FINDING FRIENDSHIP THROUGH YOGA

This piece originally appeared on The Wanderlust Journal.

“All of my friends are guys. Girls are crazy.”

Somewhere between a relatively normal childhood and the high drama of my 20s, this became my story. It probably started somewhere in my relationship with my mom, gathered steam through a string of destructive romances, and was cemented in the bridge-burning melee of my party days.

I didn’t even know that I missed, or needed, female friendship until I finally broke free from my last toxic relationship. After a month-long, 200-hour yoga teacher training forced me to take a hard look at who I was and what I wanted, I packed up and left a five-year disaster.

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To my great surprise, a former roommate came through to nurse my wounds with home-cooked meals and motherly energy. I’d been less than kind to her when we lived together, as I was buried under the weight of daily heartbreak. But after the introspection of the training, I realized that her warmth was without pretense. The fact that she still wanted to be my friend after I’d been such a mess was the first step in unraveling my long-held self-loathing.

To continue reading, please click through to The Journal for more. 

MINDING MOTHER NATURE: FREE OUTDOORSY HEALTH HACKS FOR YOUR BODY, MIND & SOUL

Do you ever feel antsy after scrolling your Instagram feed and come to the realization you kind of feel disconnected from real life? Like, it’s the middle of a gorgeous afternoon full of possibility, but you can’t seem to stop double-tapping internet memes.

Our modern obsession with tech devices can potentially change our circadian rhythm, sleep, and even learning. I don’t know about you, but going from work to school to home to fitness class to any and all of the other indoor responsibilities can make me go a little stir-crazy!

Want to talk about getting motivated to set down the device, get outside and move more? Here are some tips that can boost health, promote calm, and cater to your overall well-being.

GET OUT OF YOUR MIND AND INTO THE MOMENT OUTSIDE

One of the best perks of spending some R&R time outdoors is nature’s tendency to help get us out of our heads. We spend so much time throughout the week thinking, doing, rushing, and worrying. When we hang out with earth, it relaxes our racing, buzzy minds and puts us back into our physical bodies. Fresh air, natural light, the colors and vibes of living things, all point back to a bigger picture.

Especially if you’re anxiety-prone, try getting your butt outside more! You don’t have to move to the mountains or become a granola-eating weirdo (but if you want, that’s totally cool, too!) to enjoy the full benefits of this planet.

It can be as simple as taking a 45-minute walk around the greenest park in your city. Maybe visit a free botanical garden in your area if flowers and plants bring you joy. Head to the beach. Start a container garden. Read or nap under a tree instead of slouched on your couch all weekend. Plan a picnic with your vinas, your family, or your kids. The options are endless.

The main idea isn’t what you do outside, but simply getting out there more often in ways you enjoy to hopefully better your mental state.

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A DOWN-TO-EARTH WAY TO REJUVENATE YOUR BODY

You know what it’s like to have spent hours laying on the beach, hiking up a mountain, or chillin’ barefoot at a grassy park with friends? Going home, maybe you noticed a feeling of happy exhaustion– similar to that incredible energy leftover after a long, good run. Even if you didn’t necessarily do anything physically tough outside, you feel rewarded with a sense of “AHH, yes” in your body.

That’s because there are legit health benefits of being outside. Being present among the earth’s surface recharges humans in a special way. Nature gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy!

You might’ve heard about “earthing” or “grounding”. This concept states that earth is surging with free electrons. When we come into contact with its surface, the human body rebalances whatever may be “off.” It can apparently supercharge us toward more vibrant health. We can’t always feel it, but many subtle differences add up over time.

Not only does connection with nature help our minds and bodies. It can also be surprisingly healing to us on a deeper, personal level.

GREEN, SERENE & NOURISHING TO THE SOUL 

I know not everyone loves going outside. Some of us could care less about getting sweaty, dirty, or even trying to sit cross-legged as we wait to “feel one with nature.” I get it!

