Happy Weekend!

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I’m finally in the final stretch of graduate school and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, what this also means is that I am constantly inundated with responsibilities, deadlines, meetings and class. Busy is not a glamorous lifestyle. One thing that I do when I am stressed is eat. lots of carbs. and lots of sweets. I read a quote that directed the reader to “love yourself” as you are eating, and I thought that this intention could completely shift my stress eating. What else could we change if we brought love to the forefront of our intentions? Love yourself as you eat. Love your husband/child/mother when you tell them goodbye as you rush off to work. Love for yoga as you roll out your mat. Love for yourself as you move through your asanas. Love for your town as you take an afternoon walk. Love for mornings as you sip your coffee. Do all things with love. This is not an easy practice. It’s something we must work on, constantly, forever. Try to do all things with love for one day, even just for one morning and see what happens. Or, try to do all things with love for one yoga class. Happy Weekend : )

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Happy Weekend!

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The “why” is such an important question to ask yourself. “Why” is much more important than the “what”. If you have the “why” right, then the “what” will fall into place. Whenever you are struggling with a choice or a decision, ask yourself why. If the choice would be made because of fear, insecurity, ego, pride, or anger, then this is probably not the right decision. If the why is based on love, hope, integrity, determination, then the choice is probably the right one. When we make a choice out of fear, we give fear power over us and our lives. I believe that fear is never a good reason to make a choice, and thus when I realize that fear is dictating my anxiety, or driving my decision, I am able to step back and re-evaluate. What do you want to fill your life with? Make decisions based upon the intentions for your life. Be motivated by these positive intentions, and the “what” that results from this motivation, will most likely be positive as well. Happy weekend : )

Raw, Vegan Fudge Brownies With Cashew Cream Frosting!!

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I’ve recently been trolling the raw cooking youtube channels and came across this dessert. One thing that I love about raw desserts is that they are most likely gluten free, and quick/easy because there’s no baking involved! The brownie dough tastes like real brownie dough. I was shocked! And those medjool dates are a game changer when it comes to raw desserts. I am so surprised how sweet they are. They are like a treat all alone.

Also, the cashew cream frosting is sooooo delicious and this dessert feels, looks,  and tastes so decadent but has no added sugar, is all natural, vegan and gluten free. Try this recipe and be amazed! I could post the recipe here but the youtube video is so much better to watch and below it the recipe is written out for you. Also, check out this raw cooking channel. It’s filled with wonderful, easy recipes and the mother daughter duo is super cute : )

P.S. I bought my cacao powder here. It’s the best deal that I’ve found and you can add it to smoothies as well as using it for baking/raw dessert making.

 

Happy Weekend!

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Eastern philosophers always speak of water because of its unique qualities. Water is soft and flexible. It always chooses the path of least resistance, and yet, it carves paths through rocks, creates canyons, and holds up ships. A ripple in water, effects every other water molecule associated with that body of water, regardless of distance. Water soothes and heals. It washes and renews. Water can slip through fingers, but hold up ships. In your life, try to be more like water. Flexible, soft, but strong. It can be done. Happy Weekend!

Top 5 Reasons to Juice!

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1.    It’s and easy way to get your greens. It is commonly known that most Americans do not meet their daily intake of vegetables and juicing is an easy way to meet those needs without all of the laborious work of cooking. Just throw a healthy amount of kale or spinach into your juice and you’re set for the day!

2.    Your skin will be GLOWING! Give it a little time but after you’ve consistently juiced for several weeks, your friends are going to be complimenting your skin and asking what’s your secret to looking great.

3.    It extends your life expediency. Studies have shown that nutrients in juice help keep your cells from dying ahead of their time, which, in return, allows them to benefit you a little bit longer.

4.    It helps restore pH balance! There has been an overwhelming amount of research lately that shows an acidic pH can lead to cancer. Normalizing your pH can help stop cancer in it’s tracks. Leafy greens and low sugary veggies will help balance your pH so if you still aren’t ready to completely change your diet yet at least you can start with incorporating a healthy juice to assist your body in that pH fight.

