It seems these days there is so much information out there. This or that is good for you, and then just as much information out there that says this or that is bad for you. How can we make decisions when we are constantly fighting over truth and not knowing who or what to trust, and who or what can help us?
Whether we suffer from anxiety, acne, or stomach aches, there just seems to be so many answers, while no answers at all. Nothing seems to work, while we are told to believe that all these magical pills or herbs for that matter will be the solution.
There’s a part of me that doesn’t believe in solutions, or one quick fix, but rather, as many functional medicine doctors would agree, we need to look at the body as a full system and see how everything interacts with each other. In addition, I feel like we relinquish our inner sense of knowing and put our faith entirely into the hand of the experts.
I encourage you to learn to tap into your feelings and intuition and allow that part of yourself to help you make decisions. YOU ARE MORE POWERFUL THAN YOU THINK.
With that being said let’s learn the skinny on another superfood/trendy supplement hitting the streets: COLLAGEN. What’s it all about and how crucial is it that we add it to our green tea avocado matcha smoothies in the morning. Here’s the scoop.
Collagen is the most abundant protein found in your body and the entire animal kingdom. Vital for functioning. 1/3 of all the protein in our bodies; accounts for 75 percent of dry weight of our hair, skin, and nails. It is the glue that holds the body together; the connective tissue: skin/muscle tissue/ bones/tendons.
Collagen production declines naturally as you get older. Some say as early as in our 20’s
Ensuring we have adequate collagen in our bodies is very beneficial. We can either take collagen supplements to achieve this, or eat a diet rich in foods (primarily Vitamin C and antioxidants) that help support our own natural production of collagen. I feel like both are great and beneficial ways to go about. So how about both?!
Here is the science that backs supplemental collagen in helping several health ailments.
- Brain and Alzheimers Protection
- Heal leaky gut syndrome
- Lessen back pain
- Ease joint and knee pain
- Strengthens nails
- Improves skin elasticity
- Prevent and help treat heart disease
So as the science is beginning to show, increasing collagen production has a great impact on supporting supple skin. Others agree, that collagen can be used post-workout to help with muscle repair and support.
Also, there are natural ways to support collagen production:
- Limit Prolonged Sun Exposure
- Diet low in sugar, STRESS (big one…), cigarettes etc.
- Drink lots of water… is this all starting to sound familiar by now?
- citrus fruits
- oranges, grapefruits, limes, lemons, kiwis
- dark leafy greens: spinach and kale
- red fruits and veggies: like beets!
- orange fruits and veggies: like carrots, sweet potatoes
- onion, shallots, leeks
- white tea
- legumes: peas and lentils
- chia seeds
- pumpkin seeds
- citrus fruits
So I guess essentially, just eating healthy? Either way, here is a nice framework for better understanding our bodies and the ways it produces and intakes collagen.
Thoughts on collagen. Natural VS. Supplementing. What are your tips and tricks for healthy supple skin?
Things are heating up, and having recently transplanted to Southern California, I am beginning to sense the shift into Summer. The first day of summer is officially June 21, so get ready to pamper yourself and melt into a nice fun pace.
- Epsom salt baths are a truly wonderful way to relieve stress. Epsom salt is not technically salt but rather the minerals magensium and sulfate. Running a nice warm bath with these magnesium flakes is a great way to refresh and re-charge after a long day. Whether your body is sore from working out, or you’re feeling the need to decompress after a long day of something that brought up lots of emotions, Epsom salts can help cleanse and clear the body of sticky tension sitting in the body ready to be released. Light a candle, and indulge in some self-loving. I like Life-Flo pure magnesium flakes, they melt in the bath and have a great texture that readily dissolves. Add some essential oils, and allow for some YOU time.
2. Speaking of essential oils , my life has been truly enhanced and improved by the installment of various aromatherapy practices. I feel an immediate sense of peace and calm when I drop some essential oils into my diffuser, turn on some mood lighting and allow my mind to settle after a long day. Take a look at my article, regarding the tested scientific backing behind the science of aromatherapy.
