Practicing Gratitude. (Or the quest to avoid staining my white shirts…)

18 Mar

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…)

  • KALE
  • MY HUSBAND
  • MY MOBILITY
  • MY MOMMIES
  • MY FRIENDS
  • MY JOURNEY TOWARDS HANDSTAND

What are you grateful for today?

Namaste, friends.

Janu-freakin-ary

21 Jan

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!

Thirty Day Challenge Week 1 – I love myself today (?)

8 Nov

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!

All you need is (self) love…

30 Oct
The month of November is shaping up to be quite the month. I’ve previously met November with a bit of dread; one step closer to snow and cold. Not to mention, it’s a month devoid of holidays! Lame-o. This November, I’ve committed to 2 pretty awesome and inspiring challenges, and I’m counting down the days until i get to dive right in!

The first event, Viveka Yoga’s 30 day challenge, challenges you to practice yoga every day for 30 days. Viveka is offering a special price for a month of unlimited yoga, which includes 4 sweet workshops every Friday night. (Shameless plug: I’m teaching the pranayama [breath] workshop on November 8th – be there or be square!) If you are interested in joining, check out the website, and come on down to Viveka on November 1st to register!

The second event, 30 days of Self-Love, is run by the beautiful and inspiring Asami Martens. Asami is a yoga teacher based in Montreal who has orchestrated this event in order to unify people from all around the globe so they may connect, share their intentions and thoughts on love and self-care.  The challenge also starts on November 1st, and the guidelines are simple – commit to 35 minutes or more per day of exercise, and 10 minutes or more per day of meditation. The rest is up to you. These can be your intentions, or you can set additional intentions for your month. Asami will be posting asana [yoga posture] tips, guided meditation videos, yummy recipes, and more throughout the month. Bonus – it’s free to join!

My Self-Love November intentions are the following:

• Do yoga every day (plays into the first challenge! Adding to this, i’d like to incorporate more morning practices…)
• Meditate for 15 minutes a day
• 15 minutes of Sanskrit study per day
• Try an inversion every day (maybe become best friends with headstand again? We broke up for a while…)
• Spend more time outside connecting with nature
• Disconnect from my phone and social media at least an hour before bed every night
• Practice positive thoughts towards myself – self-love!! Every morning as i wake up silently chant “I choose to believe in me” 5 times
• Tell my loved ones I love them as much as I can!
• Listen to my intuition

It is my hope that after 30 days of practicing these simple intentions, they will become habits that i can incorporate into my everyday life. I feel intention setting is an important part of spiritual growth. As we learn to nurture ourselves through the spiritual practice of meditation, positive affirmations and thought, yoga (or any other form of movement that makes you smile) and mindfulness, our sense of connection to ourselves and others heightens and we can live to our fullest potential.

As your friendly neighborhood vegan, it’s my duty to suggest that you pledge to go veg for 30 days! Or why not practice meatless Mondays for the month of November? Pledge to use only cruelty-free or natural cleaning agents in your home for the month? Give 1 hug per day to someone in your life? Hugs are awesome, and vegan too! ;)

Let’s get on our mats, set intentions, and live November to its fullest! Share your intentions in the comments below if you’d like. Or better yet, join one of the challenges and connect with our communities!

PEACE!

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Day 21 – Challenge: COMPLETE!!!

1 Oct

Well friends, the challenge is over. I’m happy to say that my hair looks and feels great! The greasy phase is over, and surprisingly, i’m going to stick with the baking soda and ACV indefinetly! Throughout the challenge, i encountered some pros and cons to the method -

PROS:

1. Cheap, cheap, cheap. Wow, baking soda is cheap. Like, for real, this method costs next to nothing. Starving student? Strapped for cash? Lost your money at the track? This is the method for you.

2. Frequency of washes. I washed my hair every 4 days, which i loved.

3. Smell. My hair was odorless. Weirdly, it seemed that odors didn’t cling to my hair. Previously, when i was using regular shampoo, if i would make indian food or go to a particularily sweaty yoga class, my hair would smell bad. Now, it seems like my hair smells neutral all the time. (I’ve asked for a second opinion on this one, and i swear it’s true!!!)

4. Moisture rich hair! My hair never felt dry, itchy of flaky. On the contrary, it feels thick, soft and clean all the time!

CONS:

1. Worst con of all time: no lather. It’s really hard to figure out if i got all the parts of my scalp with the baking soda because there is no lather to tell me every spot has been hit. It’s a little annoying…!

2. Odorless. This is a pro as well as con. I kind of a little teensy bit miss the smell of shampoo in my hair.

3. By day 4, my hair looks dirty. It’s a really extreme transition. Day 3 – i’m looking awesome. Day 4 – i’m looking like a hobo.

The cons do not detract me enough to stop this method, as i really feel like my hair and scalp are healthier. I love the fact that my switch from commercial hair products to natural products diminishes my reliance on processed products packed with yucky chemicals. Baking soda and ACV are also naturally cruelty-free and vegan, so yay to that!

Challenge – SUCCESS!!!

<3

No Shampoo Week 1 – Undecided…

17 Sep

… and what a busy week 1 it’s been. I did not think the timing of this challenge through, as i had an event on Sunday where doing my hair was necessary, and I have 3 birthday events next week that require clean-ish hair as well… Woops.

