This breath is on fire

What up! I felt compelled to share a post that I wrote for a class blog several months ago. It’s all about cultivating inner peace in an often chaotic world. Check it out:

Living a spiritual life in a material world means interpreting and experiencing stress, fear, and chaos in a new way. When we feel anxious about the turmoil in our lives, regardless of the level of intensity of that turmoil, we have the power to choose another way to live, to choose another way to view that turmoil. Instead of letting the turmoil drive us to engage in destructive behaviors (anesthetizing our emotions with food, booze, acting out, sex, etc), we can choose another way. Fortunately, we can turn to ancient spiritual technologies, such as Kundalini Yoga, to help us feel inner peace at all times, even in times of turmoil.

Kundalini Yoga is a “scientific technology for happiness.” When we practice the meditations and mantras of Kundalini, our brains change. Our neural pathways literally change so that we cultivate the capacity to “experience each day with increasing inspiration and joy.” While all of this Kundalini stuff sounds a little trippy, Kundalini is a very simple practice. For example, Breath of Fire, a foundational breath technique in Kundalini, is a pretty easy technology to use, but one that yields MANY benefits.

kundalini-yogis-meditatingBreath of Fire is done by inhaling and exhaling rapidly through the nose while pumping the navel in (on the exhale) and out (on the inhale). This breath is done through the nose with the mouth closed. Regularly practicing Breath of Fire regulates the pituitary gland, which is associated with blood pressure, sex hormones, and metabolism. The rapidness of this breath generates so much heat in our bodies that we release toxins and deposits in the lungs, mucous linings, and blood vessels and cells. Mental benefits of Breath of Fire include feelings of regaining control, feelings of groundedness, clearer and calmer thoughts, and inner peace. A regular Breath of Fire practice can help us see that there is another way to live, to think, to act. We can lean into the idea that we can change our experience of the turmoil in our lives simply by breathing in a certain way.

gabby-meditating-on-street1To put this breath technique into practice, try a Kundalini meditation called Ego Eradicator. Gabrielle Bernstein, my meditation and spiritual guru (she’s freaking awesome), promotes Ego Eradicator as a way to unblock stress and let life flow. I’ve done a 40-day practice of doing Ego Eradicator every morning for 3-5 minutes and while I was often frustrated by having to breath rapidly every morning, I felt my sinuses clear and my mind get quiet. Practicing Breath of Fire with Ego Eradicator is SUCH an easy way to live the spiritual life in a material world.

More food on my face and just for this weekend, okay?

Currently writing this while a mixture of egg and raw honey dry on my face. According to bad-ass Alexis Wolfer (also the woman who I wish was my big sister), this DIY face mask can treat breakouts. Raw honey (the creamy, somewhat expensive stuff) contains antibacterial and hydrating properties that cleanse the skin without drying it out. Egg white tightens skin (I feel my skin tightening this very moment!). And the fat and cholesterol in the yolk reduce the appearance of acne scars. What the what? Check out the full recipe here!

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My skin has taken a beating this semester (this entire year, actually). The massive amount of stress I felt manifested itself on my skin. This is new territory for me. I’ve never really had trouble with my skin and for the past several months, I’ve been breaking out almost every day. Alexis Wolfer’s brain children have helped me focus on not only treating my skin very gently with stuff I already put in my body, but also having fun with skin care. We can all use more fun in our lives, right?

The stress from the past two semesters has also manifested itself in my relationship to food (duh. i talk about that sh*t all the time here)…and subsequently, on my body. While the way I view food and my body has certainly improved, I still have many moments where I ashamed of and frustrated with my body. Consequently, I also have many moments where I obsess about food (am i hungry? should i eat that when i already ate that other thing earlier today? am i really hungry? WTF is wrong with you, sarah!?!?). Slow your roll, girly. In those moments, I dig deep and force gentler thoughts into my brain (the irony there is not lost on me). I stop my dark and reeling thoughts. I DO something-breathe, take a walk/run, call someone, drink water, have a 5-min dance party, so many things.