5.    You’ll feel much better. Who here doesn’t know that vegetables are good for you? The antioxidants and nutrients found in vegetables will have your body functioning better, you will wake up feeling more energized and your body will thank you for it. Everyone seems to want to consume more veggies and you’ll never have any regrets incorporating them into your diet!

The Importance of Setting Intention

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I was in final savasana the other day at yoga, laying on the floor, legs and arms resting, palms up to receive, when the teacher discussed setting your goals for class. He explained that not everyone will have the same goal, and that our goals can change from class to class. Some people come to yoga to get in shape, some to relax, some to connect their mind and their body, some come to heal physically and/or emotionally. Of course, yoga will give you gifts that you may have never hoped for, but it is always good to have an intention, or a goal, and remember what that goal is so that you don’t get discouraged when comparing yourself with others. You may have a different goal than the person next to you.

Matt and I have also recently gotten into the show Scandal, for those of you who don’t know this show, it is basically about a group of lawyers, working for the main character (who is also a lawyer) Olivia Pope. They call themselves gladiators in suits, and “fix” problems that need fixing (mainly hired by politicians and other power players that reside in Washington. Olivia always asks her clients what their “end game” is, meaning, what are their goals. What is best-case scenario for the end result of their work together? What Olivia is really doing is setting an intention and a goal to shoot for.

This concept of goal and intention setting is so important for life as well. What is your end-game for your day, or your job, or your yoga class, or your conversation with your husband? Setting your intentions can be such a powerful step to take prior to entering into an experience, because it gives you something to aim for. This simple step of setting your intention/goal, can also prevent you from becoming side-tracked, or disappointed with the end results. For example, I recently competed in the Yoga Asana Regional Championship, and my goals while training were focused on my postures. My intention for the competition was to provide a graceful, strong demonstration of the postures that I could perform. It was to perform my postures to the best of my abilities. There was no strategizing to score points, or maximize my overall score. However, when I checked the results of the points, I found myself disappointed with my overall point score, and feeling discouraged as I compared myself to all the other amazing yogis’ points. Timeout. My postures were awesome, and I had left the competition feeling inspired, proud, and as if I had conquered something major. My “end-game”, my intentions and goals revolved around my postures, and I had reached my goal. Reminding myself of my original goal, helped to re-frame the entire experience for me, and reminded me of what a powerful tool intention-setting can be.

Remember this very simple concept before you begin something (even something as simple as a yoga class). Some days, my goal for yoga class is to really push myself, to conquer the monkey mind that tells me “I can’t do anymore”. Some days my goal for yoga class is to have compassion for myself because I am prone to believe that I have to do everything perfectly. I often put a lot of pressure on myself in life, a byproduct of which is pain and suffering, so some days, allowing myself to sit down and rest for a posture is my goal. Some days, when my life is crazy or I’ve had a particularly negative thought process for the day, my goal is simply to be in the moment, and to connect my body with my mind. The point is, that your goals can change, and simply by setting an intention prior to beginning, gives you a purpose.

10 Tips for Bikram Yoga

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1. Hydrate before class! I like to begin hydrating 2 hours before class, and stop drinking water one hour before. This gives you enough time to drink plenty of water, and then enough time before to urinate most of it out so you don’t have to go during class. Seriously, hydrate. Your urine should be clear. Enough said on that subject. Hydration is non-negotiable.

2. Electrolytes can be a game-changer. I’m so grateful an experienced yogi let me in on this secret early in my practice. I like to take one electrolyte capsule an hour before class. Since I started taking these before class, my tendency to feel nauseated or dizzy decreased drastically. I have been using these for a couple years.

3. Breathe. Slowly. Through your nose. And with control. This is key. This is crucial. Your breath is what links your mind to your body, and if you lose control of your breath, you cannot gain control of your mind. If you notice yourself panting, or breathing uncontrollably, stop and rest until you gain control of your breath. When I first started Bikram yoga, I couldn’t get enough oxygen, ever and thus, I breathed with my mouth open. The teachers would always yell at me to close my mouth and breathe through my nose from their podiums and I thought to myself “If I close my mouth, I will die”. Eventually, I closed my mouth, and I didn’t die. Actually, I became calmer, stronger, and more relaxed. Breathing through the nose is key, even though it’s counterintuitive. Try it even if you think you might die.

