“Good morning, Good morning, to YOU!”
For the past couple of months, I have been practicing a morning ritual that really sets the tone for my day. It helps me create intention, harness positive thoughts and energies, and makes me feel prepared to go out into the world and leave my mark. I love it so much that I felt compelled to put it on “paper” (aka my little blog) and share it with you all.
My alarm rouses me at 7AM, and I roll out of bed, straight onto my meditation bolster. Inspired by a meditation I did on Yogaglo with Amy Ippoliti, I meditate for 15 minutes, preparing my meditation timer for 5 minute intervals. For the first 5 minutes, I meditate on gratitude, and write down 3-4 things I am grateful for on that morning. For the next 5 minutes, I practice ujjayi pranayama, or victorious breath. You begin by closing the back of your throat just enough to make an audible sound with your breath, not unlike the sound of the ocean… or Darth Vader. Many have likened it to making the sound “HA”, but with your mouth closed. This breath stimulates me, wakes me up, and opens my lungs for the day ahead. It also helps me soften any tight areas from my sleep. The last 5 minutes I dedicate to sitting in silence with a quiet, mindful breath, observing my breath as it flows through the body.
Once I complete my 15-minute sit, I am ready to fuel my body. I make my way to the kitchen and pour a HUGE glass of water to replenish and hydrate my body after 8 hours of sleep. As I’m sipping my water, I prepare my favorite breakfast, a big green juice. My favorite recipe these days is sweet, grassy, and delicious.
You will need:
A couple of stems of kale
A couple of stems of spinach
A couple of stems of romaine
½ a lemon
Throw everything in your juicer, and enjoy!
These mindful actions make me feel nourished in body and spirit and prepared to face the world with a positive attitude. They make me feel like I am tapping into my inner happiness, greeting the day softly and with lots of gratitude and love.
What are your favorite morning rituals? Share in the comments below!
A couple of months ago, I decided to nix my old skin routine and try a different line of facial cleansing products. My old products (to remain nameless) were just not cutting it. As a yogi who teaches in heated rooms and sweats a lot, AND a self-proclaimed face-toucher and -rubber, I tend to break out. I’ve noticed that my breakouts center around the places where I lean my head on my hands, and the parts of my chin that I lean on the floor or my mat while practicing yoga. The previous skin regimen I had was making matters worse, making my face feel simultaneously oily and dry. It felt like a confused teen in the midst of an identity crisis. However, I loved the products because they were vegan and cruelty-free, and easily available in Montreal. They were also inexpensive. I decided to expand my search to online retailers, but kept my pre-requisites to the products being vegan, cruelty-free and budget friendly. During one of my internet searches, I stumbled upon Just The Goods, a company based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Their products are natural, vegan, certified cruelty-free, and Canadian, so I decided to give them a whirl.
On my first purchase, I bought the cleanser, toner and moisturizer for sensitive skin. Milena, the sweet owner, also threw in a sample of the spot treatment and a foot scrub for me to try. The price of each bottle ranged from 5-9$. (YES, you heard me right, 5-9$ per bottle…!! Even more budget-friendly than I had hoped!) On my first evening, I washed my face with the cleanser, toned with the toner, and used the spot treatment on problem areas. My first impression was the incredibly soft, natural smell of the products. They smell and feel very fresh. My skin felt clean, not weighed down, and very light. For as long as I can remember, cleansers have made my skin feel taut. Not this one! On my first morning, I woke up to visible improvement in problem areas. I washed, toned and moisturized, and applied a light coat of pressed powder. It was love at first (and second) wash.
I kept using the sensitive skin line for about a month. My skin became healthy and looked fresh. Any flaky zones I used to have to deal with went away completely, and the color of my skin went from blotchy to uniform. However, the breakouts continued. I decided to switch to the acne-prone skin line, and bought a cleanser, toner and moisturizer. And then the magic happened. My breakouts began to diminish and my skin began to clear. I’ve been using Just the Goods for a couple of months now, and I absolutely adore these products. Now, I only get breakouts if I have been touching my face a lot (which I have been making a conscious effort to stop doing!!).
