How To Be Happy, When The News Is Not

We woke to the news of another senseless mass shooting today. And not just a shooting, but the deadliest shooting in US history. Horrific, unthinkable, unjustifiable tragedy.

From shootings, to hurricanes, to inflammatory politics, we can’t escape negativity these days, and it’s taking a toll on our collective psyche. So many people are hurting, and it’s hard to know how to begin to help. It’s also hard to turn our attention away from the bad news.

Some people can acknowledge and process these tragedies in a healthy manner, but for others this negative cycle can have a significant impact, making us feel stuck, depressed, and hopeless. If the news of the day is overwhelming you, here’s how to break the negativity cycle:

  • Mind your mind. The human mind is like a monkey–always busy, and looking for ways to get us in trouble, rarely focused on the task at hand. Notice how often your thoughts shift to the past or present, and think more about what is happening in the moment, than anything else. Remember that the present is the only thing you can control. When the mind wanders, think “be here now.”
  • Sort your thoughts. Just like you sort laundry, (whites with whites, and colors with colors), you can also sort your thoughts. Which are helping you? Which are not? Make the line between the two more obvious. Notice that all thoughts are either painful (and disempowering), or painless (and empowering). Work on fueling the empowering thoughts, and pushing aside anything that might disempower you.
  • Recognize repetitive patterns, and break them. Our mind repeats the same messages over and over again. In some cases this is good–affirming thoughts foster confidence and hope. However, when negativity rules our thoughts, it can create self-sabotaging habits that are hard to break. Get really honest about your thought habits, and get rid of the ones that drag you down.
  • Don’t believe everything you think. The ego rules the mind and convinces us that we are right, and everyone else is wrong. That our perception of reality is the ONLY reality. And it’s just not true. Nothing in life is that cut and dry, and no one is right 100% of the time. Remind yourself that no matter what it seems, you don’t have all the facts. Give yourself, and others, a lot of grace, by recognizing that not everything you think is founded in truth.
  • Trust the struggles. Challenges are an essential part of life, and trying to fight them only makes us more unhappy. We have a choice in every moment to embrace reality, or deny it all together. When life doesn’t happen on your terms, instead of getting angry or denying it, tell yourself “it is what it is.” And then figure out what you can do to make it better, and go do that.
  • Ask a different question. Instead of asking “Will it ever get better?” ask “What can I you can do to make the world a better place?” And don’t discount your answer. We might not be able to directly change every bad situation in the world, but we can always do something to make a difference in someone’s life. Remember that every small act of kindness adds up like the drops of water in the ocean. The more positive effort you put forth, the better the world will be. No act is too small…so go do something to make the world a better place.
  • Remember that nothing is forever. Everything is always changing, which is good news, when we watch the world struggling. Todays news will be tomorrow’s history. Life will not always be this way, so get to work to do your part. Take it one breath, one moment, at a time. Affect what you can change, and use your talents to help others, one random act of kindness at a time.

Should we keep watching the news? Yes, of course. It’s important to stay informed. But don’t let it consume you. Know your limits and control your thoughts, so you can use your energy for uplifting and inspiring work, helping to make the world a better place, and enjoying the happiness you deserve.

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Why Tapas Is Better Than A Resolution

It happens every January 1st. I wake to a brand new year, exhausted from the holidays, but also grateful for a fresh start. I’m anxious to make a plan to do more, to be more, and to feel my best in the year ahead. As the morning unfolds, I remember that I indulged more than normal lately, and I think, “I need to make a resolution!”

And then I remember that, in over two decades of striving to lose weight and get in shape, resolutions have not helped me achieve my goals. They feel like a quick fix at the time, but I eventually find myself back where I started–struggling with my weight, not sleeping well, feeling fatigued all the time, and battling the headaches that have plagued me for decades.

I wrestled with resolutions and chronic health problems for years, and always wound up feeling ashamed by my inability to get it right. I kept making the same mistakes over and over again, and gained and lost a lot of weight, until I discovered the value of tapas. Not the small plates you find in Spanish restaurants, but tapas, the yogic observance that teaches us to get healthy by enduring resistance on a daily basis.

For yogis, tapas means discipline, and refers to seeking and overcoming that which is difficult. By observing tapas, we cultivate better health and happiness. It usually implies asana (poses), meditation, and pranayama (breathwork), but it can refer to anything which challenges us. When we continuously lean into that which we resist, and allow it to refine us, we grow stronger and happier, every single day. Tapas helps us become all that we can be.

There is power in the overcoming. For example, when we push past our barriers to challenge our muscles, they tear before they grow back stronger. When we increase nutritious foods in our diet, we lose our taste for sweets, and crave more fruits and veggies. These are just a few ways that the practice of tapas leads us to build a healthy life, one hard choice at a time.

Choosing tapas (the path of resistance) might sound incredibly uncomfortable, but I promise, it’s not as bad as it sounds. We can do so much more than we imagine! And what happens on the other side–empowerment, contentment, and joy–is absolutely priceless.

Like everything in yoga, the meaning of tapas is open to interpretation. For me, embracing tapas means I meet my yoga mat daily without fail, eat mostly from the earth, and strive to live in the moment.

Observing tapas inspires me to practice yoga for at least 20 minutes every day, even when I don’t want to. That way I can go to bed each night knowing that I at least did something to honor my body.

