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amy ippoliti

So You Want to Be A Better Person and Change the World? Do These Two Things Now!

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So You Want to Be A Better Person and Change the World? Do These Two Things Now!

Is it just me, or do you feel angry or helpless about the fractured political climate of America?

Whether it’s CNN’s reporters being heckled by those encouraged to hate our free press, Nia Wilson’s senseless murder, or asylum seeking children torn from their parents and put in detention centers - the worst of humanity is rearing its ugly head.

In the face of this polarization and hatred, I’ve concluded that as yogis we have two actions of recourse:

1. Be a Model Human  - Be a Bit More Like Shiva

One of the main goals of a yoga practice is to understand ourselves and work on who we are through self inquiry so that we can give back in a more profound way to the world.

But how do we do this in the face of hatred and continual bad news that won’t stop? We can withdraw and put our heads in the sand, or we can face it all head on.

The teachings from the Hindu deity, Shiva might help.

Shiva is a whole lot of things.

Notably, Shiva is the lord of toxins. Because, well, he is everything and he is consciousness itself.

His connectivity to every possible outcome is his ferocity - Shiva as Bhairava. He shrinks from nothing, and is unafraid to imbibe the poison of the world and hold it in his throat so as not to assimilate it.

He engages everything.
He is utterly himself.
And he doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks of him.

We’ve all experienced strong emotions or challenges that we want to run from.

Shiva enters our yoga practice when we do the things that push our buttons and look to challenging experiences with the question:

“Who am I in this?”

This is the easiest question to ignore when our experience is provocative, scary, or unpleasant.

When you ignore this question, you let your emotions rule you instead of being sovereign to your emotions.

And when your emotions run you, you're likely to act less like a model human, and more  arrogant and entitled - i.e. someone that people don't particularly want to be around.

Think about the asanas or poses that challenge you -- like arm balances or backbends. If you avoid them or don’t check in on your resistances around them, you won’t progress in your practice.

Emotions are similar and must be engaged. For example, anger can cause stress, acting out, or even violence - but those things are not the anger itself - those things are you on autopilot when your anger has gone unchecked.

Being a model human in the face of challenge and emotions means choosing to become your emotions fully. Then you can decide what to do about them and how to respond.

Shiva is present when you let yourself have your experiences completely and then choose the best course of action. Now instead of running amok, your emotions can compel, forgive, heal, shift, or inspire.

I’ve never regretted acting from a place of self-awareness in my emotions, and I’ve never regretted apologizing for being irritable or un-thoughtful to those around me when I’ve miss-stepped.

2. Vote

Modeling the best of human behavior in ourselves is one thing we can do individually to respond to divisiveness, but ultimately change has to come from the top.

Electing conscious policy and law makers is crucial to impacting change for the environment, for social equality, and peace in our communities and around the world.

In addition to checking ourselves and not succumbing to hatred and division, we’ve got to VOTE.

Four thoughts on this:

  1. Register to VOTE if you have not yet done so.
  2. Consistently check that your registration stays current all the way until the deadline to register - word is that people are being pulled from the voter rolls even if they were registered.
  3. Encourage other people to vote by joining organizing campaigns like Swing Left , Black Women Vote, and MoveOn.Org. Help drive people to the polls if you have to.
  4. The current administration is doing nothing to stop Russian hacking into our system, so we need to show up in such record-breaking numbers that no amount of meddling can make an impact.

Take these two actions and I guarantee you'll feel better about the state of the world and how you can make a difference toward the people around you.

What are you doing to stay conscious, kind, and aware in these intense times? Leave a comment below!

 

 

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My Morning Rituals

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My Morning Rituals

Morning rituals.

Morning routine.

The morning hour of power.

Whatever you call it, I almost hesitate to share my morning regimen because it’s become so trendy in self-improvement blogs to obsess over the intentional way we start our day.

But there is something to it, right?

In 90% of the interviews I do, I get asked about my morning routine, so clearly it’s a big deal.

We have all read the many blogs about CEOs with massive tech empires who wake up at 3am to sip hot lemon water, meditate, and run 10 miles as a means to becoming some kind of uber productivity superhero.

Morning rituals will help you become more productive and successful - no doubt. But there’s more to them than just that.

I think people want to know about each other’s mornings because they seek happiness.
 
When you start your day consciously, you’re able to focus on what truly matters, what will bring you more joy and in turn, how you can bring more joy to others.

My morning rituals change from month to month and year to year, but I’ll share the ones I’ve been digging lately.

Keep in mind that what makes your day start out well is not necessarily going to be the same as what makes my day start well. Like anything, it will be deeply personal.

Take what works for you and add your own special touches when designing your ideal morning!

Here is what my morning looks like - including the 5 rituals I do in my practice space to center my day:

  • Wake and make the bed - makes me feel accomplished and tidy.
  • Scrape tongue & rinse with mouthwash - this has been a game changer for my teeth, breath, and tartar prevention!
  • Hit the loo - you gotta do what you gotta do.
  • Drink fresh squeezed celery juice - This is a new thing for me, I’ve heard awesome stories about the effects. I will let you know how it goes!
  • Center the day - I just released a new program on YogaGlo.com called Morning Groove!  It combines vinyasa flows with the following things I do to center my day up in my practice space: 
  1. Gratitude practice
  2. Write down what would make today amazing
  3. Affirmations
  4. Write down my most recent successes
  5. Visualization and meditation
  • Make superfood smoothies for the family - I enjoy making breakfast for myself and Taro and filling our bodies with nutrient-packed foods like wild blueberries, acai, dandelion greens, chia seeds, goji berries, plant-based protein powders - it's the whole kitchen sink of superfoods!
  • Make a plan for exercise - My preference is to practice yoga or workout shortly after breakfast with a bike ride, a hike, a swim, or functional fitness/weight training at the gym, but if I can’t get out right away (i.e. I have work deadlines!), I make a plan for later in the day.
  • Get down to work! This usually means either teaching yoga or getting on top of emails, writing deadlines, or yoga class planning.

OK. Now it’s your turn to crowdsource some morning routines. Leave a comment with some of your favorite things to do to get your day started right!

 

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What Yoga Can Teach Us About Feeling Overwhelmed by Despair

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What Yoga Can Teach Us About Feeling Overwhelmed by Despair

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
- the Dalai Lama

Are you feeling utterly overwhelmed by the current state of things in the USA? I'm with you.

Although yoga helps us get into a zone where all is well and where there’s light and love, you’re then meant to come back to reality, serve others, and engage in the world to make it a better place.

The word yoga means “to connect”, to connect to the world. It’s not meant to be an escape.

In other words, having a yoga practice does not make you immune to the feeling (or the reality) that we’ve taken a nosedive into a pit of darkness in just a year’s time.

