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. 

GET ACTIVE WITHOUT HITTING THE OUTDOORS

The winter months are settling in, bringing in the cold front with them. Perhaps you’re an outdoor vina during the summer, or never at all in any weather; it’s time to shake up your exercise routine with these effective and easy exercises—all from the comfort of the indoors!

BURPEES

This is one of the best workouts ever.  With every burpee, you are engaging your arms, chest, quads, glutes, hamstrings and abs. Plus, no extra equipment is required (win).  For beginners, 10 burpees at a time are enough.  As you become fitter, increase the reps, but not the number of burpees per rep. For the right way to do a burpee, we consulted fitnessmagazine.com:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, weight in your heels, and your arms at your sides.
  2. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body into a squat.
  3. Place your hands on the floor directly in front of, and just inside, your feet. Shift your weight onto them.
  4. Jump your feet back to softly land on the balls of your feet in a plank position. Your body should form a straight line from your head to heels. Be careful not to let your back sag or your butt stick up in the air, as both can keep you from effectively working your core.
  5. Jump your feet back so that they land just outside of your hands.
  6. Reach your arms overhead and explosively jump up into the air.
  7. Land and immediately lower back into a squat for your next rep.

SQUATS 

Do a squat challenge first thing in the morning.  There are a lot of variations on the internet, so choose the one you feel most comfortable with.  Don’t overdo it: start small at the beginning. Add dumbbells to your squat challenge as you grow stronger.  The correct way to do a squat is as follows:

  1. Stand with your head facing forward and your chest held up and out.
  2. Place your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. Extend your hands straight out in front of you to help keep your balance. You can also bend the elbows or clasp the fingers.
  3. Sit back and down like you’re sitting into an imaginary chair. Keep your head facing forward as your upper body bends forward a bit. Rather than allowing your back to round, let your lower back arch slightly as you descend.
  4. Lower down so your thighs are as parallel to the floor as possible, with your knees over your ankles. Press your weight back into your heels.
  5. Keep your body tight, and push through your heels to bring yourself back to the starting position.

 

YOGA

Yoga is definitely a must if you don’t like to go outside.  I love salutations.  It’s a full body workout and great for people with injuries who can’t do weight training or a lot of cardio.  It also stretches your muscles, tightens your core, and makes you feel extra good afterward.  While there are many forms of yoga, begin with a simple Sun Salutation sequence. Do a couple of reps to get a good flow going – but don’t push too hard; make sure your body is feeling energized and nimble, and stop once you’re at this point.  For the right way to do a full salutation, I consulted Yogajournal.com (watch their video above to follow along):

  1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Stand with your feet slightly apart and parallel to each other. Stretch your arms (but not rigidly) down alongside your torso, palms turned out, shoulders released.

2. Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)

Inhale and sweep your arms overhead in wide arcs. If your shoulders are tight, keep your hands apart and gaze straight ahead. Otherwise, bring your palms together, drop your head back, and gaze up at your thumbs.

3. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Exhaling, release your arms in wide arcs as you fold forward. Bend your knees if you feel pressure on your lower back and support your hands on blocks if they don’t reach the floor. Release your neck so that your head hangs heavily from your upper spine.

4. Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend

Inhale and push your fingertips down into the floor, straighten your elbows, then lift your front torso away from your thighs. Lengthen the front of your torso as you arch evenly along the entire length of your spine.

5. Plank Pose

Inhale and bring your torso forward until your shoulders are over your wrists. Your arms will be perpendicular to the floor. Try not to let your upper back collapse between the shoulder blades: press your outer arms inward, and then—against this resistance—spread your shoulder blades apart. Firm your tailbone against your pelvis and press your thighs up.

6. Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)

Exhale as you bend your elbows and lower down to Chaturanga with your torso and legs parallel to the floor. Keep your shoulders lifted up, away from the floor, and down, away from your ears. Lift the thighs away from the floor, lengthen your tailbone toward your heels, and draw the lower ribs away from the floor to avoid collapsing your lower back. Look down at the floor or slightly forward. If you can’t maintain your alignment, place your knees on the floor until you have built more strength.

7. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose

Inhale, straighten your arms, and sweep your chest forward into Up Dog. Keep your legs active, firm your tailbone toward your heels, and press your front thighs upward. Draw your shoulders away from your ears. Look straight ahead or look slightly upward.

8. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)

Exhale back to Downward-Facing Dog. To finish the Sun Salutation, step the right foot forward into a lunge, then inhale back into Half Standing Forward Bend and exhale into Forward Bend. Inhale and roll your spine up to Upward Salute and exhale to Mountain Pose. Observe your body and breath.

COOL DOWN

Whatever exercise you choose to do, end by devoting at least 20 to 25 percent of your total practice time to Savasana (Corpse Pose). Lie down on the floor with hands and legs outstretched – let gravity take a toll and relax. This lets your muscles stretch out and cool down. If you’d rather follow a stretching video, this one from Popsugar is a great one.