Check out Milena’s awesome Canadian company at www.justthegoods.net. If you’re in the market for natural, vegan beauty products, they’re a must-try!
Forgiveness. Non-violence. Acceptance. Unity. Love.
Activism is a new bag to me. I went vegan not too long ago, in November 2010. Before then, I was always inspired by stories of people who would raise money for charities, complete extreme feats in the name of a cause, go on hunger strikes, etc. But I never thought that “little ol’ me” could make a difference. It wasn’t until late in my adulthood that I realized that every little bit helps. I made the decision to become vegan because of animal welfare issues. I watched “Earthlings”, a movie that shook my world. I was angry. I was angry that my fellow man could treat living beings so poorly, just because they were not humans. I was angry that humans could beat animals in circuses, shove chemicals in dogs’ eyes and shoot innocent beings all in the name of entertainment, “beauty” and sport. I was angry. I wanted to do something extreme, I wanted vengeance; I wanted to channel that anger into some extreme action to get back at humanity for treating innocent beings in such horrible ways. I judged. I couldn’t even talk about my veganism without instigating an argument or debate about meat.
Gradually, at some point, a shift happened. I’m not sure when, or how, (though I suspect my yoga practice played a huge part in this…) but my anger and judgement and hate started to dissipate. In its place I welcomed the notion of spiritual, nonviolent activism. I’m not even sure when the shift happened, or how to explain it, but at some point I realized that leading by example, being accountable for my own actions, and spreading positivity into the world might be a better option for the cause, the planet and my own spiritual well-being. Attending protests with a smile – ready and open to speaking authentically to people about veganism – was so much more successful in my case then arriving angry and ready to scream at people who disagreed. Spreading love was so much more peaceful than spreading hate, and seemed to resonate much more with the very cause I was fighting for. I started searching for positive ways to make a difference – sharing vegan cookies and treats, taking friends to vegan restaurants, running a half-marathon for the animals and donating the money I raised to an animal rights organization, etc. Sharing my truth, my ethics, and my beliefs, through positive actions is so much more peaceful, and so much more rewarding.
I discovered spiritual activism in my late 20s. My cousin, Kayla, discovered spiritual activism in her first year of high school. Kayla is my inspiration, my spirit animal. In October, Kayla will be shaving her head and donating her beautiful locks for cancer research. She will be raising her goal amount of 2,000$ over the summer and donating this to cancer research as well. I have offered to teach a yoga class by donation this summer to aid her in her goal, and will share the details here once location and date are confirmed! What I realized late in my 20s, that love, positive action and the insane impact that one person can do, Kayla realized in Grade 6. This is actually not the first time that Kayla will be donating her hair to cancer. Last year, while she didn’t do the big shave, she did cut off most of her hair to donate to the cause. Her high school has also noticed Kayla’s incredibly huge heart and awesome impact on her community by bestowing her with a Citizenship award at her school’s awards ceremony. She is an inspiration, and proof that one girl can have a hand in changing the world, one strand of hair at a time.
“Spiritual Activism is the coming together of spirituality, and activism. It is not about religion, it is not about any form of dogma, it is activism that comes from the heart, not just the head, activism that is compassionate, positive, kind, fierce and transformative. Being a spiritual activist means taking our part in creating change, with a spirit of positivity, compassion, love and a balance of interdependence and self-determination. Nothing could be more inspiring and more rewarding than being the change we want to see in the world, within and without.” – fiercelove.wordpress.com
Kayla is the definition of a spiritual activist. If Kayla’s actions have touched your heart as they have mine, please donate, share the below link, attend our fundraising events, do anything in your power to help her reach her goal. What a gal!