very recent example: Today, when I freaked out about how I looked in my graduation outfit (um yeah i’m graduating. hollaaaa!) and then obsessed about whether I was hungry and should eat dinner, and why the f*ck I can’t just feel peaceful and normal about food and my body, I made a big decision. What if I just committed to being peaceful around food and my body for the next three days? The next three days are celebratory; full of being surrounded by family and friends, taking pictures, recognizing accomplishments, and of course, eating food. I don’t want to miss out on any moment of the next three days because I’m obsessing about how I look in my clothes or what I’m going to eat. I want to welcome my family, show them around the city, acknowledging the fact that I finished my freakin’ Master’s, take pictures with friends, and feel excited about everything. There will be no room for body hate or preoccupation with food.

Making this weekend commitment is keeping me calm. I don’t need to worry about feeling crazy around food/my body for the rest of my life. All I need to do is strive for peace in that area for the next three days. For the weekend, I will relax about this stuff. And I will be present with the people around me. Just for the next three days. I can worry about forever later. But this weekend, a very exciting and special weekend, I’m just going to act as if I feel normal and peaceful about my body and food.

DIY facials help. Mediating helps. Iggy Azalea and Madonna help. Yoga helps. So, so many things can help us regain our sanity and focus on the sh*t that we actually want to experience in our lives.

I’m starting to believe that American women’s obsession with thinness is a patriarchal rouse to distract us from doing real sh*t, from living our dreams so that we don’t become too powerful. Thoughts?

Remember this today, okay?

Hello beautiful college kids. Happy Friday. Just want to take a minute and tell you something comforting, something that is comforting me today, anyway.

This too shall pass.

You may be feeling distraught. Stressed. Overwhelmed. Anxious. Fearful. Exhausted. Hopeless. Ashamed. Guilty. Angry. Inadequate. In any area of your life.

We often get so mired in these feelings that we cannot fathom ever feeling peace again. But you will. Today will progress and tomorrow will come, as will the next day and the next. Things change. Time heals. We get better. Everything gets figured out. So just lean on this proverb today:

This too shall pass. Okay?

And do some yoga today. That will help, too. And this.

Unleash Yourself Challenge Day 3

Okay, yogis. I gotta post this and then do some schoolwork fo real. Why have I had such a problem getting myself to do work? Hmm another post for another day.

So yesterday I got unleashed again. It happened last night, actually. I ate a little too much food a little too quickly. Feelings that plagued me during my bingeing days weighed on me again last night. But I just decided not to give those feelings-guilt, shame, unsexiness, no power over me. Instead of sitting around and freaking out (and eating over) those feelings, I went upstairs and gave my hair a sexy blowout. I reveled in brushing my hair and getting warmed up under the heat of my blow dryer. Before I knew it, my body felt normal again. I digested the food quickly because my attention was focused on something so different than everything I ate and how fat I felt. Miraculous. Seriously.

So the next time you eat a little more than your body wants, just MOVE ON. Get out of the kitchen or off of the couch and go do something that makes you feel really relaxed and good. Do yo hair. Put lotion on slowly. Read a delicious book. Do some delicious stretches. Do a 5 minute yoga video. Take some deep breaths. These things may seem small and incidental, but I SWEAR if you shift from overeating or bingeing to consciously caring for yourself, those feelings of guilt and shame (which lead to more overeating and bingeing), will dissipate. And you’ll actually be able to unleash your sexy, peaceful, all-knowing self.

Also…I put food on my face again. Wine. Honey. Greek yogurt. On my face.

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Go unleash yourself today!

My new fave beauty tip

Sooooo last night while I reveled in feeling unleashed and inspired, I took Alexis Wolfer’s advice and did this:

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I smothered my face in full-fat Greek yogurt. Apparently, the fat and lactic acid in the yogurt loosens dead skin, prevents pimples, soothes redness, and hydrates the skin. I left this delicious stuff on for about 20-30 mins (while listening to another awesome podcast), then rinsed with warm water.