Get into an exercise routine by enlisting your vinas as workout buddies; Download the Hey! VINA app to meet like-minded souls in the Athletes and Yogis communities!

Q&A WITH BRITTANY DEANDA AND TARA SCHULENBERG: “WE ARE HUMAN BEINGS THAT THRIVE ON CONNECTION BUT, ULTIMATELY, IT STARTS WITH US FIRST”

For Brittany Deanda and Tara Schulenberg, two best vinas from Los Angeles, CA, their friendship story started early. Meeting at a ballet class when they both were just 12 years old, the two besties are now high vibrational lifestyle experts, yogis who practice Kundalini yoga and co-founders of the mind/body/spirit podcast, Elevate the Globe.
We talked everything from astrology, to what exactly Kundalini yoga is, to how they found their tribe. Check it out!
Q: Let’s start with your career paths and how you found your love for yoga. Did you both find Kundalini yoga at the same time?
Britt: I was working in sales/marketing until I found Kundalini and really dove into the practice about nine years ago. I started High Vibe Livin’ which was the name of Elevate the Globe until about a year and a half ago. I really knew I wanted to help elevate others through this practice because it transformed my life so much and helped me to release addictions and changed how I felt dramatically.
Tara: I began to dive into astrology first about five years ago, and then found out about Kundalini through Britt and started practicing in San Francisco where I was living at the time. We went to John of God in NY together and received all of the messages and downloads about us working together to create what is now Elevate The Globe.

Q: What is Kundalini yoga for us newbie yogis?
A: Kundalini yoga is the yoga of awareness, and it is a very an ancient practice that uses the technologies of breathwork, movement and mantra. It was the first yoga created, and this practice works the fastest for someone to reach a higher consciousness because of the holistic science that works on all of the 10 bodies, all of the internal systems and mind. We have found and seen first hand that kundalini yoga will accelerate one into a spiritual awakening and open up many doors that were not accessible before.

Q: How can Kundalini help a person?
A: Kundalini can help each and every one of us to rewire our subconscious mind and change our patterning (sometimes picked up in childhood) and bring us into higher vibrational energy quickly, through the breath, postures, meditation and mantra. We hear so many stories through our online communities of how this practice has changed their lives—we always have to pause and really read what people say because there are so many and they are all so miraculous.
Q: Hey! VINA is all about helping vinas find their community. Why is community important to you both?
A: Community is so important to us because it helps us to elevate each other and bring awareness to so many places around the globe. We are all so much stronger together than we are alone. When you are awakening your Kundalini energy and experiencing ascension, it’s important to have someone to share and talk about it all with to feel safe, grounded and secure. It’s also part of this Aquarian Age we’re now in—connecting in the community and sharing ourselves with others to remember we are not separate beings, we are all the same, all made of energy and all connected through one consciousness.

Q: Did you ever deal with loneliness? What helped you through it?
A: Oh yes!! Loneliness is all a part of the process and we went through it, definitely. We are still building our new tribe as we are evolving but, ultimately, we found that healing and self-love allows us to find peace and company within ourselves so that no matter what, we feel full and supported.
Loneliness is a lower vibration and, no matter what lower vibration we are working to heal, it starts with going within and doing the energy work to clear blocks or stagnant energy within the corresponding chakras that relate to whatever lower emotion you’re going through, to elevate to a higher frequency energy and emotion. It’s all a process.
Then after we work on a subconscious energetic level, we do the conscious mindset work. We practice the Law of Attraction with everything in our lives, so if you are feeling lonely and focusing on how alone you are, that is what you will feel more of. If you want to move through the loneliness, focus on what you want and on the relationships you do have. Focus on love and connection and visualize what that looks and feels like. And have fun! Sometimes we get too serious and when we are enjoying the journey and connecting to joy, everything flows easier! Whatever makes you feel joyful we always suggest adding more of that and anything that’s not, get rid of it.
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Q: Why do you think loneliness is on the rise?
A: A lot of people are searching outside of themselves and always looking for approval from others but lacking actual human connection. Happiness is our birthright and this feeling and knowing can only truly come from the self. You must go within to see what parts of yourself are calling out for your attention and work with yourself from the inside out.
It’s so cool to see energy work and mindfulness on the rise and we see that as the start of releasing the loneliness so many feel. The culture in the U.S. especially is much more soloed than other countries where families and communities are very close-knit. It takes intention and energy to connect and make community a priority, but there are so many ways not to feel alone. It’s one of the main reasons we have created this community: to help more people find connection online and in-person. There are so many ways to connect, it’s just about putting yourself out there and attracting like-minded and hearted people! Social media helps so much to find your tribe! Many people can see social media as being anti-social but we feel just the exact opposite–it’s just a new way of being social with others and connecting with people from around the globe.
Q: How important is having your “tribe” in terms of finding your personal happiness?
A: Having a tribe is all about love and support.  We are human beings that thrive on connection but, ultimately, it starts with us first. Personal happiness is about you and not anything outside of yourself. When we love ourselves and allow ourselves to heal through whatever it is we carry with us, we are able to give and receive love at a high capacity. Then having your tribe makes life so much better and more fun!
Q: What sparked your interest in astrology?
Tara: I have always been interested in and fascinated by the stars, the planets and what’s going on out in the universe since I was a little girl. My mom actually had my chart written up when I was young and, when I held it in my hands, it was some sort of remembrance—I knew this information and how to utilize it. I’ve always turned to astrology and numerology to help me understand the world around me, and it was a system I was just naturally drawn to help me understand myself and others.
Britt: I use it to be in harmony with the energy of the planet and I love to use Kundalini to align with the energy of the astrology through the meditations and kriyas I’m doing. I love feeling the energy and using my intuition and then seeing how it matches up and aligns with what’s going on!! Tara knows my whole chart and does all the astrology for our business and timing, so it’s great having her as a resource for it all.