Tapas helps me choose a salad, when I would rather order pizza. It stings a little when the food arrives–that’s the resistance–but I quickly forget the pizza craving as I relish the energy I feel in the hours that follow the meal.

Valuing tapas is also helpful in my family life–it reminds me to stop and play games or read books with my daughters, even though my to-do list is a mile long.

My favorite thing about tapas, though, is that it gives me something to be proud of, as I look back on the year that just passed. No one is perfect (I certainly am not) but I did try overcome resistance every day last year. Not to lose weight, or look a certain way, but because I wanted to be the best version of myself that I could be. Thanks to tapas, I can look back on 2014, knowing that I did my best to be healthy and happy.

I’m not saying that new year’s resolutions are bad, just that they never worked for me, and I have found something I value much more. Tapas has taught me to make small, daily investments in my health and happiness, trusting that they will all pay off somewhere down the road. It’s a faith walk for sure, but it brings peace and continuity to my life.

As we begin another year, consider tapas as a path to a healthier life. Be disciplined, and do the things that you resist the most, every single day. Trust the struggles, and remember that getting healthy is hard on purpose…that’s what makes it worthwhile.

Happy new year, friends, and thank you for joining me in this journey!

Namaste~

Amber

 

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100 Days of Crazy Healthy Week 13

We made it to Week 13 of 100 Days of Crazy Healthy! How are you feeling? Which parts of the program have helped you the most? Send me a note, I would love to hear about your experiences.

For Week 13, we will add 5 minutes of daily meditation to the mix. This practice will help us feel more grounded in our new healthy habits, and help cultivate a sense of peace and empowerment in our lives. 

If you are new to meditation, you might be surprised how simple, yet challenging, it can be in practice. Mediation is a discipline of surrender–something that feels more difficult than it actually is. We are so busy these days that it seems hard to sit still. But is it really? When we meditate, we learn to free ourselves of the impulse to do, so that we can simply be.

Meditation is best performed first thing in the morning, but if this is not possible, it is ok to work it into your day at your convenience.

Instructions for mediation are below, in item number 1. As you meditate, reject your “monkey mind” and instead, let the mind get quiet, and pay attention to the quality of the breath. As the mind empties, we reconnect with our innate peace and joy, and are reminded that it is always there waiting for us.

Daily mediation might feel impossible and frustrating for the first two weeks, but keep meeting the cushion every day. Just like asana (yoga poses), mediation becomes more accessible with daily practice. Over time, the discipline that initially feels impossible will become the one that you look forward to the most, and it keeps getting better from there. 

Trust the struggle and let me know if you have questions!

Amber

Daily Habits For Week 13

1. Upon waking, prepare yourself for meditation. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Sit on the floor with the legs crossed (preferably near a window when the sun might shine in, or in a lit room), with a cushion or pillow under your seat. Make sure it does not come forward of your hips, so that your hips are higher than your knees, and that your seat is comfortable. Close the eyes and mouth, and breathe through the nose. On the inhale, think “so”. On the exhale, think “hum”. So hum is sanskrit for “I am that”, and it reminds us of the importance of just being. If you would rather use a meditation in English, consider replacing “so hum” with words that serve as reminders to live authentically, such as peace, truth, or love. The mind may wander, but do not judge the thoughts. Let them come and go, reconciling with the breath and mantra frequently. After a week or two of practice, the mind will quiet more quickly and you will get to a place where there are no thoughts, and a sense of peace will wash over you. It feels wonderful–like all is right with the world–and will inspire you to meditate more frequently.

2. After meditation (or before, if you prefer), scrape your tongue from front to back with a spoon, or tongue scraper. This will remove the ama (toxins) that have built up in your mouth over night. Rinse your mouth with water, being careful to not swallow any of the water, and brush your teeth afterward. Read more about the powerful practice of tongue scraping here.

3. Drink 12 oz. of warm, filtered water, before consuming food. You may add lemon or lime to the water if you would like.

4. Enjoy quinoa with fruit and nuts, or a crazy healthy smoothie, for breakfast every morning.

5. Practice 5 B series Sun Salutations, moving intentionally on each inhale and exhale, as shown in the photo from Week 1. Don’t rush, and don’t think about anything besides the breath and the pose. This will feel difficult, if you are new to yoga, but reject this idea in favor of doing the work. For those who have practiced yoga before, doing 5 Sun Salutations every day may feel boring–do it anyway and trust the process. Play the music you love, or use my playlists on Spotify. Make it a moving meditation. Changes will happen on such a deep level in your body, that you won’t even be aware that you are being transformed. It’s a beautiful thing! It is preferable to practice in the morning before showering, but this may be done at night, if necessary. Do whatever it takes, to complete this task every day! Don’t allow yourself to crawl into bed at night, until it is done. It takes me exactly one minute to complete a B Series Sun Salutation, using full inhales and exhales, and it should be the same for you, so this is a 5 minute exercise.

6. Practice 3 minutes of core work every day, comprised of 100 bicycles, 20 toe touches and 6 plank exercises, as described in Week 3. The bicycles may be broken up into 5 sets of 2 or 2 sets of 50–doesn’t matter as long as you do 100 each day. The same is true for toe touches and planks…break it up if you can’t do them all at once. This may be done after sun salutations, or any other time during the day. No matter what, don’t go to bed at night, until you have completed this work.

