The Secret to My Skin Care Ritual Revealed

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The Secret to My Skin Care Ritual Revealed

The number one question I get is "WHAT do you do to have such amazing skin?"

You know what it is?

I've just been super consistent with a similar 4-5 step routine morning and night since I was 30 years old using products that are so natural you could eat them.

It all started when I booked my first ever facial at one of the spas where I taught yoga.

Up until that day, I thought of facials only as something older people had done, and didn't see much merit in spending that kind of money on high-end cleansers and moisturizers.

But I was turning 30, and thought maybe it might be time to start caring about my skin, so with an open mind, I gave it a try.

The products my esthetician used were all organic, bio-dynamic, and pretty much edible.

She explained that maintaining healthy skin could be achieved through a five step process:

1. Cleanse with a cream, oil, or facial cleanser (not soap!). I now use Pangea Organics Cleanser and also their Balancing Face Oil to cleanse, as explained in the video.

2. Apply a cream exfoliator and rinse. Do this daily if specified for daily use, if not alternate days. Do this step in the evenings. I now use Pangea Organics Facial Scrub.

3. Apply a toner mist (blot into skin with fingers or a cotton pad - I use reusable pads that I can put through the wash). I now use Pangea Organics Toner.

4. Apply serum and eye cream. I now use Pangea Organics Eye Cream and Balancing Face Oil as a serum.

5. Apply moisturizer or oil with reef safe sunscreen for daytime (reapply mid day especially if you are in intense sun/altitude); apply night cream or oil before bed. I now use Pangea Organics Balancing Face Oil.

After the facial was over I was stoned for about 3 hours! Something about the nourishment, aromatherapy, and pampering made me feel ecstatic.

It left such an impression that I was ready to do whatever my esthetician told me to do to get this feeling on a daily basis.

I invested in the cleanser, the serums, the mists, the moisturizers, the masks, the eye creams - and I haven't looked back since!

In this video I go right to the sink and walk you through these steps, (minus the serum, eye cream and sunscreen).

It may seem cumbersome to hit this many steps along the way, but the results are no joke!

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In addition to the daily routine:

  • Exfoliate with a Clarisonic 3x per week in place of step 2. If you don't have a Clarisonic, use a facial scrub.

  • Once a week, use a detoxifying, hydrating mask after you exfoliate. Weekends are a good time to fit this in. I use Pangea Organics Matcha Face Mask.

  • 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 type).

  • Considerations for a dry climate - 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. There are only two I have found that keep me hydrated: Pangea Organics Lip Balms and Lip Tints and Alba Unpetroleum Jelly in a tube or their chapsticks - both are fantastic.

  • For your body, I highly recommend Pangea Organics Body Polish - I am pretty much obsessed with it!!

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So all of that is what I do for my skin externally, but healthy skin is also about what you put in your body! Below are some ways I tackle the health of my skin from the inside out.

Internal Considerations for the Skin:

Drink tons of water - use a hydration calculator online to find out how much you need.

Take Omega 3’s - 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.

Consume good fats such as coconut, coconut MCT oil, avocado, plenty of extra virgin first cold pressed olive oil, avocado oil, sprouted nuts, etc.

Eat high fiber - greens, resistant pre-biotic starches like green banana, artichoke, sun chokes, tiger nuts, fennel, endive, radicchio, and fiber supplements. These will help keep your beneficial gut bugs well fed and everything moving, which is great for the skin.

Eat foods rich in live probiotics like krauts, fermented foods, and kefir to help populate your gut with the good bugs! I can’t speak more highly of Fermenting Fairy, a company out of LA famous for their one of a kind vegan coconut milk kefir. This stuff has transformed my microbiome this year - I’m over the moon about it. And they ship! Use the code AMY15 for 15% off their delicious foods!

Cut back or eliminate dairy - Many people 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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Organic Matcha Truffle Bombs Recipe

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Organic Matcha Truffle Bombs Recipe

Made with Chasen & Stone organic ceremonial matcha

Like it or not, I am one of those folks who gets hungry in between meals and prefers the grazing life vs. having three meals a day.

So when I get a craving, I look for something small but substantial.

I got creative in the kitchen and made these little flavor packed matcha bombs with my favorite organic ceremonial matcha from Chasen + Stone.

They are kind of like green tea white chocolate truffles and make a perfect little dessert too!

Their high fat content (good fats!) makes them a great choice for a snack that will hold you over till the next meal.

The best part is that you can decide how sweet you want them to be but they will still taste good even with very little sweetener added because of the naturally sweet spices of clove and cinnamon in the recipe.

Clove is also a great for its anti-microbial properties.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil - melted

  • 1/4 cup coconut manna - melted

  • 1/3 cup Sunbutter (sunflower seed butter)

  • 1/2 cup cashew butter

  • 1/3 cup pecans

  • Pinch of sea salt

  • 1 tsp matcha (I used Chasen + Stone organic ceremonial)

  • Sweetener of choice to taste (I used coconut sugar)

  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon - option to add more to taste

  • 1/4 tsp clove - option to add more to taste

Yields: roughly 45 bombs depending on the size of your molds

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Instructions:

  1. Heat coconut oil, coconut mana, and sea salt in a pot and stir on low heat until liquified and salt is dissolved, remove from heat.

