It's hot. Summer cooking can be a challenge because it's hard to feel like being in the kitchen. In the summer, I want to eat well, but spend a minimum amount of time in the kitchen. Buddha Bowls and salads are my go-to dishes for summer. They are seasonal and they will keep you cool (we don't want to ignite your pitta-heat) and satisfied.
I love to cook, and I'm an improviser. I love to search the web for new ideas and recipes and I love to see photos of tasty new dishes. Basically, I use the recipes as guides, not dogma. In this post, I'll share recipes I've enjoyed from the web and my own ideas around what else you can do to adapt them.
The idea of the "buddha bowl" is a bowl that combines veggies and whole grains (and omit the grains if you don't do grains) and add other sauces and condiments. The sky is the limit with these. Think quinoa, couscous, brown rice, wild rice, millet, etc. as a base. Add greens, sliced raw veggies, sauteed or steamed veggies, Add proteins like tofu, tempeh, garbanzo beans, black beans, hummus, chicken, salmon or egg. Top with flavorful sauces like peanut sauce, tahini sauce, green goddess dressing. etc. Add other goodies like saurkraut, sliced avocados, sesame seeds, nuts, cranberries.
Here are a few basic buddha bowl recipes to get you started:
Of course. It's summer. Eat your spinach, lettuce, argula, kale, chicory, dandelions. These all cool, detox and give you light and lively nourishment for summer. Salads are easy to make and the key to a yummy salad is the dressing. If you have a blender, you can blend up several salad dressings on the weekend and enjoy them all week long.
Here are some great salad recipes and salad dressing recipes:
Want to talk about what kinds of food are best for you? Take advantage of Annie's offer for free personalized wellness strategy session.
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Mark the shift from winter to spring
As yogis, we take our cues from nature. Despite the current human trend to disconnect from nature as we spend increasing amount of time in cars, computers and buildings, we are part of nature and our physiology is deeply affected by the natural rhythms. As yogis, we practice being tuned in to our breath and body. Alignment is what we do in yoga, and the transition into a new season is an invitation to align our physiology with the season. In the spring, there is a natural urge to make a clean, fresh start.
The equinox marks the shift from winter into spring. The weather is gets warmer. The daffodils start to bloom. There are blossoms on the cherry trees. The trees are leafing out. My kale plants have started growing again. Birds are chirpy. Depending on where you live, the warmer weather may come earlier or later, but March marks the transition into spring.
The winter weather in your area may have been mostly cold and dry or cold and wet. In either case, you were probably eating more filling and heavier foods, more fats and proteins, to keep your body nourished. Now, that it’s spring, there is a natural craving for lighter foods. You may be already feeling this.
How to eat to as you move into spring
I recently made a video with my friend and colleague, Alexandra Epple, about how to eat as we transition from winter to spring.
Spring, the season to detox
The body’s need for the heavier, rich foods of winter shifts to a desire for light, dry, simple foods that digest easily. Maybe you’ve noticed your cravings change. The arrival of the warmer weather often is accompanied by the desire to eat less of the heavier substantial foods of winter, and the desire to eat lighter foods such as fruits, fresh veggies and salads. This is the body’s way of telling you it’s time for a SPRING CLEANING.
This is a great time to do a CLEANSE or DETOX. You may have access to a reliable and appropriate CLEANSE OR DETOX, such as a mono-diet or a juice cleanse, but anyone can DETOXIFY THE BODY by simply adding more of the flavors of pungent, bitter, astringent tastes found in seasonal, bitter greens, berries, ginger, turmeric and simply prepared veggies and vegetable soups.
How to live and eat for spring
To balance the COOL DAMPNESS of spring, we want to INTRODUCE foods, flavors and experiences that are:
If we do this, we will be less likely to experience COMMON SPRING IMBALANCES such as
Let’s talk food!
TASTES TO FAVOR AND ENJOY IN THE SPRING:
FOODS TO FAVOR:
FOODS TO REDUCE:
Suggested Spring Meals:
LUNCHES AND DINNERS:
More adventures in spring season eating
Need some recipe suggestions? Here's a collection of plant based recipes.