7. After practicing your core work, roll over to your stomach, and practice poses to strengthen your back, as described in Week 8. Stretch your arms forward, and legs straight back. Lift your right arm and left leg, lengthening forward and back, and hold for 20 breaths. You may break this into 2 sets of 10 breaths if you wish. If you feel pain in your lower back, lower your arm and leg until you feel balanced. Remember, it doesn’t matter what the pose looks like, as long as you are meeting resistance and breathing into it. Lower limbs to the ground, and repeat on the other side, also holding for 20 breaths. Next, lift both arms and both legs at the same time. Try to relax the lower back, and let the hands and feet lift as they reach. Note: the photo above shows the pose performed with palms facing the earth, but I prefer to practice these poses with palms facing each other. Both are correct, so you may decide which is most effective for your purposes.

8. Eat raw or roasted veggies with a healthy fat for your afternoon snack, as described in Week 3, or substitute a green juice, as described above.

9. Practice Pigeon Pose, for one full minute on each side, as described in Week 5. Remember, the more you move your front foot forward, the deeper the stretch. Find your edge, and breathe into it. The back leg should be straight back behind you, and the hips are level.

10. After practicing pigeon on both sides, practice Cobbler’s Pose for one full minute. Keep your back flat, and reach the heart forward, for maximum effect. You may use your elbows to press into your thighs, to deepen the stretch.

11. Eat a vegetarian soup or salad for lunch. Prepare it (or order it) with the intention of maximizing your nutrient intake, as described in Week 4.

12. Practice twists for 30 seconds on each side (about 10 full inhales and exhales). As you twist, keep your mouth closed, inhale through your nose, and allow your inhales to fill the belly. As you exhale through your nose, draw the belly back toward the spine. Think about what is happening internally as you twist: the movement in the spine is creating more space in the body, and your breathing is applying gentle pressure to your internal organs, to improve how they detoxify your body.

13. Practice backbends for 10 breaths, three times in a row. Choose one of the poses below. Remember that back bending compresses the vertebrae, so it is essential to move slowly and with intention, keeping length in the spine as much as possible. Length is created by grounding through the foundation of the pose, and creating lightness and extension in the upper half of the pose. Also, take care to keep the lower spine and butt relaxed at all times.

14. Work with balance for 5 minutes, practicing Warrior 3 Pose, Eagle Pose and Dancer Pose for 15 full breaths on each side, as described above and pictured below.

15. Find daily inspiration to keep fighting the crazy healthy fight on my Facebook page. And remember, you can do this! It may seem too difficult to some, and too simple to others, but either way, trust the struggle!

Meditation-for-Beginners

Photo credit: the-yoga-connection.com

100 Days of Crazy Healthy Week 12

Welcome to Week 12 of 100 Days of Crazy Healthy! Eighty four days down, sixteen to go! How are you feeling?

For Week 12, we will spend 5 minutes on balance poses, preferably during our yoga practice. Practice each of these poses on both sides, for 15 full breaths each. Keep the gaze soft, and breathe deeply through the nose, into the belly, during each pose. Let the mind get quiet, and pay attention to the quality of the breath. As the mind empties, we create more opportunities to unite the mind, body and spirit for better health. 

In Warrior 3 Pose, create length in the body by reaching the arms forward, and the foot back, as you lift simultaneously.

In Eagle Pose, tuck the tailbone and lengthen the spine, reaching the top of the head toward the sky, as the foot roots into the floor.

In Dancer Pose, allow for heaviness in the lower body, and lightness in the upper body. The backbend opens up as we push the foot into the hand and lift the chest and foot toward the sky.

s always, feel free to contact me if you have questions! Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

Namaste~

Amber

Daily Habits For Week 12

1. Upon waking, scrape your tongue from front to back with a spoon, or tongue scraper. This will remove the ama (toxins) that have built up in your mouth over night. Rinse your mouth with water, being careful to not swallow any of the water, and brush your teeth afterward. Read more about the powerful practice of tongue scraping here.

2. Drink 12 oz. of warm, filtered water, before consuming food. You may add lemon or lime to the water if you would like.

3. Enjoy quinoa with fruit and nuts, or a crazy healthy smoothie, for breakfast every morning.

4. Practice 5 B series Sun Salutations, moving intentionally on each inhale and exhale, as shown in the photo from Week 1. Don’t rush, and don’t think about anything besides the breath and the pose. This will feel difficult, if you are new to yoga, but reject this idea in favor of doing the work. For those who have practiced yoga before, doing 5 Sun Salutations every day may feel boring–do it anyway and trust the process. Play the music you love, or use my playlists on Spotify. Make it a moving meditation. Changes will happen on such a deep level in your body, that you won’t even be aware that you are being transformed. It’s a beautiful thing! It is preferable to practice in the morning before showering, but this may be done at night, if necessary. Do whatever it takes, to complete this task every day! Don’t allow yourself to crawl into bed at night, until it is done. It takes me exactly one minute to complete a B Series Sun Salutation, using full inhales and exhales, and it should be the same for you, so this is a 5 minute exercise.

