be cloudy, but my life isn’t cloudy.” This is a little thought you can come back to when you’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed.
  • Take a walk outside. It is crazy what a little bit of nature can do to pull us out of our own reality.
  • Get creative! Paint, draw, write, dance, build a craft, write a song, play an instrument. Just let whatever wants to come out, come out.
  • Make yourself a nice meal. Seriously, splurge on yourself with one of your all-time favorite meals.
  • Work out. Release any built up stress or energy you have with a high-intensity run or weight training class. Or maybe, tap into your thoughts and process through a yoga flow.
  • Meditate. Sit in stillness and remove yourself from thoughts.
  • Start a gratitude journal and begin to jot down a few things that you are grateful for each day.
  • Most important: Don’t get down on yourself! You’re awesome and wonderful and you have so much to be happy for!

This change will take a bit of time. It might take a few days or weeks but focus on the positive in your life. If you’re having a hard time and need to vent or talk to someone, know I am always here! You can reach me at onedreamyyogaflow@gmail.com or in DM on my Instagram @mountainhippiehealthnut. I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your hump day!!

Stay beautiful.

Selenite.

Crystal, Gems + Stone series:

Selenite gets its name from the Greek goddess of the moon, Selene. This selenite meaning is easy to see when it reflects light, often appearing as a rock fallen directly from the moon. This crystal is powerful in healing and meditation. It’s feminine energy has many powers and benefits.

Selenite, also known as satin spar, desert rose, or gypsum flower are four crystal structure varieties of the mineral gypsum. These four varieties of gypsum may be grouped together and called selenite. Found often in Australia, Greece, Mexico, and the US, and has a milky sheen that illuminates from the surface. You might commonly see Selenite come in stick or rod forms and also the polished form, known as “cat’s eye”.

Selenite is one of the most important tools in metaphysical wellness worker’s arsenals. The powerful vibrations of Selenite can clear, open, and activate the Crown and Higher Chakras. It brings clarity to the mind and a halo of calming peace. It’s excellent during meditation because it connects with cleansing white light vibrations.

How to use Selenite:

  • Cleansing
    • Excellent gemstone cleanser.
    • If you feel that the energy of a certain stone is dull or less vibrant than it used to be, clear it using selenite. If you have a large selenite block, you can lay your other stone on top of the block overnight to recharge.
    • If you have a selenite wand, you can set your other stone beside it for the same duration of time until the energy has been rejuvenated.
    • I prefer to set mine on a windowsill under a full moon and place other gems around it to recharge and cleanse simultaneously.
    • Recharge selenite with full moon light, prayer, & gratitude.
  • Amplify energy
    • Connects with white light vibrations.
    • Can enhance flexibility and awareness.
    • It can be used in tandem with other stones to amplify and manipulate the intended effect.
    • For reiki practice, you’ll need both a wand and smaller stones to place at the chakra points.
      • The wand should be used before you begin the reiki to clear the negativity and tension. Hold the wand above their body and bring it down from head to toe moving along the spine.
      • After reiki, close the session by placing the small stones on the chakra points to align and balance their harmony.
  • Harmonizing Meditation
    • Clearing energy.
    • If seated, place in one or both palms or nearby while meditating.
    • If lying down, use a selenite wand over the chest, with one end pointed toward the crown chakra and the other pointed toward the root chakra. Repeat a mantra, such as: “I take in the light, I am the light.”

Do you enjoy using Selenite or have you never used the gem before and are intrigued by it? I’d love to hear your personal preferences!

Have a wonderful Monday loves!

Namaste.