Since the beginning of the challenge, i have washed my hair twice. I’m aiming to wash it every 4 days. I’m at day 4 today, and I’ve got to say it’s feeling pretty greasy. I’m so looking forward to washing it tonight. I knew this would happen, as all the blogs I’ve read about this method mention that 1-2 week period at the start where your hair goes through a sort of detox – readjusting to natural cleanser and lack of chemicals. However, the first three days after washing my hair were glorious! My hair has never felt so healthy, and never looked so vibrant! I washed it on Friday night, air dried it, and straightened it on Saturday morning and Sunday morning for events. It looked GREAT! I didn’t need any hair styling products to get it to stay in place, and it felt clean and light. So the preliminary verdict this early in the challenge is: awesome hair for days 1 through 3, greasy hair on day 4. Hopefully, my hair will re-adjust soon so day 4 can be just as glorious!

In other news, i can confidently state that my hair stops smelling of apple cider vinegar the minute it starts to air dry. (Thank god.) I’ve read posts where people suggest to put essential oils in the ACV mixture to mask the smell, but I’m cool with the straight up mix. I’m just hardcore like that, you know?

I’ve read that avocado is very good for your scalp and hair, so I’ve been incorporating it into my morning smoothie. My current obsession is the following mix – it’s so good!

Ingredients

1 cup coconut water

1/2 of an avocado

2-3 stems of kale (keep the stems on if your blender can handle it – they’re packed with nutrients)

1/2 cup-1 cup of frozen or fresh mango

1 tbsp chia or flax or hemp seeds

juice of 1/2 a lemon

Directions

Throw into your blender and blend!

The avocado brings a creaminess to the smoothie that I’m loving! If you find the smoothie too tart, throw in a squeeze or 2 of agave nectar!

The “no shampoo” challenge – Day 1, or “What have i gotten myself into?” – a shower manifesto

11 Sep

Yesterday marked my first day into my self-imposed 21-day “no shampoo” challenge. Inspired by a challenge undertaken by teachers at a local yoga studio, and many articles and posts i have read about the dangers of commercial hair products, I’ve decided to undertake a 21-day challenge of my own. For the next 3 weeks, i will be ditching all hair products, and using homemade shampoo and conditioner! EEEEK! Through my research, i have realized how much i have come to depend on commercial hair products. Even though the products i use are “all-natural” and not tested on animals, they still create a dependency, either drying my hair and scalp, forcing me to either wash very frequently, or use conditioner on a more frequent basis. All that product can weigh a girl’s hair down!

What I’ve come to learn is many people have switched to using baking soda as shampoo, and apple cider vinegar as conditioner, with great results! They reported going from washing their hair with commercial shampoo every 2 days, to washing their hair with baking soda twice / once a week! I’ve read that they saw a difference in the health and quality of their locks, ranging from no more frizz and static, to disappearance of dandruff and flakes.

When i first started reading all this baking soda business, I have to admit i was skeptical. It all sounded a little too dirty to me. But i figured i might as well give it a try. I’m counting on my network of friends and family that i see on a daily basis to tell me if i start to look a little grimy.

Last night was my first attempt at trying this home concoction. I took a Tupperware and filled it with baking soda. I also took a plastic bottle and made an apple cider vinegar concoction. I poured 1 tablespoon of ACV for every cup of water i filled the bottle with. I closed the bottle and gave it a good shake. I was ready.

Firstly, i wet my hair in the shower. I took about 2 tablespoons of baking soda in the palm of my hand, and added a bit of water. I made a paste with my fingers, and started massaging into my scalp. I’m not going to lie, it felt gross. The posts i read instructed to massage the paste into the scalp, and then work your way to the ends. I tried my best, but it was hard to tell if i got my whole head because of the lack of foam and suds. Once i felt like my whole head was covered (hopefully…), i rinsed well.

I then flipped my head to the front, took the ACV mixture, and poured some over my scalp. I flipped my head back and poured a bit more towards the back, trying to get my whole scalp. (Make sure not to get any in your eyes. She stings, this one.) I let it sit on my scalp for 3 minutes, then rinsed. I towel-dried my hair, and brushed it out.

The first thing i observed was the lack of tangles. There were NO tangles in my hair, at all. I also felt like my hair was a bit softer than usual. While i was pouring the ACV on my head, the bathroom smelt like a salad bar, but as i towel-dried, i noticed that my hair did not smell at all. I got my hubs to smell me as well, and he couldn’t distinguish any weird smells either. Success!

I keep reading that the first week or 2 is quite challenging, because your hair goes through this transition of going from chemically weighed down to natural. It’s kind of like a detox, but with your hair and scalp. Many have reported having a hard time sticking with the challenge because of that first week, but I’m going to try to last the full 21 days, and report back as i progress. I feel this challenge can go both ways. I can either love it, thus saving money on shampoo and becoming even more of a tree-hugger than i already am ;), or i can realize I’m losing friends due to my dirty hair, start to develop dreads not by choice (though let’s be honest, dreads are cool!) and go back to spending large sums of money on toxic shampoos and conditioners. Let’s hope it’s the first choice, as i don’t think i have the face for dreads…

Stay tuned!

 

Original article that inspired me: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-8040/why-i-will-never-go-back-to-using-commercialized-hair-products.html

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