Wowza does my skin look good. It feels smooth and looks bright and healthy. For you college kids who want sexy skin without spending hundreds of dollars, Greek yogurt face masks are for you. My Cabot yogurt was like $4. Plus, DIY masks are crazy fun to do.

Seriously, buy some full-fat Greek yogurt today (Alexis says you can 2% or 4%, too) and stick your face in it.

You ready? Unleash Yourself Challenge

I need to get loud. Real loud. There’s this woman inside of me beating her chest to get out, to speak and scream and rile others. People could stand to be a little riled.

I’ve felt this way for quite some time-for most of my life, actually. But for the past couple of months, this energy, this desire to get unleashed has coursed through my veins with such intensity that I can no longer smother it. No longer can I stuff down this energy with food, mediocre TV marathons, fear, silence, and self-loathing. My inner wild woman will not have it. She’s ready to get loud. Now.

Which brings me to the Unleash Yourself Challenge. Does that name sound cheesy or silly or un-provocative? I don’t give a shit. Because unleashing myself from self-imposed boundaries is way more important than quibbling over a name.

My guess is that many of you feel a deep, longing desire to express yourself in some way. But you feel like you have no right to do so. Maybe you think you need to be thinner, smarter, sexier, richer, more accomplished, or whatever limitations you have imposed upon yourself. Let me tell you something: those limitations, those boundaries are complete bullshit. They’re not real. We make them up.

And even if we DO achieve our ideal weight, make more money, get into grad school, land a dream job, if we have some internal belief that we’re not enough, we’ll STILL feel shitty about ourselves. The way we shift this internal belief about ourselves that we are in some way inadequate, is to finally, finally, finally just decide that WE ARE ENOUGH. Exactly as we are. Ballsy, right?

Photo on 2012-04-23 at 23.24 #5If we continue to be ashamed of ourselves, or view ourselves as unworthy of expressing ourselves, then we will never find lasting peace, happiness, and confidence.. We will never release patterns of self-destructive behavior that hinder us from speaking our truth, cultivating our true desires, and living our purpose.

Photo on 2013-11-05 at 08.52The idea for this challenge originated from the philosophies of Alison Leipzig, Sarah Jenks, and Jamie Mendell (check out these genius women now). The idea for this challenge also originated after I slipped on ice last week. I promptly posted the following status on Facebook, and then tweeted it later:

Sisters, do not hate on your booty/thigh jiggle. It cushions your fall when you slip on ice. I know this. Grateful for my jiggle.

Right? When I fell I realized that I constantly hate on my body, when really, my body serves me in such beautiful, practical ways. Plus, my jiggle is sexy. When I obsess about what I dislike about my body, I stifle that wild woman inside of me who wants to express herself and show me how to live a crazy awesome life.

Photo on 2013-11-08 at 12.13So here’s the deal: every day for two weeks, I’m going to do something that makes me feel turned on and unleashed. Think little, simple things, with a hint of risk. One thing every day for 14 days. That’s how we make shit happen: concrete, consistent action.

Photo on 2013-12-05 at 20.51 #2And I want you to do this with me. Do what I do or do something that makes you feel a little energized, turned on, unleashed. And tell me or show me what you do. Comment on the blog, email me at collegekidyoga@gmail.com, or tweet me at collegekidyoga.

I’ll document everything I do. I’m showing mine. Show me yours, please?

Imma get unleashed, peeps. Join me.

Put it in the books, ladies!

The title of this blog post served as my response to a chain of emails in which two friends and I FINALLY agreed on a time and place for a dinner date next week.

But the title of this post also reflects my current mood. I’m feeling…bold. Inspired. Ready to take a leap of some kind and finally plan something I’ve been waiting to do. Stay tuned, yogis.

I think this boldness originated from the Kundalini exercise I did this morning while watching The Devil Wears Prada. No one gets me more inspired than a Miranda Priestly smackdown. Um or anything that this woman ever says or does.

And now, I’m taking my bold self to class.