That said, as dark as it has become, voices previously unheard are coming into the light.

  • Women’s voices are saying #TimesUp on centuries of sexual harassment and assault.   
  • Black and brown voices are saying enough is enough on racism, discrimination, and deportation. #BlackLivesMatter #Dreamers
  • Children are demonstrating, lying on the ground in front of the White House to demand safety in their schools. #MarchForOurLives #NeverAgain
  • A wave of women, minorities, gay, and transgender candidates were elected in states all over the country and that trend continues to grow. #BlueWave2018

Still, I am overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of abnormal, morally bankrupt, despicable, and unfathomable things going on in the White House!

I always feel better when I take action (like calling my senators), but I notice that the deluge of troubling news easily paralyzes me to the point where I will do nothing if I don’t watch out.

The onslaught of these daily issues is numbing.

Whenever I find myself becoming numb, I think of Arjuna, the main character in the great epic tale, The Bhagavad Gita, a text every serious student of yoga eventually tackles.

The story begins on a battlefield. Prince Diroydhana has rejected his cousin Yudhishthira’s final offer of peace and he and his brothers, the Panavas, including Arjuna are forced into battle.

War is unavoidable, and Arjuna is beside himself with despair because he is facing his own loved ones - cousins and uncles on the battlefield - in fratricidal armageddon.

The text explores this metaphor as the dilemma of how the world both annihilates us (because we all die) and embraces us. In Arjuna’s case, and in our own case, love puts us at the greatest risk. Ultimately the text asks us -  what are you willing to do for love?

You’re either making the world a better place or not. You can break down, do nothing, and take Xanax in a fetal position under the covers, or you’ve got the opportunity to do yoga and address the problems head on.

Yoga is how you decide you want to be in the face of this dilemma. The Bhagavad Gita is not a text about “checking out”, it’s a text about “checking in” and dealing firsthand with what is on the table.

My teacher often says, “Stop wishing the world were some way you wish it were, and start wishing the world was in some way how it could be.”

Arjuna, with the help and lengthy guidance of Krishna, takes on the dilemma, knowing that inaction is still a choice and doing nothing would be a nihilistic act that could damage generations to come. Ultimately Krishna makes his arguments but doesn’t tell him what to do. Instead he leaves him free to choose his course of action.

So when you feel depressed, immobilized, or inundated by the troubles of the world and you’re not sure which issue to pick, remember you are free to pick just one thing.  Do one thing, because action always feels better than no action at all.

Here are some resources for action you can take RIGHT NOW:

  • Set up ResistBot on your phone so you can easily email your senators and make your voice heard. If you text them 'NRA' they will tell you how much money the NRA paid your elected officials and suggest action steps!
  • Tune in to Resistance Live every day with my old friend, Elizabeth Cronise McLaughlin, so you know what pressing actions need to be taken.
  • Donate to Swing Left to ensure that we elect candidates who are not being bought by the Koch brothers and the National Rifle Association (NRA).
  • Donate to the ACLU to help ensure that voters rights are being protected.
  • Donate to the Black Yoga Teacher’s Alliance to help support teachers of color through yoga education scholarships, events, and more.
  • Sending a hand-written post card to your elected representatives can be very effective via CollectiveVision.Us. You can also send post cards to would-be voters.

 

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The Yoga of Living Green: A Story of Hope

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The Yoga of Living Green: A Story of Hope

Scientists have been predicting the perils of humanity’s mark on planet earth for decades. I remember being in the Costa Rican rainforest in 1992 just after the Rio Earth Summit, the first major United Nations conference on the environment of it’s kind.

The town I was in had gotten electricity only 3 years prior, and the roads surrounding it were still unpaved. We were staying with the late River Phoenix and his family and they had just returned from the summit, full of inspiration, but also conviction - that we must do everything in our power to reverse this thing called "global warming". I remember telling River’s mother that I wanted to move to the Amazon to help protect it and she said sternly, “No, Amy, you’re needed at home in the USA.”

As a yogi, living in harmony with nature feels like it’s been part of my DNA, in some ways since before I even stepped on the yoga mat for the first time as a teenager. But with every breath and every pose, practicing yoga reaffirms my interconnection with the natural world and the importance of being a responsible, conscious steward of the earth.

If you’ve practiced yoga, you yourself have likely had a similar experience of interconnection. To put it bluntly - you just give more of a damn after immersing in the study of yoga!

Last week, it was my great pleasure to teach a benefit yoga class for my newest favorite organization, the Rodale Institute. Rodale definitely embodies this caring approach to interconnection, and in fact, sees yet another way for us to solve the climate change crisis through regenerative organic farming.

While I was there, I interviewed Jeff Tkach, Rodale Institute’s chief growth officer and avid yogi. He told me the most heartwarming story about the dairy cows on the Rodale’s farm in Pennsylvania and their neighbors, James and Ida Burkholder, who by going full-on Organic changed their family’s life (and a whole herd of adorable cows) by doing so!

While I am not a dairy eater myself, pasturing animals the old fashioned way can benefit the soil, which is much needed in the journey toward a cooler planet.

I hope this story inspires and gives you as much hope as it gave me:


AMY: Hey Jeff! Tell us about Rodale’s neighbors, the Burkholders and why they started building a new barn on their land.
 
JEFF: The Burkholders are Mennonite dairy farmers who own and live on the land bordering the organic fields and pastures of the Rodale Institute. James was struggling to farm conventionally, and the banks (which technically owned his cows, farmland, and buildings) were pressuring him to increase the size of his herd in order to increase revenues so that he could pay on his loans.

Since James did not have enough land to effectively graze his cows on pasture, he needed to build a second barn so that he could double the size of his herd (the cows would live 24/7 in the barn, eat, sleep, and get milked). This is simply not the way that cows are meant to live!

James’ family has been farming since they emigrated from Switzerland in the 1700s, but when the conventional milk market bottomed out in 2009, James and Ida almost lost everything. “We were in danger of extinction,” James explained. As a small conventional dairy, he said, “It was tough to compete against larger operations.”

Burkholders.jpg

AMY: Rodale eventually proposed a better (organic) solution to the Burkholders that involved a partnership with Rodale. How did that go?

JEFF: We’ve had a long-standing relationship with our neighbors, but given the culture of the Mennonite community, it was not customary for them to build business relationships with people outside of their community. There was of course, much hesitation and reluctance for the family to partner with the Rodale Institute as a result of the pressures from their community, but the Rodale Institute took all of the financial risk out of their transition to organic.
 
James and Ida’s partnership with the Rodale Institute began in 2010, and it’s a simple relationship: the Burkholders get land on which to graze their cows, while the Rodale Institute gets an organic herd to jumpstart its livestock research program and help build healthier soil from the cows being on their land.
 
