It’s Poison!!!

We have been so hyper-focused on what we put in our bodies lately.  This is a good thing…no, this is a great thing!  However, it’s not the end of the conversation.  Its just as important to assess the products you put on and absorb into your body.

The U.S. bans 30 toxins.  Compare that to 600 in Canada and 1400 in the EU.  Thanks, America! Really! This means, we have to do the work.

These toxins are everywhere too! They are in food, plastics, furniture, food wrap, cookware, cans, carpets, shower curtains, electronics, shampoo and the list goes on. (#sadface)

A few years back, I was reading an article about the effects of chemical hair straighteners.  I was shocked to find out that they were linked to early puberty and Alopecia.  I had used chemical hair straighteners on my hair for most of my life.  I mean as far back as I could remember, I was frying my hair in one way or another trying to achieve the straightest strands possible.   I would take pain medication before my trip to the salon because my scalp would burn so badly from the chemicals.

After I read that article, I felt free.  Free from the burden of trying to make my hair do something it clearly didn’t want to do.  I decided to stop poisoning myself in that way.  I decided to take some time to get to know my real hair.  Years later, I can now see the natural shine of my hair coming back.  The scary part is how long it has taken to see the healthy hair.  I literally had to restore my hair from the root.

Now my eyes have been opened to the other toxins that we are exposing ourselves to on a daily basis.  According to a recent CNN article, some of the top toxins to watch out for are:

Organophosphate Pesticides

  • Used in pesticides used by most farms
  • To avoid: Eat Organic

 

Phthaltes

  • Found in shampoos, conditioners, body sprays, hair sprays and nail polish, to name a few.
  • To avoid: Use unscented lotions, cleaners and detergents.  Microwave food in glass dish.

 

Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers

  • Used in televisions, computers, insulation and baby pillows
  • To avoid: Use free of flame retardant

Click here to read the full article from CNN.

How do we stop taking in the toxins?  One product at a time.  As I finish an item, I pledge to replace it with a cleaner alternative.  Its a marathon, not a sprint after all!

Change your perspective

I think we underestimate how powerful a change in perspective can be. Remember what Wayne Dyer said…

wayne dyer change perspective

This past weekend, I took a little time off and hit the road. I drove to Maine for the sole purpose of changing my perspective and recharging my batteries. I took some of the comforts of home with me, such as my oil diffuser, essential oils, yoga mat and a couple of good books. The trip was just what the doctor ordered.

The first day, I tried to ram my usual routine down my throat. I had passed some retail outlets on the way to the hotel and I was ready to shop til I drop. (or so I thought) The old me would have loved this shopping excursion and would have tried to buy everything in sight. This time felt a little different. I popped into stores and almost as quickly popped back out. I was not getting the same satisfaction that I used to get from shopping. In fact, it was draining and starting to depress me. I was beginning to feel alone and bored. What was happening? This trip of solitude was just what I thought I needed. So why was it starting to feel so depressing? I drank a little too much wine that night and went to bed. Ugh!

The next day, I woke up with a renewed sense of excitement. Today is going to be different from yesterday, I told myself. I took some time to remember what I had wanted to accomplish on this weekend getaway. I wanted to connect with nature and thereby connect with my true self. I decided to go to the public park before heading to my all day yoga retreat on a farm.

Ahh, what a difference a day makes! The park was BEAUTIFUL. Fall foliage was blooming everywhere and just a ¼-mile walk up the trail led me to the expansive water. I could feel the clean air relaxing me with each breath. The sun was starting to come out and my mood was certainly uplifted. I enjoyed the park so much that I was almost late to the retreat.

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The retreat was on a farm where goats and chickens roamed freely. They were the happiest animals I had come in contact with and so photogenic! The retreat was all I could have hoped for and more! We practiced Vinyasa Yoga, said some mantras, ate a delicious Ayurvedic lunch, made our own Malas, practiced Kundalini yoga, had a gong bath and finished the day by a fire pit. Whew…that was a lot! It was powerful, moving and freeing! By the end of the day, those 10 other women became a part of my Ohana! We were hugging and promising to stay in touch by our departure.

