15 Things You Can Do To Make Earth Day EVERYDAY

  1. Turn off the water while brushing you teeth, shaving, or another time-consuming task.
  2. Bring your own grocery bags to shop for food and other items.
  3. Ditch plastic water bottles and disposable coffee cups.
  4. Choose to buy items with little or no packaging.
  5. Reduce the amount of take out food you consume. Even one less meal per week makes a difference in the trash you make.
  6. Refill containers of laundry soap, dish soap, etc at a place like Rainbow Grocery or Green 11.
  7. If you live where there is a place that carries bulk, commit to filling bottles rather than buying new. In the Bay Area you can get cooking oils, vinegars, syrup, honey, nut butters, dry foods, and much more.
  8. Use cloth napkins instead of paper.
  9. Bring your own cutlery instead of using disposable.
  10. Buy local and close to home whenever possible to reduce your carbon footprint.
  11. Switch all of your bills and statements paperless and pay your bills online.
  12. Compost your food scraps.
  13. Recycle paper and packaging.
  14. Make your own cleaning supplies. Vinegar, tea tree oil, baking soda are great cleaners.
  15. If you drive bundle your errands and carpool whenever possible.

Please share your additional ideas in the comments below. Thank you!

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The Yoga of Life – Five Steps to Being In the Flow

Do you believe that everything you do is infused with the energy you do it with? If you are frantic and stressed in your life then your life will be frantic and stressful. If you are peaceful and calm you will have more peace and ease in your life. This DOES NOT mean that difficult things won’t happen to you or that you won’t be challenged. But, there is evidence that your internal state determines your external state.

Yoga holds the potential for you to approach everything in your life with peace and calm in your heart. The physical practice on the mat is just the beginning. There is more to learning how to confront fear and step past limitation besides doing a fancy arm balance, a graceful backbend, or a crazy contortion.

Do your efforts on the mat support you in your open eyed Sadhana – that thing we call life? Especially when things get tough? The physical practice has the capacity to wake up your body and increase your awareness. But what you do with that awareness is up to you. How do you act/react when discomfort arises, when things don’t go your way, or when you get bad news? This is the real proof of yoga. It takes practice to sit with things like emotional pain, physical discomfort, uncertainty… These are the most difficult asanas in life.

Finding the opportunity in the face of a challenge is a high yoga. It is possible to use our difficulties to cultivate mental strength, emotional balance, and spiritual fortitude for your life off the mat. That sounds great right, but how? Being present with what is, relaxing and accepting it, and allowing it to shift you are all like building a muscle, increasing flexibility, or trying to nail a posture. It takes practice.

At Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health  a process called BRFWA is taught to practice being in the flow of what is happening. These five steps will help you develop a relationship with yourself and with your life. After all you cannot choose, force, or control what happens to you only how you respond to it.

Breathe. Take several breaths inhaling into your belly and exhaling slowly until the breath is extinguished. This turns on your parasympathetic nervous system.

Relax. Scan your body to find where you are holding tension. Invite it to release by bringing the breath there and softening. Increase tension in the places that are most challenging to let go of and then soften. The contrast often helps.

Feel. This is an emotional body scan. Notice feelings, sensations, and be present with the experience without trying to change it, ignore it, or stuff it down. Let yourself feel fully.

Watch. Be the witness of the experience. Observe it, create spaciousness around it, and offer it compassion.

Allow. Continue to be present with the experience and cultivate acceptance. Relax into what is.

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You may find that you will need to go back to step one and start again. Some situations you will move through quickly while others may take some time. Keep this tool with you and use it faithfully. Let me know how it goes.

* For more explanation on BRFWA read here, here, and here!

Relief From Standing

It’s been fun making the Yoga Anywhere! Take Five and Stretch Videos and I appreciate the positive feedback I’ve  been hearing from you. I am so glad the videos are helpful!

Some of you have reached out and said that you stand all day, and asked what you can do to ease the discomfort and pain that results.  This week’s post is for you. If you’re a teacher, retail worker, doctor, nurse, waitresses, cashiers or other stander, here are some tips for you!