For James and Ida, the partnership with Rodale ensured that the Burkholders’ farming legacy would endure.
 
 
AMY: Tell us the story of what happened when the cows were finally released! And what was the outcome for the Burkholder’s farm once they went organic?
 
JEFF: Well, we did not know how the cows would react to being put out on pasture after living 24/7 in a barn. But to our surprise, they literally ran (and danced!) their way out of the barn and into the gorgeous green meadow!
 
Now, each day, the cows find their way from the barn out onto the Rodale Institute’s pasture. They do not need to be herded. They simply follow their biological patterns, and return to the barn twice per day to be milked.

In terms of the outcome, financially, the Burkholders are now earning 30%+ more for organic milk which they sell to Organic Valley, a popular independent cooperative of organic farmers that got it's start because they were fed up with the state of American agriculture and the fact that family farms were going extinct.

In addition, the Burkholder's have less expenses (not paying for as much grain and vet bills) and earn more for their end product. There is both an economic and environmental pay off for farmers to put animals on pasture.

In fact, James & Ida have not had a single veterinary bill for their cows since they transitioned to organic (the cows are healthier because they are eating a better diet!). Their cow’s health made them realize that their own family should eat organic to stay healthy as well - so now the family has transitioned as well!

Most livestock animals such as cows are ruminants. Meaning, cows are not meant to eat corn (which most conventional cows are fed). Their stomachs are designed for them to eat grass. And it produces a much higher quality and nutritious milk!
 
Best of all, the Burkholder’s conversion to organic was so successful that other farms in their community also transitioned!

There are also many reasons organic farming and pasture raising animals helps stop harmful climate change. When you put animals on pasture, they help to regenerate the soil (thus, storing and sequestering carbon out of the atmosphere and into the soil where it belongs!).
 
AMY: That is the best! Tell us - what can yoga students, in your opinion, do to help support organic farming besides the obvious (buy organic!)?
 

JEFF:
Absolutely! Here’s a list of things yogis can do to help:

  • We need for consumers to demand organic! The more we demand organic items at the grocery store and restaurants we frequent, the more farmers will be incentivized to transition due to demand.
  • Get Informed. People need to become more attuned to where their food comes from, and how it was produced. We need to become more intimately connected with “the source” of our food. Get to know your farmers. Shop at your local farmer’s market, and support the artisans in your community who are producing such beautiful food. The best organic food does not come from the grocery store. It comes from the small farms that surround your community!
  • Donate! Make a donation to the Rodale Institute! They first coined the word "organic" and through their research and educational programs give farmers the tools and knowledge to increase soil health, crop quality and yields.
  • Share! We need the yoga community to influence the world at large. We are already beacons for health. People look to us as yogi’s to be role models for health. We need to educate others about the benefits of going organic. Some ideas:
    • Write blogs.
    • If you teach yoga, teach a class with the theme of “organic”, regeneration, and the importance of making conscious choices.
    • Post your colorful farm hauls on social media.

 

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Beware of Relationship Power Abuse, and How Yoga Can Help You Spot It

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Beware of Relationship Power Abuse, and How Yoga Can Help You Spot It

Practicing and studying yoga, especially within community, has helped me hone a skill we all need: Discernment in relationships.

Power differentials abound in all kind of relationships - intimate partnerships, workplace, teacher-student relationships and more.

A good leader or partner knows how precious relationships are and respects the sacredness of their bonds with others.

And yet, far too often, power differentials lead to power abuse.

This can happen in a variety of ways, such as taking advantage of another, gaining access to someone's confidential information and distributing it, or simply manipulating someone with some kind of punishment if they don't comply.

Yoga can help you spot power abuse in two ways:

  1. The practice increases self-esteem, and as such you will have a higher regard for yourself and be less likely to get entangled in an abusive relationship.
  2. It hones your sensitivity and intuition. This will help you to be able to read the signs of a power dynamic gone bad.

Still, it's can be helpful to spell it out.

Here's how you know if someone's use of power is abusive:

  • What they say to you or others creates separation and division.
  • When they tell you what you need, instead of asking you what you want or need.
  • When they no longer appreciate other people’s experiences just because their experience is different.
  • When they say something like, “That has nothing to do with me” instead of owning their part.

How do you know if someone’s use of power demonstrates good leadership? The difference is clear:

  • What they say to you or others connects people rather than divides them.
  • They care about your needs and wants.
  • They own and take responsibility for their failings and mistakes.
  • They never take their power for granted and seek counsel from their peers.
  • They know that just because they are in a role of leadership does not grant them "a pass" do unethical or unlawful things.

If yoga has taught me anything it's taught be to befriend, follow, and vote for leaders who are conscious and awake in how they use their power.

It's time to let your yoga help get your intuition muscle in shape! No one needs to tolerate bullies or those who would abuse their power. Life is too short to let them have that power!

Trust that the more time you invest on your mat, becoming intimate with your breath and deeply embodied from the practice, your innermost knowing and ability to discern will come to the surface when you're off your mat.

We can surround ourselves (and this world) with great leaders by setting boundaries with bullies, and welcoming the company of those who know how to harness power well.

 

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Superfruit Fizz

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Superfruit Fizz

What do you do when the women of Gaia Herbs come over to your house to play?
 
Concoct crazy things in the kitchen, obvi!
 
It was an honor to have Stepfanie Romine, a writer and editor who specializes in food, natural health, and wellness in our home. She guided me through her latest recipes using some of my favorite supplements from Gaia Herbs. Stepfanie recently co-authored The No Meat Athlete Cookbook and is one of the most creative vegan chefs I've met!
 
Just in time for summer, Stepfanie tested out my mixology skills with this mocktail that she calls “Superfruit Fizz.”
 
This superfruit drink is sparkling and delightfully refreshing, bit too sweet, and it offers immune support and antioxidants — plus plenty of vitamin C! It’s key ingredients are Gaia Herb’s Black Elderberry Syrup which sweetly balances the mouth-puckering tang of their Hibiscus Tea mixed with pomegranate juice.

Here's how you do it!
 
Ingredients
1 cup Gaia Herbs Organic Hibiscus Herbal Tea, cool
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry Syrup
1 dropperful Gaia Herbs Organic Ginger Root Liquid Herbal Extract
Sparkling water - I suggest Pellegrino which is naturally carbonated in part
Ice

Kitchen Tools Needed
Glass measuring cup
Whisk/fork
Pitcher or serving jar
Measuring spoons

Directions (see video below for a walk through!)

