5 Very Common Myths About Yoga

5 Very Common Myths About Yoga

Whether you’re new to yoga or have raved about it to others who don’t know much about it, there certainly are some big stereotypes that society has seemed to associate with yoga and those who practice it. Even those who’ve been practicing for years probably catch themselves really falling for some of those stereotypes in certain situations.

In reality, yoga is just as personal and just as versatile as anything else. It’s truly your own practice, which means you can make it anything you want it to be.

So next time you find yourself wanting roll your eyes at the overly spiritual vibe that you sense in class or trying to convince a skeptical friend about why yoga is so awesome, notice what you’re assuming about the practice, and focus on opening your mind. Here are a few common misinterpretations to get more clear about.

1. Yoga isn’t as good of a workout as cardio or weight training.

There is no form of physical activity that’s better than another because they’re all different and they all suit people depending on the different fitness goals they have. Cardio is great for endurance and heart health while weight training is obviously good for building strength. Yoga is best known for improving strength, flexibility, and balance, but there’s no reason why any yogi can’t tailor their practice by picking up the pace for more of a cardio effect, or holding certain poses that use their body weight to build strength.

2. Yoga is too difficult or painful for people who just aren’t very flexible.

The good news about flexibility is that it can be improved drastically over months or years when practiced correctly. All yoga poses and practices can be modified to suit beginners, people are suffering from chronic pain, people who are recovering from injuries, and people who just weren’t blessed with the best flexibility genes. After all, it’s not about how bendy and flowy you make it look — it’s about getting deeply in touch with your mind, body, and spirit.

3. Yoga is too religious.

There’s no denying that spirituality and components of Buddhism are indeed worked into modern day yoga practices. But at the very core, yoga is really about building awareness of the self, building awareness of the spirit, and realizing the connection we have to all other people and things. If you attend any classes where the teacher seems to focus heavily on Buddhist stories and traditions throughout the practice, try asking if there are other classes you can take that have more of a neutral take on the spiritual stuff.

4. Yoga is only for very lean, young women.

While it may seem like young women who are already quite fit make up the majority of the yoga practicing population, the truth is that yoga is for everybody. Yoga is practiced by men, children, seniors, people who are overweight, and people of all different religions and spiritual paths. Whoever you are and wherever you come from, yoga is for you.

5. You have to be vegan / a tree hugger / a hippie to be a real yogi.

There are some yogis who take their practice seriously enough to eat 100% organic, have zero toxic chemical products in their homes, and meditate for one hour every day outdoors. Most yogis, however, are real people who don’t do everything perfectly. They eat meat, and they live in urban areas without very many trees, and they purchase products that aren’t super eco-friendly, and they watch Netflix instead of meditating, and yet they still love to do yoga. That doesn’t make them any less good or any less worthy of practicing yoga than the super serious vegan, tree-hugging hippies.

The further along you go in your journey, the more truth you’ll discover behind those stereotypes that society loves to mock. Don’t take them too seriously. Instead, work on accepting them, even laughing at them a little, and know that yoga is much more than what some people tend to interpret it to be.


10 Bad Habits to Transform in the New Year

10 Bad Habits to Transform in the New Year

As we reflect back on the past 12 months to identify the parts of ourselves we want to leave behind and the parts of ourselves that we want to bring into the New Year, we have the opportunity to transform some of our habits. After all, those "bad" habits are still a part of us — even if we’d rather leave them in the past.

We all have our own little quirks and odd behaviors we’re not so proud of, but many of us also share a lot of not so great habits in common. Here are just a few ways you can transform a few common bad habits into something much greater.

1. Practice yoga not for the results, but for the journey. You may want to master a specific pose, but you’re missing out on exploring what your body is truly capable of as you tune into it, learn from it, and use its feedback to continuously improve.

2. Make meditation a privilege, not a chore. Meditation is not supposed to feel like work, so when you make it feel like a big commitment, you’re less likely to benefit. You're also less likely to stick with it.

3. Turn self-criticism into self-compassion. Negative self-talk has no real value. In fact, it moves you backwards. Try talking to yourself like you’d talk to your own best friend when you’re feeling bad about yourself.