Q: What astrology signs do you see having a great 2019? Why?
A: All of them! We deeply believe in the Law of Attraction, remember? Everyone will have a good year if they want to and focus their energy on it!
This year in numerology is a 3 year which is all about creative self-expression, being social and connecting with others, and expansion…so we can ALL use this energy to upgrade our lives. Of course, we all align differently to the planets with our signs but overall, if we are tapping into ourselves and our surroundings, we trust that everything—even the perceived challenges—is truly a blessing! Overall, this will be an easier year for everyone at a universal level than 2018. Last year was an 11/2 year which called for massive spiritual growth and awakening…which can leave some of us grumpy and feeling alone. This year will be so much more fun, and we know so many people are already feeling this creative, social energy.
If you want to connect with other yoga-lovers in your area, be sure to join our Yogis Community on Hey! VINA and start swiping. Your tribe is waiting for you, no matter your interests or hobbies. Join, swipe and make plans!
First photo courtesy of Ashley Streff.

HOW TO GET IN TOUCH WITH YOUR SEXUALITY

For decades the female body has been sexualized. The media, especially Hollywood has portrayed certain body images as beautiful and sexy and others as not. While the music of our generation has constantly belittled our “temple,” making it seem disposable to men.

As we are taught to guard our own bodies – by our well-meaning teachers, families or friends, our sexuality drifts further away from us. We are reminded constantly, that if we dress with less, it is taken as a sign of easy access. But our bodies are not objects to be guarded or accessed. In fact, sexy has nothing to do with “access.” When we want to feel sexy, we can own our sensual nature to whichever extent we feel like it, just for our own enjoyment. We are entitled to own our body to its full potential just for its own sake.

We Are Complex. We Are Divine. We are SEXY.

There was a time when I was told, “You shouldn’t dress the way you dress if you don’t want to be noticed by the opposite sex.” That perspective stuck with me for some time and I allowed that belief to take away my sexuality. I thought that if I didn’t want to be taken advantage of again, I should look less appealing. I now know that showing off my curves doesn’t mean I’m asking for it. This awakening of the female voice, a voice that’s always been strong but is only just now being heard (moment of silence for the women who fought for our right to use that voice), has helped me reconcile with some past traumas and has made me feel like a woman in all its deepest meanings.

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With the help of the empowering females speaking up and out against catcalling, assault, and rape, I have never felt more ALIVE in my female body. Overall, feeling sexy and getting in touch with your sexuality isn’t just about what you wear, it’s also about being comfortable and confident in the skin you’re in. With that being said, here are a few things to try at home to connect with the inner and outer divine sexuality…your secret superpower. 😉

1. TRIBAL DANCE, BELLY DANCE, BUTI YOGA!

I have always felt very connected to my body while dancing. On my best days, I love to just put on some powerful music and dance it out in front of my mirror! Tribal dancing and belly dancing is very much all in your lower body- which connects us to our root and is great for grounding ourselves – it’s no wonder ancient tribes did a lot of hip and belly movements within their dance. They knew the connection and the feminine benefits to our health and well-being. Buti yoga is a bit of a mixture of the two and brings a little spice to our normal yoga workouts. Get your blood pumping, hips winding and set your inner Goddess free!

2. SENSUAL SELF MASSAGE

Have you ever given yourself a massage with avocado infused rose oil after a soothing lavender/epsom salt bath? Well maybe not, but I tend to be the type that buys a bunch of self-love items after reading self-love articles that pretty much put my shoes and jacket on for me and sends me off to Whole Foods to buy these items. However, if you don’t have these things around the house, organic lotion will do the trick. Who needs an expensive spa day when we can create our own spa! Light up the candles, turn on the relaxation tunes and massage away the worries. While massaging, visualize your favorite colors coming out of your hands and onto your body feeling full of love and light. Be romantic and patient with yourself. There’s nothing wrong with a little you time!

