A Day of Self Love
Be Your Own Valentine
I am passionate about helping people create lifelong rituals which ensure their success, wellbeing and sustaining ability to thrive. Establishing healthy habits takes practice, persistence, and patience- whether it’s taking on a new diet, exercise regime, or adopting a new mindset.
The process of gaining lasting Self Love is no different. It takes time, practice, and many ups and downs to test if we’re really doing our homework.
Yes, love is work. Sometimes. But what better work could there be?
Honing the ability to love ourselves fully – no matter the external circumstance – is priceless. Self Love breeds contentment, joy, health, ability to be of service, and the ability to love others fully. It is only from offering ourselves love that we can offer it to others.
Remembering the importance (and vitality) of Self Love is especially important in times when society asks us to show our love with boxes of chocolates and flowers. Not that these things aren’t lovely… but they’re not L-O-V-E, Love. To truly experience Love, we must go past the image of love, and dive deep into the embodiment of love.
This state is cultivated from deep within, and only from within. To me, loving self is akin to looking within through eyes of love, a gentle heart, and a nurturing mind.
Below you’ll find some of my favorite Self Love Rituals. These are the practices that help me nurture myself, that give me care when ego says I’m not worth it, that nourish me so that I may nourish my family and students. They are by no means the only way to cultivate Self Love, but they are a few.
Feel free to take a full day going through all of these practices together; or just add in one per day, and feel how even a moment of offering yourself love makes such a world of difference.
1. Loving Kindness Meditation
My go-to, always, everyday. Love of any kind starts with Self Love. This meditation, practiced in three parts starts with self, then extends to an individual of choice, then to all beings. The order is not to create a hierarchy, but to validate the importance of giving within before giving abroad. I like to begin each morning with this meditation.
May my heart be filled with Loving Kindness.
May I be well.
May I be peaceful and at ease.
May I be happy.
(Repeat 2x, replacing “my/I” with “your/you” and then “our/us”)
2. Abhyanga + Hot Bubble Bath
Your body is your temple, and showing it a little love will go a long way. Taking a moment to clean your body and pamper yourself with pleasure is a beautiful act of Self Love. Immerse yourself in a hot bubble bath, with candles, your favorite calming music and essential oils. Then, for a few minutes, slather melted coconut oil over your entire body- don’t miss an inch! Tend to the spaces that normally don’t get looked at. Massage away tension. I promise you’ll feel good… and your skin will love it.
3. Take Time to Do Your Practice
Rid of what is not serving you, and make space for what you love. If you have four appointments scheduled in a day, but aren’t taking 10 minutes to care for your body and mind- rethink how you’re prioritizing your Self Love. Reschedule an appointment, and instead go take a yoga class, call a girlfriend to have lunch, close your eyes and listen to your breath… When we are over scheduled and overwhelmed, we simply can not offer our best selves. Quality over Quantity. Work can wait, but habitually not taking care of your body will eventually mean that you can’t work at all.
4. Nourish Your Body
Eat well. Feed your body beautiful foods. Feed yourself lovingly. Be aware of what you consume. Have a sensual experience with your food by eating slowly, and savoring all the flavors, textures and subtleties of your cuisine. Don’t eat on the go. Eat purposefully, graciously, and with ease. Your body will better assimilate the nutrients of your food, your digestion will improve, and you’re weight will very likely balance out on its own.
Try this little something extra for you sexy food lovers… Beaming Cafe’s Sexy Mayan Smoothie! I was more or less obsessed with this smoothie when it was first launched. It’s perfectly rich, a little spicy, gives a nice boost to your heart health, and invigorates the senses! Blend all ingredients in a blender or Vitamix- Savor and Enjoy!!
Sexy Mayan Smoothie:
1 cup almond milk – homemade sprouted or organic boxed
1 T Beaming superfood plant protein (with or without greens)
2 T cacao powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 cup frozen banana
1/4 tsp sea salt (optional)
1/2-1 cup ice
Ok. There you have it. A few of my all time favorite Self Love Rituals. Now it’s up to you to make space for Self Love in your heart by doing your practice.
Sending you all lots and lots of love.
Do The Twist!