4. Embody what you want in the present instead of always visualizing it in the future. You’ll never stick with anything worth working toward if you don’t find a way to make it part of your self-identity right now rather than later.

5. Work on attaining effortless flow in life rather than forcing yourself against resistance. If you find yourself experiencing emotional resistance to something you think you want, you don’t really want it. Experiment with finding something that feels natural rather than fighting a losing battle.

6. Change your regrets into inspiring lessons. Regrets won’t serve you in any meaningful way until you extract what you can learn from them. Here are five questions to ask yourself when you’re dealing with regret.

7. Throw away your need for certainty in exchange for curiosity. Expectations of perfection from ourselves and certainty of the future are impossible illusions of the mind that slap us in the face when reality sets in. Open yourself up to instead desire learning by maintaining a state of curiosity.

8. Commit to feeling your negative emotions rather than stuffing them away. Even if you’re in an inappropriate environment to express your emotions when you feel terrible, make sure you make time later on in a private place to explore those feelings rather than suppressing them and never acknowledging them again.

9. Appreciate every individual for their uniqueness rather than comparing them to yourself. Instead of looking at someone’s desirable qualities or achievements and trying to measure yourself against them, expand your awareness to recognize that you are two separate people who are too complex to compare. They are uniquely them, and you are uniquely you.

10. Look at situations from other perspectives rather than judging harshly. Your mind automatically judges other people and situations based on the perspective that puts you in the best position. Notice this, take a step back, and consider other perspective that don’t always involve you as the center of the universe.

Making these changes takes inward awareness, conscious effort, patience, and the ability to accept messing up once in a while. By the end of next year, however, your transformed habits will have all been worth the effort!


7 Simple Ways to Embrace Vulnerability

7 Simple Ways to Embrace Vulnerability

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.” — Brené Brown

Anyone who has ever committed any serious time and energy to developing their yoga practice, maintaining a meditation habit, or contemplating their sense of self through lots of inward reflection work knows that vulnerability isn’t just a negative side effect of life that should be avoided at all costs — it’s experienced by everybody, and it’s a must if we want to improve ourselves.

Our minds, however, are programmed to keep us from being vulnerable. Vulnerability means stepping outside of our comfort zones, showing parts of ourselves that we’re not proud of, making mistakes, getting rejected, and experiencing emotional discomfort.

On the other side of vulnerability is growth. The more familiar we become with embracing vulnerability and the more aware of what it leads to, the greater our chances of growing to our fullest potential.

Getting familiar with vulnerability isn’t easy. And it doesn’t mean we should all sign ourselves up for public speaking, skydiving, or something equally as terrifying.

Taking small steps every single day that put our spirits in line with honesty, authenticity, and integrity is what we need to do to get more comfortable with the discomfort of vulnerability. Here 10 easy ways to start doing that, starting today.

1. Roll your mat out at the very front of your yoga class. There’s something just a little bit daring about being the type of yogi who gets to class early to place their mat right front and center. You’ll be directly in front of the yoga teacher and everybody behind you will have to look past you to follow the teacher’s instructions. If you’re the type who dislikes being seen, try this at your next class.

2. Meditate when you feel bad. Meditation is wonderful when you’re feeling good. Trying to mediate while feeling ashamed, guilty, embarrassed, or rejected, however, is excruciating. As hard as it is, though, it gives you the opportunity to sink into those feelings fully and accelerate your growth.

3. Ask for help with something. When you just don’t know what you’re doing, stop trying to be a hero and admit it to yourself. Nobody will ever think less of you for asking for help.

4. Don’t say you’re fine when you’re not. If someone asks you how you are and you’re not feeling fine, be honest about it. This doesn’t mean you have to drag them down with your problems. A reply along the lines of, “‘I’m going through something tough at the moment, but I’ll be okay,” is a good example.

5. Trade white lies for kind honesty. We tend to think that white lies help protect others, but the only thing they really do is disconnect us further from each other. Try telling the truth in the kindest, most compassionate way you know how.

6. Go out without makeup on. If you’re a gal who think she needs to make herself look “presentable,” before heading out somewhere super casual — like the grocery store or a coffee shop — try baring your natural face for once. You may be shocked by how freeing it feels.

