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!
How many times have I shared this dish on my Instagram? Way too many, that’s for sure. So it’s about time I give more details on how to make it since I’m so obsessed. It started with a Hello Fresh meal which I have a tendency to start up when I’m going through a slump with new cooking ideas. This recipe just stuck, clearly.
The Mediterranean Chicken Couscous dish is very filling with refreshing, nuritioning ingredients. It’s a meal I have about once a week if I know I have a big day the next day and will need to feel energized. It also makes good left-overs if you eat within the following 2-3 days.
1 Chicken breast
2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp Zatar Seasoning
2/3 cup Coucous
3/4 cup Cherry Tomatoes
2 cloves Garlic
1 tsp Dill
1 tbsp Plain Greek Yogurt
1 tsp Lemon Juice
Preheat over to 350 degrees
Line a pan with a piece of foil, slice tomatoes in half, place in pan topped with olive oil, garlic, and half the dill. Cook in the oven for ~15 minutes.
While roasting tomatoes, boil chicken in a medium pot on high on top of the stove.
In another medium pot, heat a drizzle of olive oil on high. Once hot, pour in coucous and let cook until browned. Boil with 1 1/2 cups of water until couscous is thoroughly cooked.
Once chicken is thoroughly cooked through, take out of the pot and shredded. Pour out water and rinse pan. Place shredded chicken back in the pot cook on medium for 4-5 more minutes with balsamic vinegar and zatar seasoning.
In a small bowl, combine greek yogurt, 1 tsp water, remaining dill, and lemon juice. Stir until consitency is creamy.
Place cooked couscous, chicken, and tomatoes in bowl and top with feta cheese and yogurt creama.
Anyone else trying to jump on the all-natural makeup & body care kick?
How amazing is it that we have access to the knowledge we need to know about what we’re putting on our bodies. And the fact that there are so many incredible companies that we can purchase these products from! I’ve been slowly transitioning my items to all-natural options as I run out, which I’ve found has been a common strategy for many of us. Makeup & body care items can be expensive so this totally makes sense. And in all transparency, this transition has taken me a full year and I’m not even fully all natural yet. I have a few products that I’m really attached to – hello, amazing grace lotion.
One brand (out of many) that I have been testing and have fallen in love with is Primally Pure. I was introduced to this brand through a friend of mine that raved about it – and it’s not so surprising after I dabbled in a few of their products.
I took advantage of a seasonal Black Friday sale last Fall and invested in two of their bundles; the Starter Kit & the Spa Kit. I’m a huge fan of bundle products not only because you get a handful of the brands products for a reasonable price but they are normally sample size, which are perfect for traveling. And I travel quite a bit!
A little about Primally Pure before I dive into my thoughts on the products: The company was founded by Bethany, the wife of a farmer, out of her passion for real, recognizable ingredients – not just in the food on her plate but also out of her skincare products (music to my ears!). Bethany’s family started Primal Pastures, an organic livestock farm in Southern California, which helped her to discover the power of eating real food and subsequently the power of real ingredients in her skincare. She purged her bathroom cabinets of toxic conventional products and began formulating her own replacements, that eventually inspired the creation of Primally Pure.
So great, right?! I was really excited to try out each item not only because of what my friends were saying about the brand but because I felt a real connection with the story and that this brand truly cares about their customers.
Here is what I received in each kit and my thoughts on each item:
I was a Native deodorant user before this and was having a bit of issues with y sensitive skin when I would switch scents. After testing PP Blue Tansy deodorant, I have not notice my skin react and the scent is super lovely!
2 oz. body butter
I picked this one in Alomond Vanilla and it is like a jar of sweet smelling cookie dough. I put it on my elbows and dry batches. My dog also can’t get enought of the scent after I use it.
1 oz. everything spray
I personally always use a rose water toning spray on my face after I get out of the shower and I’ve rotated that with the Everything Spray. It leaves my face really refreshed and moisturized. I’m currently due for a reorder of this as well.
three lip balms
I allowed the order to send me the top three flavors of lip balm which had me end up with Lavender, Creamsicle, and Cocoa. I really like the Lavendar and Creamsicle but not a huge fan of the Cocoa. You can never have enough lip balm around!
I didn’t really get the dry brushing trend until I recieved a brush in the Spa Kit. I’d seen plenty of people across social media talking about it but you just don’t understand the benefits until you try it out yourself. I began dry brushing my arms from my wrist up to my arm pits to help with flow to my lymph nodes. I noticed after just a couple uses of the dry brush that my forearms were a lot smoother and eczema had slightly calmed down. Another highly recommended product from me!
one 2 oz body oil
I love oil and was really excited for the Blue Tansy Body Oil in this kit. I use it when I get out of the shower and all over my torso. I have pretty combination skin type but living in Colorado, I do find that my skin is a lot drier than I’m use to so the oil definitely helps.
one 6 oz sea soak
Hello! This girl loves her some bathtime! The next two items are why I chose the Spa Kit. The Sea Soak is decribed for ‘Detox + Soothe’ and the scent is a bit more powerful than the flower bath. I use these bath salts on more stressful days when I need to unwind.
one 6 oz flower bath
As for the Flower Bath, it is described as ‘Balance + Soften’ and as the name may let on, it has a more floral scent. I like to use these bath salts on more quite evenings to tune out a little more.