Bharavadjasana – Simple to Complex
Just as important as backbending and forward folding, twisting is an integral part of a balanced yoga practice. A well balanced practice will take the body in all directions available, so that you end feeling balanced and whole.
For some, however, twisting brings up many concerns. If shoulders, low back, or hips are tight, it’s likely a challenge to twist in a way that feels good. And if you’ve ever had a neck or back injury, twisting may down right scare you…
But! The good news is this: Twisting is accessible for almost everyone!
You don’t need to go into the deepest expression of a pose to reap the rewards. With the use of simple modifications, props and good instruction, you’ll be doing the twist in no time.
Before we jump into posturing, let’s review some of the benefits and fundamentals of twisting:
Twisting the body is a little like ringing out a wet towel- the process of rotation helps to squeeze out toxic fluids and make space for new, fresh fluids to take their place. In this way, twists detoxify the body. Incorporating twists into your daily practice will increase your spinal flexibility and strength, give more dynamic strength to your core muscles, create more space for breath, and will actually help to “ring out” your internal organs (aka: healthier digestion, more regular bowel movements, and easier processing of nutrients).
Twisting postures range from simple to complex. Keep in mind that twisting is all about elongating (2/3 Lengthening, 1/3 Twisting)! As you twist, lengthen gently with your inhales, and then rotate gently with your exhales. Remember that you can’t move into a twist if there is “no room”.
*Please Also Note: Contraindications to twists include bulging or herniated disks, sciatica, severe scoliosis, any back or neck injury that is upset by twisting movements, pregnancy, menstruation. Always listen to your body. If there is any glimpse of pain in a posture, do not practice it in that moment. Consult an experienced yoga teacher, physical therapist or physician should you need further guidance.
One of my favorite twisting postures is Bharavadjasana. This seated twisting pose opens up the low back, hips and shoulders all in one, and acts as a great example of how to modify any twisting pose to suit your ability.
Bharavadjasana, Simple to Complex:
Variation A: Seated on a Block / Front leg in Sukhasana variation / No bind of arms
When you need to focus on gently opening up the back and hips, and elongating the spine, this is the variation for you. Sitting on the block will give space to those with less range in their hips, and will help keep the pelvis in proper alignment. As you twist, take the opposing hand to the thigh of the front leg. The back hand will act as a reminder to lift (hint: do NOT dump your weight onto this hand- this will throw off the alignment of your shoulders and bring unwanted lateral flexion to the spine).
Variation B: Seated on Mat / Front leg in Sukhasana / Bind of back arm to front arm
This variation is for those whose hips and low back feel comfortable seated directly on the mat. (hint: both sit-bones will be evenly weighted, and the pelvis in proper alignment). As you twist, the opposing hand will meet the front thigh, while the back arm will gently internally rotate from the shoulder in order to wrap around the mid-back. The back hand will meet the front arm, just above the elbow crease. (hint: keep your shoulders opening gently away from the heart center, and breathe as evenly as possible into both sides of the lungs).
Variation C: Seated on Mat / Front leg in ArdhaPadmasana / Full bind of arms
The final variation of Bharavadjasana is for those with open hips and shoulders; whom need a little more intensity from their seated twist. The front leg is bound in ArdhaPadmasana, offering greater opening to the front hip (hint: as in the previous variation, make sure both sit-bones have even placement on your mat). As you twist, the opposing hand will reach to the front knee, while the back hand will reach for the bound foot. Some find this connection at the big toe, and others can reach around the full foot. (hint: use your inhalations to consciously lengthen, while keeping the pelvis weighted, and the exhalations to gently deepen the twist).
There you have it, yogis.
Get on your mat + Happy Twisting!
With Love + Namaste,
Do you remember the first time you realized your body was “aging”?
Maybe it started in your thirties with a few more aches and pains in the morning. A tendency to get tired earlier in the day. The first signs of wrinkles around your eyes. A memory not quite as sharp as it used to be.
As the years have progressed, those little twinges have probably gotten more frequent. And if you’re like most people, you brushed it off as a “normal” part of the aging process… just something that happens when we get older.
The thing is, you don’t have to give in to the frailty, disease, and memory issues associated with aging. These symptoms are not “inevitable.” They are signals that your body needs something.