I am a huge fan of vetiver because of it’s musky and earthy scent. I enjoy the Young Living Essential Oils because they are such high quality that you can drink them. Believe me, for those of you that know essential oils, it is rare to find such a high quality oil that you can drink, so this is a reason I greatly support this product. I enjoy using their diffusers as well. Two oils that I have been deeply enjoying are Rare Essence OM blend that promotes calming and inner peace through the scent of frankincense, patchouli, cedarwood, and tangerine, and of course the classic, Vetiver oil. These products, are not drinkable, but they are a little easier on the budget and great for diffusing. 🙂
3. House plants are another great and soothing healthy resource to incorporate into life. They cheer up a home and bring life and comfort to a space. There are many plants that can survive indoors off limited light and will thrive inside your home. I can’t stress enough the value of bringing some greenery into the house. Some plants do better in different rooms of the house, so check out this article to see what plants thrive where: The Best Plants For Every Room of the House.
I recently bought some English Ivy which I’m keeping on a ledge in my shower with the hopes that it will live there happily and allow for it’s vines to sexily unfold into our showerspace. Also, in our bathroom I’ve put some classic Aloe, which for the nature of this article is GREAT, as many of us know for, SunBurns! It’s great to keep aloe on hand and to break off a little piece of the plant after a long day of lounging in the sun on a summer day. It also provides great relief from Poison Ivy. Ahhhh….
4. Free Activities! I feel like over the summer every one is out sunning their buns. With that being said there are often tons of great free activities to participate in. You just need to know where to look. Whether it may be a romantic free movie in the park, or yoga session, free is sexy and fun! If you currently reside in the Denver area, take a look at this great article loaded with tips that showcase 10 Free To-Do Summer activities . In addition, for those of you in San Francisco, SF Fun Cheap is a database that has tons of free and cheap activities in the Bay Area. Lastly, for those of you living in the LBC (Long Beach County) take a peek at Yoga on the Bluff Yoga through Yogalution, they host free yoga outside EVERY DAY. What are your favorite free summer activites?
5. This bathing suit, because can it get any cuter?
Enjoy your summer lovelies.
“In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.”
Affirmation: I choose to give and receive love in equal measure.
This past week was challenging. I received some bad news from several of the universities I applied to, and it was hard to deny the sense of inadequacy that swept over me upon opening my fourth rejection
letter e-mail . Yes, you heard right (or…read right), of the six programs I applied to, in hopes of earning my PHD in Psychology (studying the mind-wandering network—the network in the brain linked to rumination, anxiety, and also dreams—that voice in our head that seems to incessantly loop), I have received four rejections. Three more programs to go (2 of which are my ‘safety’ Masters programs), but this experience has got me thinking…
This news has been (slightly) devastating, causing me to reformulate my position in life and evaluate my place in the world. I have been feeling a sense of unease these past few days as I have begun to question the ways in which I hope to contribute to this world and this constant need for external validation. I have become increasingly aware over the past few days just how incessant this need for approval and validation is. It’s maddening.
Firstly, I began observing my relationship to social media. I am growing curious about what I post, when I post, and why I post, becoming aware of this mind-numbing compulsion for social validation through these social media outlets and I can’t help but feel like a slave to the outside world. Much like the denial from these several grad programs, I am noticing my tendency to seek external validation to illuminate internal worth. Trying desperately to appear a certain way on social media to be liked, accepted, envied even. Why is it that my sense of self has reduced so boldly to a few simple clicks and an algorithm of which I know very little about? Why is it that I am allowing my emotional state to be dictated and controlled by this platform of which could be seen as a tool for sharing/archiving/and discovering?
The addiction to this need for external validation runs deeper than just an incessant need to confirm my worth via social media channels. I remember as a little girl, the fabric of my psyche was similarly composed as I would fondly admire the extroverts, the popular kids, the rebels. Grouping people into an identity, one that I wished to be more part of, while often operating just outside of and on the periphery. I remember being a young girl and idolizing the ‘popular’ kids. Wanting to be like them, dress like them, hang out with them. Driven by the need to be accepted by the ‘cool’ kids, as a measure of my own worth. My grad school validation is eerily similar operating under these same principles. Being accepted by an institution that can claim my worth. In psychology, I believe that this is known as having an ‘external locus of control’, meaning, my internal makeup is soothed only by external means. This often leads to a rollercoaster of emotion, and constant highs and lows as I cling to any approval or acceptance.