3. NAKED JOURNALING

Now you don’t have to actually be naked to journal, but you should shed away the things that are guarding you from getting in touch with yourself. Strip down! It’s important to let go of fears. You may have created certain boundaries to protect yourself and they might’ve helped, but there is such a thing as too many boundaries – especially with yourself. What is it that’s repressing you? What are your desires? What do you love about your body? What isn’t your favorite part of your body? Why? Shine some light there. It’s all about becoming one with your traumas and healing. Are you ready to be free of your pain and make magic from it? The power to know yourself is the power to pleasure yourself.

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It is very essential that we allow ourselves the space to heal, but please don’t allow yourself to live in fear. It hinders the best parts of who you are as a woman and ultimately as a human. Don’t give “the negative” consent to control you, but rather gift yourself the positivity of living better and growing because of it. All because of your strength. That strength right there is sexy!

Live your best lives, vinas!

Find your girl gang to empower and cheer you on as y’all find your inner goddesses, today on the Hey! VINA app!

INFERTILITY ALTERNATIVES: LET’S TALK ACUPUNCTURE

We have all heard about acupuncture, but there is more to know about it than you might think. Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice in which thin needles are inserted by an educated practitioner into areas of the body known as meridians. There are about 350 meridians into the human body and the important function of these meridians is their flow of energy which Chinese Medicine has labeled as the word “qi.” Disruptions of this flow are believed to be the primary cause of disease and imbalances in the body. When the needle is inserted it manipulates and stimulates the flow of energy in that particular area, improving circulation. While some may believe acupuncture is a new age alternative medicine treatment, acupuncture actually has a recorded history of about 2,000 years!

THE FLOW OF WOMEN

Women naturally have a flow of hormonal cycles throughout our lifetime, starting at puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and ending in menopause. Our bodies go through a lot which can at times result in very stressful situations. Stress, known as the silent killer, is a huge component in modern-day diseases, disrupting our natural flow of life. Metaphorically, when stress enters our lives, we might feel totally fearful of life, full of anxiety, hopeless and helpless, inadequate and stagnant. Stagnant blood flow can be viewed in Chinese Medicine as a disruption of our Qi (flow of energy). For decades, stress, anxiety, and depression were treated for their symptoms with medications rather than cured as a whole. We have become reliant on medications to ease our tensions, but without taking the recommended dosage – don’t our symptoms manifest themselves again?

Women in ancient times have relied on healing herbs, foods, and rituals to medicate and heal themselves, so it’s no wonder Chinese Medicine intertwines acupuncture and herbs for maximum health benefits.

WHY ACUPUNCTURE THERAPY CAN HELP

Acupuncture can help infertility in most cases, but there are some cases that may need extra care from modern-day medicine. According to the American Pregnancy Association, IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), an assisted reproductive technology, is the process of fertilization by extracting eggs, retrieving a sperm sample, and then manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish. The embryo(s) is then transferred to the uterus. When IVF and acupuncture come together, it makes for a very therapeutic alternative. When a woman turns to IVF to become pregnant, she may find herself stressed and worried, hoping this option will do the trick. Certain medications whether it be PCOS medications, hormonal medications, or Clomid, a medication which promotes ovulation, can cause the uterine lining to become thin making it harder to conceive. Whereas acupuncture can ease stressful tension, help thicken the uterine lining, and increase blood flow to the uterine arteries which are important components of fertility. Some women start acupuncture treatments 2-3 months before actually starting IVF; this schedule seems to have a restorative and calming effect on the female body.

ACUPUNCTURE & INFERTILITY OVERALL

I recently connected with Acupuncturist Caroline Grace Ashurst, founder of Restorative Harmony Acupuncture in Philadelphia, PA, who specializes in Women’s Health & Fertility to delve deeper into why acupuncture can be the right infertility alternative for some women.

Q: Tell us about your journey as an acupuncturist and the process of using acupuncture as an infertility alternative? 

treemedicineA: I found acupuncture when I was around 21 years old. I was experiencing what is called “PMDD”: Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder; severe PMS symptoms for 2 weeks before my cycle. What that meant for me was that I was tearing my life apart for the first two weeks of my cycle and then the last two weeks I was struggling to put the pieces back together. I had severe mood swings that were making me feel like I was getting nowhere in my life, every month. Acupuncture changed my life, so much that I wanted to pursue it as the next part of my journey. I fell in love with taking care of women and knew how pivotal acupuncture was for ~my~ hormonal health, so I was drawn to helping women get pregnant. Now, I work with women who are experiencing women’s health issues, and women wanting support from pre-conception to postpartum. I adore supporting women through this whole continuum of their growth from maiden to mama.