When it comes to aging, we’ve been fed a load of unsubstantiated assumptions our entire lives. But emerging research from top experts suggests that we can have all the advantages of youth, well into our later years.
That means a lean, strong, flexible body….supple, smooth skin….. a brain that is sharp… energy to last all day… and an immune system that provides powerful protection against illness.
We are a body-oriented culture. We judge ourselves by our appearance and our body’s ability to perform. When our bodies change—as they inevitably do—our self-worth goes with them, for better or for worse.
In Siddhartha, a novel about enlightenment and self-discovery the prince, Siddhartha, ventured out of his palace for the first time, he was shaken by his first glimpses of a person bent with age, a person wracked with illness and the body of a person who had died. Seeing the inevitable path of all our bodies to our final demise caused him to inquire into how he might transcend the suffering he had witnessed. This led him to realize that in order to transcend suffering, he had to transcend his attachment to and identification with the body. He had to look deeper, beyond the pleasures and suffering of the body, for lasting happiness.
This is what our yoga practice teaches us. Any person in a body who is practicing Yoga is living in a yoga body, regardless of age, build, gender or flexibility. And the deeper practices at the heart of Yoga—meditation—require a body simply as an anchor for awareness.
I think most people when coming upon my age may scour, but I’m truly looking forward to the unfolding lessons, increasing self awareness and growing self love that comes with aging. I’m reminded that this is the start of a brand new year- and that there are still infinite opportunities for growth along my journey. Within every moment lies a miracle. And within every burden lies a blessing.
What does it really take to find your purpose?
You can’t force your purpose… What you’re meant to do will flow through you with ease, grace and abundance. And it absolutely will, if only you allow it to.
It will take deep work, inner-looking, and patience with yourself. It will take pushing through your fears and self-imposed boundaries.
And it will take letting yourself go freely into the flowing process of self-discovery.
You can think of it like this:
Your body and mind are channels which conduct energy. When these channels are clear, embodied energy can flow through you with ease- i.e.: whatever you’re desiring to become or create will manifest naturally.
Creating a clear channel through which energy can flow is the first step to honoring your ability to shine, to do what you love, and to live for your unique purpose.
By doing your practice. Every. Single. Day.
The bottom line: Do your self-work. Practice loving your body, respecting your mind, and taking time to rest. Practice pushing through discomfort- in asana, in meditation, during your work day. Practice loving fully, practice compassion, practice peace and ease of mind.
It may sound silly, but being there for yourself will allow you to truly listen to what your soul desires.
And from there, you will begin to live for your purpose.
Maybe what you’ll discover isn’t what you thought you wanted when you were younger. Maybe it’s not being a CEO, or an astronaut, or the president.
Maybe you’ll find that your unique purpose is being a supportive spouse, a loving and attentive mother, a team player at work, an inspired entrepreneur, or a better steward of the earth.
No matter your end goal, you can only start from where you are right Here and Now. So, breathe, be here, and trust that you’ll discover your purpose as it unfolds.
How one yogi began living for her purpose…
Betsy is a dear friend and an alumni of my seasonal day retreat series, A Day of Namaste. After attending the last ADON, Betsy was inspired to ditch her limiting self-view and begin living for the purpose of her higher self! Her story is truly inspiring. In her second trimester of pregnancy, she was let-go from a company which was going through bankruptcy. Some fear, and a bit of an identity crisis took over, but then… something magical happened. In going with the flow, in listening to her soul’s desire, she realized that the job she thought would always support her was actually holding her back. And so she created her own lifestyle blog for Mamas and Mama-To-Be’s, called Beautiful With Baby. Read her story below, and check out her beautiful site!!
Betsy and I recently led a Mamaste Meditation Hike at Beaming Cafe Del Mar. We shared our favorite superfood concoctions for Mamas, and talked about what inspires us to live fully aligned with our purpose. I even shared the McCarthy family creed, which begins with our Family’s Purpose.
Here it is: McCarthy Family Purpose
The purpose of our family is to love and support each family member in achieving the fulfillment that comes from doing their best to fulfill their life purpose. maintaining high levels of integrity, and working to improve themselves each day.
And our: McCarthy Family Creed
- Today I give thanks for all that I am and all that I have.
- Today I treat everyone I see with love and respect.