  2. Add coconut oil, coconut manna, and salt mixture to bowl with nut butters, cinnamon, clove, matcha, and sweetener.

  3. Stir until no clumps remain.

  4. Add pecans and stir again.

  5. Transfer mixture to a measuring cup and portion into molds, being mindful to stir the mixture every now and then between pours so ingredients don’t all settle at the bottom for the final molds!

  6. Put molds in freezer for 15-30 minutes until solid.

  7. Remove from freezer, pop out molds, and put in a sealed container.

  8. Store in the freezer or fridge.

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I Banned Headstand for Life...Until I Didn't

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I Banned Headstand for Life...Until I Didn't

Standing on my head?

Yeah - I hung out far more on my head than on my feet as a child.

Yoga only normalized my obsession with being upside down on my noggin! I mean, salamba sirsasana is known as the King of Yoga Poses because of its exhaustive list of health benefits.

I spent most of my early years on the yoga mat on my head - ten minute timings, headstand drop overs, endless tick-tocks, surfing gravity from headstand to various arm balances, and of course mandalasana, where you walk (or jog!) around your head in both directions.

About 7 or 8 years ago I started cycling more frequently, and developed some neck issues which I cleared up by refitting my bike. In that process I had gotten an x-ray to make sure everything was okay.

The x-ray revealed degenerative discs in C5 and C6. I was devastated.

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When I saw the diminished size of my discs, all I could think of was the compression I might have caused by standing on my head all those years. I surmised that the "head forward" posture I'd adopted from using a smart phone and computer could not have helped either.

Right then and there I made a decision to stop standing on my head forever and dropped the pose from my practice.

In yoga trainings, I would still teach headstand, but gave all sorts of disclaimers about how the game had changed in the modern world and now you need to be extra cautious with how technology has impacted our cervical spines. I told them about my discs. I gave everyone ample encouragement not to practice the pose.

But then in January of 2017, all of that changed with a phone call from Glo.

Glo had been getting a lot of requests from members asking for classes on headstand. Since I was such a stickler for alignment they thought I'd be the perfect teacher to create a headstand program and would I do it?

Of course I was like, "Nope. Thanks for the invitation, but I don't do headstands. I wouldn't be able to demonstrate."

Glo prodded a little - was there any way I'd reconsider? Would it be in the realm of possibility for me to try headstand again?

After 7 years of not doing it, I thought to myself. "No way."

But then it all came flashing back to me -- I had made that decision on my own with no professional input.

Had I made up a story about my neck? Maybe I should go see one of Boulder's top physical therapists and revisit the topic?

I told Glo I would think about it and get back to them and promptly made an appointment.

At the appointment, I told my PT about my C5 and C6, explained my decision from 7 years earlier, and my current dilemma.

The first question he asked was, "when you got the x-ray, did you have any pain or problems in headstand?"

"No," I replied, feeling a little silly.

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He then went on to tell me about a muscle called the longus colli that sits on the anterior surface of the vertebral column, between the atlas and the third thoracic vertebra. He said that when we stand on our heads, that muscle switches on and actually stabilizes your C5 and C6.

"Oh, wow," I said, feeling increasingly even sillier, since that is exactly what my C5 and C6 had needed my whole life!

I immediately knew I had indeed made up a story, created a belief based on my x-ray, and that trying to stand on my head again was probably a good idea.

We agreed he'd do some body work on my neck and shoulders and then we could give headstand a try in the exercise room if I felt comfortable.

Sure enough I stood on my head while he observed my neck with a watchful eye. As soon as I was up, he said "your neck looks perfect, just pull your throat back a little".

I felt fine. And when I came down, I still felt fine.

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For a week or so I kept practicing headstand until I got the confidence to tell Glo yes, I will do it. And the rest is history!

Not only did I film the program, but I have been practicing headstand and many variations of headstand ever since and my neck has never felt better.

And so I am thrilled to share with you my latest program on Glo, Highway to Headstand - I hope you enjoy it and it gives you the courage to try this inversion!

Perhaps it might also inspire you to let go of any stories you've told yourself about what is possible...

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Recipe: Black Elderberry Sorbet

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Recipe: Black Elderberry Sorbet

Let’s face it, it may be June, but cold season isn’t over! If you’re feeling a spring cold coming on or want to fight the crud going around, I’ve got the perfect refreshing treat to boost your system!

For centuries Black Elderberries have been recognized for supporting the immune system. What I love about Black Elderberry Syrup from Gaia Herbs is that it’s made with organic whole food ingredients and contains organic Acerola Cherry fruit extract, a delicious and rich source of naturally occurring Vitamin C!

Join me in the kitchen this week for a delicious, organic, whole food treat everyone will enjoy during this season!

