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.

I graduated! (again)

Man oh man has this blog been with me for a while. This past weekend of graduation festivities (yeah I have my Master’s now, what what!) inspired me to revisit the early years of College Kid Yoga, particularly a post that I wrote only minutes before I graduated from undergrad. Check out the post, Pre-Grad Yoga Pics!

While I didn’t do any yoga before my ceremony this weekend (I was making/eating a breakfast of Cake Batter pancakes with my fam), I did attempt to reenact the pics I took about this time three years ago.

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Photo on 2014-05-10 at 08.57

Gorgeous, right? (that is not right). But I was feeling sentimental (shock) and wanted to document myself before I officially graduated, just as I had years before.

Also, I think my inner sense of relief and elation radiates in these pics. Relieved and elated; what every graduate must feel!

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?

Unleashed Challenge Day 2

Whew. I cannot turn my brain off. Real talk. I am feeling the stress of my final semester. My schedule yesterday, in particular, left me crying in bed before I fell asleep. The guilt of not getting enough done during the day, coupled with the fear of not getting enough done today, overwhelmed me.

But since I vowed to get unleashed for the next two weeks, I chose to do something active to heal my stress, guilt, and anxiety. I tapped. The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) hails from Nick and Jessica Ortner (two unleashed bad-asses) and involves tapping the fingers on various pressure points on your body as you talk about what’s bothering you.

As you talk about your emotions, for example, the stress and overwhelm I feel about my workload, and tap on those points (eyebrow point, side of the eye, under the nose, chin, collarbone, under the arm, top of the head), you actually feel an emotional release. Your emotion actually decreases, or often disappears, and you are restored to a state of peace.

I’ve been using EFT for the past few weeks, particularly when I feel overcome by negative thoughts about my body. I sit myself down and tap until that sharp, intense emotion of frustration or sense of inadequacy goes away. Wowza does this stuff work. What a way to get unleashed! Check out this video by angel-on-earth Gabby Bernstein:

Though tapping has really helped me work through emotions around my body, I have to say, last night’s tapping session did not give me the relief I was looking for. In fact, I feel like it made me more stressed out because I just kept thinking so much about my workload and all of the stuff I have to do. Many, many tears were shed as I tapped. So I did feel a bit of release just from crying so much. I’ll just continue to tap on this area of my life until I do feel peaceful.

Give tapping a try. If anything, it’s another great tool to get unleashed.

Also, to relieve stress, I made another lovely face mask that I found on The Beauty Bean.

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Avocado. Oatmeal. Honey. Lemon juice. Put it in a blender. Then put it on your face.

God I want Alexis Wolfer to be my big sister.

Unleash Yourself Challenge Day 1

I felt feisty today. A little unleashed. Unwilling to let the hateful thoughts about my body that swirl in my head control me. Part of unleashing my inner wild woman includes a bold, radical acceptance of my body as it is in every moment. I have to get unleashed from believing in the stagnating, debilitating thoughts about not looking good/thin/sexy/muscular enough. Because it’s bullshit.

So here’s what I did today to unleash myself putting stock into those hateful body thoughts:

1. Between spurts of work, I listened to a beautiful, inspiring Wellness Wonderland podcast with Alexis Wolfer. Alexis threw down about body image and eating disorders, and proclaimed something that shot straight into my heart. Her proclamation was so right on that I slapped it on a Post-it and stuck it to my computer and desk:

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Unless we respect our own bodies, we can’t ask others to respect them, also.

2. Throughout the day, I placed my hands on my body and told her that I love her. I literally touched my stomach and thighs and whispered or thought to myself, “I love you. I love you.” When I had a negative thought about my body, I put my hands on myself and said “I love you.” This action, courtesy of Sarah Jenks, slowly unleashes us from the stronghold of body obsession.

DSC052993. I followed the sage advice of Alison Leipzig. In order to shift our fearful, hateful views of our bodies, we have to become aware of what we think our bodies now. Ali recommends taking a regular toll of the thoughts we think throughout the day about our body. So every hour, I jotted down whatever I was thinking about my body. Wowza. This simple action helped me get out of my head and look at my body fears straight on.