Do you have a spring recipe or tip to share? Contact me.
Happy Spring Eating!
Move your body. Lighten up. Reduce stagnation. Lose winter weight.
Spring is the easiest season to UP YOUR EXERCISE GAME. After the winter, your body is STRONG and ready for ENDURANCE. Physical activity improves circulation, increases heat and results in a feeling of LIGHTNESS. It’s a good time of the year to push yourself physically with a more intense workout. It’s easier to work out hard in spring than in winter.
Prioritize EXERCISING DAILY preferably first thing in the morning, outside as much as possible. Be mindful of your individual constitution with regards to exercise. Different bodies need different types of exercise. YOGA, WALKING, TAI CHI, QI GONG, JOGGING, DANCING, HIKING, and BIKING are all great forms of exercise. What kind of movement do you like?
Exercise outside in the AM if possible. Why?
Morning according to Ayurveda is governed by the Kapha (earth and water) dosha. It is a HEAVY, SLOW TIME. In the morning, the body is stiff. Blood oxygen levels are low. The body vibration is a little stagnant and dull. At the same time, your body also has a ton of potential energy from a good night’s sleep. If you get moving, you put that potential energy in motion for the rest of your day.
Move your body in the morning to build a strong vibrational field for your day and start the day feeling: LIGHT, GROUNDED, ENERGIZED, and OPEN.
5 reasons to exercise in the morning:
Spring time yoga tips:
Morning movement, make it so easy you can't say no. Try this morning yoga practice:
Want to improve your wellness this spring?
I offer complimentary 30 minute wellness strategy sessions for individuals interested in exploring their wellness. In a thirty minute session, you can expect to get clear on your health goals and take away at least one action step to get you started moving in the direction of greater wellness. Sign up for a session here.
Three months of being away = a very weedy garden
When we got back to Peru, we returned to a garden full of raspberries and weeds. We enjoyed eating the raspberries straight off and bush and adding them to smoothies, but what do I do with all that green stuff? I mean, the dandelions, thistle, plantain, and dock and more. They had three months to grow uninterrupted and were strong and mighty and prolific. A few years ago, I only saw them as ugly invasive weeds and I dug them all up and threw them onto the compost pile right away. That was before I knew about the health power of wild invasives.
The Mighty Green Weeds
Dandelions are some of the healthiest greens around. And, they’re all around! In your yard and garden, along roads and pathways, in fields. Here’s a list of their benefits:
Ayurveda is all About Embracing What’s Seasonal - Balance the Heat of Summer with Bitter Greens
Bitter greens like dandelions grow abundantly all summer long and their bitter flavor is exactly what is needed to balance the heat of summer. According to Ayurveda, like increases like, and it’s opposite reduces. So, hot salsa will make you feel hotter, but bitter greens like dandelions will actually cool you off.
What To Do with all those Dandelions
You can enjoy dandelions all summer long and include them in your breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Here’s some ways to enjoy dandelions:
Enjoy your summer bitters!
Here at Vibrant Soulful, as a yogini, mother, educator and community member, I aim to serve householder yogis. By that, I mean YOU, if you you are a worker bee, wage earner, parent, family member, community member, or otherwise engaged in the marketplace of life. The path of yoga is meant to serve you in becoming more and more capable in fulfilling your roles as a householder while engaging in an authentic and fulfilling spiritual practice.
The Householder Path and the Renunciate Path
You see, in the Yoga tradition, there are two Distinct Paths to God/Spirit: the Householder Path and the Renunciate Path. The Householder Path is the path for those living in the world, in the marketplace of life, as householders. Householders follow the path of pravritti - the outwardly manifesting path, the path that opens out of the Great Consciousness, from oneness into difference and diversity, into you and me and into all of the colors and textures of the world. Yoga practices help householders develop their skills so that they can be better in the workplace, in the family and in the community.