I have to be OK with whatever comes my way and recognize that whether I am accepted into grad school or not, it is my responsibility to turn to faith and deepen my understanding of a divine plan. I tried my best when it came to applying this round and if I don’t get in that marks the third year in which I’ve applied and been denied to graduate studies. Maybe, it just isn’t for me… I can’t say that this third rejection will drastically alter the course of my life, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that another rejection may in fact alter me applying again for another cycle. I did put things off last minute in a lot of ways. I didn’t improve in the GRE as much as I would have liked, and I’m not published. The recipe I present to an admissions committee isn’t one that statistically shows success I suppose, and I get it, maybe it just isn’t a good fit. Either way, I am devoted to teaching, I am devoted to consciousness and better understanding these aspects of mental and emotional health and whether I explore that in the formalized institutional setting, or rather in a more individualistic and entrepreneurial way, I am committed to that mission.
I am committed to better understanding this epidemic of anxiety and depression. This sense of isolation and loneliness that may be contributing to the shootings that are happening unexplainably left and right. The pressure and tensions rising in this sometimes volatile world, and how we relate to technology and social media and our striving for acceptance and validation to find a sense of self-worth. All of which make things sometimes seem too much to handle. I am going to dedicate my life to the pressure cooker we call society and work to formulate an alternative route for myself and others that promotes self-soothing, and provides the steps necessary to help us live a life with a calm nervous system.
Sticking it to the man, to the popular kid complex. The avoidance of ‘weird’ people that don’t fit in to some formula. Committing to you. Let’s bring back independence, individuality, and personal responsibility. This gentle/yin yoga sequence and playlist are dedicated to just that, with some heart openers and poses that allow us to be our own best friend while practicing the art of radical self-acceptance.
Amen to that.
It’s been a great week. I have had the opportunity to spend the past five days with my sweet boyfriend down in Long Beach, CA. We spent quality time together in the desert of Joshua Tree and beautiful Deep Creek hot springs near Lake Arrowhead. The nature proved to be incredibly healing and relaxing, invigorating, and empowering. I hope for the opportunity to spend more time in nature because of its capacity to help quiet my mind and recalibrate my nervous system. My recent nature experience was inspirational and got me thinking about some of my current daily practices, and the habits I have that are not serving me as I mature into an independent, and responsible adult.
The travel associated with transporting my kitten and myself down to Southern California from where I reside in Northern California was a bit exhausting. Since I’ve reduced my life of discipline and immense self-care, I have felt a tad more lethargic. Have you ever seen the movie Eat, Pray, Love? The movie is broken down into three parts, each one representing a critical part of the characters development. The main character goes to India and takes up a rigorous and demanding mindfulness practice (Pray); however, the last part of the movie she falls in love (Love). The very act of falling in love, however, knocked her slightly off balance and because she was so elated with her newfound romance and the deep love that had presented itself to her, she shyed away from the deliberation of routine and a systematized yoga practice. In the movie, she had to discover how to find the balance between being in love and tending to her practice. I too, can relate to this, and I find that the joy I find in my love relationship has allowed for me to abandon some of my sacred and disciplined practices. So this week is all about increasing focus, detoxifying and grounding so I can be more intentional when it comes to my behaviors. I am working on reinstating my self-care practices. I feel like I’ve been very off-schedule lately. In the whirlwind of falling in love, and with so much up in the air regarding my future, I don’t have a sense of stability or routine that I find critical for keeping a healthy and sound mind. I am hustling 3 jobs and peicemealing my income in order to make sure I have enough for rent and bills and the coping mechanisms I put in place are critical.