7. Take “unflattering” selfies. Selfies tend to trigger maximum self-image manipulation. As an experiment, forget everything you know about great lighting, proper posing, your best angles, and whatever else it is you do to make your selfies look as great as possible to snap a few in your most natural state.

Do any of the above often enough (ideally every day for good progress) and you’ll eventually abolish that uncomfortable sensation you associate with being vulnerable. Sometimes the simplest acts have the power to change us in very big ways.


3 Surprising Ways to Rest Better

3 Surprising Ways to Rest Better

We all need rest. Resting our minds and our bodies is crucial if we want to restore our energies and perform at the best of our ability when we need to take on the tasks and challenges of everyday life.

While sleeping more and engaging in activities that relax us (reading, taking a bubble bath, etc.) might seem like obvious ways to rest up, the reality is that even when we do take the time to put rest first, we still don’t always feel as rested and rejuvenated as we think we should. Everyone knows what it feels like to feel groggy after a long nap or unmotivated to get back to in the swing of things after a “restful” weekend of doing practically nothing.

Ready to make your downtime REALLY feel like a good rest? Consider trying some of the following ideas!

Sleep Less

Wait, we’re talking about rest, aren’t we? Absolutely!

Well, you read that subheading right — you may actually need to sleep LESS to rest better. Here’s why.

We sleep in cycles. One sleep cycle is completed in about 90 minutes, or one and a half hours, and goes through five stages: the first two being light stages of sleep, the third and fourth stages being a deeper sleep, and the last fifth stage being REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

Waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle is what often makes it feel so painful to get on with our day, so being aware of sleep cycles can help. If you’re going to nap or sleep a full night, you’ll ideally want to sleep for 1.5 hours, 3 hours, 4.5 hours, 6 hours, or 7.5 hours.

Get Active

This isn’t a recommendation to sign up for the most challenging 90-minute vinyasa flow class you know of — it’s a suggestion to start thinking about how to make “active rest” part of your life. If that means yoga, then great! But really, active rest is anything that you consider fun, enjoyable, and a little spontaneous (yet still offers a relaxing effect).

Passive rest — which could mean zoning out on the couch for an hour or meditating in in your own backyard — can start to feel draining when done in excessive amounts. Doing something that excites you and gets you in your “fun mode” so to speak — like going to a local festival with friends or wine tasting with your partner — can help you hit that refresh button and leave you feeling more rested and rejuvenated than slouching on the couch while you watch four hours of Netflix.

Be Creative

Finally, give your mind a much needed break from all that daily task completion by setting yourself free from working toward a desired outcome and picking up a pencil, a paintbrush, a musical instrument, a pair of knitting needles, or anything else you love to work with creatively just for the sake of doing it. Without any goal in mind, just sink in to the moment and let yourself go as you create.

Connecting to your spirit and allowing your mind and body to just express what's inside of you through the artistic medium of your choosing will give you the rest you need from your goal-oriented, task-driven life. This is what it means to make art!

You might be surprised at how restful any of the above activities might be. Find the ones that work best for you so that you know what to do next time you need a serious rest.


5 Restorative Yoga Poses to Do After Shoveling Snow

If you’re lucky enough to live in a part of the world where it snows often and a lot during the winter months, then you probably have quite a bit of experience shoveling snow from your walkway, driveway, deck, patio, sidewalk, and other outdoor areas around your home.

Shovelling snow is always a good excuse to bundle up, get outside, and get a little extra physical activity, but it doesn’t always leave everyone feeling good afterward. For one thing, it can take its toll on your back — especially if the snow you’re shovelling is particularly heavy and you start making the mistake of lifting from your back more than lifting from your legs.

When snow shoveling season is in full swing, there are three things you should do:

1.) Practice shoveling with proper form.
2.) Take a break when you notice your form starting to suffer.
3.) Do some gentle yoga to help relieve an overworked and aching back.

The following yoga poses can help to stretch out the back side body and can be done after shoveling snow, but you may benefit from doing them before as well. Whether you work them into your current practice or just get down on the floor with your boots and parka on before you head outside, these poses will be sure to offer some much needed relief after a strenuous and snowy workout!

Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

Standing Forward Bend
Image via Amy

In addition to giving the back a bit of a stretch as well as being a super calming pose, standing forward bend will give your tired hamstrings, calves, and hips a nice stretch while working to strengthen the legs. You can bend your knees slightly to help deepen the stretch in your legs, making sure not to round the back or lock your knees.

Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

Seated Forward Bend
Image via kellinahandbasket

Take your forward bend to the floor by sitting down and giving your back a nice long stretch while reaching your hands toward your toes, feet, ankles, or shins. Again, like standing forward bend, make sure you don’t round the back. Instead, hinge at the hips as you lower and lengthen your torso toward your thighs, dropping your head toward them.

Cobra or Upward Facing Dog (Bhujangasana or Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

Upward Facing Dog
Image via PBS NewsHour

For a gentle backbend that flexes your back in the opposite direction after all that shoveling, go for cobra or upward dog. You’ll reduce stiffness in your lower back and strengthen your spine as you open up your chest. You may want to go slowly by starting with a small cobra pose and then working your way up to upward dog.

Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Bridge Pose
Image via adrian valenzuela

For another pose that does wonders to stretch and relieve tension from the lower back, try bridge pose. You’ll also stretch your chest, neck, spine, and legs. You can also slide a block under your sacrum for some added support.

Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Child's Pose
Image via Amy

Child’s pose is good for almost everything, including the back, chest, shoulders, and legs. Your back will be nice and elongated while your hips will open up after a big snow shovelling job. This one is always a nice one to do last, because the extra calming effect from bringing your forehead to the ground will help soothe any remaining stress.

Stay as long as you want in any of these poses and be sure to modify after coming in from the freezing cold by going slow. Last but not least, give yourself a pat on the back for getting all that shoveling done!

Image (edited) via Nazmus Khandaker


3 Lifestyle Habits Sure to Bring You More Joy

3 Lifestyle Habits Sure to Bring You More Joy

“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” — Karl Barth

There are lots of different ways to define “joy.” Some people might say it’s a synonym for happiness while others might describe it as a sense of inner peace.

However you might experience joy in your own individual way, we can all probably agree that the ability to feel joy is most definitely one of the greatest pleasures of being human. The only problem with experiencing more of it is that we often let a lot of “stuff” get in the way of our capacity to feel it.

Experiencing joy comes from more than just being successful in life or going on a lot of exciting adventures. Here are three incredibly simple yet powerful ways to start experiencing more joy in your life, every day.

Turn your awareness within rather than looking for joy outside of yourself.

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” — Buddha

Joy is not something that can be searched for and found in your external environment. It’s something you must generate by turning inward and noticing your own thought patterns.

You can’t control your thoughts, but with a higher level of awareness, you can certainly influence them in a way that feels like you have more control over them. Joy can be found in accepting that thoughts may be triggered by all sorts of things outside of your control, yet knowing that those thoughts don’t necessarily reflect the truth. You have the freedom to change your perspective of thought in whichever way you decide serves you best, so practice perceiving things from a perspective that brings you more joy.

Transform your desire to pass judgement into a desire to understand better.

“Joy in looking and comprehending is nature’s most beautiful gift.” — Albert Einstein

The mind is a master at judging. You pass judgment on all sorts of things, big and small, every day without having all the information available that you would need to pass such a judgement. In fact, most situations are so complex that the information you’d need to pass judgment on them is always changing and never ending.

Throw away your desire to decide on a “final answer” about something and instead, try looking for more information so that you can improve your understanding of it from a more expanded level of awareness. You can find joy in realizing that nothing is ever quite as black or white as it may seem, and that you have the opportunity to explore it further to find a deeper meaning.

Seek to be rather than to become.

“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” — Greg Anderson

Joy can never be found in reaching achievement, because the ego always wants more. What you think will be such a glorious and rewarding finish line is actually just a finish line that’s constantly moving farther forward so that it’s always just out of reach.

If you have a goal that you want to reach in the future, you can automatically start experiencing more joy in reaching it by asking yourself what you need to do and what kind of person you need to be right now as opposed to fantasizing about the future new and improved version of yourself you’re dreaming of becoming. Embody your future achievement in the present, and the joy you generate from that will take you there.

There's nothing complicated about experiencing more joy. Keep working on expanding your awareness with a regular yoga and meditation practice, and most of the above habits should naturally become second nature to you!