By contrast, the Renunciate Path is the path for those who wish to let go of possessions, leave the marketplace of the world behind and engage in ascetic practices. Renunciates follow the path of nivritti– the inwardly manifesting path, away from diversity and difference back into oneness. Both householders and renunciates can equally experience the beauty of diversity and the fulfillment of oneness, but the end goals of practice are different. The aim of a renunciate is to dissolve the ego completely, to let go of everything and to merge into oneness letting everything else go, while the aim of the householder is to develop and maintain a healthy ego, a healthy sense of self, to be able to be of greater service in the world.
Know why you’re practicing! Know what you want to accomplish.
If you’re a householder who practices yoga, you want yoga practices for personal and planetary evolution. You want your yoga to provide you with tools to help you: be a great parent, a productive businesswoman, an effective writer, an inspired artist, etc. Use your yoga practices to help you hone the habits of health, self-care, communication, expression, aesthetics, productivity, care-giving, education, stewardship and ethics. These, among, many others, are householder skills that the world needs for planetary evolution.
To find classes and courses based on yoga and Ayurveda and aimed toward helping householder yogis live inspired and productive lives, visit Vibrant Soulful Courses.
The strength of your yoga is most tested in your intimate relationships.
Many years ago, I read Judith Hanson Lasater’s book: Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life. In it, there is a quote that has stayed with me and that I have never forgotten:
For me, the strength of my yoga is not necessarily tested during my practice of poses or breathing techniques but in my intimate relationships. Here, my angers, attachments and fears are not so easily hidden under a mantle of denial, accomplishments or achievements.
- Judith Hanson Lasater
When I first read this quote, I wasn’t a mom, but the quote rang true. Now, I’m a mom of two teens and the quote couldn’t hit closer to home. Parent or not, intimate relationships challenge us. I may feel quite the yogini when I sit for meditation and do my pranayama practice upstairs in my bedroom, but what happens when I go downstairs and get the kids ready for school and find that they aren’t up and dressed? Do I maintain my yogic poise or do I scream?
I talk a lot about how yoga is about connections. In this post, I want to share with you my adventures with family meetings, basically how having family meetings helps us improve in communicating our emotions, needs and desires and they help us learn to support one another in our collective and individual evolution.
Enjoy a simple meditation practice to get more connected to yourself and the world around you.
Over time on the yogic path, we get more connected. Yoga and Ayurvedic practices are meant to help us connect more deeply to ourselves, to the people around us and to the earth. Practices such as this guided meditation below help us explore and connect to our inner and outer landscape,
The Yoga and Ayurveda traditions describe the Five Great Elements that make ourselves and all life and matter on this planet. These are known as the pancha mahabhutas and they represent the foundational aspects of nature and matter. They are: space, air, fire, water and earth. These elements are acknowledged and revered in traditional cultures around the world. Yogis use practices to draw on the energies of these elements to bring more balance and harmony into our lives and into the world.
In this blog, I share with you a simple meditation practice is designed to guide you into an experience these 5 elements both within you and in the world around you. This practice will leave you feeling both grounded and expansive.
To listen, simply click below.
P.S. Feel free to comment below and let me know what you think of this guided meditation practice.
I recently came back from a week in the Peruvian jungle, right on the edge of Manu National Park. It was amazing. I was enchanted by all of it: the monkeys, the birds, the insects (their form and sounds, but not their bites!), the exotic and fascinating jungle plants, the camp and fecund heat, the awe of the Amazon basin extending out beyond the confines for our lodge, and the allure of the unknown and uncharted territory beyond the river. I began the trip with all my yoga habits in check, but in the end, the jungle turned out to be the perfect disruption to my tidy yoga life.
saha nau bhunaktu
saha viryam karavavahai
tejasvi navadhitam astu
OM shanti, shanti, shanti
May we be protected together.
May we be nourished together.
May we create strength among one another.
May our study and practice be filled with brilliance and light.
May there be no hostility between us.
Om peace, peace, peace.
This is one of my favorite mantras, and one the one I most often chant when I lead a class.
This mantra is an affirmation of my commitment to learning and practicing within the context of a supportive community. I do yoga to evolve myself and to evolve humanity. I believe all humans evolve faster in a group than on our own. Plus, having community helps me stay accountable for my actions and growth. When the path is tough, I have buddies who have my back. Together we share the challenges and the gifts of our study and practice. Together we bring more light into the world.