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Ingredients

Yields: 4 servings

  • 1 /4 bottle Gaia Herbs Elderberry Syrup

  • 1.5 Cups Frozen Strawberries

  • 1.5 Cups Ice

  • Fruit Garnish (I used organic blackberries)

  • Water (as needed for blending)

  • Optional: 1T of honey to sweeten

Steps:

  1. In a blender add the Gaia Herbs elderberry syrup, frozen strawberries, and ice.

  2. Blend until all frozen pieces are gone, adding water as necessary.

  3. Careful not to overblend, you're looking for the consistency of sorbet!

  4. Divide into cups, add your fruit garnish, and enjoy!

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Restorative Yoga: The Remedy for A Non-Stop World

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Restorative Yoga: The Remedy for A Non-Stop World

In this day and age, most of us have grown unaccustomed to tranquility and have trouble being still. This is particularly true if you were born after 1980, since you would have spent more of your formative years exposed to the Internet. 

Many of us have become so busy that we barely talk on the phone anymore. We are in constant multi-task mode—eating lunch while scrolling through our phones, listening to podcasts while taking a shower, or texting while walking across the street.

Things have become so fast-paced that we may actually confuse busyness with meaning!

In contrast to our current information age, humans dwelled for centuries in quietude, sowing the fields, walking through the forests, working with their hands. In fact, in many rural areas of the world, this slower pace of life is still quite common.

The aim of Restorative yoga is to cultivate the silence and stillness we’ve been missing and to make choices in our life that bring us greater ease. In fact, much of the work of Restorative yoga is less about trying to find ease and more about putting an end to the habits that hinder ease in our lives. 

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Restorative yoga is largely based on the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar and was innovated upon and popularized internationally over the past three decades by his disciple Judith Hanson Lasater, PhD.

Judith defines Restorative yoga as “the use of props to support the body in positions of ease and comfort to facilitate relaxation and health.” 

I’ve been fortunate to study with Judith over the years and glean the healing benefits of her teaching. Restorative yoga has been a huge support to my immune system, sleep, skin, overall stress levels, and yes, my asana practice! It has also been a total blessing to share this knowledge with my students and witness how their lives have been enhanced by rest.

COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT RESTORATIVE YOGA

Restorative yoga is often characterized as a complement to an active asana practice or mistaken as Yin yoga. Although complementary to an active lifestyle, Restorative yoga is a practice in its own right and is suitable for people of any age, at any level of yoga, and in all states of health.

Misconception: Restorative yoga is the same as Yin Yoga.

Truth: Yin Yoga focuses on gently stretching connective tissues, while Restorative yoga uses props to open the body.

Misconception: Restorative yoga is stretching.

Truth: Although the body benefits from a gentle lengthening in restorative postures, Restorative yoga is about opening the body.

Misconception: Restorative yoga is a chance to catch up on sleep.

Truth: Restorative yoga focuses on the rest and relaxation of the body, which is a different physiological state than sleep.

Misconception: Restorative Yoga is the same as Therapeutic Yoga.

Truth: Restorative yoga can be very therapeutic, however it is more oriented around rest and relaxation than specifically healing injury

Misconception: Restorative yoga is for people who can’t do yoga.

Truth: Restorative yoga is for everybody.

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Now you can study Restorative yoga with me on GLO in my latest program! It's called The Ultimate Restorative and offers a full immersion into the deep relaxation that’s possible with the right combination of props.

I'm sharing the key principles of Restorative yoga plus the precise positioning that will give your body the ultimate support. The best part? You’ll get a rare opportunity to rest during your waking hours, elevating your mood and mitigating the effects of stress on your mind, body, and spirit.

WHO IS THIS PROGRAM FOR

  1. Advanced yogis or teachers looking for fundamental poses and set ups of restorative poses

  2. Anyone looking for the ultimate relaxation and replenishment!

  3. Anyone who loves the use of props and wants to know how to add more of them to their practice

  4. Anyone who is in need of support or stability during a stressful time of their life

  5. Teachers looking to add more restorative to their repertoire

Grab your props and I’ll see you on the mat!


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Love Up Your Pearly Whites: Oil Pulling Tooth Butter Cups

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Love Up Your Pearly Whites: Oil Pulling Tooth Butter Cups

Oil pulling.

I know. It’s so trendy.

And surely you have more important things to do than swishing coconut oil in your mouth in the morning.

You know. Like making a living or changing the world, but hear me out.

Self care. It’s vital.

You’ve probably heard about the importance of a healthy microbiome and how eating certain probiotic foods can populate your gut with beneficial microbes.

The maintenance of an ecologically diverse microbiome makes way for a powerful immune system, radical health, and you guessed it — it’s also the key to oral health.

The mouth is a microbial menagerie and like your gut, it has good microbes and bad microbes. Ideally we keep the good guys, and squash the bad guys.

Oil pulling, also known as "kavala" or "gundusha," is an Ayurvedic oral hygiene technique where you swish a tablespoon of coconut or sesame oil in your mouth on an empty stomach for around 20 minutes.

The oil supposedly pulls out toxins, but what is more interesting to me is what you can add to the oil to help build up healthy, bustling bacteria and promote diverse flora in the mouth.