5 Questions Worth Asking Yourself to Banish Regret

5 Questions Worth Asking Yourself to Banish Regret

In December, we tend to look back on the past year and analyze whether we managed to make the most of it. Despite our good intentions, practical planning, solid habits, and even lots of inner work with a regular yoga practice, reflecting on the past year doesn’t always end up looking like what we had hoped it would look like when we first projected our visions for the New Year back in January.

Feeling regretful about something (or many things) that didn’t go as well you hoped this past year can really put a damper on our state of mind during the holidays. It may even be so bad that it makes us feel doubtful and fearful of the upcoming New Year.

Sometimes, we look back and realize we messed up. Or we got distracted. Or something really unexpected happened that we weren’t prepared for. Or the plan we thought would work didn’t work very much at all.

Regret is one way to deal with those things, but it’s definitely not a very constructive way to deal with them. Instead, try asking yourself the following questions when you notice that sense of regret creep up on you as you reflect back on the past 12 months.

“What Do I Feel?”

Regret can trigger a wide range of negative emotions including disappointment, sadness, shame, guilt, frustration, anger, embarrassment, and more. If you haven’t taken the time to recognize what you feel and actually feel it, doing just that is necessary to move forward.

Meditate on the feeling in silent solitude for a few minutes, name the feeling or feelings if you can, and allow them to be released by accepting the need to feel them. Maintain awareness that the feeling or feelings will pass and that even though it may be painful to feel them, everything will be okay.

“Does Something Need to Be Resolved?”

Feeling the emotions tied to our regret can help bring us some closure, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, other actions may need to be taken in our external environment to ultimately put those feelings of regret to rest and move on.

Maybe you left somebody hanging after a difficult event, or there’s unfinished work you need to do for a personal project, or a mistake at work was ignored after you were too embarrassed to acknowledge it and set it right. Again, these things may be hard to go back to and finish, but it will help set you free from regret in the end.

“What Was the Lesson?”

We tend to look at our flaws and mistakes as shortcomings rather than opportunities to grow. But at the root of every experience of regret is a valuable lesson you can use to expand your awareness in the present and future.

You now know more than when you did before the event that caused your regret. Identify it and go as deep into it as you can.

“What Can I Do Right Now?”

Answering the last three questions will help you accept what happened in the past and bring you back to the present. Now you can use the lessons you identified to influence how you choose to take action in the current moment.

The important part about this question is not to fall back into distraction or old mistakes. If you do, something may still be unresolved or there are still lessons that have to be identified, so make sure you go back to the previous questions if you find you can’t move forward in the present.

“How Can I Continue to Improve and Adapt?”

This last question involves expanding on the answer to the previous question, but while maintaining awareness that no matter how well you might plan for the future, things might still not always go your way. That’s why you need to ask yourself how you might be able to “adapt” to the unexpected.

Banishing regret isn’t about doing everything you can to build more certainty into your life. It’s about acceptance and learning, which will fuel your continuous improvement and adaptability now and in the future.


5 Surprising Reasons to Do Yoga in the Bath

5 Surprising Reasons to Do Yoga in the Bath

Most people take baths to relax — not to practice yoga. But why not put the two together for a super creative way to relax and rejuvenate both the mind and body?

This isn’t a suggestion to take your full vinyasa flow practice to the small, slippery space that is your bathtub. Instead, it’s meant to inspire you to combine the relaxing effects of taking a bath with the some of the more restorative (and seated) yoga poses for enhanced mind-body integration.

For example, some safe, seated poses to try in the tub might include:

  • Fire Log Pose (Agnistambhasana)
  • Bound Ankle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
  • Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
  • Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
  • Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana)

These poses are all seated stretches so they won't have you slipping and sliding all over the tub. Here are some of the surprising benefits of doing them in the bath!

Adding essential oils to the bathwater can enhance the calming effect.

Aromatherapy and bath time definitely go hand in hand. By choosing essential oils known to have a calming effect on the mind, you’ll naturally make room to connect more closely with your body and the present moment.

Essential oils known to have the best calming effects include lavender, rose, ylang ylang, chamomile, frankincense, velvetir and bergamot. After making sure you won’t have any allergic reactions, add a few drops to the bathwater and enjoy the aroma as you relax and stretch it out with some yoga.

