Earth Yoga – Daily Tips to be More Green

We hear the expression ‘being green’ tossed about pretty frequently. Everyone wants a better world.  But ending global warming and saving the environment seem like daunting tasks. Sometimes it can feel like one person’s actions can’t make a difference.

They do.

Like the ripple in a pond- little actions can create big waves. Below are five easy things you, your friends and family can do to help the world, right now.

  1. Eat meatless more often. Believe it or not this is one of the biggest things an individual can do to help the planet. The carbon footprint for raising, killing, packing and shipping meat is the largest out of all the food we eat. Really want to help save the planet? Cut back on meat. Even better- buy local fish, fruits and veggies. You’ll be helping the small farmer and eating fresher food.

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  1. Turn off lights– not only are your helping the planet but you are saving money. Do a walkthrough before you leave. The more walkthroughs you do and the longer you stay out, the more cost-effective this small task becomes!

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  1. Leave your shoes at the door– Keeping dust to a minimum helps with air pollution in your home. A study conducted by Rockport (okay, I know Rockport’s aren’t the sexiest shoes- but they know footwear and feet) discovered that after 2 weeks a whole host of things end up on your shoes (e. coli and lots of bacteria). When you take your shoes off you cut the chances of those bacteria coming into your abode by 70%. Wow.

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  1. Is that your refrigerator running? Keeping the temp at 37 degrees instead of freezing maximizes efficiency while keeping food fresh and frozen food freezing!

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  1. Each one, teach one. Spread the love about being green.

Namaste y’all.

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New Year Yoga

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So many studios now offer a peaceful way to bring in the New Year. With a practice and an ‘aum’ we can start the new year fresh.

Happy New Year friends.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

“May all beings everywhere be happy and free.”

Namaste y’all.

Cheerleader Yoga – You Can Do It

kino So check it.

I have an unhealthy obsession with trying to hop forward to handstand. It’s down the road, but I like to think one day I could get there.

In a workshop we partnered off trying to stack the hips over the shoulders. With a yoga buddy standing in front of you they served as a wall and could gently guide the hips back down with a gentle nudge. That’s assuming you could get the hips to lift that high.

The whole act of hopping forward scared the crap out of me though I was in no danger of getting my hips that high.

None. Nada. Zip. Zero.

But I’m a determined chick. I found Kino MacGregor’s video on floating forward. I was still too chicken to do it without the wall.  However, that aside, I followed Kino’s direction. And I practiced and practiced.

Though I was sure I was getting closer, I wasn’t sure how far I had to go.

Until today.

My friend Jessica teaches an early morning hot vinyasa class that gets the juices flowing. After class, we were talking about hopping forward. I was demonstrated my lack of progress.

But then, a new element was added.  I got some encouragement. Bam. I was up. My feet were planted, but I was in handstand. Excited, I sprung up!!

Someone said, “You just needed a few cheerleaders!”

Ain’t that the truth.

We could all use a few cheerleaders along the way.

Yoga is community. Yoga is support. Yoga is cheerleaders telling you that you CAN do it.

I’m so grateful. Cheerleader yoga.

Namaste y’all.

Open Letter to a Yoga Teacher

Yoga to the People Standing Bow

Dear Katherine-

When I realized that you were teaching class today I got nervous first and choked up, second. Your standing bow pose looks at me every time I walk into the locker room. But taking class with the person on the poster wasn’t the reason for the lump.

It’s funny, the day before another amazing teacher asked if we adjust our expectations based on who is teaching, when instead we should look internally when it comes to our practice.

Several months have passed since I took a class with you. Since then, life has changed exponentially.

I’ve started teaching yoga.

Your classes played a big part in that decision.

A year and a half ago I walked into your 6:30 pm class. I had never been so far away from myself- emotionally or physically. That class ripped me apart. 90 minutes in the heat.

Your voice was firm, focused and freeing.

Work hard but rest when you need to.

Find limits and grow but be intelligent about choices you make.

You can be comfortable or change, but you can’t have both. 