  1. Brew one bag of Gaia Herbs Hibiscus Tea in a cup of cold water for 20-30 minutes or longer (no need to boil!)
  2. Pour the tea into a measuring cup with a pouring spout.
  3. Add the pomegranate and lime juices.
  4. Whisk in the Black Elderberry Syrup and the Ginger Extract.
  5. Fill a large glass (or two smaller glasses) halfway with ice, if desired.
  6. Pour in the tea mixture, then top off the glass with the sparkling water for a unique "ombre" effect.
  7. Serve immediately. Serves 1 or 2. 

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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Podcast: Saving the World with Yoga and Activism

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Podcast: Saving the World with Yoga and Activism

Podcasts have become so popular in the last year!

I hadn't been asked to be interviewed for a Podcast since 2011 and then out of the blue, last year I was suddenly on 5 or 6 different podcasts!

The latest interview was with Wild Ideas Worth Living, a podcast devoted to exploring what's possible when you have a wild idea and get up the guts to act on it despite self doubt, saboteurs, or the urge to talk yourself out of it! 

It was an honor to be considered someone who had done just that in life as a traveling yoga teacher.

Here are some of the things I get into in this nitty gritty discussion with Shelby Stanger.

  • What kind of food you eat at an Ayurvedic retreat.
  • The type of yoga workshop that I was teaching in Southeast Asia.
  • Tantric yoga doesn’t always have to do with sex.
  • How I got into yoga at a very young age.
  • Why I look so much younger than I am! LOL! Get my secrets.
  • How to make a living by following your passion.
  • The challenges of being a yoga teacher.
  • Why yoga should not be free.
  • The danger of over-promising.
  • Why I don’t separate politics and yoga
  • Activism + yoga = my passion.
  • How I trained to do yoga with marine animals.
  • How yoga teaches perseverance physically and mentally.
  • How I use meditation and visualization.
  • You become the company you keep.
  • There are no shortcuts.
  • It’s time to find alternative sources of energy!

Listen to the Podcast!

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Self Care Like a Movie Star: Our Yoga Retreat to Sukhavati Bali

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Self Care Like a Movie Star: Our Yoga Retreat to Sukhavati Bali

Self Care Like a Movie Star: Our Yoga Retreat to Sukhavati Bali

By Amy Ippoliti and Sarah Diedrick

In the midst of a heavy teaching schedule through Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia this past month, we found ourselves seeking out tropical rest spots in between workshops to kill time and rejuvenate.

Before our final stop in Jakarta, Bali seemed like the obvious choice for a pause but there are so many choices, we were a bit overwhelmed. Yeah, first world problems, we know.

Thankfully we chose Sukhavati Bali, a little known sanctuary tucked into the jungle along a river just 30 minutes inland from Seminyak Beach.

Spirit
You can immediately sense the distinct spirit of Sukhavati right as you arrive on the grounds. We were greeted with statues of Hindu deities, orchids, and the intoxicating smell of plumeria flowers on the leis placed over our heads. There is incense burning continuously around the property and occasionally you’ll catch its smell or see the alluring smoke weaving its way through the air. 

This is just the start of how inviting and breathtaking the experience at Sukhavati is. Our villa was gorgeous and even had an outdoor bathroom! Though, you can choose to stay in a villa with the bathroom inside, if that’s more your thing. We really enjoyed showering outside surrounded by bird songs and sunshine - it felt like bathing under a waterfall.

Daily Pampering
And if it couldn’t get more luxurious than that, we had a variety of Ayurvedic treatments every day. Yes, you heard that correctly. Every day. On the daily menu was a foot bath and neck, shoulders, scalp massage, followed by a four-hands Abhyanga full body massage. The treatment ended with Shirodhara - a form of relaxation therapy that involves pouring a steady stream of warm oil over the forehead for some time to stimulate the third eye point. It was not only totally relaxing but mentally clarifying as well. But wait, we’re not done yet. 

Then, after eating a sublimely delicious and nourishing meal (who knew gourmet Ayurvedic food could be this good?) with wonderful people, a team arrives at your villa to give you your daily facial with simultaneous foot massage...on your bed!

Being pampered daily like this upleveled our entire idea of self-care. There has to be a way to keep this up because we’ve never felt so much vitality and had such glowing skin!Daily yoga and meditation classes are also part of the package as well as a consult with the Ayurvedic doctor on staff.

The People!
What made the experience particularly lovely were the people going through the program. Each day we shared our meals and instantly bonded, having immediately open, deep conversations about our lives, spirituality, yoga philosophy and more.

The level of depth and closeness we were able to achieve so immediately was quite different than your average hotel stay - that’s for sure. We asked the group why that was and they told us that the energy of openness was already present when they arrived and just kept getting passed on to the the newer guests - almost like an ever-living energy that lives at Sukhavati!

The Consciousness
Throughout Asia, we had come to lament how much plastic we found in the ocean as well as the many plastic water bottles offered to us in the hotels and Airbnbs we stayed in. 

Roughly 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into the planet's oceans yearly, and according to a new study, the majority of this waste comes from just five countries: Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, China, and Vietnam. These five countries are responsible for up to 60 percent of the total plastic entering our oceans, according to Stemming the Tide.

Sukhavati has taken powerful steps to turn this tide and eliminate plastic waste. All plastic bottles on the property have been replaced with water coolers in each room as well a titanium reusable water bottles provided for their guests. Plastic straws have been replaced with reusable glass straws. Training and implementation of a proper waste disposal and recycling system has been established as well as the use of composting. We have started seeking out the hotels and retreat centers that have this level of awareness - because it feels good to stay in a place that cares -  and Sukhavati was no exception.

The Value
All of this all-inclusive awesomeness comes at a great value as well! For the price you’d pay at a high end resort to go to their spa, eat at the restaurant you'd end up spending just as much or more but with a fourth of the spa treatments. It was truly a phenomenal value!

Yoga Retreats
If you're a yoga teacher and you’re looking for an intimate location to bring your group, Sukhavati Bali can hold 12-13 students who can go through the program and take your yoga classes.

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A Yoga Practice for the Greater Good

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A Yoga Practice for the Greater Good

A Yoga Practice for the Greater Good

The aftermath of the election in the United States has reminded me of one thing:

We will never be free, we will never be happy, we will never be at peace until we start making decisions with the greater good in mind rather than our own self interest.

Although I have always given back and have chosen a life of service, earlier this week, for the first time as I was blowing out my birthday candle, I realized that I’ve always made birthday wishes for me or my family but never for anything beyond that.

It’s natural to make selfish birthday wishes - it makes sense - if I’m happy, I’ll be able to help others be happy too.

But yesterday, I consciously made a wish on my candle for the planet.

Self interest is a good thing, but far too often we miss the other end of that spectrum. If we don’t take care of each other and make choices less personal all the time, we’re going to end up miserable and divided. 

Uhhhh, kind of like the USA right now.