The aromatic compounds of essential oils such as peppermint, frankincense, cinnamon, clove, tea tree, myrrh and, more can act as microbiome regenerators with antiseptic properties.

You can also add probiotics for a similar effect, baking soda for alkalizing the mouth, and activated charcoal - effective in absorbing plaque and other compounds that stain teeth.

After dorking out on all this information, I got inspired and put together a recipe for convenient coconut “tooth butter cups” you can store in your fridge and pop in your mouth first thing for oral swishing.

They are jam packed with a variety of essential oils, baking soda, and activated charcoal - all the toothy goodness!

I made them before bed and was so excited to wake up and use them for the first time that I woke up a whole 90 minutes earlier than usual before the sun. And I was not disappointed…

My mouth has never felt so fresh, clean, or alive!

Here is the recipe:

Probiotic Coconut Oil Charcoal Tooth Butter Cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 silicone candy mold (15 molds)

  • 60ml coconut, MCT, or sesame oil, liquified.

  • 1 capsule probiotics

  • 1 tablespoon baking soda

  • 2 capsules activated charcoal (vegan - from coconut shells)

  • 15 drops of each essential oil:
    Peppermint
    Cinnamon
    Clove
    Tea tree
    Myrrh
    Frankincense

Go heavier on peppermint and cinnamon for flavor ;)


Instructions:

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and then pour even amounts into the candy mold.

  2. Place in the fridge or freezer to solidify.

  3. When solid, pop the butter cups into a glass jar and store in the fridge for your next oil pulling moment.

Makes 15 butter cups.

To oil pull safely: Place butter cup in mouth and let it dissolve into liquid, combining with your saliva. Swish the liquid around in your mouth for 20 minutes. Do not swallow. After 20 minutes, spit the oil into your trash can or outdoors rather than down the sink where it can harden again and mess with your plumbing!

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Lift Your Practice: Yoga With Resistance

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Lift Your Practice: Yoga With Resistance


You may not know this about me but for the last 10 years I’ve been incorporating resistance training into my movement routine.

Not only has strength training been a game changer for my body, it has has been a huge asset to my yoga practice.

At first it helped me clear a shoulder injury and stretch my hamstrings with more ease.

Now, the upper back work I’ve been doing at the gym is helping me hold chatturanga forever - it’s not tiring at all! It never felt like that, even in my 20s.

I used to think that yoga was all I needed to have a fit, strong, and flexible body. In fact many of my peers and teachers promoted yoga as "the be-all, end-all" for exercise.

It’s easy to believe that yoga will do everything for your body when you are young, a time when maintaining muscle mass and flexible joints is naturally a lot easier. But get to age 40, and it’s a different story.

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Some said doing things like lifting weights was “unyogic”. I think this view is a little short sighted -- after all, good yoga helps us discern what is best for our bodies! And what is best for our bodies is best for a sustainable yoga practice.

We all experience resistance every day, and we can either use it to shy away from life, or lean into it to help us become stronger and more capable.

This month, I am super excited to share some of the movement work I've been doing as part of my overall well-being in my newest program on Glo: Lift Your Practice: Yoga with Resistance! 

Full disclosure: When Glo asked me to do a program like this, at first I was hesitant. I definitely didn't want it to teach a "Yoga-Sculpt" combo type of thing (no offense to yoga sculptors - I just like keeping my art forms separate!).

But then I realized -- when I go to the gym for my workouts I always interject yoga poses and stretches in between sets and reps!  So I decided, why not just share what I do??

In this program I give you a window into how I alternate resistance work with yoga flow in order to boost physical strength and enhance the efficiency and longevity of a yoga practice.

All you need is a set of light weights, a resistance band and a sticky mat, and you're ready to go!

A THANK YOU…to my trainer of ten years, Jason Busch of Body Balance Fitness in Boulder, CO for so much of the inspiration behind this program!

Leave a comment below if you have had success with adding resistance training to your movement repertoire and tell us what it did for you!

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What Kind of Yoga is This?

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What Kind of Yoga is This?

"Oh, you're a yoga teacher. What kind of yoga do you teach?"

I get asked that a lot.

My yoga doesn't really have a name, nor is it any one thing -- it's hard to put into words something that is more than just physical.

To give the short answer I usually say that I teach an "alignment based flow".

But if they really wanted to sit and chat for a while, I'd tell them more:

At 90 Monkeys, our school, we teach a yoga that embraces three values:

• Longevity & Alignment

• Integrity in Community

• Life Affirming Philosophy

Our yoga focuses on good form to support longevity and sustainability in the body over time. Through intelligent alignment principles, sound biomechanics, and a workable understanding of anatomy, it offers a deep, efficacious practice to enhance the physical aspects of embodiment.

We value the power of community - one that is inclusive, honest, warm, and kind. We cherish collective support and seek to live with accountability for our energy and actions. We strive to be responsible for the earth and it's inhabitants and as such, value coming together in person (not just online!).

We start all endeavors saying yes to life -- receiving what the world presents us. We wish for humanity to love their life and appreciate the miracle of being alive. We enjoy having fun, value lineage, and believe living a conscious and skillful life is the secret to deep fulfillment.