I have been learning so much being in a relationship. My boyfriend and I have been together nearly 10 months, and it’s beautiful to notice how we just keep getting closer and the intimacy continues to grow. I spent a lot of my life in very one-dimensional relationships that often proved to present way more heart-ache than actual benefit—one of the reasons for me to outwardly despise men and relationships in many ways. Then this wonderful man walks into my life (after spending 5 or 6 months with a very concerted effort on self-care). I was ready for him. Now that I am in a relationship, and am very happy, the learning hasn’t ceased, nor the need for immediate self-care. Part of me held this belief that once I find the ‘love of my life’, all the puzzle pieces will come together and gears will click into place. This is, however, not entirely the truth. Though I am very satisfied with my relationship, I find my usual patterns and coping mechanisms to creep back in as I face the struggles with life.
Now, more than ever it’s important for me to focus on self-care. I am noticing within myself this dramatic need to be disciplined. Last year, I spent ten months of the year gluten, dairy, alcohol, and substance – free. Though challenging, the experience was very rewarding. One thing I noticed, the brain fog had lifted and the amount of time I spent lamenting over a somewhat intrusive hangover was literally non-existent. Being sober of all of these ‘allergens’ really taught me an immense amount of self-control. While I was the annoying person at the restaurant, asking to see a gluten free menu, or drinking water at a bar and leaving before everyone else, in ways I feel like I had this sense of control over my life. My friends would stumble home drunk, when I was already curled up in bed having slept for hours. In ways I felt more in control. I knew that I wasn’t going to feel negative waking up, or say anything that I would regret later. I knew I would wake up with roughly enough time and energy to meet the next challenges offered to me by life.
Slowly but surely my habits have started to creep back in, and slowly but surely after my ten months of detoxing away I started to reintroduce these things back into my life. Where is the line drawn between being healthy and being neurotic? How can I introduce health in my life in a balanced way? These next few weeks I am going to detoxify, yet again, taking the month of February to remove allergens from my life and meditating on health. The yoga poses for the month of February will challenge self-control/discipline to practice that muscle, support working through cravings, and encourage grounding. Twists are great for detoxifying as well.
Sequence (Runs about thirty minutes):
3 grounding breaths & set intention
I-Arms up/ Look up
Plank (hold for 1 minute: Last ten seconds lift one back leg, then the other)
Upward facing dog
Childs Pose (hold for 10 breaths)
Side Plank (hold for 1 minute each side: Last ten seconds try tree legs)
Upward facing dog
Neck Warm-Up (circles both directions)
Seated Twist (both sides)
Walk hands (sitting cross-legged) out in front of you.
Hands and Knees (Cat/Cow)
Elbow to Knee Each Side (X10)
Opening A X 2
Opening B X 2
Boat -> Canoe (X10)
Savasana (10 minutes of silence)]
These past few weeks have presented slight but unforeseen challenges. Though, in more ways than one, I am having the best time of my life, I can’t help but sometimes fall prey to the stress and anxiety regarding my future and purpose in this world as a 25-year-old millennial. I believe, the cause of this stress, is a feeling of not being in control and among this uncertainty I need to trust in the ever-present universal assistance . Applications to my potential PHD programs went out December 1, and it has been roughly two months since this endeavor was completed. I am now waiting to hear back from my universities (six schools along the west coast from Vancouver down to LA), and within the next month will start receiving acceptances, denials, and hopefully interview opportunities. There is something to say about this ‘waiting game’. I spent the six months prior, pre-applying, preparing my life to fit comfortably in this elevator-sized little package, and it’s a form I’ve grown familiar with. My application identity, a pair of shoes that I started liking to wear, is now awaiting ACCEPTANCE. Oh the ultimate aspect of survival. Now, this creative and adorned manifestation of me is marching up to the iron gates of these exciting institutions in her best dress hoping to be accepted and seen for her worth and this makes me NERVOUS.
But here’s another thing I’ve been realizing and meditating on, and that is the power of resilience. No matter the outcome, (whether it be utter denial from world of academia, or more simply, recovering from a conversation that touched a nerve) I will be ok. My pretty little PHD self, will live on regardless of acceptance and this is something I’ve had to cope with. This, limbo—wondering, will I live here or there, will my life change AT ALL has been a stress. The familiar, like dairy, found in a grilled cheese sandwich is readily coming to my side. Hello old friend. And other undesirable old strategies for coping are sitting in line hoping to be chosen to provide either instant or long-term relief. In a way, it’s quite beautiful. My consciousness is acting on this body to try and help soothe me. The very nature of reaching towards a stimulus for comfort is an act overflowing with compassion. Like a dear friend we are reaching towards what makes us feel better. Even if sometimes what we reach for, in turn, doesn’t provide us with relief. On some level—we hope it will. And the sheer act of seeking and providing comfort within ourselves is a delicate and unshaken relationship.