I know it’s yoga but it is also life. I didn’t know back then that I’d end up teaching- but that night was the flicker.  It was a spark that had to light from a puddle of sweat and tears.

Class was so f*cking hard. But I’d never been more grateful.

That night, I picked up my towel and soul off the mat.

I’d wash the towel. My soul was another story. It was shaky. And tired. You are never more lost until you are found.

At home, I crumbled. Cried until my eyes were puffy. No more hiding. No more running. It was time to start my life over, again.

I’m sure you’ve heard this a thousand times. Trying to articulate this after class would have resulted in me crying- not because I was embarrassed but until being confronted with seeing you- I didn’t actually realize how much I have changed. Or changed back to who I was before the fall.

In this day and age of the over share- the whys, whats and wheres aren’t important, but thanking people is a lost art.

So thank you, Katherine.

Your class makes me tap into something deeper and lighter. I have become my own best teacher.

Namaste.

Renewing Your Spirit – 5 Ways to Do It

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” 

– George Eliot

There’s something about autumn that I love and loathe. As a kid I loved the crisp mornings getting excited because I knew that I’d soon be able to break out my new sweaters. Warm weather still peeks through the day and it’s cool enough at night to get a morning chill. Fall is associated with renewal and that makes sense. We can shed old ways or reconnect with our pre-summer selves. Once the kids are back in their routines and beach days are gone we begin our own version of molting.

 

Here are 5 ways that I get back to me:

1. Reconnect with my practice

September is a big fitness season. As the family calendar takes over we get back to the business of health. For some this means actually working out again (you know who you are) and for others it means switching up the routine. I’ve never run outside in cooler weather, so I’m doing a little homework.

Fall is a time when I take a look at my practice. The change in seasons wakes up different parts of my senses. My asana practice took place mostly in the evenings. Since I teach most evenings, it was scattered. But I’ve sat my butt down to plan out my practices a few weeks out at a time. Incorporating

2. Jump start healthy eating

Eat seasonally!!! Eat seasonally!!!  My cooking shifts from grilling to roasting. I swap out fresh tomatoes for squash and mushrooms. Quinoa begins to make regular appearances and what I love most of all, SOUP SEASON!!! There is nothing like a hearty soup to make me giggle like wanda the witch from Sesame Street (which is creepy and cool at the same time). Renew your love of the kitchen by pulling down the crock pot and making soup. Crowd pleasers and freezer friendly. This fall and winter you’ll see a bunch of soup recipes  so get ready.

I’m now meatless every day of the week, but before I was I started participating in Meatless Monday. I’d say it was the first thing that really helped think about my carbon footprint.

3. Read a good book

All of the best books come out in fall!!! If you are a book nerd like me, this is your time to find a stack (or queue) of things to get you through the cold winter months. Reading is great stimulation for the brain and a soothing activity. Kids who see their parents read are more likely to read themselves.

4. Make time to make time

Did you know that a 2006 study said that meditating can be better for you than sleeping? Taking even a few minutes to collect your thoughts is great for you and others. I love early morning when I walk Dakota. It allows me to set intentions for the day and reflect on where I am. Take a minute in the shower just to pause can be beneficial. I’ve actually been thinking about my time in the Catskills surrounded by silence. I’ve gotten away from finding a few quiet moments to let go. Seems like the right time to re-commit.

5. Don’t sweat the small stuff

“Don’t sweat the small stuff, because it’s all small stuff…” Cliche and overused, maybe. That doesn’t mean it’s untrue. Maybe it was the heat and  (and don’t get me wrong I’m a summer kind of chick) but the little things were getting under my skin. The cool crisp air of fall allows me to exhale.

How do you welcome fall into your life?

Namaste y’all!

Laughter Yoga

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All you need in the world is love and laughter. That’s all anybody needs. To have love in one hand and laughter in the other.
August Wilson

 

Have you heard of Laughter Yoga? Laugh for No Reason by Madan Kataria decribes how laughter when done mindfully and in a group can be therapeutic. There aren’t any large studies to back up the efficacy of Laughter Yoga, but there is no denying the power of joy. Cultivating a sense of calm or peace helps reduce stress, increase oxygen intake and promote an overall sense of well-being.