I’ve noticed that when I’m having a “bad day”, a case of the Mondays, a day where I trip on everything, bang my hip on table corners, drop my tea mug and stain my favorite shirt, lose my favorite hoodie, realize that part of the outfit I was going to wear that day is dirty and I need to rethink my whole ensemble, I seem to attract bad energy, negative vibes and generally disgruntled people. I also seem to approach my day with a negative outlook, adopting the “glass half empty mentality”. However, I’ve discovered that when I take a moment on these days where things seem a bit “off” to concentrate on all I am grateful for, my mood and energy seems to shift out of the blues to a place of happiness and contentment. It’s easy to be reactionary when you drop your green smoothie all over your new white tank top, but instead of yelling out a curse word and letting it take over your whole day, taking a second to go over a couple of things you are grateful for can shift your whole perspective. Going from “$%&^*%^^#$!$#@! What am I going to do now! I can’t believe I ruined this shirt! I’m such an idiot!” to “It’s not the end of the world. I have my family, my health, and a cute cardigan that I can button over the tank top so no one is the wiser!” can make all the difference in setting the tone for the day ahead. When we come from a place of positivity, gratitude and peace within ourselves, we attract these same feelings and states of mind around us.
Let’s be honest, though. It’s not always easy to see rainbows and sunshine all the time. So, I’ve taken up the practice of listing 5 things I am grateful for when I wake up every morning. Some days, I will list them in my meditation journal, and some days, I will simply list them in my head as I’m brushing my teeth or getting ready to leave the house. I’ve noticed that this practice sets the tone for my day, gives me an extra spring to my step, and prepares me to face the world head-on armed with an open heart, a receptive body and a smile on my face. I’ve noticed that this has helped me avoid being reactionary in negative encounters that might surface. Taking a deep breath, telling myself that the person in front of me is paving their own path today and living their own journey, and then coming back to that place of gratitude helps me stay grounded and collected. Many times, it also helps diffuse the negative encounter instead of adding to the fire! Reminding myself that I choose what to put out into the world, and in doing so I choose what will reflect back has changed my whole perspective on happiness. Choosing to live from a place of gratitude and feeling the positive energy that surrounds you when you do, is infectious.
Today’s list of things I am grateful for (in no particular order…)
- MY HUSBAND
- MY MOBILITY
- MY MOMMIES
- MY FRIENDS
- MY JOURNEY TOWARDS HANDSTAND
What are you grateful for today?
Hello January. It’s cold. My feet get cold when I try to wear cool spring boots. I’m dreaming of sun, sandy beaches and heat. In the midst of this cold front, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to stay present with winter. I’ve been finding my mind drifting to summer plans, vacations and wishes of flip flops every time I stop to think.
Amidst these feelings, I have been integrating more mindfulness into my daily life by taking the time to enjoy the warm comfort of a hot cup of tea, cuddling in jogging pants and woolly socks, and trying my hardest to become friends with the cold by any means possible. I’ve also become so grateful for the heat of my yoga practice, in a hot room or otherwise. There’s nothing like the feeling of coming out of the cold and into a room heated to 40 degrees to warm you up from the core all the way to the fingers and toes. I also noticed that the minute I enter periods of high stress or challenges, my meditation practice really takes a beating. When I need it the most, I turn away from my daily sit, coming up with excuses not to quiet my mind. This realization coincides perfectly with a new meditation challenge I just signed up for on Tuja Wellness. If you know me, you know my “type A” personality loves a good structured challenge, so I jumped at the chance to join. One of my first yoga teachers, an inspirational and wonderful Montreal-based yoga teacher named Dawn Mauricio, is facilitating the challenge along with a handful of wellness experts. My intention when I signed up is to use this challenge to reintegrate a daily meditation practice to my routine. Check out the challenge here, and join! Let’s do it together!
In other news, my immune system took a beating this Holiday season as everyone around me was all virus-y. I managed to come out of the Holidays with “only” a throat infection, which I fought valiantly with lots of hot water with lemon, ginger, and oil of oregano. (THANK YOU, ERICA, FOR THIS MIRACLE OIL. FOR REAL – MIRACLE WORKER.) These past weeks, I’ve been building my immune system back up with a daily green smoothie, lots of garlic and ginger, and a warm glass of water with lemon to start the day. My favorite smoothie of the moment is a tart combo of greens and fruit. I’m loving it!