Do you want to be part of a supportive yoga community? Join my Vibrant Soulful Yoga Tribe, an innovative yoga platform where you are a member of a worldwide tribe of yogis dedicated to living a more vibrant, soulful life. You have access to hundreds of practices and can access from anywhere in the world, and you’re part of an online forum where members share their experiences, questions and insights.
Monthly membership is now open. Find out more here!
If you’re reading this, you probably practice yoga asana or meditation either in a group class or on your own. So, I ask you, is your yoga practice a sadhana?
Sadhana is a word we throw around a lot in yoga. Let’s unpack it a bit. There are a few definitions that I find helpful:
The literal definition of sadhana as "a means of accomplishing something.”
This is a good starting place. I practice yoga as a means of accomplishing something, and I bet you do too. What do you mean to accomplish with your yoga? Think about it:
Do you want a stronger, more supple body? A clear mind? A state of steadiness and ease? Are you healing from an injury? Are you looking to manage anxiety or stress? Are you trying to focus on a project? There are many reasons many people practice and the more clear you are on your intent the more effective your practice will be.
Now, let’s look at another definition of sadhana. Sadhana can be defined as a daily spiritual practice aimed a change of consciousness – a deepening of one’s awareness of one’s self and the world.
Ah!, This definition points to another word we use a lot in yoga, svadhyaya, or self study and inquiry. We practice yoga to know ourselves more fully at root and core, so that we can become more conscious of ourselves and the world around us.
And, now my current favorite definition of sadhana. This one is from Maya Tiwari, a beautiful brahmacharini, yoga and Ayurveda teacher, author and founder of the Wise Earth School.
“Sadhana is a Sanskrit word whose root sadh means to reclaim that which is divine within us, our power to heal, serve, rejoice and uplift the spirit. Sadhana practices encompass all our daily activities, from the simple to the sublime - from cooking a meal to exploring your inner self through meditation. The goal of sadhana is to enable you to recover your natural rhythms and realign your inner life and daily habits with the cycles of the universe.”
I love this definition because it expands the usual definition of yoga practice and goes way beyond what we do on the mat. You and I both know that yoga is a way of life. The practices of yoga are as much about what we do in our workplace, in our kitchen, in our bathrooms and bedrooms and with our core peeps as they are about what we do on our mats and on our cushions.
May the offerings on this website and on this blog help you develop a true sadhana, a path of practice that helps you accomplish the things you wish to accomplish in this world, that gives you the tools to know yourself more deeply and that connects you to the rhythms of nature and the cosmos.
Interested in exploring, defining and creating your own personal sadhana? Join my Vibrant Soulful Yoga Tribe Online Membership. it goes live this week!
It’s not your typical online yoga program. Yes, you’ll get great weekly yoga asana practices, and practices that are in chunkable form that you can use anywhere!.
You’ll also get guidance in developing a toolbox of transformative practices including instruction in meditation, breathwork, chanting, intention setting, personal inquiry practices and more!
I’ve spent the past month developing the May content for this platform and I couldn’t be more pleased with how it’s turned out. I believe it is some of my best yoga teaching, and I’m thrilled that it can be shared widely and can be purchased for a really affordable monthly rate.
The May 2017 Vibrant Soulful Yoga Content includes:
Find out more here!
Morning yoga, anyone?
I practice yoga every morning. Even if I only have 10 minutes, I get on my mat to move my breath and body. This ensures that my day gets off to a good start.
I remember when I finally committed to a morning yoga practice. I had already been a yogi for many years. I knew how much better my life was when I practiced yoga regularly. (And, I knew how much worse it was when I didn’t!). But I didn’t have a regular morning practice. In fact, I rarely practiced yoga or exercised in the morning before work. I mostly practiced yoga in the evening.
