Yoga On The Go

Yoga On The Go…

Easy tips to help you stay committed, consistent, and at home in your yoga practice when you’re abroad


The yoga sutras teach us that the level of achievement we will receive from our practice depends on the intensity with which we bring ourselves forth. Sutra 1:22 says The time necessary for success depends on whether the practice is mild, medium or intense. The Sutras also tell us that we must practice earnestly and consistently (Sutra 1.12). (The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Sri Swami Satchidananda).

In other words, these practices only work when we do! Yoga requires us to sometimes put the practice first, to catch ourselves when we’re making excuses not to get on our mats, and to cultivate consistency and follow through amidst our busy lives. In the throws of weekly schedules, this task is already a challenge for some.

So, when things are really shaken up (like when there is family in town, and you just can’t get to class— or when you’re literally across the globe), how do you remain steadfast in your yoga ritual?

As a traveling yogi I have found a few helpful solutions to this conundrum… Throughout my career I have spent weeks at a time in hotel rooms in foreign countries, have woken up early for 5am flights, and have been sleep deprived and jet lagged before teaching 4 hours of workshops. The title may sound luxurious, but sometimes it takes all the gusto I’ve got just to keep going on with a smile. And the amazing thing is this: I could never do this without my practice. The act of coming to my mat, and into my heart by way of the breath…. there is no cup of coffee (even in Italy) that can do the same thing.

Here are my best tips to keep you consistent when you’re on the go. You can use these practices in your everyday life at home, when daily life is shaken up, or when you’re traveling short or long term.

  • Invest in a light weight yoga mat – Make sure you pack a mat in your bag! There are many travel mats that are under 1lb, and super easy to pack in a carry on. Make this item as necessary as your tooth brush. When you arrive in your hotel room, lay it out in a welcoming place as you are putting away your clothing and toiletries. When you wake up the next morning, step on your mat and commit to staying put for at least 15 minutes.

 

  • Keep your practice simple – Not sure what to do when you’re practicing on your own? Find familiar patterns of movement, and make those your ritual. Sun Salutations, Gentle Core Work, Supine Twists… Just begin moving, and see where your body takes you. If you are not confident creating your own flow, there are literally thousands of online and digital classes to follow along with! (I have a few here)!

 

  • It’s all about the breath – Whether you’re sitting still or scurrying through train depots, your breath is always, always, always available as an object for your awareness to settle upon. A simple breath technique to use on the go is the Box Breath. To perform this breath, inhale on a slow count of four, hold for a count of four, exhale for a count of four, and hold out for a count of four. Repeat up to 12 times. To help your mind remain centered on your breath, you can internally say to yourself, “Breathing In, Breathing Out,” with your in and out breaths respectively.

 

  • Ideal times to practice – Before you let your mind jump into planning mode, remind yourself to settle down and tune in! Practice first thing, only after using the bathroom and drinking some water. It can be challenging to get back to your mat once you allow yourself to carry on with the day. To avoid bypassing practice, make it your first and last activity of the day. The mind and body usually experience a bit of stress while traveling, making deep sleep more challenging and less satisfying. Restorative yoga before bed will combat the wear and tear of travel, and will help you to rest well.

 

  • Keep a journal handy – Svadhyaya (self study) is an integral part of the yoga practice. Journaling while you travel is a fabulous way to document novel experiences, and to keep track of your inner experience. When we travel we are faced with so much new information, thoughts, and ways of being all at once. Keeping a journal will help you to sort through and make sense of these impressions.

 

  • If nothing else, Meditate – If you have time for none of the above, take (at very minimum) five minutes in the morning and in the evening to practice sitting meditation. Set your timer, and commit to sitting with ease for just five minutes. Tune in, listen deeply, release the tension of the body, and feel your aliveness. Your body, your breath, and your awareness are beautiful miracles that deserve your attention (no matter how busy you are). If you need assistance in meditation, there are a number of apps and podcasts that are available free of charge.

 

….et Voila! You are all set to roam the globe without leaving your yoga practice at home. Your body, mind, heart, and yoga teachers will all be glad you remained consistent 🙂

And Remember: The outer and inner journeys are yours to explore, learn and grow from. Wherever your path takes you, enjoy the ride.