5. Practice 3 minutes of core work every day, comprised of 100 bicycles, 20 toe touches and 6 plank exercises, as described in Week 3. The bicycles may be broken up into 5 sets of 2 or 2 sets of 50–doesn’t matter as long as you do 100 each day. The same is true for toe touches and planks…break it up if you can’t do them all at once. This may be done after sun salutations, or any other time during the day. No matter what, don’t go to bed at night, until you have completed this work.

6. After practicing your core work, roll over to your stomach, and practice poses to strengthen your back, as described in Week 8. Stretch your arms forward, and legs straight back. Lift your right arm and left leg, lengthening forward and back, and hold for 20 breaths. You may break this into 2 sets of 10 breaths if you wish. If you feel pain in your lower back, lower your arm and leg until you feel balanced. Remember, it doesn’t matter what the pose looks like, as long as you are meeting resistance and breathing into it. Lower limbs to the ground, and repeat on the other side, also holding for 20 breaths. Next, lift both arms and both legs at the same time. Try to relax the lower back, and let the hands and feet lift as they reach. Note: the photo above shows the pose performed with palms facing the earth, but I prefer to practice these poses with palms facing each other. Both are correct, so you may decide which is most effective for your purposes.

7. Eat raw or roasted veggies with a healthy fat for your afternoon snack, as described in Week 3, or substitute a green juice, as described above.

8. Practice Pigeon Pose, for one full minute on each side, as described in Week 5. Remember, the more you move your front foot forward, the deeper the stretch. Find your edge, and breathe into it. The back leg should be straight back behind you, and the hips are level.

9. After practicing pigeon on both sides, practice Cobbler’s Pose for one full minute. Keep your back flat, and reach the heart forward, for maximum effect. You may use your elbows to press into your thighs, to deepen the stretch.

10. Eat a vegetarian soup or salad for lunch. Prepare it (or order it) with the intention of maximizing your nutrient intake, as described in Week 4.

11. Practice twists for 30 seconds on each side (about 10 full inhales and exhales). As you twist, keep your mouth closed, inhale through your nose, and allow your inhales to fill the belly. As you exhale through your nose, draw the belly back toward the spine. Think about what is happening internally as you twist: the movement in the spine is creating more space in the body, and your breathing is applying gentle pressure to your internal organs, to improve how they detoxify your body.

12. Practice backbends for 10 breaths, three times in a row. Choose one of the poses below. Remember that back bending compresses the vertebrae, so it is essential to move slowly and with intention, keeping length in the spine as much as possible. Length is created by grounding through the foundation of the pose, and creating lightness and extension in the upper half of the pose. Also, take care to keep the lower spine and butt relaxed at all times.

13. Work with balance for 5 minutes, practicing Warrior 3 Pose, Eagle Pose and Dancer Pose for 15 full breaths on each side, as described above and pictured below.

14. Find daily inspiration to keep fighting the crazy healthy fight on my Facebook page. And remember, you can do this! It may seem too difficult to some, and too simple to others, but either way, trust the struggle.

We can do hard things, so trust the struggle. I’m always here to help, so please don’t hesitate to email your questions.

Eagle Pose

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Warrior 3 Pose

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Dancer Pose

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100 Days of Crazy Healthy Week 11

Welcome to Week 11 of 100 Days of Crazy Healthy! By now, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed, bored, or discouraged with this process–and that is totally normal! It’s not easy to transform our lives! Practicing yoga every day, and changing our diets brings up our stuff–the emotional barriers that get in our way. To overcome these feelings, remember to stay in the present moment, and make one choice at a time. It all adds up, so even if you slip a little, remember that you can get back on track quickly, by recommitting to the program and believing that everything is possible.

For Week 11, we will add backbends to our daily yoga practice. This habit should take you approximately one minute each day. Choose one of the three poses below, and practice each for 10 full breaths, three times in a row. Full backbends are best practiced after sun salutations, standing poses, and twists, but remember that you can always use less intense backbends as stretches throughout the day. An example would be standing tall, stretching arms up with palms facing each other, and bending back slightly to stretch upper back only.

As always, feel free to contact me if you have questions! Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

Namaste~

Amber

Daily Habits For Week 11

1. Upon waking, scrape your tongue from front to back with a spoon, or tongue scraper. This will remove the ama (toxins) that have built up in your mouth over night. Rinse your mouth with water, being careful to not swallow any of the water, and brush your teeth afterward. Read more about the powerful practice of tongue scraping here.

2. Drink 12 oz. of warm, filtered water, before consuming food. You may add lemon or lime to the water if you would like.

3. Enjoy quinoa with fruit and nuts, or a crazy healthy smoothie, for breakfast every morning.

4. Practice 5 B series Sun Salutations, moving intentionally on each inhale and exhale, as shown in the photo from Week 1. Don’t rush, and don’t think about anything besides the breath and the pose. This will feel difficult, if you are new to yoga, but reject this idea in favor of doing the work. For those who have practiced yoga before, doing 5 Sun Salutations every day may feel boring–do it anyway and trust the process. Play the music you love, or use my playlists on Spotify. Make it a moving meditation. Changes will happen on such a deep level in your body, that you won’t even be aware that you are being transformed. It’s a beautiful thing! It is preferable to practice in the morning before showering, but this may be done at night, if necessary. Do whatever it takes, to complete this task every day! Don’t allow yourself to crawl into bed at night, until it is done. It takes me exactly one minute to complete a B Series Sun Salutation, using full inhales and exhales, and it should be the same for you, so this is a 5 minute exercise.