Q: Would you say there is a rise of infertility in America? 

A: I absolutely think so. Many women are being put on birth control when they are teenagers, and stay on it for 10-20 years, not understanding the ramifications it can have on hormonal health. Overuse of the pill is linked to PCOS, low progesterone, high estrogen, and many other hormonal dysfunctions that can impact fertility.

Q: In order for acupuncture to be successful in the fertility process, what else should women be doing to increase their expectancy chances?

A: This is a great question. I think there is a lot that can be done! One of the things that acupuncture helps with is reducing anxiety and stress (which by the way have an effect on our hormone functioning!), so having other practices in your life that support low stress is so important. Meditation, Restorative Yoga (specifically this kind), reflective time spent in nature- are all great medicine. In addition, get toxin-free! Plastic anywhere near what we ingest can cause endocrine disruption (unnatural hormone imbalance). Women should also switch to all natural cleaners and body products and organic food. Detox! Doing a detox with your diet is also really beneficial. There are many other things to add, and in my practice, I offer these pieces as my client is ready to digest them. It’s a lot and can be overwhelming, so we take it piece by piece.

Q: What are some other benefits women might experience while trying acupuncture?

A: Like I mentioned, less stress, more relaxation, reduction in anxiety symptoms, less tension in their bodies, assistance with any other ailments that may be occurring with digestion, pain, cycles, allergies, headaches, auto-immune symptoms, there are many more!

Q: What kind of infertility cases do you see the most? 

A: I see a lot of women who have been on the pill and are now not getting their cycle regularly, or possibly are not ovulating.

Q: Would you like to share a fertility success story with us? 

A: I recently had a client in her early 20s who had been trying to get pregnant for about a year or more. She was tracking her cycles very well but wasn’t getting her period consistently. I was pretty sure that she had undiagnosed PCOS based on her symptomatology, and we worked on supporting that through acupuncture, supplementation, and dietary shifts. She got pregnant very soon after we started working together!

No matter what you’re going through, there is a friend who will be there for you. Find her on Hey! VINA today!

 

 

LET’S TALK SUICIDE: HOW TO BE THERE FOR A VINA IN NEED

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and while I am thankful for those acknowledging this crisis, it also hits quite close to home for me. As three of my closest friends have attempted suicide and I have had to talk my one friend out of self-harm, this issue is more than just a topic in the paper. Suicide might be uncomfortable for some to talk about, including myself, but the more we are made aware of this subject, the better we can help those struggling during times of need. Here are some suggestions on how you can be there for your vinas who need your support.

LET THEM KNOW THEY ARE NOT ALONE

The main thing that I make sure all my vinas know is that I’m there for them: day or night. Whether they need to talk or need someone to walk home with them, it’s vital that they know they have a friend they can count on. Mental illness can sometimes make us believe we are all alone, so if you have a friend or family member who may be contemplating self-harm, let them know their emotions are being acknowledged and most importantly, noticed. If you can offer an ear to listen and shoulder to lean on, that makes a huge difference.

OUTDOOR BENEFITS

I constantly give my friends suggestions about the latest Netflix comedy special that can brighten up their mood or a cool activity they can do with others. If your vina seems to be a bit down, see if you can get her out of the house and into nature. The outdoors and sunshine are very beneficial! Vitamin D is essential for our mental well-being and the best way to get some is by enjoying a little sunshine. It doesn’t matter if it’s a quick walk to get some ice cream or a short stroll through the park, your vina needs to get out of the house where her insecurities hide in the shadows. Some fresh air can go a long way.

SELF-CARE

In the midst of being a female, I think all of us females can agree sometimes our hormones get the best of us, and not giving enough back to ourselves, self-love and care need to be practiced. A little reflection while meditating can really help you get to the root of what is going on within. Maybe going out to a yoga class isn’t ideal for your vina at the moment, but in the age of the internet-you can pop a basic yoga video on your laptop and do it together in the comfort of your own home.

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PATIENCE

It is very important that you take your time with a vina. It may seem time consuming and repetitive, but your vina needs you now more than ever. A funny gif here, a good meme there, a well-placed trip to the movies, or an occasional walk … no matter how small it may seem to you, it could mean the world to your vina.

Remember: There are many resources available to provide support to those affected by suicide. If someone you know needs help, suggest these resources immediately:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or text “Talk” to 741741.
  • Crisis Text Line — Text START to 741741
  • TREVOR Project — 866-488-7386
  • Trans Lifeline — 877-565-8860

Of course, new vinas are always waiting to talk. Click here to start your friendship journey.

