Practicing Self-Compassion

7 Tips for Practicing Self-Compassion

When it comes to making our own personal journeys through everyday life and measuring our progress along the way, we’re often our own worst critics. When we make mistakes, when we experience a little (or a lot) of bad luck, or even when we completely fail to achieve a certain goal, we tend to be much harder on ourselves than we would be on a friend or relative who might be going through the exact same thing.

Self-compassion is the practice of treating oneself with care, kindness and forgiveness in times of perceived suffering. It’s a mindset game that doesn’t exactly come to us naturally in today’s high-achieving, high-stress world, which is why we should all take a big step back once in a while to work on the relationship that we have with ourselves.

Recognize that you’re not alone.

It’s worth reminding yourself that you’re human when something you do goes wrong. The reality is that everybody–including you–makes mistakes, and that’s okay. Likewise, your problems are not unique, no matter how much you think they are. Keep in mind that thousands of people, or perhaps millions, have struggled and are struggling with the same things that you are.

Be honest with yourself.

Sometimes, we fall into a habit of ignoring certain truths about our situation or twisting them to make excuses so that we can feel like we’re right, or to boost our egos. Although it’s easier and more comfortable to ignore what we don’t like about ourselves, uncovering the good, the bad and the ugly is necessary.

Don’t judge.

Be mindful through your self-honesty work. Take a good, hard look at yourself and your situation without passing judgment on anything so that you can fully accept yourself as you are right now. Keep in mind that accepting it doesn’t mean liking it.

Observe your emotions.

Self-compassion isn’t about suppressing what you’re feeling. Let your mind run and watch what sorts of thoughts and emotions pop up. Humans are very emotional creatures, and we need to embrace them in order to move forward–even when they’re ugly and unpleasant.

Don’t dwell on the past.

A big part of what holds us back from practicing good self-compassion often has to do with a resistance to let go of what’s happened. We get caught up in that “would’ve, should’ve, could’ve” frame of mind, which never does anything to help us move on. After acknowledging it and allowing yourself to fully experience your emotions, bring yourself back to the present.

Focus on growth.

We’re all so focused on results these days, we forget that the challenge is what offers us the most value. Instead of fixating on the goal and the destination of whatever you’re trying to achieve, focus on learning and enjoying the process–mistakes and all.

Write to yourself.

To practice great self-compassion, you basically have to become really good at becoming your own best friend. Journaling is a great way to put yourself in this role, and it can really help during the stage where you’re trying to get really honesty with yourself. Write as if you were reaching out to a good friend.

Practicing self-compassion can help you live a happier, more fulfilling life. And you deserve it just as much as anybody else.

Photo (edited) via martinak15


10 Snacks to Fuel Your Yoga

10 Healthy Snacks to Fuel Your Yoga Workout

To eat, or not to eat before yoga? While the answer to that question largely depends on your personal preferences, your own body and the type of yoga you plan to do, it’s usually a pretty good idea to energize yourself with something small prior to hitting the yoga mat if you’re running on empty.

Since yoga involves so much bending, twisting, stretching and balancing, it’s important to avoid heavy meals that might cause digestive discomfort or sluggishness. If you’re ready to get down in downward yard first thing in the morning or several hours after your last meal, try fuelling up with a light snack of about 100 to 300 calories a half hour beforehand to help invigorate your body and get your mind focused.

Nuts

Nuts contain protein, healthy fat, carbs, fiber and a wide variety of beneficial vitamins and minerals. You could even throw in some seeds, dried pieces of fruit, or dark chocolate pieces for an extra boost of flavor and nutrition.

Bananas

Rich in potassium and magnesium, bananas are widely known as one of the best pre-workout snacks for their fast digesting sugars and ability to help you stay hydrated. Best of all, bananas are super portable!

Smoothies

Smoothies are one of the best ways to pack a ton of nutrients into one snack without being overly filling. Try an energizing green smoothie by mixing a few green apple slices, chunks of honeydew melon, leafy greens like spinach or kale, kiwi slices and lemon juice in a blender with some almond milk and a few ice cubes.