- Today I focus on staying the paphto fulfilling my life purpose.
- Today I do my best in everything I do.
- Today I do my best to improve my knowledge, skills, health and attitude.
- Today I create abundance for myself and all those around me.
“I am so fortunate to have been able to attend one of Stacy’s A Day of Namaste retreats. The minute you are welcomed through the doors at A Day of Namaste, you can automatically sense that by the end of the retreat your mindset and daily routine will be shifted for a greater good. Going into my last retreat I was in a state of uncertainty in my career. At 5 months pregnant I was seeking to grow a side business that would allow my creative side to shine and be compensated for. During the retreat I was given the guidance, tools, and shift in mindset that has now led me to be going full throttle with my lifestyle blog, Beautiful With Baby. I am now being sought out by major beauty and apparel brands for partnership. A year ago I never would’ve put myself out there to welcome this kind abundance with the fear of rejection. This change was directly influenced from attending ADON. The education you receive at A Day of Namaste is full circle. Everything from a healthy diet, movement, and mindset are crucial to living your best life and reaching your goals. I also learned how to karate chop a piece of plywood in half at the last retreat. So cool. Hiiii-ya!” – Betsy B.
Re:Blog from YOGASMOGA
Stacy McCarthy has been at the forefront of the yoga, fitness and health industries for more than 25 years. Through her business, Yoga Namastacy she’s developed a collection of best-selling DVDs, books, and trainings, and has contributed her expertise on yoga and health to countless media outlets and conferences.
“I believe in promoting a lifestyle of long-term health. Health is not defined by the number of hours you workout or the amount of calories you eat, but by the joy and fullness of your life physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.”
Stacy’s current teaching is in the lineage of T. Krishnamacharya combining the alignment of B.K.S.Iyengar with the breath, focus and flow of Ashtanga. Her cutting edge classes are unique, as she uses a variety of techniques and tools for accessing and sustaining mental, emotional and physical well-being.
“My mission is to inspire people to take charge of their health and happiness by moving intelligently, adopting a plant-passionate diet, improving lifestyle practices, and learning to live and love like you really mean it.”
“It’s hard for me to believe that well into my fifties, I am asked to model and represent yoga clothes. Yogasmoga is so authentic and has a new paradigm on how the apparel industry operates. It’s made in the USA, so no potential of child labor, no synthetic dye, no photoshop of their models and so much more. They walk their talk, models of all ages, cultural diversity, size and shape.”
Thank you YOGASMOGA for making me your first featured SMOGI!! It is truly an honor to be recognized as a valuable community member, and a representative of a company which I admire and love to wear!!
With Love + Namaste,
Yoga Is For Every Body
How to create All-Levels Yoga Classes that offer an inclusive practice environment, so that the beginner feels safe and the advanced student feels challenged… the secret is mastering Yoga Progressions & Regressions.
In my time as a yoga practitioner and teacher, one thing I’ve noticed is this… that no yoga class is attended by an exclusive type of “Yogi”. There is no such thing as One Practice Fits All, or one body type that comes to practice. Physical ability, knowledge of the practice, and style of training differ person to person– and it’s likely that if you’re teaching today, you’re getting students of all different levels attending your classes.
So, as yoga teachers, how can we make ourselves available to each student that joins us?
In my experience, it’s been learning how to master the progressions and regressions of each pose. In doing so, I’ve been able to meet the needs of “all-level” Vinyasa classes, while maintaining the pace and rhythm of the class-flow.
Everyone gets what they need, and the room becomes an inclusive place for practice.
Seems easy enough… but how do we teach progressions and regressions throughout class, without “disrupting the flow” of practice?
Here are a few key notes that have helped me to do just this:
- In class, I always demonstrate two to three variations of a posture. It is an effective way to meet the needs of all levels in attendance- beginning students will usually stick with the more simple variation, while advanced students will be instructed to enter more complex poses safely, from the foundation.
- During pre-class announcements, communicate that because there are various levels in the class, each student should be mindful of one’s own body and to choose a level that fits one’s current physical ability. There is no “right” or “wrong” expression of the pose- only “safe” or “unsafe” for each body. Encourage students to make use of props to support their practice (blocks to provide greater stability in balance poses, straps to extend the reach of arms in forward folds, etc.).