In one of the rare moments when Charlie Chaplin actually spoke, he gave a riveting speech in the movie, The Dictator, saying, “We want to live by each other’s happiness not by each other’s misery.”

For example, as we prepare for the next four years ahead, what is most crucial is that we protect mother earth. Her interest is your interest - for no other individual interests will help if the world is burning up, the seas are rising, and the earth is shaking.

Therefore….

To help you move in the world with a more altruistic heart, I’ve designed a contemplation that can be applied as you do your yoga practice.  This is best done as a home yoga practice with no outside guidance.

The aim will be to cultivate your intuition and listen to your body as a microcosm rather than focusing on opening different body parts (such as hips, or shoulders). Then you will gain a deeper appreciation for your body as a whole vs. its individual parts.

If you can get good at that on the mat, then you will get better at choosing the greater good off the mat when it matters most!

Here are the guidelines:

  1. Start in a neutral pose like tadasana or child’s pose
  2. Tune in to the sensations in the whole of your body and notice how the different parts relate to each other up and down the kinetic chain.
  3. Ask for Divine guidance to show you the most optimal ways to move and which poses to practice  that would be most enhancing and healing for your body whole.
  4. Rather than sticking to a set list of poses, choosing an area of the body to focus on, or going for an apex pose, let yourself move -  guided solely by your intuition as it shows you what is best for the whole of your body, rather than just it’s parts.
  5. Do your practice for as long as your body seems to need it.

After honoring your body in this way, notice the following as you move through your day: 

  • Is it easier to be more giving to others?
  • Do you find yourself sacrificing your own pleasures or possessions to help make someone else’s life more abundant?
  • Are you more in tune with anticipating the needs of your loved ones and able to put their needs before your own?
  • Despite the chance to make more money or spend more money, are your financial choices informed by what is best for all beings and the planet?

The sooner we start making decisions and behave without just ourselves in mind, the better life is going to be for everybody, including ourselves.

Enjoy these quotes about the common good:

“No decisions should ever be made without asking the question, is this for the common good?”
- Michael Moore
“For too long in this society, we have celebrated unrestrained individualism over common community. For too long as a nation, we have been lulled by the anthem of self-interest. For a decade, led by Ronald Reagan, self-aggrandizement has been the full-throated cry of this society: "I've got mine, so why don't you get yours" and "What's in it for me?”
- Joe Biden
"A nation is formed by the willingness of each of us to share in the responsibility for upholding the common good."
- Barbara Jordan

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The Real Truth About Saddle Bags

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The Real Truth About Saddle Bags

Have you ever caught a glimpse of your backside in the mirror and cursed the dreaded “saddle bags” hanging just below and to the side of your buttocks and subsequently been plagued with negative self-talk?

Did you suddenly feel totally out of shape, fat, and flabby?

First of all, let’s get one thing straight. Saddle bags or not, you are beautiful. And your yoga practice is here to support you in a world of body positivity.

That said, I am not writing this to address body image, but rather the physiological and therapeutic aspects of the saddle bag phenomenon.

Here’s the thing: Your saddle bags may may not actually be a sign of fat or excess weight!

For the last century, there’s been a big trend toward flattening the lumbar spine to help engage the core, create length, and prevent “sway back”.

This action had consequences. In the 1930’s they invented suspenders. Why? Because from tucking under so much, no one had butts anymore to hold their pants up.

The epidemic lasted long into the 70’s and 80’s. Especially in the height of the Jane Fonda Workout era. Can you just see it and hear it? You on your back with your tush in the air squeezing your glutes rhythmically up to the sky in a bridge pose with the Jackson 5 crooning, “Can you feel it?”

But you were born with a natural lumbar curve! All that flattening is not only causing chronic and acute lower back problems all over the world, but….wait for it….it may be the cause of saddle bags!

When you go through life with your butt tucked under, your glutes and buttocks literally begin to atrophy and that atrophied flesh has nowhere to go but down and out. Saddle bags are not caused by fat (though they may contain adipose tissue, of course). Saddle bags are a sign of atrophied buttocks settling on your outer thighs!

Sure, a higher percentage of body fat is going to create larger saddle bags, but before you start unnecessarily worrying about your weight, realize that gravity and atrophy are at play here and it may take some time to regain strength in the glutes and lower back so this flesh can rearrange itself more optimally.

In other words, we can stop obsessing about how we look and start focusing on getting your lumbar curve back so that your lower back will be healthy, and your glutes will be strong, long into your older years!

This isn’t a question of body fat, it’s a question of optimal health!

So what can you do specifically to get your lumbar curve back, regain the muscle tone of your glutes, and lose the saddle bags? Practice yoga with good alignment!

Follow these steps in every yoga pose:

  1. Get Grounded
    Stand in tadasana (mountain pose) with your feet parallel. Settle the four corners of your feet into the ground beneath you and feel your connection to the earth.
     
  2. Be Strong
    Tone your legs from feet to hips and squeeze your thighs toward one another.
     
  3. Move your Thighs Back
    Keeping the legs toned, pick your right foot, turn your whole leg in and place the foot back down on the ground parallel - do the same for your left. Then move your thighs into the back plane of your body and your chest slightly forward to counter balance. Feel your natural lumbar curve deepen and your sit bones widen. In addition, feel the tone in your glutes and lower back muscles.

  4. Draw Your Tailbone Down
    So that you don’t look like a duck, keep your thighs in the back plane, but draw your buttock flesh downward, lifting your pubic bone up toward your navel to lengthen your natural lumbar curve subtly, but not overly flatten it.
     
  5. Extend out
    From your hips, extend down through the bones of your legs like you’re getting taller and expand up through your spine, crown and arms energetically, creating space in all the joints.

Give it a try and tell me what you think in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

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Why I Wrote The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga

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Why I Wrote The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga

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In 1999 Molly Fox, a prominent fitness and yoga teacher invited me to co-lead my very first yoga teacher training in Brooklyn, NY. I was a new teacher, but Molly somehow had faith in me and took me on to help lead her group. In the years that followed I met a dear student, Anne Libby, who took part in one of my  trainings.  She was well versed in business and we often mused about the sometimes flakey and unprofessional reputation of yoga teachers, and other yoga world issues.

We were trying to figure out why Anne and her fellow graduates were having such a hard time finding time slots to teach yoga.  I shared that shortly after I started teaching, I had to turn down offers – so, we wondered, why was it that in only 3 years time it had become so challenging for new teachers?

Anne astutely pointed out that this new problem was because of a dearth of yoga teachers in the city caused by the increased popularity of yoga teacher trainings.

It never occurred to me that I and countless other trainers were contributing to the overall ecology of New York yoga by effectively “birthing” new teachers into the community through our trainings.