5. Practice 3 minutes of core work every day, comprised of 100 bicycles, 20 toe touches and 6 plank exercises, as described in Week 3. The bicycles may be broken up into 5 sets of 2 or 2 sets of 50–doesn’t matter as long as you do 100 each day. The same is true for toe touches and planks…break it up if you can’t do them all at once. This may be done after sun salutations, or any other time during the day. No matter what, don’t go to bed at night, until you have completed this work.

6. After practicing your core work, roll over to your stomach, and practice poses to strengthen your back, as described in Week 8. Stretch your arms forward, and legs straight back. Lift your right arm and left leg, lengthening forward and back, and hold for 20 breaths. You may break this into 2 sets of 10 breaths if you wish. If you feel pain in your lower back, lower your arm and leg until you feel balanced. Remember, it doesn’t matter what the pose looks like, as long as you are meeting resistance and breathing into it. Lower limbs to the ground, and repeat on the other side, also holding for 20 breaths. Next, lift both arms and both legs at the same time. Try to relax the lower back, and let the hands and feet lift as they reach. Note: the photo above shows the pose performed with palms facing the earth, but I prefer to practice these poses with palms facing each other. Both are correct, so you may decide which is most effective for your purposes.

7. Eat raw or roasted veggies with a healthy fat for your afternoon snack, as described in Week 3, or substitute a green juice, as described above.

8. Practice Pigeon Pose, for one full minute on each side, as described in Week 5. Remember, the more you move your front foot forward, the deeper the stretch. Find your edge, and breathe into it. The back leg should be straight back behind you, and the hips are level.

9. After practicing pigeon on both sides, practice Cobbler’s Pose for one full minute. Keep your back flat, and reach the heart forward, for maximum effect. You may use your elbows to press into your thighs, to deepen the stretch.

10. Eat a vegetarian soup or salad for lunch. Prepare it (or order it) with the intention of maximizing your nutrient intake, as described in Week 4.

11. Practice twists for 30 seconds on each side (about 10 full inhales and exhales). As you twist, keep your mouth closed, inhale through your nose, and allow your inhales to fill the belly. As you exhale through your nose, draw the belly back toward the spine. Think about what is happening internally as you twist: the movement in the spine is creating more space in the body, and your breathing is applying gentle pressure to your internal organs, to improve how they detoxify your body.

12. Practice backbends for 10 breaths, three times in a row. Choose one of the poses below. Remember that back bending compresses the vertebrae, so it is essential to move slowly and with intention, keeping length in the spine as much as possible. Length is created by grounding through the foundation of the pose, and creating lightness and extension in the upper half of the pose. Also,   take care to keep the lower spine and butt relaxed at all times.

13. Find daily inspiration to keep fighting the fight on my Facebook page. And remember, you can do this! It may seem too difficult to some, and too simple to others, but either way, trust the struggle.

We can do hard things, so trust the struggle. I’m always here to help, so please don’t hesitate to email your questions.

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Don’t Believe Everything You Think

It’s the thinking that gets me in the most trouble. Like last week, when I was on vacation with my family, and there were paths to hike and oceans to swim. The thinking told me that, as long as I was moving and exercising throughout the day–which I did–it would be ok to blow off my daily yoga routine. I’d just stretch a little, and practice a few standing poses and arm balances here and there, but I knew all along that it wouldn’t be enough. It’s the discipline of daily practice that grounds me, and there are no acceptable substitutes.

Why does my brain do that? Why does it completely ignore my truth, and tell me manipulative stories that get me in trouble? Or maybe the question should be…why do I believe it, when I know better? I should have met my mat every day–where there is a will, there is always
a way, even on vacation.

Neglecting my practice last week has caught up to me, in a big way. My neck is locked up, every muscle in my body hurts, I’ve lost some hard-earned flexibility, and I am struggling to get back in the yoga habit. I know I will get back to normal in a few days–I have been in this uncomfortable space before–but it makes me cranky and frustrated to have to fight so hard to reclaim my practice.

I wanted to share this as yet another reminder of why we must trust our struggles more than our stories. Every choice we make, every single day, affects our overall health. Our brains often get in the way, distracting us and making it seen impossible to make the right choice. But don’t let that voice fool you–it might be clever and tempting, but it is also where regret is born, and it can be overcome.

That’s what this crazy healthy life is all about–learning to let go of our attachments to the story, so that we may live in our truth. We already know what we need to do to be healthy and happy, so don’t let the thinking get in the way. Question everything and trust the struggles–what we want most is always waiting on the other side.

Thanks to my teacher, Steve Ross, for this reminder today. You inspire me in more ways than you will ever know. 