Whole grain toast

Toast is an easy solution to getting the carbs you need to sustain you through your yoga session, and whole grains will have fiber and nutrients that help balance blood sugar while offering a bit of protein too. Add a tablespoon of natural almond or peanut butter and you’ll be good to go.

Oatmeal

Plain oats are nutrient-dense complex carbs that do wonders for your heart and your digestion. Although great for boosting energy, oats can also be quite filling, so stick to consuming no more than half a cup of the cooked stuff 30 minutes to an hour before you’re ready to do some yoga.

Plain Greek yogurt

For a generous helping of protein, try eating a small serving (about 1/3 cup) of Greek yogurt with some fresh fruit for some and maybe a little drizzle of honey for some carbs. Bonus points if you choose a yogurt with live active cultures for gut health.

Dark chocolate

Yes, chocolate can totally fuel your yoga workout! It helps regulate blood sugar and activates the brain to boost your mood, alertness and concentration. Make sure you select a type that’s at least 70% cocoa and keep your portions in check.

Dried fruit

Fruits are often regarded as a great pre-workout snack for their natural sugars, and in dried form, they’re easy to eat when you're busy and on the go. Be sure to stick to fruits that are low in acidity like apricots, dates or mangos.

Veggies and hummus

Low-sugar/high-water veggies like cucumbers, celery and bell peppers will fill you up just enough. Add some hummus for some extra protein and carbs, but be mindful of how much you use–this stuff may be super nutritions, but it also hides a lot of fat and calories in a single serving.

Just Plain Water!

Okay, so water isn’t really a snack, but it may be all that you really need if you struggle to flow comfortably through each yoga move with even a little bit of food in your stomach. In fact, it’s traditional to practice yoga in the morning on an empty stomach, so don't feel bad about skipping a snack if you know you'll perform best without it.

Whatever you decide to snack on, always remember to keep your portions small and allow it some time to digest. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different foods to see which ones energize you the most!

Image (edited) via Iryna Yeroshko


Find the Good in Any Situation

How to Find the Good in Any Situation

Ever notice how negative some people tend to get when things don’t go their way, or when faced with minor inconveniences? Even if you consider yourself to be a relatively optimistic person most of the time, we’re all guilty of taking on a negative mindset during times of hardship and uncertainty at some point or another. It’s normal, but it’s not very fun.

Finding the good in difficult and emotional situations might seem wrong and totally unnatural. To the undisciplined mind it certainly does, and while uncovering the seemingly nonexistent good qualities of a difficult situation requires a higher level of awareness than immediately experiencing good feelings of a more favorable situation, it’s definitely not impossible to do.

Let go of your strong desire for control.

It’s no secret that most os us prefer to feel like we’re in control of everything that’s happening around us. We want to be certain that undesirable to unknown situations are going to turn out okay, and when we feel like we’re not in control, we struggle to stay positive. Understanding and accepting that life is a fluid, constantly changing string of events is one of the first key steps to conquering a negative mindset.

Treat every situation like it’s an experiment.

In other words, get curious. Put your worries and negative assumptions to the test by simply moving forward to see what will happen. Chances are that the process and the outcome won’t be nearly as bad as your thoughts made them out to be. Make sure you take the time to really recognize this and let it sink in.

Look for the lesson.

When times get tough, the pain and discomfort sometimes blinds us from everything else. But you can always extract significant meaning from any situation, even when it seems totally unbearable. It may take some time to fully recognize and accept, but the lesson you identify can be used as a tool to help you become stronger and resilient.

Laugh a little (or a lot).

We’ve all experienced tense, serious situations where someone around us unexpectedly cracks a joke and instantly shifts the energy of the entire room. Laughter is how we naturally relieve tension. If you can find even just one little silly thing to smile or giggle about, it can seriously make all the difference.

Change your perspective to be more grateful.