Green Kiss smoothie
1 cup coconut water (or more, depending on how good your blender is…)
½ an avocado
1 cup frozen or fresh mango
Juice of 1 lemon (or peel the lemon and throw it in for extra tartness)
1 large handful of kale
1 tbsp ground flax seeds
A squirt of agave nectar (optional)
Throw all ingredients in a blender and blend!
The avocado gives the smoothie a little fat, so it keeps me full longer! It also makes the consistency soooo creamy. I don’t add agave, because I like my smoothies tart, but if you’re not into that type of thing, add some sweetener! The cool thing about green smoothies is you can mix and match lots of different combos. If you don’t have kale, sub for spinach! If you don’t have mango, throw in pineapple! I like using coconut water as a base because it is super hydrating, but you can try your favorite non-dairy milk or just plain water if you are running low on supplies. Having a green smoothie for breakfast gives me so much energy, and also gives me a healthy dose of greens to start the day. If you’re new to green smoothies, start small. Add lots of fruit, and just a little bunch of greens. As your taste buds adjust, start lowering your ratio of fruit, and increasing your ratio of greens. The greener, the better!
As we come to the close of Week 1 of the 30 Day self-love and yoga challenges, I realize that a couple of small hurdles have pushed me to practice self-love in completely different ways. Lots of rest, yin practices, candlelit meditations, warm chili and cornbread and nesting under warm blankets wearing fuzzy socks were on the menu. While a small cold kept me away from the studio at the beginning of this week, I’m fully planning on recommitting myself to the challenge of daily in-studio practices for the rest of November! I’m missing the warmth, hugs and smiles of the wonderful Viveka community!
Tonight, I’ll be guiding a workshop at the beautiful Viveka Yoga, focused on Pranayama, or conscious breath. In my 3+ years as a yoga teacher, this will mark my first ever workshop. I’m so excited to share my fascination with the breath, and all the wonderful practices we can engage in to deepen our connection. I’m also nervous – will students want to listen to me talk for close to 2 hours? Will I succeed in sharing and conveying all the wonderful aspects of conscious breathing? Will I crack a [breath] joke that will be met with blank stares? (Worst. Feeling. of. Life.) Building and writing out the workshop this past week has been the best – I’ve revisited books and guides from my YTT days that i haven’t opened in a while. Throughout the process, i’ve tried to write and construct from a student point of view – as a student, what do I want out of a Pranayama workshop? It’s been really exciting to try my hand at building a workshop for the first time, and i hope the response is positive! The challenge of writing a workshop brought a very interesting aspect to my 30-day self-love and asana challenge. The excitement and challenge of being asked to do the workshop, and the energy surrounding the process have made me nervous and doubtful of my inner voice, my ability to convey my passion. My self-love practice has been put to the test this week, and has helped immensely. The power of positive affirmations is awesome. Instead of falling into the trap of my inner voice becoming my own worst enemy, kicking me when i’m doubting myself, i’ve practiced positive self-speech, and lots of meditation. These practices have made me feel confident, present and excited for the evening ahead. If you’re in the Lachine area at 7:30PM tonight, come join in the breath!
On the topic of meditation, I am so excited that Oprah and Deepak Chopra have released a new free 21 day meditation challenge program! This program is a favorite of mine – both their voices are so soothing, and Deepak’s guidance is incredibly mind-blowing. The challenge starts November 11th, and you can register for free here: https://chopracentermeditation.com/
Also on the meditation front, i’ve fallen in LOVE with Canadian company Tiny Devotions. Their malas are stunning, their jewelery is drool-worthy, and their blog is adorable. They have an incredible post on how to choose a mala, which i found super informative. I own the Amazonite Mala, and i feel like when i wear it, i can take my intentions with me wherever i go. And conquer the world, of course. I love placing it in front of my mat during practice so i can have it in view during particularly challenging asanas, or when my focus is drifting. Check them out, support such a cool company, and send them some love!