4. Cold water is worth its weight in gold. A lot of Bikram devotees will tell you that cold water is a cheat (in fact the hardcore yogis skip water all together during their practice) but let me tell you, when I was first starting Bikram, cold water was a godsend. During first savasana, I would lay down, take a deep sip of cold water and almost cry in gratitude for that little treat. Many times I contemplated how amazing it was to feel so grateful for something as simple as cold water. I like to fill a 32oz Nalgene bottle to 12 oz and then stick it in the freezer, then in class I have 1/3 of the water bottle full of ice to keep my water nice and frosty. Also…don’t drink too much water at one time during class because it will make you feel sick, especially in camel posture.

5. Don’t judge. Don’t judge your practice, just try to notice where you are at (e.g. flexibility, mental strength, stress level) and enjoy yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others. Do your best and be present in your body. Your best today will not be your best yesterday. Everyday is different. Judgment takes you out of the moment, and out of that mind/body connection. “Judging” pertains not only to your postures, but also to your body. The mirror in Bikram can be your worst enemy in the beginning, but learn to use it as a tool to see your postures, not to compare your Body Mass Index to the girl (or guy) next to you. Use the mirror as an opportunity to learn how to love and accept your body.

6. The Golden Rule. Be a good yogi neighbor. Don’t grunt, pant or invade your neighbor’s mat. Breathing should not be audible during your practice. Refer to tip #3 if you have anymore questions on this one. If you can, please brush your teeth before AM yoga practices. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve smelled morning breath during pranayama deep breathing. This is avoidable with 2 minutes and a toothbrush. Don’t drink water while your neighbors are balancing. Don’t walk to the bathroom or leave the room while your neighbors are balancing. Wait until the posture is over to do these things. Balance takes focus, and focus takes a lot of energy, so be courteous when your neighbors are in the zone. Don’t come to class drunk, buzzed or on drugs! I’ve seen some wrecks in the studio and it’s not fun for anybody when someone faints during the second posture because they decided to get high before class. Hangovers never make for a good yoga class either (refer to tip #1).

7. Wear clothing made with athletic material and bring a change of clothes. Cotton will just weigh you down, especially when it’s drenched in your own pungent sweat. The less you wear, the better you’ll feel when the room is 105F. You will not want to wear your clothes home whether you shower or not because they will be disgusting. The person who introduced me to yoga explained “it’s like you jumped into a pool of your own sweat” and though I didn’t believe him before trying Bikram, after my first class I realized it really is like you “jumped into a pool of your own sweat”.

8. Bring two towels and a hand towel. One regular towel to place on your mat during practice, one for drying off after class, and a hand towel for placing under your face during the spine series or for wiping your hands before standing head to knee, standing bow, bow, and rabbit.

9. 100% correct for 40% of the time is better than 40% correct for 100% of the time. If you practice Bikram regularly, you’ve heard this line many times. Unfortunately, many people don’t follow this rule. What Bikram meant when he coined this phrase was that you want to do the postures correctly, even if it means you must rest for half the time in order to muster the strength for the correct postures. Yoga is about honesty and integrity. It’s about connecting the mind with the body and leaving your ego at the door. I’ve seen too many people kicking their leg out in standing head to knee pose before their standing leg is locked. Don’t be that person. It took me an entire year before I even tried to kick my leg out. I didn’t have the strength or the flexibility yet, and now I kick my leg out every time. Be patient and be honest refer to tip #5. Just accept where you are at in each posture and be honest about it.

10. Yoga mirrors life. What I mean by this is that the lessons you need to learn in yoga are often the lessons you need to learn in life. Use your yoga practice as a growing opportunity ALWAYS. Do you compare yourself to others in class, do you notice that you think self-defeating messages, do you refuse to allow yourself a break even though you are dying, do you panic during uncomfortable postures? How we practice yoga is often how we practice life, so take notice. Your yoga mat is the perfect place to begin making life changes and personal transformations.

Sweet Potato Tacos!