But we often forget: so many of our different ancestors around the world understood the value of taking time to appreciate nature. We may be advanced, but we don’t just exist to work, find love, pay taxes, and die. Observing the physical qualities of the planet can bring us a clearer perspective, emotional delight, and a reconnection with our unique, meaningful place here.

At the end of the day, we’re all trying our best. Everyone wants to be appreciated, provided for, and understood. One of the most empowering things we can realize is this: by being part of Earth, we have a chance to participate in a great personal journey toward healing and growth.

Enjoying, learning, and relating to the wonder, resilience, fun, beauty, strangeness, and even the mystery of Earth is a gift we all deserve to be a part of. So let’s hang out in this space more! It can benefit your health, quality time with others, and the wellness of your communities near and far.

How do you mind mother nature? Are you an outdoorsy vina, do you wish to enjoy it more, or are you happy observing nature from a tidier distance? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Find your outdoorsy vinas on the Hey! VINA app and make some plans today!

THE BENEFITS OF MOVING MEDITATION

There are lots of specific health benefits to meditation, and while plenty of people still picture meditation happening as you sit cross-legged and bathe in your own silence, you don’t actually have to do any of that for it to work.

Brendan Leonard discovered exactly that in a recent essay for Outside. He found it massively challenging to fully embrace meditating while sitting still. He accidentally fell asleep during one of his Headspace sessions, and a flood of thoughts distracted him during another.

But he eventually realized that his runs, which “are sometimes an hour, two hours, four hours, or even eight hours,” also function as a kind of meditation.

“I don’t have headphones in my ears. I don’t talk to anyone besides the occasional ‘hello’ to fellow trail users, I don’t listen to music to make the time pass more quickly, and I don’t listen to podcasts,” Leonard writes. “I just run, in relative silence, and my thoughts go wherever they need to go.” These runs have also sparked great ideas, which he then writes down.

Even if you’re not a runner, sitting still isn’t the only way to meditate. Here are three other types of moving meditation that you can try.

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Take a walk in the park

Research in the Journal of Behavioral Health shows that a mindful walk in nature can provide a mental health boost, positively impacting “cognition and affect, anxiety reduction, tension, sadness, and fatigue.” Plus, engaging in mindfulness during a walk can also result in “a deeper connection with exercise,” the study authors say.

Strike a yoga pose

Yoga is a form of meditative movement that has been found to ease chronic pain. Plus, research in the International Journal of Yoga states that there’s “an indisputable connection between a person’s overall physical and mental health, and the inner peace and well-being yoga is designed to achieve. Yoga suspends the fluctuations of the mind, and by acting consciously, we live better and suffer less.”

Try Tai chi

A study in the American Journal of Health Promotion found that engaging in Tai chi as a form of moving meditation should create “functional balance internally for healing, stress neutralization, longevity, and personal tranquility.”

Interested in learning Tai chi for yourself? “Many places are teaching students one movement, like ‘cloud hands,’ which is a signature. Learn half a dozen or a dozen movements and do them repetitively,” suggests Shin Lin, Ph.D., the founding director of the Laboratory for Mind-Body Signaling & Energy Research, and Professor of cell biology and faculty of the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute at the University of California Irvine. Even just this shortened version of a practice can help you feel meditative and more balanced.

— Originally published on November 13, 2018 on THRIVE Global

THE BEST MEDITATION APPS FOR BEGINNERS

Meditation. It’s not just for yoga-loving, holistic lifestyle-living, Instagram perfect people. Meditation has so many benefits and is often misunderstood. Many think meditating is about losing all thoughts and being one with yourself, but mediation is what you want it to be, and what you make it. I’ve tried a couple different meditation apps and have found my favorite, so take a peak and try one (or them all) for yourself!