DSC05300In fact, Ali is hosting a FREE tele-class entitled “How To Stop Being Such a Bitch To Your Body.” Timely, huh? Sign up now!

Photo on 2013-09-11 at 17.37 #6Day 1 of Unleash Yourself Challenge down. Stay tuned for how I get unleashed tomorrow.

New Year’s Resolution Check-in

I recently wrote a post for my school’s health center blog and feel compelled to share it here. Since we’re a few weeks into 2014, I think a post about New Year’s Resolutions is quite apropos, no?

This year, the thought of setting intentions and goals has exhausted and overwhelmed me. I only have a vague idea of what I want to feel and do in 2014, and consequently feel frustrated by the influx of New Year’s Resolution-themed posts circulating in the blogosphere.

But here are a few tips that I gleaned from a few of my mentors about setting New Year’s Resolutions, tips that don’t make me feel guilty for not totally knowing how I want this new year to progress. Check it:

1. Refocus. Revise.

Think about all of the resolutions that you set for yourself at the start of 2014. How important is each one to you? If you could rate each one on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the most important, where would each of your resolutions fall? Now that we’re a few weeks into January, some of your resolutions might not feel as pressing or important to you; that’s okay. Focus on the ones that get you really excited and motivated.

Maybe you need to revise your resolutions so that you feel more confident about accomplishing them. Try setting small, specific goals with a measurable outcome of success. Ex. Instead of improving your grades this semester, can you set the goal of making an A in two of your classes?

2. Focus on the feeling.

How do you want to feel after accomplishing your New Years resolution(s)?

Maybe getting an A in two of your classes will make you feel proud and smart. Great. Start feeling proud and smart NOW. We often make the mistake of thinking that we can’t feel the way we want to feel until we accomplish our goal. But what we don’t realize is that embodying those feelings in the present helps us accomplish our goal quickly. Think about it. If you want to feel smarter prouder, and you go to class every day feeling stupid, inferior, and intimidated, then you won’t be motivated to study or ask for help. Before you know it, the semester will end and you might not end up with your desired grades.

But if you start doing things today that help you cultivate feelings of pride and intelligence, then you’re much more likely to study, participate in class, talk to your professor, and get A’s.

Make a list of 3 things that will help you feel proud and smart TODAY, not just after you get two A’s. Maybe you can get up at the same time every morning. Maybe you can make a To Do list for school tasks every day.

3. Check your perspective.

Remember that January 1st is not the only time we’re allowed to set goals. We put so much pressure on ourselves to decide exactly what we want to change in our lives starting January 1st. What if we made monthly or weekly resolutions instead? Try viewing the end of the month or week as an opportunity to set resolutions.

4. Take action. Now.

List three tangible actions that you can take this week to move towards accomplishing your goals. Here are some links to inspire you to take action. Now:

14 Ways to Make 14 Miraculous

How to Set (and Actually Achieve) New Year’s Resolutions

It all gets done

Wowza, so this is grad school. Wowza. All good, but wowza.

Aside from working with nothing but supportive classmates and professors, I was given a cubicle. And it rocks. Because I have a designated space, outside of my house, to dig myself out of this grad school workload. Plus, my cube serves as a social outlet. With four desks to a cube, it’s close quarters ’round here (workin’ on my accent), so we students have opportunities to hang.

My desk (looks bleak, but it is mine):

I don’t have a particular objective for this post, though I feel somewhat inspired to remind you college kids, especially those who just began fall semester, that it all gets done. It really does all get done. I realize that I’m writing this at a time of year when seminar papers have yet to rear their ugly heads, but I trust that this wisdom will see me through.

Yes, our professors, advisers, etc. give us a seemingly cruel amount of work. But we choose how we react to that amount of work. We can allow that work to overwhelm us and incite within us severe bouts of self-doubt. Or we can acknowledge the assignments before us, schedule our time accordingly, and breathe. Which one sounds more productive?

It all gets done, peeps. When we force that thought into our heads until we actually believe it, we silence those feelings of inadequacy and can tackle that mountain of work AND have time to sleep. For a few hours, anyway. Trust.