Looking back, I didn’t know what I was missing! It wasn’t until I become a mom (nearly 18 years ago!) that I developed a morning yoga practice. (If you’re a mom, you know how time gets compressed and personal time becomes extremely precious when kids come along.) After I had kids, I realized that if I wanted a daily practice, I better do it in the morning while my husband was around and could be with the kids, because if it wasn’t going to happen then, there was an extremely high chance that it wouldn’t happen later because I would be too tired.
So, I committed. And I haven’t looked back. Doing a yoga practice each morning is key for getting my day off to a vibrant start.
(Read on and and I’ll share a link to a yoga practice you can do tomorrow morning!)
My top reasons for doing an AM yoga practice:,,
I just got back from a week in Mexico. Part family vacay and part retreat. I spent several days of quality time with my kids, my parents, my sister and her family which was totally awesome. After that, I dove into four days of retreat with my Ayurveda and health coaching teacher and the tribe of yoga health coaches that I’ve been hanging out with online for the past couple of years. Nothing like a powerful group of women invested in collective evolution and co-creative leadership meeting in the flesh to catalyze deep transformation. Things went deep - fast! When folks like this show up ready to dive into their work and up-level their personal and collective vibration, big shifts can happen quickly. That’s what happened to us. It didn’t take long for us to start to show off our super powers. Sure, we were all yogis and health coaches, but among us, we discovered we were also standup comedians, masters of improv, artists, authors, storytellers, networkers, belly dancers, intuitive healers, energy workers, musicians and even a cyclops!
Do you know your Z.O.G.?
I know I’ve written about it lots already, but I’m invested in helping folks uncover and articulate their dharma, or life purpose. To do this, you have to get crystal clear on your ZOG, that is, your zone of genius. I first read about zone of genius from Gay Hendricks in his book, The Big Leap. (He didn’t call it a ZOG, but my friend Elise coined the term last week on our retreat, and I love it.) Gay Hendricks writes about the different zones in which we spend our time.
Stress all Around
We are living in stressful times. Stressors are everywhere, every day: hectic mornings, long to-do lists, power struggles with kids or partners; work commutes with traffic; discontent clients, colleagues, and bosses; long work hours; tight schedules; unpaid bills; challenging interpersonal dynamics; and so on. Maybe our parents’ generation was able to leave stress at the workplace. But, today with smart phones and social media, there are fewer boundaries and less down time. Take all of this and then add in a traumatic life event like a death of a loved one, a job loss, a divorce, or the current presidential election (if you’re a progressive like! me!) and life can seem pretty darn stressful.
You probably don’t need me to tell you that your stress is costing you BIG in terms of your physical health, mental and emotional health and in your core relationships, but just in case you’ve forgotten, I’m here to remind you that stress disrupts every major system in the body.
Chronic stress predisposes you to:
The physiological effects of just one stressful event in a day last a long time in the body. Anytime you experience a significant stressor, your body’s fight or flight response (the sympathetic nervous system) kicks in and bathes your body with cortisol and adrenaline so that you can battle the saber toothed tiger that is running toward you. But, of course, there is no saber toothed tiger, you just forgot to send off that one email. Long after your stressful experience has passed, stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol still linger in your body, wreaking havoc on your digestive system and causing inflammation.
Self Care Habits for Stress
As a health coach and yoga teacher, it’s a major mission of mine to help folks unravel their stress. Whether it’s in a yoga class or in a health coaching program, I want to help people move away from stress and toward ease.
Who are you becoming in 2017? What’s stirring in you right now? What does it feel like?
This is an exercise in naming your word for 2017. By this, I mean to name the quality that you want to be operative in your body and mind this year. If you’re not sure, I encourage you to spend some time reflecting and journaling about it. Make sure you don’t just ask your head. Ask your heart and body as well. Make sure there is agreement and integration.
To do this, close your eyes. Pause soften and breath. Release the lower half of your body into the support of the earth. Exhale down into your sits bones, your pelvis, your legs and your feet. Feel the earth beneath you. Then inhale, and draw the breath up through the central channel of the body, what yogis call the shushumna nadi. Take the breath all the way up to the crown of your head, toward the sky. Now, spend a few breath cycles moving the energy up and down the length of your spine to clear this channel. After a few rounds of breath, inhale and breath into the front of your body and feel into your individual desire to evolve and move forward in life. Then, exhale and breathe into the back side of your body. Lean back energetically, feeling into the mystery that is the universe. The universe has your back. Create an attitude and inner stance of receptivity and curiosity. Notice how you feel. Notice what is stirring in you. How is that you desire to feel in this next year? Drop that question down into your body and notice how the body responds. Let the answer bubble up without forcing it and take notice of the words that arise.