This January we will be immersing into the worlds of this yoga path in our first ever - weekend format - 200 Hour Teacher Training in Boulder, CO.
Learn more and join us!

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Yoga Goals: Reinvent Your Wheel Pose

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Yoga Goals: Reinvent Your Wheel Pose

YOGA GOALS: REINVENT YOUR WHEEL

When I was a girl I spent a lot of time upside down in wheel pose. It was natural, painless, and took no effort.

In practice as an adult, we would do relays, racing each other through the studio — and we had conversations while doing timed one-minute holds!

Being able to get into wheel pose became a key to my well being emotionally as well as physically. It just puts me in a more uplifted mood. And lord knows we need a little reprise and sunshine right now.

But then, after spending two years working with a shoulder impingement (not from yoga) I had to lay off my wheel obsession for a while and abstain.

When my shoulder finally got better, my wheels felt totally horrendous! My body was so tight, I could not even talk while holding the pose and couldn’t wait to come down.

The good news? The extreme tightness definitely gave me insight into what it might feel like for those who have always had a hard time with wheel for whatever reason. We all have our assets, and back bending may not be one of yours - you’re still a good person!

Feeling this tight in wheel for me was unusual, but it got me thinking — through my own struggles in getting back to a comfortable wheel — about how I could open my body back up gradually so it could get closer to that pose.

And so I’ve been teaching a practice specifically designed to work toward wheel pose, opening the chest, the triceps, and the fronts of the hips along the way.

My goal for all yoga enthusiasts is to be able to do wheel pose…and still be able to talk.

Why is this important? Why set it as a goal?

Wheel is one of yoga's quintessential back bends. It provides a gateway to other advanced back bends, but more importantly, even if you never get there, the prep work has amazing benefits on its own!

Whether you take this pose to its full expression, or continue to build a solid foundation, you will stand a little taller, feel a little freer, and move about the world with a more open heart.

More Benefits of Wheel Pose:

  • Better posture

  • Longevity in your spine

  • Spinal health

  • Uplifted mood

  • Generous heart

Preparation to Work Toward Wheel
Here are just a few of the kind of stretches and poses you’ll want to focus on in your practice to get closer to wheel pose.

Stretch the Triceps

You can incorporate a tricep stretch in a standing pose like Warrior 2.

You can incorporate a tricep stretch in a standing pose like Warrior 2.

Open the Chest

Cobra with your hands elevated on blocks is takes part of the weight off your arms so your shoulders and chest can open more easily.

Cobra with your hands elevated on blocks is takes part of the weight off your arms so your shoulders and chest can open more easily.

Open the Hip Flexors

Poses that open the quads and hip flexors should be practiced almost daily if you want to have a wheel pose that doesn’t feel gripped with tightness!

Poses that open the quads and hip flexors should be practiced almost daily if you want to have a wheel pose that doesn’t feel gripped with tightness!

If you’re curious about pursuing wheel pose and the poses that will open your body up in the process, you might be interested in my program on Glo.com: Reinvent Your Wheel!

This is a workshop-style program and will help you gradually work towards full wheel, using complimentary poses, props and modifications along the way. There are just three thirty minute classes that progress in level from 1/2 to 2 and you can choose to move forward at your own pace, repeating any of the practices as needed.

Overall I hope that you’re feeling more positive about working toward wheel pose! Leave a comment with your progress!.

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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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5 Surprising Things You Can Do to Instantly be a Better Yoga Teacher

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5 Surprising Things You Can Do to Instantly be a Better Yoga Teacher

Seven years ago, if I asked the average yoga student whether they were interested in supplementing their local yoga classes with a yearly yoga retreat abroad, a big yoga conference, or a summer festival, the answer would have been a resounding “HELL, YEAH!”

Fast forward to 2018, and I’m certain that if I asked that same question to an average yoga student, I’d get a puzzled look, followed by a “No, probably not. If I taught yoga, maybe I would?”

Increasingly it seems that yoga events like weekend workshops, retreats, festivals, and conferences, which offer more in-depth opportunities to study and practice than ongoing classes, are much more highly attended by yoga teachers than yoga students.

Have you noticed this trend too?

As someone who loved attending workshops before I became a teacher, and who has witnessed non-teaching students radically change their lives after being on retreat or attending a conference, it saddens me that such a large percentage of our yoga students are not attending supplemental yoga events.

And it begs the question: why?

Let me be frank with my theory on this:

  • Only a small minority of yoga teachers convey to their students that yoga is a practice rather than an activity.
  • The majority are not doing this. A lot of well-meaning teachers are leading exercise classes with occasional sprinkles of feel-good, self-help sound bites, not yoga. (Before you jump on me and say that "yoga is anything you make it", please keep reading...)
  • The majority of yoga teachers are not teaching their students how to embody their practice on the mat in their day-to-day lives.

I know I’m generalizing, but if this is the majority, would a student value traveling abroad to deepen their practice by doing five hours of yoga a day? Would they schlep to a ski resort in order to learn from senior teachers and keep company with other students on the spiritual path?

