Stress Bloat.

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You’ve probably experienced in the last few months. I know I have at least once or twice for an extended period of time. Between work changes, my classes being postponed, scheduled, and rescheduled, finances, car issues, travel plans, and the normal everyday woes, life has been pretty darn stressful lately!

Stress can put a lot of pressure on your stomach and abdomen, and also upset your hormone balance. This stress can also cause digestion issues for food your body normally does not have a problem digesting, leading to discomfort, pain, gas, and bloating. Which gives us that uncomfortably large belly section.

It is first important to determine if your bloating and discomfort is truly from stress or if it is possibly from your diet. If you are aware that your irritable digestive tract and bloating are caused by your diet, then it is important to familiarize yourself and pontentially avoid FODMAPs. If it is not food-related, then it is time to evaluate your daily stress level and what is causing it.

Stress bloating is not as widely discussed and therefore many people have never heard of it. It can be a surprise to some that stress can trigger a physiological reaction. But if you’re under chronic stress, cortisol hormones are constantly dominant and the result is bloating and gas and because the body is not seeing digestion as a priority, the sympathetic system redirects blood flow away from the intestine area and to other parts of the body that seem to “need it more”.

Okay, so now we get it that we’re bloated and gassy. How do we resolve this? Stress management and digestive support.

  1. Stress Analysis
    • First determine what is causing you to stress. Is it work-related, money issues, relationship problems, or is simply just watching the daily news. Once you’ve determined the source, assess if you can change anything to reduce your stress. (i.e. Maybe you’re taking on too much responsibility at work)
  2. Meditation
    • Check out my post on How To Start Meditating. Stress management definitely starts with our mind set and how we’re choosing to show up to each individual situation in our lives.
  3. Probiotic
    • When the gut becomes unbalanced with unhealthy levels of certain bacteria, probiotics can help restore the balance. They’ve been shown to secrete protective substances, which may turn on the immune system and prevent pathogens from taking hold and creating major disease.
  4. Water consumption
    • It might sound counterintuitive to drink more water when retaining water, but drinking water can actually help reduce bloat. Drinking plenty of water helps to naturally flush our systems of excess water and sodium that we might retain
  5. Diet
    • It is important that you are monitoring what you are eating and maintaining a healthy gut.
  6. Movement
    • Physical activity can get the bowels moving more regularly, which can help to release excess gas and stool. Getting the bowels to move is especially important if a person is feeling constipated. A walk around the block can provide fast relief from gas pressure.

Bloat is never fun, but if it is stress bloat start at the source of the stress to reduce the consequences and then add activities and habits into your daily routine to reduce bloating and gas.

How to start Gratitude Journaling.

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I’ve been holding onto this post for a while. It hasn’t felt like the right time to publish it until now.

The world will constantly be a combination of good and bad. And man, does it feel like there is a lot of heavy situations going on lately. But I’m here to tell you that there is a lot of good in this world as well. I know it might not feel that way as we watch the news, listen to the radio, or scroll through our social media feeds lately. But we can always focus on the good in the world and there are always good things to focus on.

Read that last sentence again.

A baby is being born, a close friend gets engaged, a family member beats cancer, or it’s simply sunny and beautiful outside. If you’ve been around here a while you know I’m also one to tell you not to bury your emotions but there is a way to process your emotions and turn those heavier feelings into something to be grateful for. I’ve been re-reading Tim Desmond’s ‘How To Stay Human In a F*cked Up World. I purchased it this last fall when I was going through a very difficult time period. For most people, sometimes it feels imposible to get through certain situations in life but personally, I find enlightenment in focusing on progress, even if it is the tiniest step of progression. So I purchased this book and it continues to be one of my staples I pull off the shelf and skim through.

Desmond mentions that ‘bringing up pain and holding it with compassion leads to transformation’. You can sit with this said pain through meditation but another way is gratitude journaling. I’m a big fan of journaling as a practice to process emotions, make decisions, and work through trama. I’m also a big fan of gratetitude journaling for difficult times so you don’t feel the world is weighing down so much on you.

Below is a few prompts that can help start a gratitude journaling practice. All you need is a pen and paper then allow the prompts to guide you in topics to write about. Not only does gratitude journaling take your mind off negative or impactful thoughts but it allows you to focus on things that will bring your mind enjoyment and actively releases stress and tension from the body.