The word could be:
CLARITY, EMPOWERMENT, EASE, EXPANSION, COMPASSION, COMMUNICATION, CONNECTIVITY, HUMILITY, LEADERSHIP, WISDOM, EMPATHY, STABILITY, GROUNDEDNESS, SELF-CARE, KINDNESS… or..?
What is the word for you? Once you feel it, really feel it. Taste it. Smell it. See it. Touch it. Feel into it from a cellular level. Name it and embrace it. Write it down. Put it in a prominent place where you can see it every day.
Then, create for yourself a plan so that you can make this word truly operative.
It’s January, and I’m full of dreams and ambitions! You may say, “Why bother”, or “It’s too hard to set goals.” To that, I will quote Mary Oliver and say, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
You see, I’m not just along for the ride. I also want to be in the driver’s seat. I want to create cool stuff, cultivate satisfying relationships and design great experiences. Even if I run into obstacles, and I don’t accomplish all that I want to this year, I want to feel satisfied that I put energy into what’s most important to me.
This week, I’m re-reading The 12 Week Year by Brian Moran. It’s a productivity book that I read twice already in 2016. The book is designed to help anyone (you, me) take their goals and put them into actionable steps in a 12 week cycle. As a dreamer and big idea person, it’s not an easy read for me because it is the kind of book asks me to pinpoint and clarify my dreams, to break them down into actionable steps, and to measure my results. I tend to resist this because I’m not a numbers person, and I enjoy day-dreaming. But I know what I want to do with my wild and precious life and I have figured out that dreams take planning. This book makes me show up for myself and put my dreams into action. So, I’m re-reading it and I’m putting together my annual calendar of projects and my 12 week plan for the first quarter of the year.
What will you make come alive in 2017? I'd love to hear your big and audacious goals!
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
A NEW YEAR’S RITUAL:
Ever since I was young, I have always loved ringing in the New Year. It has always been a special and potent time for reflecting on my past and envisioning my future. As a kid, I always enjoyed the ritual of writing New Year’s resolutions. As a yogi, this ritual has morphed into what I call Dharma Re-Alignment exercise.
The word dharma comes from Sanskrit, and it refers to your unique purpose and passion in life. The Dharma Re-Alignment Exercise is an opportunity to get clear on who I am, who I am becoming, what I stand for, and where I want to put my time and energy. I created this exercise as an opportunity for me to reflect on the essential nature of my being, a way of owning who I am and who I have become, a means of acknowledging my gifts and challenges, and a way to align to these as I take aim for the New Year. The understanding is that I am not the same as I was twelve months ago. Thank God! Hopefully I have evolved. That is the point! Hopefully I have learned and grown from the past year and have acquired new gifts and skills to take with me into the New Year.
You see, dharma is dynamic. I am and you are in a state of evolution. We are works in progress. Even as I still feel myself to be the same person that I have always been, I have been growing and changing during the last year, and my identity has shifted some. My desire is to be in a co-creative relationship with the Universe. I have come to strongly believe that the Universe has my back and is conspiring for my evolution, and the best thing I can do for myself and for the planet is to cooperate with this and figure out who I am and live this on purpose.
If this resonates with you, then I invite you to join me in a new year's exercise to clarify what is making you come alive in 2017.
Download the written exercise here:
Listen to audio to be guided through this lesson here:
If you like this exercise, share the love!
Here is a short and simple guide to help you eat better this holiday season. If you follow these simple guidelines, you will feel better in your body, put on less pounds and be less likely to get sick!
Wishing you and yours the happiest and healthiest of holidays!