A few of the consequences of standing at your job all day are; sore feet, varicose veins, stiff lower back, locking the knee joint, and just like our seated friends, stiff neck and shoulders.

Here are some ways you can relieve these symptoms.

1. When you get home each evening take your shoes off and don’t wear them around the house. After removing your shoes use your hands to give yourself a foot massage bringing circulation back to your feet.

2. Give your feet and legs a rest by putting your legs up the wall. Here’s how! While you are there point and flex your feet and roll your ankles in circles in both directions, then rest for at least 10 minutes. In addition to being rejuvenating and boosting to your immune system, this posture is wonderful relief to tired legs and helps to combat varicose veins.

3. Invest in a pair of YogaToes® toe stretchers! I bought these 14 years ago when I was on my feet all day as a schoolteacher and I still love them! They may not be comfortable at first but work up to wearing them for an hour each day. Not only does it feel like having a foot massage but these funny looking things will prevent and even reduce bunions. I don’t profit from your purchase, these are just something I really believe in.

4. Stretch your thighs with a standing quad stretch and use this supine yoga sequence to open your hamstrings and hips. Both will free your lower back.

5. Sit in Virasana (kneeling on your knees) with a rolled up yoga mat or blanket  between your thighs and calves. Start in the knee joint and gradually move the roll back towards the ankles. Sit in the juicy spots longer! Opening your knee joint and giving it traction allows circulation. As you move the roll down you mash your calves and hamstrings releasing tightness in these muscles. This posture is especially important if you wear heels and/or hyperextend your knees.

6. Invest in a foam roller and roll out all sides of your legs. You can also lay over it both parallel and perpendicular to your spine to open the front chest.

Other Tips:

• Change your posture often.
• Notice if you tend to stand thrusting one hip forward or to the side. Practice being aware of standing evenly on both feet. If that is not realistic for  you switch sides often and teach yourself not to favor one leg.
• Be aware of your knee joint and avoid hyperextending or locking your knees.
• Make sure your core is engaged to support your lower back. When I say core, I mean your lower abs and deeper postural muscles which are your funcional support. HERE are a few ways to increase support and stability there.
• Invest in a pair of comfortable and supportive shoes. Thank goddess they make fashionable comfort these days! I often put pair of SuperFeet in my shoes.
• Avoid standing on hard surfaces. Ask your company to buy a rug or a rubber mat or cushion for you to stand on.
• Use the Yoga Anywhere! videos stretch your neck and shoulders while standing up.

YogaToes

 

 

Live On The Edge

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Earth Day

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Five Tips To Thrive This Holiday Season

The holidays are upon us. It’s a time when the world around us is festive but the body needs more rest.  Here are some tips to conserve your energy and enjoy this time of celebration.

1. Go to bed 1 hour earlier each night you are home.  That way you will be well rested for the nights you are out celebrating.

2. Make a big pot of soup or stew and roast some root vegetables.  Eating nourishing and grounding foods, rather than grabbing what is fast and easy will help you stay healthy and balanced this season.

3. Commit to your yoga practice and get to the mat each day. If  you can’t make it to class, here are some short home routines to help get you started.

4. Take a 5-20 minute break each day. Turn off your computer, put down your phone and check out!  Dance, draw, put your legs up the wall, have a cup of tea, take a walk, stare into space….

5. Start the day with 2-4 glasses of warm lemon water each day and continue to drink warm fluids throughout the day.

Wishing you a blessed holiday season!

Live Vibrantly – October

Asana:  Ground yourself and build inner and outer strength by practicing wide squat, aka “Goddess Pose.”

Goddess Pose – courtesy of alisontaggartbarone.com/NPS

Alignment technique:
• Take a wide stance and turn your toes out
• Be sure your knees and feet point in the same direction
• Reach your feet down into the earth as you bend your knees
• Only lower as far as you can without moving your torso forward
• Breathe and hold until fatigued  – then repeat
• Practice until you can lower your thighs and pelvis parallel to the earth

The Planet:  Reduce the landfill. Reuse whenever possible, otherwise recycle, compost, or give it to someone who can use it!