Instinctively, I had already stopped offering large teacher trainings in favor of Immersions, and eventually began offering teacher training in much smaller groups. And yet, in that moment sitting with Anne, I knew that I needed to write a book that would help yoga teachers thrive in a crowded market and help them to take the yoga profession more seriously.

Part of writing this book was guilt, since I seemed to be in the right place at the right time, and as a result, never had a tough time finding work. But my heart broke for my students when they graduated and couldn’t make ends meet!

And even though I do not have kids of my own, the teachers I’ve trained have always been my hatch, so to speak, and therefore, like a mother, I felt responsible and protective. So I went about studying business and marketing as diligently as I had studied yoga philosophy and applied it to my own career, until one day I felt ready to share what I’d integrated with others.

With the expertise and help of my partner, Taro Smith, PhD, I shared this body of knowledge as an online course in 2010, called 90 Minutes to Change the World, which is still available today.

The course became a game changer for yoga teachers as it turned out! Our graduates have gone on to grow their classes by 42%, publish books, teach at major events, and increase their earnings dramatically.

It was the course that became the fodder for the book, and the rest is history!

If you teach yoga or are thinking about teaching yoga, we hope this book helps nourish your career, and makes it possible for you to serve and give back wholeheartedly to others through yoga.

To get a copy you can now order on Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble!

Q & A about the Book

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What Your Inner Child Can Teach You About Back Fat

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What Your Inner Child Can Teach You About Back Fat

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Ever catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror or in a photo and you see “it”? Back fat.

And then you start battling those years of subliminal messaging and airbrushed magazine photos in your head.

Upon seeing the rolls, you may have worked yourself into a frenzy of limiting, non-supportive thoughts, as we are taught to do in our culture.

You are gorgeous. I want you to know that, and I hope that your yoga practice will always support you in creating your world of body positivity.

However, my focus in writing this isn’t really about addressing body image, but rather the physiological and therapeutic aspects of the “back fat” phenomenon.

So here’s my take: your back fat may actually not be back fat.

As we age our rib cage sinks with gravity, nearing closer to the hip bones. And as a result, we lose a lot of length in our lateral or side bodies, creating the appearance of fat when in actuality, it’s folds of skin that don't know where to go anymore.

In addition, the most mobile part of the spine is located between the bottom ribs and the hips. Because this part of the spine is not hindered by the pelvis or the rib cage it is easy to jam the front ribs forward, collapsing this part of the spine (a.k.a.,your mid section or waistline). This also contributes to the folds of skin on our backs.

So you think you have back fat? You may, and that in and of itself is no big thing. Instead, ask yourself, “How long is my side body? Is my rib cage sitting on my freaking pelvis? And what might that be doing to my posture, my organs, and my respiratory system?”

In other words, we can stop obsessing about how we look and start focusing on freeing up our side body in order to breathe easier and more efficiently, make more space for our organs, and improve our orthopedic longevity!

This isn’t a question of body fat, it’s a question of optimal health!

Sure, a higher percentage of body fat is going to create a larger fold, but before you start looking at your rolls and unnecessarily worrying about your weight, realize that gravity is at play here and that you can hold your ribs for optimal alignment, minimizing the appearance of that supposed "back fat".

Of course, one could reduce body fat percentage and that will help decrease the size of the folds. However, until you embrace these folds as a postural issue, they will stay around until you start doing one simple posture modification.

I call it: “Get bright like a toddler”.  And it means:

  1. Stand up tall.
  2. Lengthen your sides starting from the top of your hips up to your armpits until your collar bones are square with the base of your neck. Do this without shrugging your shoulders up toward your ears, just lift from within.
  3. Inflate your mid-section and lift your back ribs up away from your hips.
  4. Finally, pull your shoulders back (or in anatomical terms, pull the head of the humerus ie. the ball-like head of the arm bone that goes into the shoulder socket) back.

Most fitness experts try to target "back fat" by prescribing back extension exercises such as “superman” where you lay on your stomach on the floor or on a fit ball and lift everything off the floor or ball, thinking this will “tone” the back. Which it will, but this does not address sinking rib cage syndrome or posture problems.

If you look at the picture of the toddler below, you’ll see that her whole torso is bright with breath and energy, her armpits are elevated, and her shoulders are not pulled “down away from her ears”. If anything the head of her arm bones and collar bones are elevated.

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And here is the rear view on another little tyke. Notice, no skin folds on his back. The head of his arm bones are square with the base of his neck and from hips to armpits, he has nice length in his side body. His midsection is also full and bright.

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I figure if babies and toddlers hold themselves like this so recently out of the womb, they've got something to teach us! When I used to take my baby sister to the playground, I observed that the children 3 and under had this bright posture. It's universal. But by ages 4 and up, their posture started to look more like the grown ups. Hit the playground and see for yourself!

In contrast to the toddlers, the photo of myself below is what I call “dull-like-an-exhausted-adult”.  You can't see my face, but I'm hamming it up for the camera and exaggerating the undesirable posture in my body for you.

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Notice the head of my arm bones and collar bones drop well below the base of my neck as indicated by the horizontal line and arrows.  My side body (distance between my hips and my armpits) is shortened, and energetically my torso is listing downward with little life or energy in it.

Even without this being a profile shot - you might be able to see that my mid section is collapsed. And not surprisingly, my back skin folds are visible.

It would take just those four little postural changes to even out the folds, open up the breath, protect my back, and make more space for my organs. In this photo you can see the transformation when I do that:

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Here my side body is lengthened from hips to arm pits as indicated by the arrows, my collar bones are square across with the base of my neck (indicated by the horizontal line), the head of my arm bones are back, and my mid section is full, with front ribs down. Energetically the whole torso is lit up. Skin folds? They vanished.

Side benefit! Your rhomboids, the muscles between your shoulder blades and spine (that help hold your shoulder blades flat on your back), get very strong when you do this. They might be fatigued at first and you may feel a bit stiff, however as you hold your posture this way more and more, your rhomboids will get in shape and the road to permanently awesome posture begins.

Especially as we clock more years on this planet, the “dull-like-an-exhausted-adult” is an easy posture to find yourself in, but I submit, if you can find the inner toddler inside you, your (supposed) “back fat” will go buh-bye and your body systems will thank you!

Give it a try and tell me what you think in the comments below!

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Amy's YogaGlo Picks for the Week: Self Love Fest!

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Amy's YogaGlo Picks for the Week: Self Love Fest!

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Now is one the most important times in the year to keep up with your practice, but also one of the most challenging. There was such a great response to my last playlist of YogaGlo classes on Facebook that we’re moving it over to the blog and I’m releasing new, curated collections to help you all stay strong and motivated! The holidays are notorious for robbing us of personal time, overextending ourselves, and then getting stressed and resentful. You’ll have so much more capacity and energy to be on your A game and to be there for others if you stay connected to your self. So, let’s practice!!