I’m writing a series of blog posts on Radical Self Care: Become Your Own Best Care-giver! In my last post, in honor of the Day of the Dead, I wrote about how we learn self-care and care-giving from our own care-givers. In the next few post, I will write about how Ayurveda views self-care.
In Ayurveda, there are 3 main ways we fall into dis-ease. My teacher of Ayurveda, Cate Stillman, has written about these three causes of disease in her blog: How to Sink Your Ship (Ayurveda and the Three Causes of Disease) published by Banyan Botanicals. In this series of blog posts, I’ll unpack each cause and discuss how understanding this can help you orient toward better self-care.
According to Ayurveda, the first way that we way we fall into disease is: prajna parada, or making negligent choices.
I’ve written in a couple of blogs about what we do when life throws us a curve ball. Well, we sure got a curve ball this week. Like many of you, the election results caught me totally off guard, and I was unprepared for the wave of emotion that hit me in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Disappointment. Grief. Fear. Despair. The election of Trump feels like a blow to so much that I stand for and hold dear. I slept poorly Tuesday night and woke up Wednesday morning feeling contracted, small, and shut down.
Yet, I got up and did what I always do every morning. I got up and did my meditation practice. So did my 12 year old and my 15 year old. It’s what we do every morning. It’s a practice that I’ve cultivated over many years, and I’ve passed on to my kids. It’s the most reliable way for me to steady myself when the world is shaky. It’s a practice that that cultivates resilience in me, the ability to surf the waves of life and to steady myself when life throws a curve ball. Mediation helps me keep the container of my body-mind strong and adaptable. It’s what keeps me whole.
Meditation is no small thing. I do it, of course, for myself. I do it so that I can feel better. But, it’s not just for me. It’s a form of activism. I don’t meditate to get good at meditation. I meditate to get good at life. I meditate so that I can be a better mother, spouse, teacher, neighbor and community member. I meditate so that I can more open minded, see the big picture, and speak and act from a more compassionate and skillful place. I meditate so that I can live my life from a place of wholeness.
An on-going theme that I teach in my courses and explore in my own life is how to become your own best care-giver.
A good way to begin to explore this theme is by remembering our own care-givers and becoming aware of our learned and inherited patterns of care-giving and self-care.
Who were your primary care-givers? Name them. Your mother, father, older siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers, etc. Your list can include blood relatives as well as the special people who showed up for you in your life and cared for you.
In what ways did you experience their care? Maybe it was through physical touch, nourishment, humor, coaching or teachable moments. If your caregivers are still living, consider reaching out to them and expressing gratitude for their care. If they are no longer living, find a way to remember them and inwardly express gratitude.
Was self-care something that was strongly modeled in your family of up-bringing? Did the adults in your life model self-care? Can you remember how your care-givers cared for themselves and/or reached out for support when they needed it?
How is your self-care? What habits or practices do you regularly engage in to promote your wellbeing?
Do you teach self-care to your kids or to the people in your life that you influence?
These inquiries are important. Our own personal health evolution requires a strong examination of the habits and patterns that are present in our lineage. The habits that we learned from our care-givers that are life-affirming, we aim to perpetuate. The habits that we learned from them that are not life-affirming we should release. Yoga is a tool for this process.
This week, when you go to your mat or your cushion, choose to be curious about your lineage. Tune in and inquire into the body-mind patterns (postures, emotions, mindsets, etc.) that you inherited or learned. Begin a conversation with your body, your ancestors and your ancestral lineage.
Fall is an auspicious season for remembering our ancestors and clarifying and healing our relationships with them. There are many traditions around the world for remembering our ancestors. You may choose to create a Day of the Dead altar to remember you ancestors, to celebrate their lives, and to invite their benevolent energy to be present in your life. Additionally, the Yoga and Ayurveda traditions offer us tarpana. Tarpana is a relationship healing ceremony aimed to help individuals clarify and release constraints from an ancestral relationship and invite healing. You can read more about tarpana here.
What does it take to be your own best care-giver?
How have your learned or not learned to take care of yourself?
Learning self-care involves acknowledging how self-care was modeled or not by your caregivers. What patterns of self-care or self-neglect have you inherited or learned? This week, notice your patterns and tendencies.