Probably not.

Yoga teachers, on the other hand, value supplemental yoga because their teacher trainers have taught them that yoga is more than just sweating and stretching.

Yoga teachers also know how different and incredible it is to practice yoga for more than 60 minutes - sometimes up to 3 hours on the mat.

So, how is this message not getting to our students? And why are we depriving them of this experience?

Let me be frank again.

I think it has a lot to do with the messaging propagated by well-intentioned yoga teachers on social media.

There are far too many posting things along the lines of “Yoga is anything you want it to be.” or “Yoga is what you make it".

So. much. NO.

Yoga has a history, a timeline, a lineage, and yoga is connected to a vast body of knowledge. It's way more than 'what you make it'. It's grounded and rooted in something much larger.

That doesn't mean we can't live our own version of yoga, but my hope is that we honor yoga's roots, study hard, and get time with its elders whenever we can.

And while 60 minutes is enough time to drop the occasional yoga bomb here or there (and please do!), it is not long enough to impart the depth and breadth of yoga.  

So if you teach yoga, please step up and start telling people what yoga is. It’s your dharma (duty)!
 

Here are 4 Things You Can Do to Instantly Be a Better Yoga Teacher:

  1. Define yoga and share the definition at the beginning of class. Refer to the definition throughout the class. A simple way to define yoga to your students is to translate the word yoga which comes from the root “yuj” - to connect, to unite, to bring together. Then, having contemplated the definition, share what that means to you personally. Does it mean being more conscious and aware of our interconnection with nature and other beings? Does it mean being more responsible or present in our relationships? How does the practice on the mat relate to that? Can you make a link between how we place our feet on the mat to the sensitivity we bring to our relationships with loved ones?
     
  2. Share the yoga teachings! Give your classes themes. Tell your yoga students about the Yamas and Niyamas. Describe the five elements and how they are part of the microcosm of the body as a reflection of the macrocosm (Dude, whoa). Break down a sutra from Patanjali. Talk about “beginner's mind.” Om with them. Translate a mantra and chant it. Discuss what it means to be present or aware. Articulate how stunning and beautiful it is that we exist (I mean, consider the breath!). Get them thinking about how we are part of something as vast as this universe - and because we know this, now we get to choose what we're going to do about that! How do we want to live a life of meaning?
  3. Teach them how to be a great yoga student - Help them cultivate curiosity and a sense of wonder. Encourage them to ask questions. Pause every now and then to help them pay attention to how their body feels right after a pose. Ask them to feel. Make it safe for them to challenge you so they learn it’s OK to think for themselves. Ask them how they feel so they will be seen and heard, and then do the same for others! When they come with questions, be there for them 100% so they are rewarded for their curiosity.

  4. Show them how to take their yoga off the mat - Invite them to bring what they are learning about themselves on the mat as a training camp for the real world! Invite them into a self-reflective process. Who are they when faced with challenging poses, or when they fall out of an arm balance? Do they laugh at themselves or engage in negative self-talk when they stumble? Does resistance arise for them with certain poses? When they have a breakthrough moment, are they ready to channel that success into their lives? Chances are the way they are on the mat is how they might be off the mat - do they want to work on that?

It's our responsibility as yoga teachers to convey that yoga is more than just a physical activity and that it’s more than just “what you make it”. Yoga is an embodiment of what we do on the mat, brought into a life of meaning, service, and skillful offering.

Teach this and change the world.

 

 

 

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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 Unexpected Life Hack to Help You Excel in The New Year

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The Unexpected Life Hack to Help You Excel in The New Year

We live in a world that’s addicted to quick solutions, easy fixes, and anything brand new.

We want to hear the most recent podcast, to have the newest iPhone, and we can “Google that s**t” to get instant answers.

In a culture of instant gratification, it’s become increasingly difficult to remember that we’re part of a world that is made up of repetition of the ‘same old - same old’. We forget that nature itself repeats itself - it’s recursive:

The sun comes up every day and then sets.

The moon cycles monthly.

The deer in my backyard mate every November and give birth the next June.

Every 365 days we celebrate the holidays and then find ourselves on January 1st planning our next year.

Here we are, welcoming another year of life, and honestly it feels new, but it also feels the same - an annual repetition.

Does that seem like a let down? Well, it could feel like a let down if, like most of us, you’re addicted to the Smart phone, your feed, or how many likes you got on your Instagram post.

So here’s the life hack.

Recognize that everything repeats itself and start getting back to craving repetition and baby steps like a child.

Remember when you were a kid (or if you have kids now you’ll totally get this) and you asked your parents to read the same bedtime story book to you every single night? You didn’t care if you heard it over and over again! And god forbid they skipped a page, you noticed and called them out on it!

I think I’ve seen The Little Mermaid and the Lion King about 50 times because my little sister wanted to watch it every single day when I was her caretaker.

Kids crave repetition. And they need it to learn and become masterful at life

When you read a book a for the second time, you are a different person than you were the first time around. That's what makes repetition interesting and not boring - it’s who you’ve become in between!