We’ll start with this week’s collection: a SELF LOVE FEST! That’s right, this week it’s all about learning to cultivate love for yourself on and off the mat. Love for the beautiful body that moves you through life, for the mind that helps you make decisions and learn new things, and the heart that beams your light out into the world!

Game on for a great week of passionate practice:

Self Love Fest - Vinyasa Flow Level 1-2

You are Irresistible - Vinyasa Flow Level 2

Yes, You Matter! - Hatha Level 2

Appreciation Flow - Vinyasa Flow Level 1-2

Yoga for Bliss - Hatha Level 2-3

Enjoy your time on the mat and tell us how your practice goes in the comments section below!

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Why Nature is Your Best Friend: My Trip to the Gaia Herbs Farm

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Why Nature is Your Best Friend: My Trip to the Gaia Herbs Farm

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Have you been in nature on a piece of land that tugs at that genuine spot inside you, beckoning you again to live according to your deepest truth? Every barefoot step on the earth, every sunrise, and every drop of dew reminds you to “live your dharma” (sacred purpose).

I’ve been lucky in my life to travel to remote and beautiful places in the world and I’ve seen and been inspired by so many settings.

The Gaia Farm was the latest, and it is definitely up there as one of the most physically and spiritually galvanizing places in nature I’ve been.

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Gaia Herbs offers nearly 200 organic herbal supplements and grows a large portion of these plants on the Gaia Farm in Brevard, North Carolina.

It was not too hard to refuse my old friend, Bill Tipper’s invitation to the farm for a photo shoot, since I love Gaia’s supplements, and I love plants.

As soon as I arrived, I was struck by the orderly and pristine nature of the farm as well as the interesting and diverse crops growing such as ginko trees, gotu kola, Asian pears, echinacea, holy basil, lemon balm, bitter melon, and more…

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After three days basking in the farm’s great energy, I returned to Boulder, fired up about my life and living. Here are my biggest takeaways (and some of the photos), which I hope inspire you too!

Living with Consciousness

Gaia is conscious, caring, and precise about sustainability, down to every detail.Every tractor on the farm is operated by bio-diesel from restaurants in Brevard and Asheville.

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  • Every tractor on the farm is operated by bio-diesel from the restaurants in Brevard and Asheville.
  • All of the canisters used for their smoothie boost powders look like plastic, but are actually made out of 100% plant materials. If the bottles ever find their way to the ocean, they will sink to the bottom and dissolve in the salt water.
  • Gaia fertilizes the soil at the farm with compost made from some of the solution used to extract the herbs in the distillery.
  • They are committed to growing organically and maintaining a true seed-to-shelf production which includes generating their own seed stock each season rather than buying seeds from outside the farm.

IMG_0812 Such a practical place to practice yoga. Don't you do yoga on tractors? Easing into baby natarajasana and trying not to giggle!

Be in Nature – The Ultimate Healer

Because of the photo shoot there were a number of opportunities to get close and personal with nature on the farm. Talk about grounded! If you ever get the chance:

  • Lay face down in warm, freshly tilled soil at sunset!
  • Take savasana on some dewy grass at dawn.
  • Walk barefoot in the grass, mud and soil. You can do a pedicure later, it's worth it!
  • Dance and skip wildly through the trees at dusk, preferably with a friend.
  • Sprint barefoot at top speed through newly tilled soil in the morning mist.
  • Take notice of what CEO and founder, Ric Scalzo calls “meetings and awakenings” such as the adorable bumble bee pictured below who we found camped out under an Echinacea bloom.

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IMG_0674 This was my favorite bumble bee on the farm! He was sound asleep at dawn cuddled up under the echinacea petals and sparkling with dew. And this is a twin headed flower! I made Bill take a macro shot so I would always remember him. :)

Break Bread with Great Company, Farm to Table Style

There is something so old-fashioned and wonderful about taking the time to prepare, serve, and relish an exquisite meal with friends. Especially when those friends are uplifting, visionary people capable of meaningful conversation who care about the planet!

FullSizeRender-2(1) Sauteed stinging nettles! So good for skin and for allergies.

It’s rare these days to invest our time in sitting around the table just simply talking to one another. On one of the evenings we had the chance to do this with the Gaia team and it was such a treat.

IMG_1701 Chimichurri made from parsley and gotu kola (good for skin, collagen production, and the brain!).

The meal was crafted and prepared by Ric Scalzo, along with Gaia’s staff writer, Stepfanie Romine.

Made up of produce and medicinal herbs grown on the farm, the menu was designed to emphasize the transition between summer and fall.

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My new favorite word: Biomimicry

Gaia’s team shared that this very cool word which serves as a guide for everything they do at the farm and how they conduct their lives and business.

From the Biomimicry Institute’s website (there is an institute!), biomimicry is defined as,

“An approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature's time-tested patterns and strategies. The goal is to create products, processes, and policies—new ways of living—that are well-adapted to life on earth over the long haul.”

Some examples biomimicry:

  • The Shinkansen Bullet Train in Japan is modeled after a Kingfisher’s beak because of the velocity and speed at which they are able to dive-bomb to catch their prey!
  • Pomelo fruit can hit the ground from heights over 30 feet without getting damaged, thanks to a hierarchically organized peel structure. This inspired the recent development of an aluminum composite material being considered for use in safety applications.
  • Schooling fish save energy by swimming in vortices created by their neighbors. Researchers are using similar principles to find optimal positions for wind turbines.
  • Bird Protection Glass - Ornilux’s window glass prevents bird collisions by mimicking the UV reflective qualities of spiders’ webs.

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In Summary: Get into Nature!

Everyone knows that we all get inspired, healed, and rejuvenated by being closer to nature. However we can get caught up in staying indoors so easily, so here is your official reminder!

  • Make sure you’re scheduling plenty of time in the woods, at the beach, in the ocean, the mountains, the snow, and on the grass.
  • Find ways to increase nature around your home. Do you have a back yard, balcony, or patio that needs some attention and plantings? Could you adopt a potted plant or terrarium? Could you plan for creating veggie garden to grow your own food? Can you commit to regular gardening and if not, hire a gardener to help maintain your garden?
  • Get outside at least twice a day to breathe the fresh air, feel the sun on your skin, and see the birds and insects.

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Do you have a place that inspires you? Tell me about it in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Daily Springtime Smoothie

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My Daily Springtime Smoothie

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If you've ever taken a weekend workshop with me, you've seen me plunk down in front of the classroom with a dark purple, mysterious smoothie in hand. As you can imagine the first thing I get asked is, "What on earth is in that??" I’m here to spread the smoothie love and let you in on the ingredients I use, particularly in the spring time when seasonal greens start coming back.