 

Namaste,

XO,

Stacy

Practices to Balance Pitta Dosha

Practices to Balance Pitta Dosha

(How to Beat the Summer Heat!)


The summer heat has really began to kick up here in SoCal; and with this rise in heat, we are also experiencing a rise in Pitta energy. In Ayurvedic Medicine, the sister science of Yoga, Pitta  is fire, heat, and transformation.

And just like we need the warming heat of Summer, we need the warming heat of Pitta. Balanced Pitta is joyful, energetic, clear, concise, vital, and productive. And when in balance, it properly controls and regulates digestion, metabolism and energy production in the body.

Pitta out of balance (in excess), on the other hand, can lead to dehydration, high acidity, inflammation, heartburn, irritability, anger, and impatience! So, you can see why keeping our fire in balance is so important!

It’s not “good” or “bad”… It’s all about balance!

Just like a good fire, we want our Pitta to remain steady, bright and smoldering… Too hot, your fire will burn up all of the energy it needs to sustain itself. Too cold, energy will remain stagnant and sluggish.

 

Don’t know your Dosha? Use this easy to follow guide to find out!! 

How to balance Pitta Dosha:

In Ayurveda, opposites are used to heal and bring balance to areas of imbalance. So, to balance Pitta- the energy of fire- you would want to use the cooling energy of water – the Kapha Dosha. This could look as simple as taking a cool shower, going for a dip in the ocean or a cool lake, or drinking a big glass of water!

Movement, breath and conscious consumption are all tools to call upon in your healing. Whatever you preferred method, there is a way to keep your Pitta in balance.

MOVEMENT and BREATH:

Cooling Asana: Very gentle backbends which shape the thoracic spine, like Cobra Pose, Cow Pose, and Fish Pose are cooling for the body and nervous system.

Breath: Practicing the Sitali Breath is exceptionally cooling. In this practice, you can literally feel the cool breeze coating your lungs. It’s as simple as rolling your tongue into a “taco” and inhaling. If you can’t roll your tongue, breathe in gently through your teeth. You can release your air through your mouth or your nose.

COOLING WATERS:

Stay Hydrated! This is perhaps one of the most important steps to take in calming Pitta. Drink lots and lots of water (slightly chilled or room temperature), especially in the summer months. On days you know you’ll be active, drink even more water than usual.

Take A Dip: If you have a cool body of water close by, take a dip in the evening when the sun isn’t so intense. You can also try doing a Cold Rinse after your shower. Just turn the knob all the way to Cold, and soak your head and full body in the chilly water for 30 seconds – 1 minute. (This is also a great trick for calming inflamed, sore muscles)!

AYURVEDA:

Cooling Tea: There are many blends you can choose from, but Pitta balancing teas often include fennel, peppermint, cardamom, cilantro, coriander, hibiscus flowers, rose petals,  and chamomile flowers.

Food Is Medicine: Eat more foods that are astringent, sweet and bitter. Cold foods like salads, veggies, fruits and coconut oil! Avoid foods that are spicy, sour, salty, hot and dry, like coffee.

There you have it! Easy practices to bring your fire-water energy back into balance.

May your summer be balanced and bright!

Namaste,

Stacy McCarthy

YogaNamaStacy

 

Do The Twist – Bharavadjasana – Simple to Complex

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,

Stacy McCarthy

 

 

 

Balancing the Chakras : A Simple Guide

Meditations, Mantras and Movement to Keep Your Chakras In Balance

What sets Yoga apart from other calisthenic routines?

The ancient yogis knew of something beyond the outer shell of movement- something deeper than muscles and bones- yet something just as important to shaping our physical health.

What they looked at and sought to keep healthy through their physical routine was the Chakra System.

So, what’s a… Chakra??

A Chakra (literally Wheel in Sanskrit) is an energy center or wheel of energetic movement in the body. It is part of the body’s subtle anatomy; and though subtle, has major effects on the gross, physical body and mind.

There are 7 major Chakras, which run along and align the spinal column, ranging from the base of the pelvic floor to the crown of the head.