- Encourage students to find & apply for themselves Sthira Sukham Asanam (Sutra 2:46), or a balance steadiness and comfort in each pose. Pushing past edges is imperative to growth, but we don’t want to do so in a way that damages the body or mind. Move in a way that promotes staying clear, conscious and compassionate about what is happening physically- and on every level of your being.
The following is an example of a safe and effective way to teach the progression of a posture:
Garudasana (Eagle Pose)
Notice that the posture moves from its most simple variation, to most complex. Even if the student chooses to take the most complex variation, have them move progressively through the steps, so that they better understand the basic mechanics and foundation of the pose.
Step One: Stand with feet crossed, side by side. The opposite arm of the “top leg” will cross underneath. If students have tight shoulders, and the forearm bind is not accessible, have them hold around the outer shoulders and draw the elbows away from the heart.
Step Two: Press into the feet firmly so the legs feel a gentle “squeezing” action, lift from the pelvic floor and lengthen the spine. Focus the Gaze toward the thumbs, as you spread across the collar bones and hug in the frontal rib cage.
Step Three: Should you choose to balance on one leg, come to a cross legged “sitting” position. First the foot can act as a kickstand on the opposite side. Perhaps the outer foot can make contact with the base leg’s outer calf. Be mindful of the base knee- it shouldn’t wobble to either side.
Step Four: If you’re able to balance here with ease, and your mobility allows, try the full bind of the foot behind the calf of the base leg. The same actions as in Step Two should still apply!
If anywhere along the line of progression you feel any pain, severe discomfort in body, challenge maintaining breath or balance, simply regress back to a more foundational variation of the pose… and as always, remember to breathe.
And Remember! Progressions in practice don’t necessarily have to do with how deep you can get into a posture, or whether or not you can stick a handstand, or sit in padmasana (lotus pose). The physical practice of yoga is about challenging our minds and thoughts, so that we may better understand what is going on mentally and spiritually. The body is doorway to our deeper selves, and when we learn to listen to the body, we will make progress naturally.
Does Ageless Yoga have a place in business?
YOGASMOGA teaches us that YES!! It absolutely does.
When YOGASMOGA asked me to be their first featured Smogi, I was absolutely honored! A company is only as good as their practices, and this one really takes the ageless practice of yoga to heart.
One way YOGASMOGA is living their yoga is by practicing Satya – or Truthfulness – in their marketing and management, in the making of their products, and in how they treat their employees. They honestly depict models (no photoshop!) no matter they’re age, body type or color, they use all natural dyes and fairly traded materials in all of their clothing and accessories, their clothing is made 100% in USA, and they give generously to their employees so that they can make an honest living. Not a bad business model… It’s one that many would say isn’t sustainable, but I think they’ve found the opposite. It, indeed, is sustainable to live your practice- it’s ageless, too.
With age, certain things come into clear perspective. Like our responsibility to care for this Earth, our duty to protect resources for later generations, and our purpose to preserve the natural beauty that we are so blessed to dwell in and be supported by. Without this planet, there is no us! Making informed decisions about what you wear is one huge way to contribute to the wellbeing of the planet. I’m committed to wearing cruelty-free, organically produced, fairly traded clothing- especially when it comes to what I wear on my mat. What is the point of the practice if I’m not truly incorporating it into my life?
This ageless practice of yoga deserves respect in all areas of our lives. Ageless Yoga is how we show up to our mats, how we choose what goes on our plates, and how we choose what covers our bodies.
San Diego Yogis of all ages, I hope you join me for an in-store class at YOGASMOGA La Jolla on Saturday, July 8th at 10am! Come to do your practice, to mingle, to shop, and to keep yourself feeling ageless for ages.
With Love + Namaste,
For more YOGASMOGA go to @YOGASMOGA on Instagram!
Don’t Skip Savasana!! (And other ways you should actively Chill Out)…
When’s the last time you took a deep breath that soothed your entire being? The last time you slowed down on purpose? The last time you remember feeling fully restored?
If lifelong health is something you’re seeking, these are important questions to ask yourself.
Getting proper rest can help you to manage and balance your energy levels, maintain mental clarity, recover after workouts, effectively reduce inflammation, transform your digestive health, and more!!