Stepping into somebody else’s shoes is good advice when you can’t seem to see past all your negative thoughts and feelings. And sometimes it takes talking to other people to force you to take a look at a certain situation from a different perspective so you're able to see that it’s really not as bad as you’ve made it out to be. Changing your perspective also opens you up to pa more natural state of gratitude, helping you to acknowledge and appreciate those positive aspects that may not have been as obvious to you before.

Being positive and finding the good in every situation doesn’t mean pretending that things aren’t challenging or emotionally distressing. It’s more about achieving balance by neutralizing those negative attributes with the positive ones. With enough practice, you may even find that the positive attributes will naturally start to outshine your negativity.


breathing exercise to boost vitality|

3 Deep Breathing Techniques to Help You Fall Asleep

If only falling sleep in five minutes flat worked so effortlessly for everybody. Getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night probably wouldn't be as big of a struggle if some of us occasionally wired and insomnia-prone folk didn't have to count for the excessive amounts of time it takes to actually relax, get comfortable, shut off our minds and finally drift off to sleep.

Believe it or not, one of the most effective ways to help yourself fall asleep faster is to use a deep breathing technique. Deep breathing works its magic on the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for triggering the body's relaxation response. When done right, your body enters a deep state of rest–characterized by physical changes like a decreased heart rate, lower blood pressure, relaxed muscles and improved mental clarity.

Simple Meditative Breathing

A mind that's running wild with thoughts can benefit from some basic mindfulness meditation with a focus on slightly deeper and longer than normal breathing. No need to count how long you inhale or exhale here–just sit or lay comfortably while placing your awareness on the breath that flows deeply in and out through your airway with the rise and fall of your abdomen.

A simple focused breathing exercise like this can help take your mind off of other things you may be anxious about and naturally encourages you to release tension through every breath. Try it for at least 5 to 10 minutes to help calm your mind and body.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Based off the Nadi Shodhana technique, breathing through each nostril separately helps to relieve stress and anxiety by neutralizing both sides of the brain. Sitting up comfortably, bring one hand up to your face with your index finger and middle finger curled down (toward your mouth) so you can use your fourth finger and thumb to easily switch between pressing each nostril closed.

Start by closing the left nostril while inhaling for about four counts through the right nostril. Then close off the right nostril while you hold it in for another four counts. Release the closed off left nostril as you exhale for four more counts. Follow the exact same steps for the right nostril and repeat as many cycles as you like.

The 4-7-8 Technique

The 4-7-8 breathing technique from Harvard medical professional Dr. Weil has been a trendy one that's been talked about a lot lately, mainly for its ability to help anyone fall asleep in as little as one minute. The best part about it is that it's extremely simple to do. You're supposed to start by placing the tip of your tongue on the gum line right above your top row of teeth and leave it there throughout the whole breathing exercise.

Once you've got the tongue placement figured out, start by exhaling through your mouth while making a "whoosh" sound. Next, inhale through your nose for four counts, hold your breath at the top for seven counts and then exhale once again for eight counts. Complete three more cycles for a total of four.

Any of these three techniques are perfect to use before going to sleep, but you could use them practically anywhere or anytime you need to relax and relieve stress. Try it out for yourself to see just how powerful an activity as natural as breathing can be when you take a more conscious approach to it.

Is it ok to have just four or five hours or must you get a solid eight or nine hours every night? Find out how much sleep you need, here,


Unconditional Love

Unconditional Love

The most important truths are the ones we most often forget. One of them being, you can’t be in love with all of life if you’ve excluded the portion of life that we call self. Let it be your deepest intention be to practice loving the life that’s right here. Letting go of anything that might be in-between you and your ability to love yourself. This is your moment, to deny yourself nothing and love yourself perfectly.

Love is an intrinsic capacity. Though we may not always feel its openness and warmth, it’s always there. When you love yourself, you're loving the life that’s right here; caring for the patterns and emotions that emerge moment to moment. As you tune-in to the goodies we’ve prepared for you this month, let your intention be to hold yourself with an unconditional and accepting presence. It is through this open acceptance that unconditional love flows.