 

Hey- sounds good. I’ve always been a fan of a big belly laugh.

 

I’m also a fan of a good acronym. Maybe it’s too many years spent in training sessions.

 

Acronyms are everywhere. Human Resources and Training people use them at work. Personal Trainers use them to get us motivated. Support groups use them to help each manage challenging moments. Texting wouldn’t be texting without them. Whether you think they’re hokey, cool, or annoying they seem to work because they stick in our heads.

 

John Cleese (one of the funniest people of all time) spent sometime with Dr. Kataria to check out Laughter Yoga in action.

Here five ways to keep the L.A.U.G.H. in your heart and life.

 

Love makes the world go round. The Beatles may have been on to something. All you need is love. Well it’s not all you need but it does help. Studies show that love makes us healthier. Love comes in all shapes and sizes. Loving a pet reduces stress. People in happy marriages live longer. People who have loving friends and family are more grounded. And above all loving yourself is paramount.

 

Appreciate the little things like a warm spring breeze or the first sip of your morning coffee. If you were smart enough to grasp this concept from a young age congratulations, it takes others years to come to this realization.

 

Understand that life is not about control but more about letting go and being in the present moment. When we focus on what is happening right now stress over past missteps and future problems melt away. Buddhists say that worry is useless. If you have a problem and can do something it- then do it. If you can’t do something about it you can’t, worrying will not help. This isn’t a dress rehearsal.

 

Grow indefinitely. “Why stretch when you can reach?” Our lives are a journey. We can choose to learn something everyday or we can choose to think we know everything. An open mind creates an open heart.

 

Hope is defined by wikipedia as the emotional state, the opposite of which is despair, which promotes the belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life.[1] It is the “feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best” or the act of “look[ing] forward to with desire and reasonable confidence” or “feel[ing] that something desired may happen”.[2] Other definitions are “to cherish a desire with anticipation”; “to desire with expectation of obtainment”; or “to expect with confidence”.[3] In the English language the word can be used as either a noun or a verb, although hope as a concept has a similar meaning in either use.[4]  

 

Armed with these tools there’s nothing we can’t do.

What inspires you to keep laughing?

So go guffaw.  Namaste y’all!

 

Keep laughing!

Laugh for no reason

Vegan Diaries- Building a Pantry

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A delicious, nutritious meal is easy to prepare on the day you come home from the grocery store. But as the food dwindles, the urge to order take-out or grab unhealthy frozen pizza grows. Unplanned meals are a way of life. You may not have a personal chef, but with the right pantry you can have great meals that are good for you at a moment’s notice! Great recipes start with a few key ingredients that you can pick up weekly. The secret is adding those ingredients with items already on hand.

A well-stocked pantry isn’t only conducive to a slimmer waist, but it helps fatten the wallet. Over time having supplies becomes more cost-effective. Also, you aren’t racking up extra dollars in the grocery column of your budget!

Feeling a little anxious because your cabinets are bare? Stocking a pantry doesn’t have to done all at once. Make a plan. Give yourself 8-12 weeks to get your pantry in shape. You can spread out the shopping accordingly.

You’d be surprised at how little you need to spend on groceries!

I realized how big a role my pantry plays in my cooking since cutting down my food budget to $5 per day.