Prompts:

  1. Someone you are grateful for
  2. A food you are grateful for
  3. A place you really love
  4. A treasured experience
  5. A skill you are grateful for
  6. A teacher or mentor who made a large impact in your life
  7. A trip you love to look back on
  8. A meal or dessert you can’t get enough of
  9. Your favorite birthday or holiday memory
  10. Your favorite books you’ve read
  11. A lesson you learn that made an impact
  12. Your favorite movies
  13. Your favorite smells
  14. Someone who believes in you
  15. Your favorite place
  16. Your favorite pet
  17. A activity you love to do
  18. Music that makes you happy to listen to
  19. Something that relaxes you
  20. An activity that makes you feel alive
  21. Your favorite memory from your childhood
  22. A goal you’ve achieved
  23. A person who makes you laugh
  24. An answered prayer
  25. Something you’ve created that makes you feel proud

Another way to start a gratitude journaling practice is to purchase a guided journal. My favorite brand is Ink & Volt. There are also endless options across Amazon and what I love is that you can find different options for women, men, and even teens and children.

I hope you enjoy your gratitude journaling practice & I would love to hear how it impacts your life!

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! 

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.

Pisces Meditation Practice.

We’re currently in the Season of Pisces which means it’s the perfect time to practice letting go of control. We can intentionally try to resist the urge to set deadlines on our dreams, and leave some of our plans open ended, allowing for the universe to fill in the details. Or spend a couple days with minimal or no plans, letting the moment announce what you would like to do. We’re taking this time to tap into our Pisces energy. We may notice that the Pisces in our lives tend to be dreamers, wanderers, and in a constant meditative state. That’s why this season’s meditation practice is extra juicy.

Pisces energy reminds us that we are spiritual beings that just happen to be in human form. It is a time to just watch sensations within, letting them pass instead of reacting to them. This is truly the practice of letting go of control. To hold space for these sensations, sit with feelings, truly feel them, and then release them is a practice of training the conscious and subconscious mind to not react to events both internally and externally. We’re literally training ourselves to chill the fudge out. 

We’ll practice body awareness this season and start with 5 minutes at a time, working up in time to potentially get to 30 minutes. While in the practice, become completely immersed in the sensations that arise and let all other sensations fade into the background.

  • Lie in a comfortable position, relaxing the entire body.
  • Release any excess tension you find yourself holding in your face, neck, or shoulders.
  • Take three deep rounds of inhales + exhales. With each exhale, continue to relax into the floor.
  • Start to bring your attention on one area of your body.
  • Begin to ask yourself what sensations arise in this area.
  • You can label the sensation if you would like. Recognizing it as warm, cool, calming, awakening, etc.
  • Resist any urge to judge these sensations.
  • Release the sensation. It is through conscious acknowledgement and without reaction that we will learn through this practice to eventually release these sensations without resistance.
  • Move onto the next area of your body, working your way through spending around 5-10 breathes on each area until your set meditation time comes to an end.

If you would like you can organize this practice by starting from your head down to your toes or working your way through the chakra system. This meditation is immensely beneficial with training our minds and bodies to not react to external situations. We learn that all energy is temporary.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this meditation practice or if your practicing a different meditation during this season. Share with me in the comment section, by email (onedreamyyogaflow@gmail.com), or on Instagram (@onedreamyyogaflow).

Happy meditating!

The Five Klesas.

The other day I shared the Eight Limbs of Yoga that provide a type of guideline to lead us to liberation. But through this journey we can struggle. It’s natural human behavior to obstruct ourselves from happiness, maybe not even intentionally. For the most part, we strive for happiness and to avoid suffering. We’re striving for Samadhi, a state where suffering doesn’t exist and we simply exist with awareness. But our darn natural human behavior can get in the way of that.

Patanjali has described the following five factors as the elements that contribute to suffering:

  1. Avidya: Not seeing things as they are
  2. Raga: Attachment
  3. Dvesa: Aversion
  4. Asmita: The story of I, me, and mine
  5. Abhinivesa: The thirst for further existence

These five factors are referred to as the five Klesas. The term klesa comes from the verbal root klis, which means “to suffer, torment, or distress.”

The five Klesas keep suffering in motion because they create loops in the mind-body that reinforce habitual patterns of perception and reaction. The important question then is how do we work with these obstacles called Klesas, keeping in mind there is no way to avoid completely.

This work can be a more in-depth process since we all need to have a deeper understanding of self to fully understand how we relate and cling to each one of these Klesas.