 

 

BEST STUDIO WORKOUT CLASSES TO TAKE WITH YOUR VINA

Ahh, summer — ‘tis the season for hiking, biking, swimming, kayaking, kiting, boating and the like. However, if you find your enthusiasm for sun-soaked adventures being met with mixed looks of terror and confusion, fret not! There are still plenty of opportunities to stay active even if your best vinas prefer the concrete jungle and comfortable air-conditioned rooms over venturing out to the great outdoors. Forgo bug repellent, sunscreen re-applications, and nature’s elements with these amazing studio classes:

BARRE

While there are many great variations to choose from (ex. The Barre Method, Pure Barre, Industrial Barre and so on), I really enjoy Barre3 workouts. The classes are zero-pressure, low-impact, joyous, high-energy, and unique every single time I show up. A class typically lasts an hour and is set to contemporary uptempo dance music. In case you and your vina get hooked, Barre3 is also available online — yes queen, you can stream hundreds of workouts with an affordable monthly subscription!

REFORMER PILATES

The reformer is a complex piece of workout equipment that requires extensive training, but the benefits of the exercises are endless. The combinations of moves are exhilarating and you’ll feel that your entire body has ‘woken up,’ lengthened and toned within a few sessions. While there are many studios that host reformer classes most of them are much too pricey for a mere millennial mortal, which is why I personally favor the Club Pilates franchise (i.e. the studios are clean, the instruction is high quality, and the prices are within reach).

YOGA

From aerial to power, to yin and restorative — yoga can be a truly uplifting experience to share with a friend. I’ve been to many yoga studios around California and the Pacific Northwest, and all of my favorites have these things in common: clean locker rooms and studio floors, well-cared-for props, and down-to-earth instructors. The instructor really makes or breaks the overall class experience so I would Yelp and Google the instructors of the classes you’re considering before choosing when and where to go. For the record, Jana Kilgore rocks my world.

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SPIN CLASS

There are infinite spaces which host spin classes, although the more popular franchises are Soulcycle, Cyclebar, and Flywheel. I’ve never really enjoyed the sensation of cycling so I don’t have an unbiased personal recommendation for you, but what I can tell you is that this workout can become very hard on the knees, very quickly, if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing. Proper form is everything in most exercise regimens, but it’s acutely felt in this one.

INDOOR ROW

Even though these are rare gems to find, they are so worth the search! The rowing machine workout is totally underhyped (which I feel is a travesty). Rowing is a full-body,  fat-blasting activity — in just 45 minutes of steady rhythmic movement, you’ll feel like a magical fairy gliding out of the studio. I recently discovered Urban Row in my neighborhood, and I am so excited about getting on a more regular schedule.

There’s nothing quite like pushing yourself to ‘go the distance’ with a friend by your side; so grab your soulmate for a #swoledate and have a great time sweating it out! Take a walk to cool off afterward, grab some post-workout smoothies or coffee, and reminisce about your favorite moments.

What are you waiting for? Start swiping to find a vina who loves fitness in your area! Tip: Join the athletes, runners or yoga community to maximize your matches!

HOW TO MEDITATE AND MAKE IT PART OF YOUR DAY

Have you ever wanted to live the zen life but felt it took a ton of candles, incense, crystals, and possibly a mountaintop for complete mediation? It doesn’t have to be elaborate or as planned out as you would imagine.

Consider the benefits of meditation:

  • Reduces stress
  • Improves concentration and reduces distractions in your daily life
  • Increases happiness
  • Improves mood and emotional awareness
  • Reduces premenstrual problems

HOW TO MEDITATE

A busy vina knows that it might not always be feasible to get in a full meditation session. One of the key things to remember when meditating is quality over quantity. You want to make sure that the way you are meditating surpasses the amount of time you spend doing it. Meditating for a solid five minutes where you can clear your head, gain mindfulness, and embrace the clarity is far better than 30 minutes of interruptions and tense shoulders.

BE STILL. LITERALLY!

Sitting or lying down is ideal when meditating. You need to be able to relax every muscle. Breathing in, concentrate on channeling your breath to the top of your head and relaxing yourself. With each breath, breathe in a feeling of light or positive energy to that area; on the exhale, imagine releasing the negative energy. Continue breathing like this through each part of your body, down to your toes. As a beginner, you can start with the larger body parts and with more experience get more detailed.

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QUIET YOUR MIND

The hardest part of meditating can be quieting your mind. We have a laundry list of things that need to get done. We live in a society with deadlines and clock watchers, but that needs to be put aside when meditating. A lot of vinas recite mantras or affirmations to lessen the noise and streamline their focus.

Some examples are:

Today will be a great day.

I love myself and all my imperfections.

I release all negativity from my surroundings.

If you find yourself drifting into thoughts about the report that’s due tomorrow, simply allow it and gently bring your mind back to your practice. Forcing your mind to go blank will only make the process more difficult. Another great option is to look for a meditation soundtrack that can block out outside noise and reinforce your solitude.