There’s a part of me that’s been feeling super energized. I’ve been making lists like crazy and knocking ‘to-dos’ off left and right. I’m packed and ready 4 days in advance for my trip down to LA (Can you tell I’m excited?), and have the meal plan down to the last granule for our two day camping adventure. I’m feeling very inspired, writing yoga sequences and soothing myself through the resources found in being organized and racking my brain making lists so as to not have any lingering considerations slip through the cracks. On one hand I am really feeling together and with it. Like I can take on the world, and more importantly have fun doing it! I’m reaching lots of goals, preparing that bomb ass lentil meatloaf that I’ve been excited about for weeks. But there is also this gnawing feeling from the not-knowing about what’s next. It’s hard to commit full-force to any project when my future could be so blissfully and spontaneously uprooted in the next month. So there is this gnawing of uncertainty and with that, I’ve been seeking to regain control and a semblance of certainty. I’m coping with a lot of pleasure and reward stimulus. “Ahhhh I want something and can have it”, this relieves the pain of “ahhh I have no idea whats happening and I am completely at the hands of anothers approval”.
It all makes great sense, so as 2018 is ramping up and I’m having the time of my life, I am becoming increasingly aware of my stress, triggers, and coping mechanisms. Awareness of this, and mastery of the “dance” sounds to me like the ultimate control. It’s interesting, as I’m facing the potential reality of a lifetime in academia—seen to some as a stodgy and dry profession, I feel incredibly creative. Most of my creative energy, I’m finding is landing on lots of goal-orienting and future-planning, and while it is giving me bliss to FANTASIZE, reeling my energy back to the grounding now, is something I am learning and working on. Here’s a yoga sequence to do just that. Energizing and opening up the heart, strengthening the shoulders, allows for increased learned coping with sensation uncertainty and vulnerability , some grounding breaths and hip-opening poses to help with presence, and some self-soothing, because hey I think we could all use a little more of that. Enjoy.
Sequence: (Maybe, I will start making videos/audio…typing out sequences is quite exhaustive…and might not be that effective)
(Runs: About an hour/ Seating: Mandala formation )
Hero’s pose…lean backwards
Shoulders to ears (inhale up, exhale down)
Sitting on our heels, extend arms directly out from body, arms straight, palms up pinkies facing eachother, put block towards forearms between elbows. Make a 90 degree angle with arms, fingertips facing the ceiling. Lift finger tips up (resembling a pull-up position), strengthen shoulders.
Plank (3 minutes): last minute, experiment
Side Plank (3 minutes each side): last minute, experiment ( ‘tree legs’)
From tummy, body is in a T-shape, Roll to one side-open shoulder, and the other.
Sway in Ragdoll (walk your hands towards your feet, forward fold)
Roll up Vertebrae
3 grounding breaths (for these, standing in mountain pose, imagine that you are drawing energy up from the ground, on the inhale, let it circulate throughout your entire body, and on the exhale bring that energy back down to the ground through your feet)
Opening A: (variation)
-Inhale look between hands
-Exhale forward fold
-I flat back
-E plank pose (hold it for 10 seconds)
-I prep for Chattaranga
-E Chattaranga (ELBOWS IN)
-I Upward Dog
-E Downward Dog
-I Extend R leg up and back
-E Warrior 1
-I Deeper in stretch (extend arms up up up , while still remaining in sockets)
-E Sink into the knee
-I Extend arms
-I Warrior 1
-I Warrior 1
-E Plank pose / Chattarange
-I Upward Dog
-E Downward Dog
DO OTHER SIDE
-E hop forward fold
-I Flat back
-E forward fold
-I reverse swan dive
-E Mountain Pose
Opening B: (variation)
-I/E Chair (hold for 10 seconds)
-I Flat Back in chair
-Chair twist (both sides)
-E Forward fold
-I Hands to shins
-E Chattaranga/ Plank
-I Upward Dog
-E Downward Dog
-I Right leg extends
-Warrior 1 (R)
-Reverse Warrior -> Side Angle (X3)
-Extended Side Angle/ Bird of Paradise
-High Lunge->Bring Back leg forward and bent held up in front of you (X3)
DO OTHER SIDE
Star ->Goddess (X10)
Skandasana (side lunge) both sides (X3)
Malasana Squat (10 seconds)
Extend feet: Hands behind back, shoulders come up over head (goal: touch head to the ground)
Camel pose (lean back reach for your heels)/ back and forth X 10
Boat -> Canoe X10
Twist (Both sides)
Reverse Suptavarakanasana (sp?)