Asmita can be a strong one for all of us since we all have a tendency to paint a story in our mind of how our lives should unfold. Raga is another obvious one since attachment is a natural occurrence in our society. A way to start exploring your relationship with the different Klesas is through meditation and asana practice. Notice through the practice how each Klesas arises and address how you feel and react in the moment. For example, half moon might be a pose that comes easy to you but on a particular day you are struggling to keep your balance and can’t find the strength to lift your leg off the floor. Asmita might arise with thoughts that you should be able to do this since you’ve held this specific pose many times before and raga might be present because your attached to how practice went the day before.

As we begin to see how Klesas arise in our meditation and asana practice we’ll begin to seep this over into other elements of our lives. In Michael Stone’s book ‘The Inner Tradition of Yoga’, he explains that:

‘The Five Kleasa teach us that by putting a wedge between our feelings and our aversion or attachment to them, we make a seat for ourselves in present experience.’

I would love to hear how you personally relate or struggle with any of the specific Klesas. Share with me in the comment section!

Namaste loves.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga.

Merry Christmas Eve!

I hope you’re spending the next couple of days surrounded by loved ones. As we go into our holiday festivities, I thought it would be a perfect time to share the Eight Limbs of Yoga.

Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga offer a guideline for a meaningful and purposeful life. The eightfold path is called Ashtanga, which translates to eight limbs. Ashta stands for eight and anga stands for limbs.

These eight steps are a guideline but they are a continuous process that should be viewed as a loop instead of an end goal.

  1. Yama: The first limb focuses on how we conduct ourselves in our daily lives and how we treat others. There are five separate yamas:
    • Ahimsa: nonviolence
    • Satya: truthfulness
    • Asteya: nonstealing
    • Brahmacharya: continence
    • Aparigraha: noncovetousness
  2. Niyama: The second limb is more internal and focuses on self-discipline and spiritual observance.
    • Saucha: cleanliness
    • Samtosa: contentment
    • Tapas: heat, spiritual austerities
    • Svadhyaya: the study of sacred scriptures and of one’s self
    • Isvara pranidhana: surrender to God
  3. Asana: The third limb, and possibly the most well known, is the physical practice.
  4. Pranayama: The fourth limb is the breath work which allows us to connect the breath, mind, and emotions.
  5. Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the senses is the fifth limb.
  6. Dhara: Pratyahara sets us up for the sixth limb, which is concentration. We learn to slow down the thinking mind by concentrating on a single mental object.
  7. Dhyana: The seventh limb is uninterrupted concentration or meditation.
  8. Samadhi: The eight limb is a state of ecstasy which you feel a profound connection with the divine.

This is just a little taste of the eight limbs and I plan to dive into each individual limb in future posts. But as we dive into the next couple of days I encourage you to consider the first two limbs, yama and niyama, to evaluate how are you treating others and how are you treating yourself.

I hope you’re all enjoying yummy treats and surrounded with laughter today & tomorrow!

Namaste loves.

Be Merry.

It’s a tough time of the year for many. You’re running around, finishing up your holiday shopping, baking every treat under the sun, socializing with people you don’t see any other time of year, wrapping up as much work as possible to be able to clock out for the next while, setting resolutions to better yourself in the new year, and all while trying to stay holly and jolly.

Being the most wonderful time of the year, it also can be the most stressful. But we can easily tap into our gratefulness and happiness so we don’t get bogged down by the many demands of the holiday season.

I encourage you to try out one or two of the tips listed below during the next few days and check in with how you feel afterward. A simple moment to yourself can be all the difference in making this season merry and bright.

Tips to stay grateful and zen: 

  • Slow down. Pause at any movement when you’re feeling overwhelmed; sit/stand tall, close your eyes, and take 5 deep rounds of inhales & exhales.
  • Take a bath. Light some candles, turn on some low music, drop in some smell-good oil, turn off the lights, and just chill.
  • Put together a puzzle. Sit in a quiet room (maybe some low music) and just focus on the puzzle and don’t worry about your to-do list for a short break.
  • Get outside and breath in the fresh air. If it’s not too cold and icy, take a walk.
  • Treat yo’self. Go get a massage, hair done, manicure, pedicure, or spray tan. Something that is just for you.
  • Read a fictional book. Drop into a story that allows you to check away out of reality for a short time.
  • Dance. Turn on some music and just move your body in any way that feels good.

Happy Holiday loves.