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3 Things To Stop Doing Now, To Feel Better Next Week

Feeling off balance? Run down? Depressed? When it feels like there is nothing we can do to feel better, we can find hope in discontinuing habits that inhibit our health and happiness. Here’s three things that you can stop doing now, to feel better in a week or less:

1. Stop scheduling your workouts. Those people who never seem to worry about their weight, and always look strong and healthy? They have a secret. They don’t schedule their workouts…they just exercise whenever they can, sometimes 2-3 times a day, in 10-30 minute increments. They know that working out is hard by design, but have embraced the benefit it provides. The fabulously fit do not think of exercise as something they do…it’s just who they are! So, if you want to feel healthier next week, skip the Groupon for 20 classes at the yoga studio you can’t seem to get to, and learn how to practice yoga at home. Or keep a workout bag with you at all times, and go for 10 minute runs 2-3 times a day. And practice yoga poses during your lunch hour, in your work clothes (no mat necessary–think chair pose, forward fold, side stretches). It’s so much easier to squeeze in 10 minutes of yoga poses three times a day, than a 75 minute class 3 times a week. It’s also harder to reconcile skipping it, when it’s not taking a huge chunk of time out of our days.

2. Stop eating out. The inconvenient truth is that most restaurants are not in the business of helping people get healthy. They are in the business of selling food. To do this successfully, they must cut costs wherever possible. This often means serving food that has been preserved, genetically modified, artificially colored, and artificially flavored. Because restaurants are not legally required to share what is in their food, you can never be 100% sure that what you eat in restaurants aligns with the standards you keep at home. That doesn’t mean you should never eat out, just do so with awareness, think of it as a treat, and avoid it during the times when you are not feeling your best. Nutrient-dense, chemical-free foods prepared at home will serve you better (and save you money!).

3. Stop eating foods with added sugars. Sugar is a highly addictive substance–as addictive as heroin! The more we consume, the more we crave, and the harder it becomes to detoxify our bodies. Our bodies are designed to get the sugar they need from real foods (not the fake, processed stuff), so added sugars are unnecessary, and can be highly toxic, even in small amounts. Excess sugar in our diet causes depression and mood swings, affects our ability to make decisions, lowers immunity, and puts excess strain on our hearts. Trust me–you will feel much better if you get the processed sugary foods out of the house, and address your sugar cravings with foods from the earth. Ayurveda teachers that bitter and sour fruits, such as grapefruit and pomegranate, can stop a sugar craving in its tracks (it works for me every time!). If you’re not into the bitter/sour thing, though, strawberries, cherries and mango are great options when we just have to have something sweet…just enjoy with awareness, and in moderation.

For more tips and inspiration to get healthy and stay healthy this summer, join My Crazy Healthy Life  on Facebook and  join our 100 Days of Crazy Healthy Challenge! It’s FREE until Labor Day!

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photo: pouted.com

100 Days of Crazy Healthy Week 1

100 Days of Crazy Healthy is a FREE health challenge that will transform your life!

This program is based on the daily habits that helped me reclaim power over my health, and how I teach my clients to get healthy without spending money unnecessarily, feeling deprived, or risking injury.

Good health is cumulative–a result of wise choices, made over time. I learned this through personal experience, and created 100 Days of Crazy Healthy as the perfect program to transform your mind, body and spirit, if you trust the struggle, and do whatever it takes to complete your weekly habits.

The work itself is simple. We will move, breathe, stretch, and nourish ourselves naturally, every single day. It’s the every single day part that is essential, and makes it feel less stressful. Small changes add up over time, and help us reveal our best selves! Our attachments to what we have always done might make it feel difficult at first. Don’t let your brain stop your body from getting healthy. Remember that the secret to success is to trust the struggle, and do whatever it takes to complete the work.

We will add a few new healthy habits each week, for the next 14 weeks. They are not meant to replace what you are already doing–this in in addition to other workouts. Over time, you may feel that you have to make some trade offs in your workouts, but you will do so with the information you need to make wise decisions. Don’t worry about it now, though.

You may start the challenge any time you like. Those who start today, will complete the challenge by mid-August, and you will feel fabulous by Labor Day. The goals are realistic, and founded in concepts that have kept people healthy for thousands of years. This week, we are focusing on movement and self care. We will get to food later, once you are in the yoga habit.

Remember, you don’t have to go it alone…I am here to help! Reach out any time. I also highly recommend inviting a friend or family member (s) to join you. It will deepen your relationships, and leave you all feeling empowered to control your weight, moods, and habits. Just share the link to  100 Days of Crazy Healthy on Facebook, Twitter, or through email.

Daily Habits For Week 1

Practice these three habits, every day for 7 days. These habits are foundational, and will be built upon in the weeks to come. Do not stop doing your other workouts or other healthy habits, just add these three habits to your routine.

1. Upon waking, scrape your tongue from front to back with a spoon, or tongue scraper. This will remove the ama (toxins) that have built up in your mouth over night. Rinse your mouth with water, being careful to not swallow any of the water, and brush your teeth afterward.

2. Drink 12 oz. of warm, filtered water, before consuming food. You may add lemon to the water if you would like.

3. Practice 5 B series Sun Salutations*, moving intentionally on each inhale and exhale, as shown in the photo. Don’t rush, and don’t think about anything besides the breath and the pose. This will feel difficult, if you are new to yoga, but reject this idea in favor of doing the work. For those who have practiced yoga before, doing 5 Sun Salutations every day may feel boring–do it anyway and trust the process. Play the music you love, or use my playlists on Spotify. Make it a moving meditation. Changes will happen on such a deep level in your body, that you won’t even be aware that you are being transformed. It’s a beautiful thing!  It is preferable to practice in the morning before showering, but this may be done at night, if necessary. Do whatever it takes, to complete this task every day! Don’t allow yourself to crawl into bed at night, until it is done. It takes me exactly one minute to complete a B Series Sun Salutation, using full inhales and exhales, and it should be the same for you, so this is a 5 minute exercise.