Each of these 7 Chakras has a specific energetic and emotional quality, associated color, sound, and deeper meaning.

Often when we feel out of balance- angry, saddened, over-whelmed, exhausted- it is a sign that our deeper, more subtle self is in need of some serious restoration. Therefore, a great way to target the root of our imbalances is to look at the Chakras, and bring them back into balance first.

Below, you’ll find a simple guide to the Chakras, and how to bring them back into balance:

MULADHARA (ROOT CHAKRA):

Location: At the base of the spinal column, centered in the Pelvic Floor / Energetic Qualities: Stability, Security, Safety, Fear & Fearlessness / When you’re out of balance: You may feel unsafe and fear-laden

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: Lying on your back, with your hands on your low belly, imagine red light charging through your spine down to the base, igniting new life and energy with each breath.

Mantra: “I fearlessly take on the challenges of life. Trusting my inner-guide, I face the unknown with love.”

Movement: Utkata Konasana (Goddess Pose). This posture requires strength, poise, and confidence. Open your heart wide and feel the power of your lower body. Breathe deeply all the way into the Pelvic Floor.

 

SVADISTHANA (SACRAL CHAKRA):

Location: Just above the pubic bone, below the naval / Energetic Qualities: Creativity, Sexual Energy, Personal Expression / When you’re out of balance: You may feel “stuck” or uninspired

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: Practice simple seated meditation, follow your breath and soothe your mind into stillness. Creativity is the product of a clear mind. Sometimes just finding some peace and quiet is all you need.

Mantra: “I am available for creativity to flow through me with abundance and ease. I reflect the creation of all life, and recognize the gift of creation within me.”

Movement: Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose). This posture requires strength and ease, and challenges the muscles of the pelvic floor and abdomen to maintain a long, supple spine. It sparks awareness and stillness. Root firmly, and maintain a soft gaze.

 

MANIPURA (SOLAR PLEXUS CHAKRA):

Location: At the Solar Plexus, between the naval and the breast bone / Energetic Qualities: Personal Power, Will, Decision Making / When you’re out of balance: You may feel uncertain, weary, uneasy about a decision

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: Practice Kapalabhati Breath (Skull Shining Breath). Breathe in deeply through the nose into the belly, let out quick exhalations through the nose, as the navel “snaps” back toward the spine. Before trying this on your own, ask a teacher for proper instruction and safety guides!

Mantra: Simply state, “I am” with each inhalation. With each exhalation, bring your awareness to your physical presence, stating “here”.

Movement: Plank Pose. Yes, a simple posture to refine your core muscles and define the strength of your abdomen. Gently draw your navel toward the spine, reaching through your crown, broadening across your chest, and pressing out through your heels.

 

ANAHATA (HEART CHAKRA):

Location: At the heart center / Energetic Qualities: Loving-Kindess, Acceptance of Self and Others, Compassion / When you’re out of balance: You may feel unloved or unloving, disconnected, impatient

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: Simple sitting, with hands on your heart. Breathe into your heart space, filling it up with air and letting it flow out. Practice until you feel your chest and shoulders softened and available to move freely.

Mantra: Loving-Kindness “May my heart be filled with loving kindness, may I be well, may I be peaceful and at ease, may I be happy”

Movement: Ustrasana (Camel Pose). This backbend opens the heart, strengthens the back muscles and invites you to breathe into the chest and ribs. Keep the neck and throat soft, and use the stability and strength of your legs to ground.

 

VISHUDDHA (THROAT CHAKRA):

Location: In the throat / Energetic Qualities: Verbal Expression, Speaking our Highest Truth, Communication / When you’re out of balance: You may feel unable to say what you need to, afraid to share your truth

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: Recite “AUM” with clarity, taking equal time to pronounce each sound “A-U-M”. Don’t be afraid to make noise! The point is to hear yourself, and to get past the discomfort of opening up.

Mantra: “I speak my truth with confidence and clarity. I listen deeply to myself and to others, and communicate with ease.”