Last month I did a free talk on Healthier Eating this Fall.
You can listen to the entire talk here:
In the talk, I share:
Here is a tip sheet that you can download and put on your fridge to help you stick to healthy eating. Enjoy!
Fill up your cup! Build ojas
According to Ayurveda, ojas is the life sustaining vitality that promotes immunity in the body. I like to think of it as your energy reserves. Ojas is responsible for sustaining your physical health, mental clarity and emotional well-being. You know when you see a friend who has been taking really good care of herself? She has a radiant smile and sparkling eyes, and you comment, "Wow you look fabulous!" She is letting her ojas shine. When you have a lot of ojas, your cup is full. Your eyes are bright. You look well-rested and content.
When we spend too much time in the fast lane, we spend our ojas quick. You know what I mean - working long hours, forgetting too eat, not getting enough exercise, not getting enough social time. This is a sure way to deplete your energy reserves. The next thing you know, you'll feel crabby and cranky and come down with a cold.
We build ojas by good wholesome living. Fall is a great time to do this. Here are a few ways to build our ojas this season:
INQUIRY: What is one thing from this list that you can prioritize to build your ojas this week?
What do you do when a curve ball comes into your life? Although we can wish that life would stay neat and tidy, the reality is that life is messy. Unexpected circumstances arise. We all run into difficulties, blunders and are subject to accidents, losses and tragedies. Some great and some small. Curve balls hit even those who have the best laid plans. Every human being experiences adversity, stress, challenge and loss.
It is what we do when we experience daily stress or a curve ball hits that can make all the difference. This is resilience, and it is something we can cultivate. Resilience is the ability to adapt to new challenges, manage stress and recover quickly from adversity. While it may seem that resilience is an in-born trait, the fortunate reality is that resilience is a set of skills that can be cultivated. Resilience as the ability to surf the waves of life. Resilience requires a sensitive, strong and adaptable “container” of body-mind. This is something we cultivate through steady and reliable habits and practices that help us adapt, stabilize, rewire and thrive. These habits and practices help us effectively deal with the everyday stresses that arise, so when a curve ball hits, we have to fall back we can bounce back.
Yoga, meditation and my daily Ayurvedic routine are my pillar practices and are my saving grace. Without them, I would be much less grounded. I would be less clear-headed. I would be a less present parent and a less compassionate spouse. These practices act as a buffer and a balm to help me stay steady and grounded and keep my cool with the day-by-day predictable stresses. Of course, the unpredictable challenges or curve balls are always going to be hard. It is very tough to stay steady in the wake of a tragedy or surprising health diagnosis. Such circumstances can broadside us. They will make life topsy-turvy. We might wobble. We might fall. However, if we have practices in place, we are in a stronger place to get back up. The daily regularity of these practices cultivated over a long time cultivates resilience, the ability to rebound after adversity.
I want to be resilient and I want my kids to be resilient. So I do my practices every day. No matter how crazy life gets. In fact, the crazier life gets, the more important it is that I do my practices. When time is crunched, I may do abbreviated practices, but I still do them. I consider these practices a form of activism. I believe that the world is going to ultimately change from the inside out. I do my practices to strengthen the vessel of my human body so that I can be a strong container to do the work of being a good parent, communicating with care and respect, helping others live more vibrantly in their bodies and in this way, contributing to a better, more compassionate planet.
My kids, River and Sage, and I just got back from 8 days of non-stop fun, incredible music, high level creativity and awesome community at the Valley of the Moon Fiddle Camp led by master Scottish fiddler, Alasdair Fraser, in Boulder Creek, CA. I was the resident yoga teacher, teaching yoga to the musicians (who could manage to get up after late night jamming!) every morning, and participating in classes and community activities throughout the day. It was my third year of attending the camp, and it was not only a total blast, it was also a life changing experience. Fiddle camp is totally different from say, a yoga or meditation retreat, but in the end, the life changing effect is very similar.
Here are some of the lessons I learned at camp this year:
Annie Barrett. Educator, certified health coach, educator and yoga instructor.