Inspiration: “Perhaps the secret of living well is not in having all the answers but in pursuing unanswerable questions in good company.” Rachel Naomi Remen

Live Vibrantly – September

Asana: Go to a public yoga class 1-3 times a week.  On the days in between practice what you love and one thing that is challenging for you. Share your progress on my Facebook page.

The Planet:  Come on out for California Costal Cleanup Day. Join me for free yoga and cleanup on Ocean Beach or help out on another water way near you!

Inspiration: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Harold Whitman

 

 

Live Vibrantly – August

Asana: I have been working on building strength and holding plank is really helping.  How long can you hold it? Practice every day and increase by 10 seconds or 2 breaths. Let the community know how you feel by posting on Namastacey Yoga San Francisco!

The Planet: Reuse containers by refilling your household cleaning products.  In San Francisco check out Rainbow Grocery and Green 11.

Inspiration: I am inspired by all of the stories our friend, Jeannie Page is collecting in The Yoga Diaries.  Check them out and contribute one of your own!

The Pebble In Your Shoe

You know that little ache in your body? The one you have learned to live with and work around in your yoga practice and in other physical activities, that thing you just manage to deal with or rather choose to forget about in your life? Yeah, that one. We all have them; it’s part of being in a body. But do you know what? You don’t have to live with it anymore.

Those little tweaks and aches are messages telling your body that something is out of alignment. Perhaps you are stronger in one area and weaker in another.  Maybe you have an old accident or injury, or perhaps even an emotional trauma about which you may have forgotten; a trauma that is still having a residual effect on your body, like when you fell off your bike as a child or your first heartbreak. Perhaps it’s simply the fact that we are asymmetrical beings and we all favor one side versus the other. I know those little ‘workarounds’ all too well. I’ve had a few of them myself and you know what I’ve found? When you clear them, something shifts, a big expansion occurs – Like clouds parting and the sun coming out (cue the harps playing). I know it sounds corny but it’s not far from the truth.

Here’s what I mean: Imagine you are walking down the road and there is a little pebble in your shoe. It’s not too bad so you keep on walking. It’s irritating you but not enough to stop and take off your shoe and empty it out. This activates your nervous system and your entire body begins to compensate for it. Just like the operating system on your computer tells the printer to print or a disc to play, your muscles do what the nervous system tells them to do. That pebble in your shoe becomes the norm: Your whole body organizes around it and adapts; that is the way it recovers.

When you finally take the time to remove the pebble from your shoe greater ease comes over your whole being: the light is brighter, your vision is clearer, and your nervous system relaxes. It’s like updating your operating system. In my experience this can be quite profound.

So how do you get that darn pebble out of your shoe? I am a firm believer in the power of yoga and regular bodywork. Healthy biomechanics in your yoga practice, along with the willingness to take the time to learn alignment and shift how you are using your body in your yoga and in life, is the first step.

In addition, a skilled body worker can assist you in making lasting changes so that the architecture of your structure is supported and aligned. With the help of a body worker, you may in fact discover that the spot where you feel the pain might not actually be the origin of the pain. The root cause of the pain may very well be in another part of your body that is related to and interlinked with the painful spot in a way you might not even imagine.

The benefits of healthy biomechanics and regular bodywork are tremendous: not only will you experience more ease in your body and in your life, but also it is likely that your overall health and well-being will improve. I don’t mean to imply that all your problems will go away, but in my experience when I feel good, I am better equipped to deal with what arises in my life and I am therefore happier overall.

So here’s where you can start: My good friend and respected colleague, Mike Lane, and I are teaching a workshop about how to get that pesky pebble out of your shoe! This workshop is designed for anyone with a body to learn to help themselves when these troublesome moments arise: you sleep funny and your neck has a crick, you pick up something heavy and your lower back goes out, you go on a hike and your knee hurts the next day. We will show you how to work with these therapeutic concerns and many more. And for those of you that are yoga teachers yourselves, this workshop will help you to better assist your students and private clients.

“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.” – Muhammad Ali

 

Mobilize Your Body: Functional Anatomy
and Yoga Therapy for Yoga Practitioners

September 8-9
9:30am-5:30pm
Yoga Tree Mission

http://bit.ly/StaceyMikeFunctionalAnatomySept8Mission