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These tacos are deelish. They got the seal of approval from Matt and, I think the star ingredient in these is the sweet potato. After the potato gets done baking, it has a nice golden crust on the outside with a soft sweet core. The mixture of sweet and spicy from the jalapenos and cilantro is a killer combo in my opinion. This recipe is just a taco base, you can really add anything to the sauté mixture (E.g. bell peppers, broccoli).

Ingredients:

1 Sweet Potato cubed into approx. 1in cubes

1 red onion

1 handful of cilantro

1 clove of garlic

Kale or a leafy green of your choice

2/3 cup of corn (canned or frozen)

1 can of black beans drained

canned sliced jalapenos (optional)

Salt and pepper

Paprika (optional)

Cayenne Pepper (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425F. Toss the cubed sweet potatoes in olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika and a couple dashes of cayenne pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes turning halfway through so the potatoes brown evenly.

While the potatoes are roasting dice your onion, garlic, and sauté on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the corn and black beans. When everything is warmed, add your sweet potatoes to the mix. Warm corn tortillas in a sauté pan on low heat and then add the contents of your sauté mixture. Add sliced jalapenos and then the kale and cilantro as garnish. Enjoy. I’ve also made these tacos dirty, which means I add a little cheese and let it melt on the tortillas before adding the filling.

Happy Weekend!

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Everything starts with you, within. This is a lesson I’ve only recently learned. Before, I always believed in waiting for the external to fall into place before I could be truly happy. Now, I realize that the external is often, determined by what we think, how we act, how we react, and what we believe. Wayne Dyer says “we don’t attract what we want, we attract what we are”. Therefore, if you work on the internal, on the self, on your thoughts, and your beliefs, everything around you will change as well. Peace and happiness come from within, from a life well-lived. Happy Weekend.

The Yoga Regional Asana Championship!

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This Saturday was the Yoga Regional Asana Championship for California, and it was my first year competing. I’ve only been practicing Bikram for a little over 2 years, and I’ve never watched a yoga competition before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I was scared shitless. However, I reminded myself of a lesson I learned in yoga “if you feel uncomfortable in a posture, that’s good. It means you’re changing your body. Sharp pain means back off”. Discomfort in a posture is often a sign of stretching or strengthening. In life discomfort is often a sign that you are pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and growing. Competing was definitely out of my comfort zone. In yoga class, when I would demonstrate my routine, my heart would beat wildly and my entire body would shake from nervousness. It’s scary.

Two weeks before competition, the reality of it all hit me and I got scared. Then I got injured. I’ve written about this in recent blog posts. Then, I got over it and lived my life for the last week. The day before competition I was scared again, worried of falling out of postures, but when I arrived day of and met with all of the other competitors I felt relieved. Everyone is so nice, and gracious. Everyone is rooting for you to nail your postures. It doesn’t feel like a competition based on the attitudes and actions of the yogis. I think of it as one big celebration of yoga, everyone who takes part is demonstrating what they have been working towards for months/years. We all just want to do our best, not necessarily with the goal of doing better than the other yogi.

The entire experience is so inspiring. Every competitor was amazing. Every competitor was beautiful and graceful, and the event was a true celebration of yoga. There were 3 masters (55years +), 10 men, and 30 women in total. What’s amazing to think of is that I was one of these 30 women in the entire state of CA to be a competitor. That’s an honor. I returned home feeling like I had been part of the yoga community, like I had been part of something great. I feel inspired to see how much better I can get in another year, and inspired by all of the amazing yogis I was able to watch during the competition.

Also, I conquered my fear and I am stronger for it. I am more confident in my abilities to compete again next year. I am more confident in my abilities to perform those 7 postures, and I learned a lot about strategy. In Bikram yoga, we do 2 sets of each posture. I’ve heard it said that the first set is your diagnostic set. It’s like when you walk into a room and take measurements, get a feel for the lighting and the layout. The second set, is the set that you own. The second set in a posture is when you walk back into that room and you’re rearranging furniture, fluffing throw pillows and kicking your shoes off. That’s how I hope next year’s competition is. This year was the diagnostic experience. Next year, I’d like to rearrange furniture.