Movement: Matsyasana (Fish Pose). Try this assisted with two blocks, one underneath the scapula, and one supporting the head. Lengthen through your toes, and allow your throat space to open as you relax the face and breathe.

 

AJNA (THIRD EYE CHAKRA): 

Location: Just at the Pineal Gland (Third Eye), set between the brow bones / Energetic Qualities: Insight and Intuition / When you’re out of balance: You may feel lost or untrusting of yourself

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: With eyes closed, bring your inner awareness to the place between your brow. Keep your inner gaze alive and bright, as practice maintaining focus on this area.

Mantra: “I am connected, at peace, and present.”

Movement: Balasana (Child’s Pose). Allow your head to rest fully, either on the floor, or on a bolster or block. Soften the muscles of the face, and allow the gently pressure of the position bring your awareness to your third eye.

 

SAHASWARA (CROWN CHAKRA):

Location: At the crown of the head, rising up like a “Thousand Petal Lotus Flower” / Energetic Qualities: Trust in your Highest Self, Connection to Self, to all things, and ultimately to the Essence of your True Nature / When you’re out of balance: You may feel lonely, unsupported or irrelevant

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: Practice inhaling and exhaling bright white light in through your crown. Inhale, white light filters in the body all the way down the spine. Exhale, white light leaves through the crown, shooting back out and creating a field around you.

Mantra: “AUM. I am one with all that is.”

Movement: Sirsasana (Headstand). Please consult a yoga instructor before attempting this posture. Grow through the spine, reach the tail and the toes upward. Use your foundation wisely, planting the forearms/hands firmly into the earth. Breathe deeply into the body, and keep a soft gaze.

 

 

Happy Balancing, Yogis!

With Love + Namaste,

Stacy

 

 

Yoga Progressions & Regressions

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. 

With Love,

Stacy McCarthy

@YogaNamaStacy

 

Don’t Skip Savasana!

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!

Stacy

DIY Home Retreat Pt. 1 – Body

Namaste yogis,
Here is Part One of my DIY Home Yoga Retreat Series!
Whether you follow the program exactly, or just use this information as a guide to create your own path to successful health, I hope you find these newsletters both useful and inspiring.
Week One will focus on maintaining a healthy body by mastering How You Move and How You Eat.
Because each of our needs are a little different, the following schedule will be structured around the phases of your day, rather than by an exact time-table. Do your best to wake up early and take the entire day to nurture yourself- as if you were at a secluded resort with nowhere else to be. If any of the following recommendations do not suit you, then kindly skip over them, and do what you need. Remember this is YOUR time to relax, rejuvenate, revitalize and heal your body.
Are you ready?!
A few tips to help get you started:
+ Remember Sthira Sukham Asanam. This yoga sutra tells us that every posture should be done with a balance of effort and ease. Don’t push yourself beyond your limits, but challenge yourself so that you grow.
Results take time. Don’t worry about perfecting your practice today. Just take the time to get started, and have the patience to stay committed. Do your practice, all is coming…
You have a community of support behind you! Staying focused and motivated at home can be a challenge. Know that you are being supported and cheered for; and that your effort is inspiring me too!! If it helps to have another to keep you on track, then invite a friend to participate in the retreat with you.
I look forward to hearing about your DIY Retreat experience. Send me an email at stacy@yoganamastacy.com or post on your social media account and tag @yoganamastacy. When you share, you are helping to create and promote a community centered around health and wellbeing.
Happy Retreating!!
Stacy