FALL DOWN SEVEN TIMES….

Even if you don’t accomplish absolute bliss during your meditation session, don’t get frustrated. Being resilient and trying again will only help improve your skills. Try a different position or time of day. Maybe music isn’t your thing, but candles are, so give it a try! Anyone can meditate, it just takes practice to get good at it. Namaste.

Share your meditation and relaxation tips with other vinas to spread the positivity! 

 

HOW TO TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH—EVEN WHEN YOU’RE REALLY BUSY

I have always been the type to take on a lot and do it all without pause for a break. There was a point while attending my university where I was so sick I had a fever every day for about two weeks because I just didn’t have time to sleep.

Yeah, I know, I was a keener.

Now, I’m not what you would call a “keener” anymore, but I still do overwork myself because I’m the type of person who needs to be doing something constantly—whether it’s reading a book, cleaning the house, or binge-watching an entire season of a show. It’s like I have to accomplish something (even the tiniest thing) every day; everything besides my mental health.

Well, I’ve learned that mental health is ESPECIALLY important when you’re really busy, but I know it seems impossible when you’ve got a lot going on.

Listed below are ways to alleviate the stressors of your busy day that are so beneficial to your mental state:

Give yourself AT LEAST one block of time a day to take a quick break.

This could be the half hour after you get home from work, or going to bed 15 minutes early.  My favorite time is after school and before bed. I use the time to connect with my partner and chat about the day and to read. The point is to use that time to wind down, maybe read a book or just lie on your bed for a few minutes and clear your mind. Whatever you do, during this time, stay away from screens. Your brain needs a break, and social media, even though we like it and want to use it, makes you feel busy and overwhelmed. It’s just the nature of it. Disconnect for only a few minutes a day, and it will help improve your mental health!

Eat more nutritious food.

I am definitely guilty of eating frozen pizza and chicken strips when I’m swamped with work, but that only puts more stress on our bodies, resulting in exhaustion. But when I bother to get up and chop some vegetables to eat with dip as a snack and eat healthier meals, I not only feel less stressed but I feel more positive!

So take 10 minutes to chop up some carrots and celery so that you have it ready when you need a snack. Plan a couple of quick meals ahead of time so that on your busiest days you can conveniently reheat it in the microwave. The best thing is to do this in advance, so if you know you’re going to be busy freeze some meals and thaw them out when you need it. And when you’re really busy, take an hour on the weekend and cook up a meal, so you have it for the next few days. I know, it feels like you could use your time for something better, but if you feed your body what it needs, you won’t be as tired and you won’t feel as stressed. It’s worth the effort!

If you have a friend or a significant other, who can help you, ask them!

I used to have a super weird habit of not moving from my desk when I’m on a roll with writing, not even going to the washroom! So, when I was in university, a good friend of mine would check on me every so often (we lived on the same floor in residence) and she’d just open the door, say, “go to the bathroom!” and wait for me to come back so we could chat for a quick break.

These are people who care about you, so if you just let them know you’re feeling overwhelmed, they’ll want to help. If you live with your friend/significant other, ask if they do more cooking or take out the trash or whatever it is to help lighten your load. Ask a friend if they can come over at a particular time of day and force you to go to for a walk (or make you go the bathroom…)

Work at least 10-20 minutes of exercise into your day.

It doesn’t need to be a big deal. Just go for a walk, and after 10 minutes turn back. Alternatively, download Zova or QuickFit and do a couple of exercises quickly! It will do wonders for your mental health, so if you can scrounge 20 minutes of your time, you won’t regret it. It might hurt at the time (well, it will) but after you will feel a bit better! If you have to, reward yourself after – like chocolate milk, my favorite! Try to do this three times a week, but if you can’t, don’t worry about it. The point is to reduce stress, not add to it!

If you bus to work or to your activities, listen to music or read a book instead of checking your phones for emails and text messages. 

Use the time to give yourself a mental break or reflect on your day. Again, any chance you have to stop feeling like you need to be doing something is vitally important! If your commute is especially long and you need the time to check those emails or do some work, then give yourself at least 15-20 minutes of a mental break during that time where you don’t do any of that work. Then get to it!

Reduce the stress by writing everything you have floating around in your head down.

Get it out of your head! It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re trying to remember everything randomly. If you get all your to-dos and obligations out either on paper or in a list on your phone it will not only help you to see exactly what you have to do in a manageable way, but you’ll offload some of that stress because you don’t need to keep remembering – you can just refer to it on your phone, your planner, or wherever. It won’t be swirling around your head! So look at your list and figure out what needs to be done right away, what can wait, and do the most urgent things first.

Start saying no and cutting out things you don’t NEED to do.