Your muscles will relax more in the warm water.

You probably know what it’s like to stretch cold, stiff muscles. The benefit of taking a bath is that the warm water helps increase body temperature, improving blood circulation and relieving muscle tension so that they can be stretched and lengthened more effectively.

You can supercharge this muscle relaxing effect by adding Epsom salts to your bathwater, which works to soothe muscle tension as it’s absorbed through the skin. Let yourself soak for 5 to 10 minutes and your muscles will be all warmed up to do a few seated yoga poses.

Minor aches and pains can be relieved by the warm water.

In addition to muscle relaxation, the warm water can even help with minor aches and pains in your joints. Even in just a few inches of water, the extra buoyancy makes it easier to move sore ankles, feet, knees, wrists, and other joints with the added benefit of the warmth to improve blood flow.

Epsom salts may also soothe minor joint pain by helping to reduce inflammation. So if you're feeling the need to stretch but are worried about pushing it too far to be painful, going super slow with some gentle seated yoga in the bath may be a slightly better option for the enhanced muscle and joint relaxation.

The steam will help relieve any congestion so you can breathe better.

Breathing is a super important component of yoga, but taking long, deep breaths through your nose might seem impossible when you’re stuffed up and congested. The steam from bathwater can help clear your nasal passages or aid in treatment of respiratory problems related to the common cold, flu, asthma, allergies, and other mild conditions.

Spend a few minutes sitting in the warm bathwater as you practice breathing deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth. Once you feel your nose and throat clearing up, you’ll be able to practice your seated yoga poses in the bath and stretch deeper into them with fuller, deeper breaths.

You’ll get more deeply in touch with your body.

Lastly, there’s perhaps no better way to become more aware, accepting, and loving of your own body by observing and experiencing its movement while nude. And in the bath, of course you’ll be nude!

Become mindful of all the aspects of your body that you don’t typically get to see or feel while moving your body under clothing in your regular practice. Getting more deeply in touch with your physical body this way can help reinforce a positive body image that will give you a natural confidence boost both on and off the mat!


10 Winter Practices for Cultivating Renewal and Rebirth

10 Winter Practices for Cultivating Renewal and Rebirth

“The winter solstice has always been special to me as a barren darkness that gives birth to a verdant future beyond imagination, a time of pain and withdrawal that produces something joyfully inconceivable, like a monarch butterfly masterfully extracting itself from the confines of its cocoon, bursting forth into unexpected glory.” — Gary Zukav

The Winter Solstice may be the shortest and darkest day of the year that leaves many of us wishing for the fast arrival of spring, but we shouldn't be too quick to mentally check ourselves out of one of the four very important seasons. Those of us who spend all winter wishing for warmer weather miss out on the powerful spiritual significance this time of year brings us.

Many spiritual traditions recognize the Winter Solstice as the time that marks the rebirth of the sun. The trees have finished shedding their leaves, wildlife species have entered hibernation or have migrated elsewhere, and the frost has put everything to sleep — but as the sun slowly regains its light again, Mother Nature is quietly working on nurturing her earthly gifts in preparation for the spring.

Winter is not just a time to do nothing more than sleep the season away — it’s a time to prepare for the renewal and rebirth of our own spirits. To help foster this, here are 10 practices worth investing your time and energy in over the next few cold, dark winter months.

Slow Down

Give yourself permission to slow right down in all the busy, hectic areas of your life that require high levels of energy. Now is the time to conserve and regenerate.

Seek Silence

Practice spending early mornings, dark evenings, or anytime you like in silence to help ground yourself and focus your awareness inward. Here’s how to make time for silence.

Focus on Self Care

Nourishing your mind and body will propel you toward the type of growth you want to embody and experience this coming spring. Relax, make some tea, read a good book, take a hot bath, and do the all the things that help calm and rejuvenate you.

Meditate

Meditating is a wonderful way to sift out all the noise from the outside world so you can get deeply in touch with your intuition — your deepest self. Set a goal to meditate for at least 20 minutes at the same time each day.

Reflect

It’s natural to feel as if you want to reflect back on how the year has unfolded for you. Take some extra time to ponder everything — both the good and the not so good.