DIY Home Retreat Pt. 2 – Mind

Namaste yogis,
Here’s Part 2 of my DIY Home Yoga Retreat Series, tailored specifically to calm the mind and put you in ease and awareness of your mental functions.
If you put Part 1 to practice, you may notice some similarities in this week’s schedule. While it may seem counterintuitive to help the mind by moving the body and eating well, it was no mystery to the ancient Yogis that our minds and bodies are innately connected. What we do physically will affect our psychology, and vice versa.
This week’s retreat will emphasize HOW we do the things we do- as this shines light on the quality of our mental health.
It is said that the quality of your thoughts will shape the quality of your life.
Today, as you engage with your mind on a more intimate level, be present to observe your thoughts. Notice when you feel challenged and when you flow with ease. Notice when you become distracted. Notice when you’re “in it”. Notice all of these things with the intention of just noticing. Write it down as you go, and take time to reflect afterwards in order to implement the changes you wish to see made. Remember that it’s hard to know how the paint will dry when it’s still wet…
Whether you follow the program exactly, or just use this information as a guide to create your own path to successful health, I hope you find this newsletter both useful and inspiring.
Because each of our needs are a little different, the following schedule will be structured around the phases of your day, rather than by an exact time-table. Do your best to wake up early and take the entire day to nurture yourself- as if you were at a secluded resort with nowhere else to be. If any of the following recommendations do not suit you, then kindly skip over them, and do what you need. Remember this is YOUR time to relax, rejuvenate, revitalize and heal your mind.
Happy Retreating!!
Stacy

DIY Home Retreat Pt. 3 – Soul

Namaste yogis,
Part 3 of my DIY Home Yoga Retreat Series ​​​​​​​is all about getting to the core of it… We’ll be exploring how to soothe your soul with movement, meditation, and purposeful creation.
Before we get started, I’d like to honor that the Soul can mean different things to different people- and that each understanding of this concept should be recognized as valid, as it represents a very personal and intimate relationship to Self. My interpretation of Soul is the Deepest Self. It’s the place within us that is pure, quiet, luminous and innately in touch with Source. Soul is the place in which we dwell when we are peaceful, at ease, and guided by Love. Soul is the glue that holds communities together, and keeps us self aware and anchored in challenging times. Soul is the ultimate You- the perfect original, untarnished by grief, by jealously, by ill-will, by hatred, by greed. Soul is the all-good feeling of being perfectly present.
​​​​​​​Today’s retreat schedule will offer many suggestions for feeding yourself with Soul Food. From positive thoughts, to peaceful practice, this is an opportunity to treat everything you do as nutrition for your deepest self. This DIY Retreat will be somewhat of a combination of Parts 1 and 2- and will take what you’ve learned  to deeper level. If you’ve followed the program up to now, notice your improvements- notice how your intention can guide the same exercises in a different way- notice how you can continually deepen your practice. The beauty of the Yoga practice is that we are never truly done with our work.​​​​​​​ 
Whether you follow the program exactly, or just use this information as a guide to create your own path to successful health, I hope you find this newsletter both useful and inspiring.
Because each of our needs are a little different, the following schedule will be structured around the phases of your day, rather than by an exact time-table. Do your best to wake up early and take the entire day to nurture yourself- as if you were at a secluded resort with nowhere else to be. If any of the following recommendations do not suit you, then kindly skip over them, and do what you need. Remember this is YOUR time to relax, rejuvenate, revitalize and heal your soul.
I look forward to hearing about your DIY Retreat experience. Send me an email at stacy@yoganamastacy.com or post on your social media account and tag @yoganamastacy. When you share, you are helping to create and promote a community centered around health and wellbeing.
Happy Retreating!!
Stacy

Eating for Anti-Inflammation

Every wonder why your skin’s not glowing? Why your joints are achy? Why you can’t recover after a high intensity workout? The reason, more than likely, is that you’re inflamed.

Why Fight Inflammation?

Inflammation is a positive and natural part of a healthy immune system. When you get a bug bite and your skin shows localized redness- that’s inflammation helping to rid of the toxins from the bite.

But, it has its time and place… Researchers have shown us that low-grade, chronic inflammation is a major contributor to a compromised immune system, and a resulting slew of health problems.

Inflammation has been linked to: pre-mature aging, various digestive problems, various cancers, chronic fatigue, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, overall irritability in body and mind, and more. It has even been linked to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimers!

Eek! So, what can I do about it? 

There’s a lot to be done to live a life that promotes Anti-Inflammation (Contributors to inflammation can include lack of sleep, lack of exercise, diets low on Omega 3 fatty acids and high in Omega 6 fatty acids, chronic stress, poor gut health, lack of time outdoors, low-grade food allergies and sensitivities, and environmental toxins). Health is complex and typically requires addressing habits in all areas of our lives, but we can start in the area we can most control… our diets.