For example, it would be ridiculous to do one yoga class and then say, “Yep, I’ve mastered yoga -  been there, done that!”.  

Practice is practice - it’s not about completion and accomplishment, it’s about process and self discovery through, you guessed it, repetition.

If you’ve got a big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG) to grow bigger this 2018, it’s important to let go of the idea that you can reach that goal quickly without serious commitment, repetition, perseverance, study, and practice.

Any BHAG I've ever reached or art form I've mastered has come about from the repetition of baby steps and chunked down daily actions.

My 500 Hour level yoga teacher training students often share that they want me to give them more new material in my trainings. While I certainly strive to share new information that they’ve never heard before, I remind them about the importance of repetition too.

To become a great yoga teacher and yogi, you have to ‘lather, rinse, and repeat’ in multiple scenarios across a timeline of study until things are so familiar they become part of you. It’s why we encourage our students to repeat the same module topics multiple times if they want to!

Once you come to terms with the fact that mastery requires repetition, you will be aligned with the recursive nature of the Universe and mastery of your goals will be right around the corner.

Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

Happy New Year, everyone!

If this resonates, leave a comment telling us about something you got really good at through repetition!

 

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Turmeric Spiced Tahini Sauce

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Turmeric Spiced Tahini Sauce

It's an honor to have Stepfanie Romine, co-author of The No Meat Athlete Cookbook (and one of the most fun and innovative plant based chefs ever) in my kitchen again. She shared this turmeric spiced tahini sauce recipe, which made the whole kitchen smell like chai and definitely got us all salivating!

We used the sauce as a winter dressing on a bed of spinach and roasted sweet potatoes, but the sauce itself if very versatile - the subtle spiciness is a match for any roasted root veggies, garam masala (this is now a must-have spice in my collection!) and simple cooked grains or beans. The chai flavor of Gaia Herb's TurmericBoost pairs well with creamy tahini and tart lemon juice. Tahini is also a great source of protein, calcium, and minerals.

TurmericSpicedTahiniSauceIngredients.jpg
TahiniSauceIngredients.jpg

Ingredients
1 teaspoon Gaia Herbs TurmericBoost Restore
¼ cup tahini
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric for color (optional)
½ cup water, divided
Fresh mint or basil, chopped (optional)

RoastedSweetPotatoes.jpg

Instructions - and watch VIDEO below!
Whisk together the TurmericBoost, tahini, lemon juice, salt and turmeric in a small bowl. The tahini will thicken. Add the water one tablespoon at a time, until mixture reaches the desired consistency. Sauce will thicken upon standing and after being refrigerated. Thin with more water as needed. Refrigerate for up to four days.

Serving Ideas:
Serve over salads or garam masala roasted sweet potatoes. This sauce is also delicious on garlicky sautéed kale and in quinoa bowls.

Serves 2-4.

TurmericSpicedTahiniDressing.jpg

Props
Small bowl
Whisk/fork
Measuring cups/spoons
Knife
Bowl/plate for veggies or quinoa
Cruet/tiny pitcher for serving dressing

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Nature is Abundant, If You Let Her Be

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Nature is Abundant, If You Let Her Be

There are a few places on earth that are teeming with such abundant life that it overwhelms and astonishes. It's been a long time since I experienced that level of ample life energy. My visit to the Galápagos Islands years ago comes to mind.
 
And then, while I was on break leading teacher training on the Sunshine Coast of Australia, we travelled to Lady Elliot Island in the Great Barrier Reef, and my faith in copious wildlife was restored.
 
In 2016, as a result of rising water temperatures due to climate change, the Great Barrier Reef suffered mass bleaching of coral, and tragically, it is said that two thirds of this extraordinary wonder of the world is now dead. Lady Elliot Island is in the southern part of the reef where water temperatures have not risen quite as high, so we felt extremely lucky to have had the chance to spend time observing the living coral and natural diversity still thriving there.
 
It was nesting season on the island, and every bit of greenery was covered in thousands of busy nesting marine birds like Noddy Terns, Bridled Terns, and Red-Tailed Tropic Birds sitting on their eggs. The island was aflutter with bird calls, swooping wings of nest material being transported through the air, and bird poop...a lot of bird poop!
 
All we had to do was look out our bathroom to see a Noddy Tern on her nest, just 6 inches from our window! They were quite literally everywhere.
 
There was no signal on the island so our iPhones were used solely as cameras to document the wildlife and natural wonder. I couldn’t be happier ditching emails and Instagram for the chance to spend all day watching the birds building their nests and tending to their eggs, spying on the chicks who’d hatched, and walking the island’s shoreline looking at shells and nesting sea turtle tracks. In between we'd jump in the water 3-4 times a day to snorkel in the stunning coral gardens, teeming with every kind of fish, black tipped reef sharks, giant groupers, and mulitple sea turtles every session. On our boat ride, we saw two different stacks of mating sea turtles in less than 15 minutes on the water.

Taro Smith, ever ready with his underwater camera rig, snapped these shots of me in the reef.