The last day, I continued the magic of the day before. I woke up with a full game plan. I went to breakfast at a highly rated restaurant. Followed by a trip to another park. This park also had a public garden. My last stop was at Ganesh Imports, a bohemian and handmade jewelry store.

The trip was only a couple of days but the impression it left will last a lifetime. During this getaway, I learned a bit about the “new” me. I learned that I love nature. I feel renewed among nature. I am no longer a shopaholic. (Yay!) In addition, I LOVE animals. Sounds pretty basic but for me this was eye-opening. I mean, I’m a city girl through and through but with a small change in perspective I can appreciate all that the outdoors can give you…clean air, a clear mind and a renewed sense of self.

Take Four

There are several methods of meditation and it doesn’t matter which you choose.  It’s only important that you make time to do it.  How to choose the best one for you?  I was once told, “It’s like dating.  You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.”  In other words, try them all on for size.

I like variety and use different methods at different times.  The key is to settle the mind and B. R. E. A. T. H. E.

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One method I offer you today is a breathing technique.  It can be done at anyplace or anytime.  So if you are at work and feeling stressed, take four.

It can be done standing or sitting and the eyes can be closed or gaze down.  Inhale for a count of 4, hold the breath for a count of 4 and exhale for a count of 4.  When you inhale, expand the belly. When you exhale, constrict the belly.  Repeat this 4 times. By the third cycle, you will free brand new.  The fourth is just for icing on the cake.

The process of expanding the belly on the inhale and constricting on the exhale may seem a little weird at first.  Keep at it.  It will be become increasingly easier to maneuver.  The best part about this technique is it’s a miracle-worker!  You body can’t hold tension and stress and do this breathing technique at the same time.  How cool is that?

So the next time you are close to freaking out at work, take four and let me know if it works for you.

Let Your Intentions Be Known

vision boards

Vision boards – a collage of images, pictures and affirmations of one’s dreams and desires, designed to serve as a source of inspiration. (Wikipedia)

This past February I was introduced to the concept of vision boards. I had heard of them before that but never really understood what they were. I attended a local workshop and created my very first vision board.

We had stacks of magazines, poster boards, old books, decorative paper, decorative scissors (I was so addicted to the scissors) and markers.  The first step was to set our intentions for our life.  We jotted down some words and concepts that represented our intentions.  This helped focus our efforts when going through the mags and books.  Once we had cut out all of our pictures, we glued them to the poster board and added affirmations.  The final step was to put a picture of our self on the board.  I was so proud of it!  It fully represented my intentions and I thought it was quite beautiful!

The next questions I had were…Now what? What do I do with this thing? Do I bow to it? Do I pet it? (#confused) After asking around, I learned that you pretty much set it and forget it.  So, I brought my board home, put it in a special place and carried on with life. Every so often, I would review the board and do a check-in. To my surprise, things were happening!!!  My intentions were coming to fruition. It was truly profound to see that the power of an intention is magnified when you put it to paper.

This reminds me of the law of attraction. The idea that what you focus on grows. Focus on the beauty in the world and you will find more beauty to focus on.

focus grows

Therefore, I invite you to set your intentions and put those babies to paper. You will be shocked by what the universe returns to you.

Attitude of Gratitude

 

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Thoughts have power!  I have heard this over and over again throughout life, especially as of late.  They say, what you focus on grows.  What do you want to grow in your life?

I choose to nourish love, light, compassion and joy.  I make a point to focus on the beauty I see in the world.  I believe it was Mother Teresa when asked if she would attend a rally against war, said “no, but when you have a rally for peace, let me know…”.  Ok, I may be paraphrasing there but you get the point.