Particularly if you live in an area that doesn’t have a ton of markets, a pantry that is properly stocked with things you’ll actually use can

15 items that will get your pantry off to a great start:

  1. Olive oil makes the difference in a recipe as well as adding good fats and antioxidants in your diet
  2. Whole grain pastas have come a long way in the taste department and cook in minutes
  3. Stocks aren’t necessary as a group, but keep at least one on hand- (I LOVE Manischewitz vegetable broth)
  4. Brown rice or whatever healthy grain appeals to you  (barley, bulghur, couscous, quinoa)
  5. Beans, beans and more beans (I keep dried) chickpeas, black beans, navy beans, pinto and black eye peas are currently in mine. They are perfect for soups.
  6. Lettuce like spring greens are appealing because they stay fresh and make any salad a bit more special, but romaine works just as well. And I found some iceberg for .99. Go with what’s on sale and seasonal.
  7. Vinegar like balsamic can be used in everything from salad dressing to roasted veggies
  8. Dijon mustard can be used as part of a marinade or salad dressing in an instant
  9. 1 or two  seasonal vegetables that keep well (With fall coming on the east coast- it’s all about pumpkin and acorn squash baby- cheap and good.)
  10. Canned tomatoes can be used for sauces, on tortillas etc…
  11. Frozen spinach or kale can be added to rice and pasta for an easy meal
  12. Onions are a quick (and cheap) easy way to add flavor without a ton of calories
  13. Garlic that is fresh jazzes up any recipe from salad to fish to grilled veggies
  14. Dried spices like oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, cinnamon, kosher salt and pepper are critical. You can also add cumin, cayenne and tarragon if the basics are reside in your spice cabinet. Shopping at ethnic grocery stores can help you find good quality spices at very reasonable prices. Buying spices whole also last longer and retain flavor.

Bonus points for:

dried fruits and nuts, firm tofu, tortillas

 

Are there pantry items you can’t live without? Please tell me in the comment section! I’m always looking for new additions!

Namaste y’all!

September is Hunger Action Month

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Here are some sobering facts about hunger in the US. (Courtesy Do Something)

  • 1 in 6 people in America face hunger.
  • Households with children reported a significantly higher food insecurity rate than households without children in 2011. 20.6 percent vs. 12.2 percent.
  • Food insecurity exists in every county in America. In 2011, 17.9 million households were food insecure.
  • 50.1 million Americans struggle to put food on the table.
  • In the US, hunger isn’t caused by a lack of food, but rather the continued prevalence of poverty.
  • More than 1 in 5 children is at risk of hunger
    • Among African-Americans and Latinos, it’s 1 in 3.
  • Over 20 million children receive free or reduced-price lunch each school day. Less than half of them get breakfast and only 10 percent have access to summer feeding sites.
  • For every 100 school lunch programs, there are only 87 breakfast sites and just 36 summer food programs.
  • 1 in 7 people are enrolled in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Nearly half of them are children.
  • 40 percent of food is thrown out in the US every year, or about $165 billion worth. All of this uneaten food could feed 25 million Americans.

 

These seven states have statistically higher food insecurity rates than the US national average (14.7%):

Mississippi (19.2%)Texas (18.5%)Arkansas (19.2%)Alabama (17.4%)Georgia (17.4%)Florida (16.2%)North Carolina (17.1%)

  • One in seven households struggles with hunger.
  • 73% of teachers say that they have kids who start the day hungry because there isn’t enough food at home.

All month Feeding America is  challenging Americas to eat on 4.50 a day.

 

As I’ve talked about in my 21 Meals on $5 a day, it’s not easy.  Shaving .50 off? Seems impossible.

 

There are things that we can all do to help.

1. Donate. There are national programs that help. Check out Feeding America

2. Donate food to your local food pantry

3. Donate time to your local food pantry or food co-op.

4. Invite someone for a good healthy meal.

 

Namaste y’all.

Chalkboard Yoga, Fresh Starts and All That.

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You don’t have to wait for the New Year for a fresh start.

Amanda McDonald, yoga teacher wrote a status update that made high five my Mac.

Why are we so resistant to just solving problems, instead of procrastinating and worrying? You have the skills to fix it. Get out there!

And I thought of the clip from Vanilla Sky when Penelope Cruz says that ‘Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around.’

What are you doing this minute? Are you at peace? Do you want to be?

Don’t worry if you missed the last minute because another one is right here. And here. And here. And here.

Namaste y’all.

Here’s to the week.