HEADSPACE

This was by far my favorite meditation app. The app is laid out nicely and easy to navigate. There are meditation packs for different things, for example, health packs, happiness packs, student packs, sport packs, and of course the foundation packs. There are also single meditations for different scenarios and mediation minis for a quick moment to check in with yourself. The app even has a whole section of kid’s meditations for all you vinas with little ones! I started off with the first basics pack which has ten sessions. When starting, the app asks some basic questions to help you get started. I chose to meditate for five minutes and dedicated time after my shower at night to sit down and meditate. When starting a meditation, there is always a little text to read before starting to get you ready, and on some days, there is even a little animated video to put your mind at ease. During the actual meditation portion, the recording guides you through what to do, helps you breathe, and makes you feel comfortable with words of encouragement. I definitely recommend this app for those who don’t think they can meditate properly, or who have had a hard time meditating in the past, like I had in yoga. The first basics pack is free, and there are other packs you can try a session for free, but Headspace is a subscription-based app.

CALM

Calm has a couple different tabs: home, sleep, meditate, music and masterclass tabs. When starting the Calm app, I was asked my goals for meditating. I was then prompted to sign up for a one week trial which would turn into a yearly subscription. The intro to meditation is 7 sessions long, perfect for the free trial. On day one you learn the basics and the recording walks you through how to breathe and what to do. After the first day of meditation, you are asked to confirm your goal for what you want to work on and how many days a week you want to meditate. The app also has sleep stories to help you fall asleep, meditations for different scenarios, and music for things like sleeping, relaxing, and focusing.

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10% HAPPIER

I recommend this app for anyone who is skeptical about meditating. I actually found this app reading a book called Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, which gives you access to corresponding meditations in the app. The first 8 meditation sessions are free in the basics course, but the other 8 and the rest of the content need to be unlocked with a subscription. The full version gives you meditation courses, a meditation of the day, single meditations for different scenarios like stress, sleep, focus, happiness, etc. You also get coaching with real meditators with 10+ years of experience to answer all your questions. Both the book and the app stemmed from a TV news anchor, Dan Harris, who was a normal person who took up meditation after having a panic attack on national TV. The app brings together scientists and teachers to help even the biggest skeptic find the benefits of meditating.

So what are you waiting for, vinas? Start meditating and find your zen (and your vina) today!

DON’T ANNOY ALL YOUR FRIENDS WHEN YOU START THAT NEW DIET

With so many diets #trending, maybe you’re curious; is Paleo really a game changer? Will going Gluten Free dramatically increase your energy levels? Is Dairy Free the key to gorgeous skin?

Maybe you’ve had an epiphany that you want to try some form of vegetarianism? There’s no shame in wanting to conduct an experiment or a complete lifestyle change in the name of health/wellness/ethics. However with so many people preaching their diet virtues, a lot of your friends might be a little bit overbearing about other people’s eating habits so try to play it cool, girl.

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Healthy Kale Detox Salad with Pesto via Trimmed and Toned

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Firstly, my recommendation is to let your friends know by mentioning it in passing rather than broadcasting it or hijacking a conversation to talk all about YOU and your health. It’s also important to be clear about the reason you’re doing it – people will ask! In my experience, it’s best to have a concise answer locked and loaded.

Secondly, decide what the parameters of the diet are; is it forever or just a six-week elimination thing? Are you going all the way with restrictions? Will there be any exceptions to the diet? And what’s your strategy for your cousin’s wedding next month? There will be most certainly be times when you will find yourself in front of a glorious cheeseboard, beholding the most magnificent specimens you have ever laid your eyes on but you MUST. BE. STRONG.

When it comes to eating out with your Vinas, most restaurants have their menu online so take a look beforehand to see if they are going to have something to suit you. That way you won’t have to settle for a plate of lettuce and make everyone else feel bad. If you find that steakhouse doesn’t do veg, come up with some alternative places that are going to suit everyone – it’s on you to do the leg work here. If your diet is more complex, schedule your time with activities that don’t involve eating such as meeting for tea (or coffee if it’s permitted!), going for a hike, or checking out a gallery or concert where you can eat at home beforehand.

The key to staying cool is to reduce the impact of your diet on other people which may require an adjustment to your usual activities or a little more forward planning. When it comes to discussing your diet, try to only talk about it if it comes up. This can actually be really difficult when after a few weeks you’re feeling amazing and want to spread the love but trust me… they have most probably heard it all before.

(Featured Image via Henrique Félix Photography)