Face yoga, face/head/neck shoulder taps, Belly Rubs
Savasana (10 minutes silence)
I experimented with cutting out dairy from my diet for seven days, here’s what happened…
I experimented with cutting out dairy from my diet for seven days, here’s what happened…
Interestingly, many women cycle with the moon. We all know about ‘syncing’ up with people that you are close with and live with. This is something I would like to do more research on. But one thing, that many people don’t know, is the frequency in which women’s cycle sync with the moon.
Mystic Mamma, cites in her article, Moontime~ Sacred time for Women
“Traditionally, the Moontime is the sacred time of woman when she is honored as a Mother of the Creative Force. During this time she is allowed to release the old energy her body has carried and prepare for reconnection to the Earth Mother’s fertility that she will carry in the next Moon or month. Our Ancestors understood the importance of allowing each woman to have her Sacred Space during this time of reconnection, because women were the carriers of abundance and fertility…”
One thing I’ve come to learn in my own experience is how frequently our moon time LITERALLY syncs up with the MOON. That is, the frequency in which women have their period BEGIN with the FULL or the NEW moon. This is fascinating to me, and any supporting research surrounding this is of great interest.
This study explores female menstruation and it’s relationship to the moon cycles, The regulation of menstrual cycle and its relationship to the moon.
Here is a great article from Cycle Harmony that discusses the different moon cycles, and goddesses associated, The Moon Cycle and The Menstrual Cycle
For the sake of brevity we will discuss the history of two cycles (though many women may have their cycles during waxing and waning phases of the moon as well) .
Moonsong has a great article, Menstrual Lunar Asynchrony, here is a brief synopsis:
A woman who ovulates during the new moon and menstruates on the full moon is part of the Red Moon Cycle. This cycle represented a woman that was not using her sexual energies for conception, but rather for self expression. Women who had their cycles during this time were looked at as the ‘evil woman’, witches, seductresses, wise woman, medicine women because they represented women that were not using their sexual forces for only conception. It showed orientation away from the energies of procreation. Energies associated with this cycle: outward, world nourishing, learning to transform energy, turn rage into creative action. Creativity and sexuality may be more pronounced during this cycle.
The goddess associated is Ishtar.
A woman who ovulates during the full moon and menstruates on the new moon is part of the White Moon Cycle. This cycle was thought to create the best conditions for conception and was often seen for being the ‘good mother’, the only aspect of womanhood acceptable to the patriarchal society. Energies associated with this cycle: inward, healing, self-nourishing. Cleansing and purification may be more pronounced during this cycle.
The goddess associated is Hecate.
Often times we can cycle more towards one moon time or another, so we are not fixed in these energies but rather it’s a fluid dance of womanhood to vacillate between the two.
This infographic shows how our cycle is often observed.
Tracking your cycle can be fun and empowering. MyDays is a good app that allows you to put in your period times so you can become more self-aware! Regardless of where your period falls, our period is a good time to care for ourselves and provide self-love and relief.
Here is an article that discusses good yoga poses for menstruation, Yoga for Menstruation.
Some teas and herbal remedies for menstruation, Herbal Remedies for Menstruation
Check out this article, Can Essential Oils Relieve My Menstrual Cramps?
And Wellness Mamas article, Essential Oils for Hormone Balance
Please comment with any knowledge/experience/research surrounding menstruation!