4. Find daily inspiration to keep fighting the fight on my Facebook page. I will share quotes, and ancient wisdom to support the habits we are creating.

You can do this! It may seem too difficult to some, and too simple to others, but just believe. These daily habits are the beginning of becoming the crazy healthy person you always hoped to be. So, grab a friend or family member, and get to work. Don’t think, just do. I’m here to help, if you need encouragement, and would love to know how it goes. Send me photos or notes about your 100 Days of Crazy Healthy, and I will share them!

Good luck and namaste’!

Amber

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*To prevent injury, follow these guidelines: 1) Keep your tailbone tucked in standing poses, to prevent compression in the lower back. 2) Roll thighs inward and back in half lift and forward fold. 3)  Press into finger pads and lift the center of the palms in Down Dog.

100 Days of Crazy Healthy, Week By Week

Are you ready to get crazy healthy with me this summer? If so, here’s what you should expect:

We will start out slow, adding 7 minutes of exercise and self-care in the first week (congrats who have already started–how did it go?). Each week, we will add a new focus that requires a few extra minutes out of your day. It will force you to make different decisions about how you use your time. Some of the distractions that you are used to, will have to fall away, such as TV, and social media. Remember, we are only doing this for 100 days. You can decide afterward if you want to go back to your old habits. For now, just stick with the program, and let go of that which is not essential, to make time for getting healthy.

The idea is to create new habits every week, and keep repeating them all summer long, until they become a part of who you are. Some of the habits will feel boring, such as repeating the same sun salutations every day. This is on purpose. Others will feel difficult. This is also on purpose. Your mind will try to dismiss them as unnecessary. Stories will show up for you about what is possible, who you are, who I am, and they will all create resistance to the journey. Pay attention to these stories, and ask yourself if they are founded in truth. If they are not serving your desire to get healthy for good, reject them, and get on with the work you need to do, to feel better by Labor Day.

By the end of summer, you will be spending about an hour each day on healthy habits, but it won’t feel like an hour, because it will be broken up into small increments, all day long. You may choose to do your yoga all at once, for approximately 30 minutes, or you may break it up. An example would be to practice sun salutations and core work in the morning, and twists, hips, back strengtheners, and balance at night.

Below is the the framework we will follow, to get crazy healthy before summer’s end. It may change slightly, based on feedback from participants, so check back here every week for specific instructions.

Also, feel free to leave your questions below, or contact me through my Facebook page. I’m here to help–don’t hesitate to reach out! And send me photos of your journey. Bust a pose in public whenever you can and invite strangers. They might hesitate at first, but eventually they will smile, when you tell them about your commitment to getting healthy, and you will leave them with a reminder to take care of themselves. And that’s what this is all about…being the change we hope to see in the world.

Namaste~

Amber

100 Days of Crazy Healthy

Week 1: tongue scraping, warm water first thing, 5 sun salutes (7 min)
Week 2: 2 extra minutes smoothie for breakfast (9 min)
Week 3: 2 extra minutes veggie snacks and 5 minutes core work (16 min)
Week 4: 3 extra minutes soup/salad for lunch or dinner (19 min)
Week 5: 3 extra minutes hips (22 min)
Week 6: 3 extra minutes quinoa for breakfast (25 min)
Week 7: 3 extra minutes stretch in public (28 min)
Week 8: 2 extra minutes back strengtheners (30 min)
Week 9: 1 extra minutes twists (31 min)
Week 10: 4 extra minutes green juice for snack (35 min)
Week 11: 1 extra minutes backbends (36 min)
Week 12: 5 extra minutes balance for core strength (41 min)
Week 13: 5 extra minutes meditation (46 min)
Week 14: 15 extra minutes preparing foods from earth (61 min)
last two days: 1 extra minutes of reflection and reconciliation, twice daily (63 min)

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The A-B-C’s of Raising Crazy Healthy Kids

1503293_10202971599273913_792128419_nI have three daughters, ages 6, 8, and 9, who love to dance, swim, practice yoga, shoot hoops, play soccer, and invent healthy snacks.  They know that food and exercise can be medicinal, and love to talk about our crazy healthy adventures, with anyone who will listen.

I think this is why people ask me all the time, “How do I teach my kids to be healthy?” The way they say it, it sounds like it’s the hardest thing in the world.

And with good reason, because it is hard to teach kids to be healthy. But not in the way you might think.

It’s not hard because kids don’t like healthy food. It’s not because kids don’t like to exercise. And it’s definitely not because kids resist change.

It’s hard because we often expect our children to do as I say, not as I do, and it almost never works. The reality is that, if want to raise healthy kids, we have to be the change we hope to see in our kids. We have to earn their respect by doing the things that matter, and remember that we are teaching them, with every decision we make.

While some might think this is bad news, I actually think it’s the best news ever. Because being the change we hope to see in our kids is as easy as A-B-C:

A. Practice AWARENESS. Pay attention to how you eat, what you eat, where you eat, and why you eat. Question your behavior a lot. Figure out what you enjoy about getting healthy, and practice it often! Because the truth is that kids learn more from our actions than our words. Remind yourself every day that you are your child’s role model, mentor, and guru, and you have to act the part, if you want them to believe that their choices matter.