Resting properly means more than just sleeping 8 hours a night. Rest and recovery is an active process that requires deep listening and mindful attentiveness- it is the process of slowing down enough so that you actually can tune into your breath, your thoughts, and your sensations… It means staying for savasana at the end of a yoga class, taking a 10 minute meditation break during your busy work day, eating mindfully without your cellphone to distract you, and doing a few soothing yoga postures to help your body rest without tension at the end of the day.
If you’ve ever tried to slow down on purpose, you may have found that it’s actually pretty darn challenging. But like all things, with practice comes improvement.
Below you’ll find my favorite ways to Rest and Restore my Body and Mind:
1. Don’t Skip Savasana!
We often associate working out to our max with gaining health, perfecting our bodies and getting out toxins. But rest and recovery are equally important… Resting not only helps the body and mind to be in peace, but helps both to actively recover and assimilate the benefits of your more intense physical practice… Savasana is the perfect example of active rest. After practice, we honor the work we’ve done and we allow the body to reap the rewards of our effort. It is a way to say “thank you” to the body, a way to give it time to soak in the goodness, and an opportunity to let the mind be quiet. For many, it’s the only time of their day to completely let go. So, next time you’re thinking of skipping out on savasana, don’t do it! It’s well worth the extra 5-10 minutes of your time.
2. Put Your Feet Up
Put your feet up! One of my favorite ways to relax my body after a full day of activity is to gently invert. Our feet carry much tension within them, especially after standing, walking, and even sitting all day. Putting your feet up not only helps to ease the tension of the feet and legs, but helps to regulate blood flow and the flow of lymphatic fluids. It also gives a sense of ease and serenity to the body and mind, literally making that “Ahhhhhh” feeling come alive. So, next time you’re exhausted, sore, fatigued or grumpy, put your feet up 🙂 Try Viparita Karani (legs all the way up the wall), or simply rest your feet above your hips on the couch.
Here is a more enhanced version of Legs Up The Wall Pose, or Viparita Karani. To intensify the sensation and benefit, lift your hips with a bolster and add a little weight on top of the feet. This version offers the additional benefit of lifting the hips above the line of the heart and head, giving a greater boost to your circulation and the flow of lymphatic fluids. Don’t forget the most important part: relax and breathe!
3. The Pose of A Child
Balasana, the Pose of A Child. One of my all time favorites! This posture not only calms the nervous system and relaxes major points of tension in the hips and spine, but regulates the heart rate circulation, gently massages the internal organs and promotes full, luscious breathing. This supported version adds in relief to the neck and shoulders, and also allows those with less hip flexibility to rest in the pose with ease. Try it for 5 minutes before bed, or before your workout to begin feeling the flow of oxygen through your body. Notice how you feel before, during, and after the pose.
4. Take A Walk
Every night, my favorite way to decompress is to take my dogi Yogi for a walk. Not only does it get his wiggles out, it soothes me completely. Being in nature satisfies our human need to connect to the Earth, and to ourselves. It offers me time to let my thoughts go as I focus on the simple things- the color of the flowers, the light shining through the trees, the crispness of the fresh sea breeze. Studies have proven that being outdoors provides a slew of health benefits, like: grounding (to receive the negative ions from the Earth- go barefoot!), improved sleep, better eyesight, and enhanced physiological and psychological wellbeing. Even just a 20 minute walk a day will do!
5. Go Within
Taking the time to go within is, I think, the most important thing one can do for herself. Over the year, it is what has kept me self aware and less affected by challenges and toxins. It is in the process of meditation that my mind and body relax so that I can observe the habitual feelings and thoughts that arise, follow the flow of my breath in and out of my body, notice if I body wants to fidget or if I can relax completely in the process…There really is so much to observe, that it may not actually feel very relaxing at first! But over time, with patience, with ease and with respect for Self, there is a beautiful quietude that arises, almost spontaneously. It is here where the greatest rest and restoration takes place within.
With Love + Namaste,
Happy Resting, Yogis!
“Consciously changing the way you breathe appears to send a signal to the brain to adjust the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system, which can slow heart rate and digestion and promote feelings of calm as well as the sympathetic system, which controls the release of stress hormones like cortisol.”