Contemplate

Spend more time on looking thoughtfully at the past year’s events and the present version of yourself to help you unlock new meaning. It will help serve your rebirth.

Journal

Both reflection and contemplation can be enhanced by getting it out on paper. Try writing about your thoughts and feelings as you do these practices.

Let Go

All of the inward-focused work that you do (meditation, reflection, contemplation, etc.) will likely reveal some things to you that need to be released as you move forward. This winter, practice letting go of what won’t serve you in the spring.

Set Intentions

Letting go of the old makes room for the new. Setting new intentions can also help make some of the emotional pain of letting go feel a little less painful.

Make Plans

You don’t have to know all the details and you don’t have to get it all figured out before you do it, but it’s important to start planning out what you need to do to become the best version of yourself that you know you want to be. Get curious, embrace learning, and follow what your heart tells you is right.

Even just making one or two of the above practices a regular habit throughout the whole winter will help set you up for a magnificent sense of rebirth in the spring. You deserve it!


10 Ways to Make the Holiday Season Eco-Friendly

10 Ways to Make the Holiday Season Eco-Friendly

The holidays are a time for food, fun, and family. But hardly anybody ever mentions all the food that’s going to be wasted, the garbage that everyone is going to leave after opening all their gifts, and the crazy electricity bills that will appear the following month thanks to hosting a Griswold Family-like Christmas shindig.

Celebrating the holidays doesn’t have to mean wasting more food, creating more garbage, or using more energy. As yogis, we should all aspire to making each and every holiday season more eco-friendly than the last.

Here are 10 tips to keep in mind as you shop, wrap, decorate, cook, bake, entertain, and do all that you plan to do this holiday season!

1. Decorate your home with natural items. Instead of purchasing decorations made of plastic that contain potentially harmful chemicals and toxins, make your own from things you can find outdoors like real pine cones, evergreen branches, pieces of driftwood, and river stones.

2. Use recyclable, brown paper for wrapping. Brown paper packaging looks super classy with some nice red ribbon and maybe some stencil designs! Ask for it back after your gift recipients unwrap their gifts so you can recycle it, or leave a note in the card encouraging them to recycle it themselves!

3. Switch all your inefficient holiday lights to LED lights. When it comes to light bulb efficiency, definitely go with LEDs. This goes for everything from the tiny ones you string all over your Christmas tree to the ones you showcase on the exterior of your home.

4. Use timers for all your holiday lights and electrical decorations. Save on your electricity by setting timers up to turn everything on a little later than usual and off a little earlier than usual.

5. Use rechargeable batteries. Whether you’ve got some high-tech Christmas decoration to show off or a cool battery-operated gift to give, don’t contribute to the environmental nightmare caused by disposable batteries. It's worth investing the extra money for rechargeable ones.

6. Give experiences rather than physical gifts. A 20-year study showed that we get greater fulfillment out of experiences as opposed to things, so give the gift of a yoga class pass to your yogi friends’ favorite studio or a gift certificate for a deep tissue massage. Fewer physical gifts to wrap also means less waste!

7. Make your physical gifts as eco-friendly as possible. It wouldn’t really be the holidays without something to unwrap or open, so before you do your shopping, research items you’re thinking of purchasing to make sure they’re natural, non-toxic, recyclable, and so on. How about a Yogi Surprise box gift subscription? Our boxes always contain products that are natural, vegan/vegetarian, chemical free, and cruelty free.

8. Buy holiday foods that are in season and locally sourced. It takes less energy and less packaging to produce local goods. Here’s a list of amazing fall and winter foods to stock up on.

9. Freeze leftovers instead of tossing them. If you can’t stomach any more holiday food for the foreseeable future, store leftovers in the freezer for a week or two and take them out to defrost the night before a busy day when you know you won't feel like cooking.

10. Do your research on eco-friendly Christmas tree disposal. Do you know where your tree ends up after you throw it out on the side of the road for neighborhood pickup? If possible, aim to recycle your used tree by bringing it to a place where it can be recycled into wood chips or something rather than leaving it to end up in a landfill.

You’ll be doing the environment and your health a big favour by following some or all of the above tips this holiday season. Even if you’re wishing for a white Christmas, you should still keep it green when it comes to eco-friendliness!