One of my favorite things to put in smoothies this time of year is dandelion greens. Not only are they are full of nutritional benefits, but they are so huge and beautiful in spring, they are irresistible. I especially love getting them from my local farmers market.

Eating dandelion greens also indirectly supports honey bees because to eat them means that people will have to stop using weed killer on their dandelion flowers, which poisons the bees!

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Some of the many nutritional benefits of dandelion greens:

  • They are detoxifying, cleansing, and purifying
  • High in antioxidants and phytonutrients
  • They contain lutein and zeaxanthin - two nutrients important for healthy eyesight. A daily serving of these daily lowers your risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, according to the American Optometric Association.
  • They contain considerable amounts of vitamins A and K, both of which positively affect your blood – assisting with the formation of blood clots and supporting new blood cell growth. Vitamin A also contributes to healthy eye function and boosts your immune system, while vitamin K helps keep your bones healthy.
  • Incorporating dandelion greens into your diet will also give you an excellent source of vitamin C, as well as a solid dose of calcium and protein, which will positively affect your bones.
  • Dandelion greens also contain many anti-inflammatory properties and much more!

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Now let's put those nutritional benefits to work along with the other super food ingredients!

Here's the Recipe:

2-3 Handfuls of Dandelion Greens 8-12 oz Almond Milk (to desired thickness) 1 Tbsp Goji Berries ½ Cup (or more) Frozen Wild Blueberries 1 Serving of Vega One protein powder - (Any flavor will do - they all are yummy!) 1 tsp Vitamin C (Healthforce Nutritionals) 2 Tbsp Hemp Seeds 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds 1 tsp Nutiva Coconut Manna or Coconut oil ½ Unsweetened Sambazon Acai Smoothie packet Optional – 1/2 Frozen Banana if you prefer a sweeter taste

Throw it all in and blend!

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I hope you enjoy my daily smoothie as much as I do. I would love to hear which nutritionally packed ingredients you like to toss into your smoothies!

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My Secrets for Glowing Skin

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My Secrets for Glowing Skin

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At age 45, I am flattered when people write me or comment about my skin. And I get asked frequently about what I do to take care of my skin and make it glow. So, I’m finally putting it all down in writing for you! Is it vain to care about how your skin looks? Sure it is. But healthy skin also comes from a healthy lifestyle on the inside and a desire for self care as well. Therefore I think there is absolutely no shame in caring about your skin or how it looks.

Getting glowing skin is a combination of external and internal health habits.

Taking care of my skin, or at least "the idea" of it, actually started at a young age, when my mother attempted to impart the virtues of self-skin care to me and my sister. Of course, as with many things our mothers try to teach us, I didn't really "get it" until I was about 30, when it dawned on me that I was getting older.

AmyIppolitiSkin2So I scheduled my first facial at a Jurlique concept store and spa in New York City.

After the facial, I was high for three hours! (Some of you might remember the yoga class I taught right afterwards...)

Something about the nourishment, aromatherapy, and pampering made me feel like I was on a cloud.  It left such an impression that I was ready to do whatever my aesthetician told me to do to get this feeling on a daily basis. I bought the cleanser, the serums, the mists, the moisturizers, the masks, the eye creams - and I haven't looked back since!

Ever since that pivotal moment, skin care has been a major part of my day and a lovely ritual. Long gone are the days of just washing my face with soap, putting on a basic face cream, and walking out the door.

For 15 years I've followed a complete ritual, which can seem (and is!) expensive and time consuming, but it's been an investment in myself that has paid off. When you live in a dry climate with 300 days of sunshine a year like I do, the environment can take a toll on your skin. Despite having lived in Colorado for 10 years, I've been able to protect my skin and keep the glow with a 5-step daily process.

My Daily Skin Care Ritual: For this 5-step ritual, I use all Jurlique products which are 99.9% organic, natural, and chemical free. Jurlique is an Australian company that makes an all natural, organic line of skin care products with biodynamically grown ingredients free from synthetic chemicals, pesticides, herbicides and insecticides.

This line may or may not work for your particular skin, and if it doesn't, I encourage you to find an organic, chemical free line like Dr. Hauschka, Weleda, or Pangea Organics. As long as it resonates with your skin (no rashes, no breakouts or burning!).

  1. Cleanse with a cream or foaming cleanser (not soap!).
  2. Apply a cream exfoliator and rinse. Do this daily if specified for daily use, if not alternate days. Do this step only in the evenings.
  3. Apply a toner mist (blot into skin with fingers).
  4. Apply serum and eye cream.
  5. Apply moisturizer with sunscreen for daytime (reapply mid day especially if you are in intense sun/altitude); apply night cream before bed.

Tip: your skin benefits most when it has direct contact with your products, so be sure to cleanse first!

In addition to the daily regimen...

  • Exfoliate with a Clarisonic 3x per week in place of step 2. If you don't have a Clarisonic, just use the exfoliating cream.
  • Once a week, use a detoxifying, hydrating mask. Weekends are a good time to fit this in.
  • Get a monthly facial if possible (let the professionals do a deep cleanse, massage, and treat your skin; a good aesthetician can also help you find the right products for your skin).
  • Considerations for a dry climate - use a facial steamer 1-3x per week and especially before your weekly mask (I like the Panasonic EH-SA31). Run a humidifier in your bedroom while you sleep.
  • Remember, whatever you're doing to your face, you should also be doing to your neck!
  • For lip care, I find that most chapsticks and lip balms actually dry out my lips. The one natural product I've found that works to moisturize and protect is Alba Unpetroleum Jelly in a tube or their chapsticks, which are fantastic.

AmyIppolitiAssistAlright. Now you know what I do for my skin externally, but skin care is two fold - what you put in your body also makes a huge difference!  Below are some ways I tackle the health of my skin from the inside out.

Internal:

  • Drink tons of water - use a hydration calculator online to find out how much you need.
  • Green juice daily - suggested juicer Omega VRT 350.
  • Omega 3’s critical - I like using a vegan fish oil equivalent by Premier Labs, called DHA.  As I age, this supplement has made all the difference (not just for my skin, but for my hair, nails, and my memory)! When I am not taking it, my skin looks dry and less glowing. I take a high dose, but as always, check with your health care provider as to what amount is right for you.
  • Welcome good fats into your diet such as coconut, coconut oil, avocado, extra virgin olive oil, hemp seed oil, sprouted nuts and seeds, etc.
  • A high fiber diet is key too - chia seeds, greens, and fiber supplements help keep the gut clean and moving, which is great for the skin.
  • Many people also find that dairy products negatively affect their skin, likely due to the difficulty in digesting dairy. I've been dairy free most of my life.

There you have it! What do you do to keep that beautiful glow? Comment below and let's continue to share and spread the skin care love!

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