When you’re super freaking busy, it’s the time to start prioritizing. You need to decide what’s most important to you. For me, I decided I don’t need to dust every single day or clean the bathroom every single week so that I can have some extra time to myself to literally. just. breathe. (see below)

If you don’t start prioritizing you-time and your mental health, your stress will start building. You need to start letting things go! Make a list of things you’re feeling pressure to do and begin generously crossing things off that you don’t have to do. Look at what you have left. Do you have the time, energy, and/or money to do them? Then do them, but ALWAYS make sure that no matter what, even if you can fit all those things in, you leave some extra time for just. Doing. NOTHING. Even for 10 minutes!

Read. (Seriously.)

Yep. Not joking. It keeps me grounded, even if I only read for 15 minutes a day. (If you have time, or during your daily block of just 15 minutes, read the book The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck to start. Trust me, it’s the best.)

Use a meditation app (or just simply breathe) for 5-10 minutes a day.

I used to work in the service industry in a busy downtown restaurant in Vancouver, and there were days where I had 12 tables at once, which is completely outrageous. When I felt overwhelmed and freaked out, I would stop at the till where I was entering in orders, close my eyes, and breathe for a few seconds. It was kind of incredible how well that works!

Now I use the app that came with my Bellabeat Leaf (a pretty step-tracking device) when I have a few minutes of free time and I actually remember. You might not think breathing and being mindful helps, but if you take it seriously and you give it a chance, it really does help!

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Get enough sleep and make sure you have a good pillow!

I’ve been paying a lot of attention to sleep lately, because well, I suck at it apparently. I keep waking up groggy, sore, and hating mornings. I discovered my pillow was REALLY bad, so I found a new pillow that I decided to splurge on (it’s amazing, by the way – the Xtreme Comforts Memory Foam pillow on Amazon) and it helped a lot. Like, the first night I slept on it was like a dream! And it’s been consistent since then.

Besides that though, I tend to get between 6-7.5 hours of sleep each weeknight, and for me that’s not enough, even though I’m sleeping better.

It’s important to get enough sleep, because it helps you physically but it also reduces stress. Have you ever noticed how freakin’ bitchy you are when you’re tired?! I know I can be awful. So take care of yourself and get a MINIMUM of 7 hours a night at least on average.

Even if you think you can get more work done if you stay up late, it will not only reduce your efficiency that night, it will also effect your work the next day.

I hope these tips help you out. I know they’re all things you KNOW you need to do to take care of yourself, but you struggle to do them. (I know I do!) So choose one or 2 of these things to incorporate into your life and practice doing them. You’re not going to do it consistently right away, but any improvement is a good improvement!

Do you have any more ideas? What do you do to take care of yourself when you’re really busy? Share in a comment below!

This article was originally published on FlightandScarlet.com.

Take some time away from the stress and team up with a vina to hit up a local yoga class! 

 

5 NEW WORKOUTS YOU HAVE TO TRY WITH YOUR VINAS!

When we think of exercise, we often think of waking up early for a run or hitting the gym, which sometimes can seem downright boring!

Thankfully, exercise is a lot more than weights and cardio—it can be any activity that gets you moving and your heart pumping. And lucky for you, we’ve got five brand-new fitness trends you have to try with your vina-crew!

MERMAID SWIMMING

Who didn’t watch The Little Mermaid and wish they could be part of that world? Mermaid swimming incorporates the physical benefits of doing laps with the fun of wearing a tail!

A quick google search of mermaid swimming in your area will bring up introductory classes you can try (make sure to ask beforehand if the tails are provided).

PLOGGING

If some of your goals include getting in shape and making a contribution to the world, we recommend trying out plogging, a combination of jogging and picking up litter.

This workout can be done by picking up garbage during your run or simply dedicating 10 minutes after your run to do so.

Giving back to Earth while also giving back to our bodies—what a win-win!

LOG ROLLING

Fun fact: While log rolling is usually seen in Saturday morning cartoons, this is actually a sport. Log rolling involves two competitors fighting to stay on a log the longest with the winner getting bragging rights.

Unlike the other entries on this list, this activity is harder to find unless you live in a city where lumberjack lessons and shows are common.

AERIAL HOOP & YOGA

Aerial yoga is basic yoga with the use of a hammock, while aerial hoop uses a hoop, of course. However, both tend to fall in the acrobatic category and are simple variations of exercise you’ve probably done before.

This workout is offered in specialized gyms, studios, and the circus. Just be careful; the risk of injuries are higher with these workouts.
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GOAT YOGA

As seen on social media (and a recent episode of The Fosters), goat yoga is exactly what it sounds like: yoga with goats. Soon to become another cult fitness-trend, goat yoga can be found in any major city or farm.

While the idea of goats jumping around and nibbling on things sounds less than relaxing, various studies have shown the health benefits of being around animals. Plus, goats are super cute.

Like these ideas? Find a vina and start sweating it out! Swipe here.