Here are my rudimentary rules to Eating For Anti-Inflammation:

Stick to Water Based Foods!

Eat what Alkalizes!

Get Plenty of Anti-Oxidants!

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

 

 

It’s that simple?! 

Yes! Can you believe it? In print, the path to a body free from excessive inflammation is accessible and simple. But, in practice it can be challenging- not because these foods aren’t delicious or easy to prepare, but because we’re fighting against old habits and cravings…

“Joint pain, bloating and foggy thoughts are not imagined symptoms, They’re the result of improper diet. Make eliminations. Start with wheat, then dairy, then sugar. These are the most inflammatory foods.”  ― Nancy S. Mure

Eliminating these addicting foods is the first step. But instead of going cold-turkey, try reducing the amount you consume and pairing them with seriously hydrating, alkalizing foods at first. Don’t get stuck on “getting rid” of the old, just “add in” supportive, nutrient dense foods and notice the difference you feel. Once you notice how good it feels to fuel your body with what it really wants, it’s hard to go back to your old way of eating.

What should I eat? 

Let’s go back to our list:

Stick to Water Based Foods!

Eat what Alkalizes!

Get Plenty of Anti-Oxidants!

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

Water Based Foods are typically plants, typically green and typically raw. Try eating a big salad every day, juicy fruits (minimally), and vegetables like cucumber, tomato, radishes, lettuce, kale, carrots, spinach, zucchini, broccoli and sprouts. It is ok to eat cooked food, but do your best to cook slowly, on low heat (under 140′) and without excessive oil or butter. It is also ok to eat your favorite proteins, but try limiting the portion- just a small fist size – paired with a giant salad.

Alkalizing Foods are foods that stabilize your pH level and create a vibrant environment in which longterm health thrives. Disease loves an acidic environment- so does inflammation. Try beginning each day with a big cup of warm water with lemon. Even though lemon is on its own acidic, when metabolized it becomes alkaline. Some of the most alkalizing foods are lemon, Himalayan Pink Salt, grasses and greens, kelp, ginger, radish, chia, cucumber, beans, cauliflower, avocado, and coconut oil. Neutral pH foods include oatmeal, and dates.

Anti-Oxidants help to protect your cells from the effects of free radicals in the body. Try including foods in your diet that are rich in anti-oxidants like beets, blueberries, flax seeds, onion, sea weed, garlic and turmeric. Taking a walk next to the ocean or sitting with a purring kitty can also help to manage free radicals by providing the body with negative ions!

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate! And I’m not kidding! Your body is made up of up to 60% water. Your brain and heart alone are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. When you wake up, make sure water is the first thing that enters your body. And keep your glass full throughout the day. Not only does proper hydration help you to metabolize your food, it will help to keep your bowels functioning optimally, and will help keep your mind happy. Often when you’re feeling “foggy, lethargic, and warn out” you are just dehydrated.

Try waking up with this ANTI-INFLAMMATORY TURMERIC TONIC:

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups coconut water (or filtered water)

2 tbsp grated fresh turmeric (or ½ to 1 tsp dried turmeric powder)

1 tbsp grated fresh ginger

juice from 1 lemon or orange

1 tbsp raw honey or real maple syrup

pinch of black pepper

Optional: a pinch of cayenne or cinnamon

DIRECTIONS: Place all ingredients into high speed blender and blend until smooth. Drink as is or strain before serving.

Don’t forget the pepper!

Turmeric gets its anti-inflammatory properties from its Curcumin, which is an anti-oxidant therefore reducing free radicals, helps to regulate digestion by regulating the gallbladder and bile production, promotes healthy heart function, and may even help to prevent viral and bacterial diseases in the body! But make sure you add in some black pepper. Curcumin doesn’t easily release into the bloodstream until this spice is added.

And next time you’re at Beaming Cafe, try starting your meal with a Vitality Shot. This little shot packs a kick, but it’s worth it! It also kicks inflammation out of the body with a heavy dose of lemon, ginger and turmeric!

Here’s to a healthy, beaming YOU!!

With Love + Namaste,

Stacy