Flying with TurtlesLadyElliotAmyIppoliti.jpg
Reef DancerAmyIppoliti.jpg
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The living coral that remains in the Great Barrier Reef is definitely worth fighting for. I feel more called than ever to make the case that we all can do better when it comes to cooling off our planet.
 
The Earth’s atmosphere is really such a thin layer, and human generated greenhouse gases are easily trapped, which warms the planet to dangerous levels. We can do so much to stop producing Co2. Below are some immediate actions you can take!

Please leave more ideas on how we can contribute to global cooling in the comments below so our community can learn from each other!

LadyElliotIslandNoddyTern2
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Use Your Bike, Public Transport, or Carpool
Instead of your using your car to get around town or commute to work/school, invest in a bicycle, helmet, and a lock and avoid gas emissions. Use the public transportation system in your city and arrange to carpool to work and events rather than bringing your own car.


Unplug Your Gadgets
Are you someone who always leaves your phone charger dangling from the wall? Do you leave your cable box powered on? Or forget to put your computer on sleep mode? Adopting these practices can save you $100 each year on your energy bill and significantly reduce emissions!


Change Your Light Bulbs
Switch all of the lights in your house to compact fluorescent bulbs. One bulb can reduce up to 1,300 pounds of carbon dioxide pollution during its lifetime. If every house in the U.S. made this switch we could reduce the electricity spent on lighting by 50%.


Filter Your Own Water
Packaged plastic bottled water is decimating the planet, particularly the oceans and marine life. Beyond the environmental tragedy of the plastic waste, consider just how far your water was transported before you bought it which burns countless fossil fuels.


Adjust Your Curtains and Thermostat
If you keep your house two degrees warmer in the summer and two degrees cooler in the winter you can save a ton on your energy bills. Always use a programmable thermostat so you’re system is never left on too high or too cold but cycles back to a conservative temperature. Be mindful to keep your curtains open during the day in the winter to let in sunlight, and close them at night to hold in warmth. During the summer, close the curtains during the day to keep out extra sunlight and open them at night to moderate the temperature, or even open them to let in a cool breeze.


Buy Local, Organic Food
Food is transported 1,500 miles on average between the farm and the supermarket and organically grown produce helps make our soil healthy. Healthy soil has been shown to actually sequester carbon. Yes, organic food is more costly, but if enough of us purchase it the prices will come down. Consider eliminating other purchasing habits such as take-out coffee or paper towels, to make room in your budget to support organic farms.


Plant a Tree
One of the most efficient ways you can cut your carbon footprint is to plant a tree. Trees provide shade and oxygen while consuming carbon dioxide. A single young tree absorbs 13 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. That amount will increase to 48 pounds annually as trees grow. Just one 10-year-old tree releases enough oxygen into the air to support two human beings. Better yet, plant a fruit tree to help provide organic food for you and your family.


Cut the Beef and Dairy
It takes a lot of resources to raise cows, particularly if you buy beef from somewhere like Brazil, where it was grazed on land that used to be tropical forest. Deforestation and the methane produced by farm animals is a top contributor to carbon emissions and climate change.

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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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DIY Maca Superfood Chocolate Cups!

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DIY Maca Superfood Chocolate Cups!

Last month I posted a Superfruit Fizz recipe that I concocted in my kitchen with the help of the women of Gaia Herbs. Now we are back at it for round two with Stepfanie Romine, recent co-author of The No Meat Athlete Cookbook and is one of the most fun and innovative vegan chefs I've met!

This time we made….CHOCOLATE!

Specifically, maca superfood chocolate cups. These mildly sweet bites are packed with healthy fats to satisfy your appetite as well as your sweet tooth. Maca lends a boost of energy for the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.

After making these with Stepfanie, I have made them a number of times for friends and students, and they have been a massive hit!

Part of what makes these so excellent is not just how they taste, but how totally easy they are to make.

Here’s the recipe and instructions:

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup creamy, unsalted nut butter
  • 1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 2-3 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup, plus more if desired (optional, or another sweetener)
  • 3 tablespoons Gaia Herbs MacaBoost Cacao-Ginger or Gaia Herbs Organic Maca Powder

Garnishes: Goji berries, hemp seeds, chopped nuts, chopped dried fruit, cinnamon, cayenne, flaky sea salt, puffed quinoa

Directions - And see VIDEO below:

  1. Use a fork or a whisk to combine the nut butter and coconut oil in a small bowl.
  2. Once combined, whisk in the cocoa powder, maple syrup and MacaBoost or Maca Powder.
  3. Place a silicone candy mold on a tray or baking sheet, or line a small, shallow dish with parchment paper.
  4. Carefully pour the mixture into the molds, leaving a bit of room at the top, or pour into the prepared dish. Garnish as desired.
  5. Freeze or refrigerate until firm, then pop out of the candy molds or slice into at least nine pieces.
  6. Store in the freezer or refrigerator for up to one month in a sealed container.

These can be eaten immediately out of the fridge or freezer. Due to the coconut oil, which melts at room temperature, these melt slightly when left out.

Serves 9-12.

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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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