Each kit comes with a mesh organic bag. Full honestly, I’ve collected a lot of bags from beauty kits over the years (where are my clinque fans at?) but I travel so I do use select ones that are good quality – and these ones are it! I use one of the bags to hold all my nail polish because it is stretchy but can hold the weight. The other I use for bath products when traveling.
After a few months of using these products, I would say my favorites even though I’ve enjoyed all of them, are Deodorant, Body Oil, and Everything Spray and will be ordering these again. If you’re interested in testing out Primally Pure, the bundle kits are definitely you’re best option to be able to try out multiple products without having to invest to much at first.
If you would like to support me and the side hustle, you can shop Primally Pure through my personal link.You can use code PRIMALLYASHRAE at checkout for 10% your order. All support is more than greatly appreciated 🙂 I’m also here to share my thoughts on any specific product or my other favorite brands.
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 email@example.com. We will get through this together!
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.
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.
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.
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!
It’s a great escape during this time but it can also be a daunting one if we’re trying to stick to our health goals. Gas stations and rest area vending machines aren’t necessarily the best options when it comes to fueling our body with nutrition-dense food. Top 40 and talk radio also might not be the best option to feed our brains for a long drive either. Which is why today I’m sharing my tips on how I prepare for a long drive, because we know I’m on the road plenty! (Stay tuned for a Healthy Flying Guide soon)
I’ve been on my fair share of long drives and to be honest I’m not always super excited about them. There has been many mornings before hitting the road that I dreamed of a time traveling machine that would just zap me right to my desired location. But on days that I plan ahead, I can actually be excited for the time in my car.
Working a desk job for 40 hours a week and running a blog on the site, it can be a much needed change of pace to get away from screens. And I know I’m not the only one that needs this change every once in awhile. So might as well use the time I’m already spending in the car to focus on hobbies I wouldn’t necessarily have time to invest in.
So what is my plan you ask? Here is how I prepare before my road trips to make the time more enjoyable:
Clean my car, vacuum the floors, and insert a new Air Freshener (I use the car fragrances from Bath & Body Works)
It feels so good to spend time in a fresh space!
You’ll also need space for your suitcase and anything else you’ve packed so remove unnecessary items you’ve had store in your backseat and trunk.
Prep Podcasts and Music Playlists
I go back and forth between the two when I find my mind drifting off. Sometimes podcasts are nice to dive into for new inspiring information and at other times, you just need to have a little car karaoke session.
I pretty much like anything that is light (in the sense I won’t feel heavy or tired after eating too much) and that won’t be distracting to eat.
A good pair of Sunglasses
Because it’s always more fun to be fashionable – but we also need to protect our eyes.
If you wear contacts, have your glasses ready incase your eyes get dry and you need to switch out.
You might be thinking, “we’re not outside”. But you are still being exposed to sun rays so not only should we look out for our eyes but our skin as well.
Stop & enjoy the view when possible.
A really smart person once said “It’s not just about the destination, it’s about the journey” (It was Ralph Waldo Emerson if you were wondering). Give your mind and eyes a break from staring at the road & take in some open air.
The human gut microbiome is complex and powerful in impacting our overall health – in a good or bad way depending on how we treat it. A healthy gut contributes to a strong immune system, as well as heart & brain health, boosted mood, healthy sleeping patterns, and an effective digestive tract.
The term gut microbiome refers specifically to the microorganisms living in your intestines. A person has about 300 to 500 different species of bacteria in their digestive tract. While some microorganisms are harmful to our health, many are incredibly beneficial and even necessary to a healthy body.
Signs your gut might be out of whack:
Gas and/or bloating
Irregular bowel movements
Like depression, anxiety, and brain fog
Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies
Unintential Weight Gains
Or struggles managing a healthy weight
Chronic Unmanaged Stress
Trouble Falling into a Deep Sleep
Ways to improve your gut health:
Improve Eating habits (see below section)
Monitor consumption of prebiotics and probiotics
If it is a struggle to get enough in your normal diet, consider taking a supplement (address this with your doctor to make sure it is a healthy option for you)
Consider food intolerances that upset your gut
Attempt to get in a recommended amount of water for your body weight
Implement a Consistent Sleep Pattern
Going to bed and waking up at the same times will help your body & digestive system fall into a flow
This is easy said than done but consider areas of your life that are more stress inducing and consider how you can change this.
A happy gut means a healthy feeling body. A diet rich in immune-supporting probiotic & prebiotic foods will fuel your gut with what it needs for your microbiome to thrive. Probioctic foods contain “good” bacteria or live cultures that are found naturally in your gut. Prebiotic foods nourish the probiotic foods in your digestive tract.
Beginning a journey to improve your gut might take a bit, so be patient. Implementing a healthy diet and reducing your stress won’t heal a gut in a day but will begin to detox the gut microbiome of toxins.
But please keep in mind this isn’t an overhaul either! Like I always like to say, life is a balance of healthy habits and periodic indulgences. We want to incorporate healthy habits in our lives so that WE. FEEL. GOOD. but what also feels good…. a fudgy brownie with vanilla ice cream. So definitely implement new healthy habits into your life but don’t deprive yourself!
Stayed tuned for a Morning Routine for a Happy Gut later this week!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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
Inhale big for 5 counts
Hold for a count of 5
Exhale slowly for a count of 5
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
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!
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