B. Examine and share your BELIEFS about food and exercise. What do you think it takes to get healthy, and stay healthy? Are you sure? Decide what you believe, and then talk to your kids every single day about it. Not in an organized, “I’m going to teach you a lesson” kind of way, but in casual conversation. Share stories from your journey, both failures and successes. And ask their opinion a lot. What should we buy at the grocery store today? What percentage of our dinner came from the earth? Why does that matter? Most of all, have fun with it, and seek to understand what your kids enjoy about food and exercise.

C. Be CONSISTENT. Pick two or three healthy habits that you want your kids to embrace, and add them to your daily routine. For me, it’s drinking a large glass of water with lime when I wake, practicing yoga (even if only for 10 minutes), and eating lots of vegetables. It doesn’t matter what we do, as much as it matters that we do it every single day. Start small, pick goals that are reasonable, and stick to them, no matter what. Think about what you want your kids to say about you when they grow up: When I was a kid, my mom always _______. This is where you should start.

The truth is that it’s not easy to teach kids to be healthy, but it’s always worth it, and these ABC’s help a lot. As you work on yourself, enjoy the journey and trust the struggle, because what you want most for your kids, is waiting on the other side.

Have you liked My Crazy Healthy Life on Facebook? Join our community for more insights, tips and conversations about this crazy healthy life!

Under The Weather? Yoga Up To Feel Better Faster

lrgscalecoaster-I-hate-to-waste-sick-daysZiZi is home from school again today. I know, I know…you saw her miraculous recovery on our Facebook page yesterday, so what happened?

Well…it seemed like she was feeling like her old self last night, but she woke up this morning feeling awful again, and couldn’t pull herself together to make it to school. So, she’s back on green juice and yoga, until further notice. Her energy seems better this afternoon, than it did at 7 AM, so I am hoping to put her on the bus tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

It strikes me, though, that her sick days are so much different than mine were, when I was a kid. My parents told me to “rest up” and “wait it out” when I was sick. As a result, I grew up thinking that I was powerless against colds and viruses.

So, I’d park myself on the couch, with a box of tissues, a bowl of soup, and Brady Bunch reruns. And I’d wait. And wait. And wait. Eventually, I would feel better, but it seemed to take forever, and I felt like such a victim.

Yoga changed that for me. The more I learned about this ancient healing practice, the more I realized that if I  “yoga up” and “stretch it out ” when I am sick, I can reclaim some of my energy, and I feel better faster.

Why? Because yogic breathing and postures of naturally expedite the healing process. When we increase our heart rate and respiration, it stimulates the lymphatic system, which is responsible for destroying disease-causing organisms.

Our circulatory and respiratory systems work automatically, but the lymphatic system needs a “push” to do it’s job. It relies on us, instead of vice versa. When we move, stretch, and twist, we stimulate the movement of fluid through our lymphatic vessels. As this fluid moves through our body, it picks up viruses and other disease-causing organisms, and delivers them to the lymph nodes, where they are destroyed.

This is why I always practice yoga when I am sick. I think of my lymph nodes as my partners in fighting disease, and I want them to be happy! I tend to them the way I tend to my children, with awareness, intention, and gratitude. I use yoga poses and breathing for prevention, as well as medicine, all the time, and especially when I am ill.

It might seem like yoga is the last thing you want to do when you are sick, but believe me when I say it will always make you feel better! ZiZi’s response yesterday is the perfect example. Twenty minutes of sun salutations shifted her energy dramatically…so much, that she was begging me to do handstands with her, and she was actually smiling for the first time all day.

Our lymphatic fluid stagnates when we stop moving, so I think that’s why she felt bad again, after sleeping all night, but she was definitely better today than yesterday morning, and she seems like a new kid this afternoon.

It may not be a miracle cure, but yoga does help releive discomfort associated with colds and viruses, and can expedite the healing process. Perhaps most importantly, it teaches us that getting sick does not have to be a deal breaker. We have more control over how we feel than we think, and we can still enjoy the holidays despite a cold or virus, if we commit to “yoga up ” and “stretch it out”.

Namaste~

Amber

Photo: http://images.esellerpro.com

40 Days To Go!

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There are 40 days left in 2013, and we have a choice to make. Will we embrace this crazy healthy life, and reject everything that gets in the way? Or will we fall back into old habits, only to regret our indulgences later?

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have fun, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t enjoy the fabulous offerings of the season. It’s all good in moderation! We get a little sideways, though, when we are not intentional. So, make a plan now, as to how you will stay on track in these last few busy–and wonderful!–weeks of the year.

I’m offering help on the Facebook page for My Crazy Healthy Life, by posting “Power Poses” every day until the end of the year. These are the poses and sequences I do, when I am short on time, but need to squeeze in a workout. You can practice one each day, or string them together into a sequence, for a better workout. I suggest practicing for a few minutes each morning and night, but it’s ok if you can only manage once a day. Just do the best you can, and give yourself grace on the days that you can’t.

Crazy healthy is a lifestyle, and you don’t need a New Year to embrace it. All you need is today.

I hope you will join us, and let me know what else I can do to help you get crazy healthy before the year comes to a close!

Namaste,

Amber