Last year while attending a tech conference, I went to hear Tony Robbins speak.  He said, “change your expectations to appreciations and your whole life will change.” At the time it just sounded like words.  Good words but words.  I mean, how do you do that anyway?  I let the idea sit on my brain for awhile and then a few months later I started an appreciation journal.  The journal is a timeline of events/special moments that have occurred in my life since the start of 2017.  Every so often I go back to this list and add the new stuff while also reviewing the old.  It is always eye-opening and quite moving to see all the occurrences summed up this way.  It re-ignites my passion for life and propels me to do more.

So, I invite you to practice Niyama.  It is the second limb of yoga.  It helps us maintain a positive environment in which to grow and gives us the self-discipline and inner-strength to progress along our path.

Just use your Prana…

pranayama-breathingPranayama

The fourth limb of Yoga means breath (prana) control (ayama). It is a set of breathing techniques that alter the breath to produce specific results. It is believed that it not only rejuvenates the body but also actually extends life itself. The three steps of Pranayama include:

  • Inhalation
  • Retention
  • Exhalation

Inhalation helps intake enough oxygen, retention enables the system to acquire the oxygen and exhalation removes the impurities from the body.

 

Some of the benefits of this practice are:

Pranayama breathing

 

Below are a few of the Pranayama Breathing Techniques.

  • Complete Belly Breath
    1. Hand on belly
    2. Slowly inhale through the nose
    3. Hold breath
    4. Exhale gently
  • Alternate Nostril Breathing – Great when you are feeling anxious
    1. Right thumb to right nostril, inhale
    2. Lift pinky to left nostril, exhale
    3. Continue for 3-5 mins
  • Ocean’s Breath – Great when you are angry
    1. Deep inhale through nose
    2. Exhale constricting the throat muscles
  • Energizing Breath – Great when feeling sluggish or down
    1. Quick forceful breaths

 

Pranayama can be done by itself or while doing Asanas.

Get Your Yamas in Check…

 

Yama, the first limb of yoga is the suggestion on how we should deal with those around us. It is the moral code. There are 5 characteristics to Yama…

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Ahimsa

We should do no harm to any creature or person. We will express kindness, friendliness and thoughtfulness to all beings through our thoughts, words and actions. The belief is that when you hurt others, you are actually hurting yourself.

One of the best-known promoters of this principle is Gandhi.  He believed, Ahimsa to be a creative energy force, encompassing all interactions leading to one’s divine truth.  His views influenced many such as, Martin Luther King, Jr. and James Bevel.

Satya

Satya

We should be committed to truthfulness. Learn to speak your truth but be mindful of Ahimsa.  There is nothing higher than truth.  Everything is upheld by and rests upon it.

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Asteya

We should not take what is not ours. Find joy and gratitude for what you already have.  Asteya is not just the taking of physical property.  It is also, theft by intent and theft by manipulation.

Brahmacharya

Brahmacharya

We should have self-control. Harness sexual energy for creative purposes, as opposed to mindlessly engaging with no real intention.

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Aparigraha

We should take only what is necessary. Let go of your desires to control and relinquish your attachment to worldly things.

When our Yamas are in check, our human nature is pure and we contribute to the health and happiness of society. In other words, we are good little doobies!

The Journey of Ten Thousand Steps…

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I started this blog to 1: chronicle my path to living an “Eight-Limbed” life and 2: to help spread the wealth of knowledge there is out there about this very subject.

I began with an innocent visit to a yoga class.  My mother and I wanted a way to spend some quality time together. We also wanted to get fit so we decided to go to an Afro Flow Yoga class (SN: I love Afro Flow Yoga. The fusion of yoga, African dance and mindfulness is a perfect blend.).

I sparingly attended yoga classes after that. A few years later I found myself at a yoga by the water class. Oh, what an environment!!! The class took place on the patio of a local contemporary art museum. It was amazing. I spent every Sunday over that summer on that patio.

I thought I was just going to “do” yoga…haha, little did I know. I quickly learned that the organizers of the yoga on the water class also hosted similar types of classes. I was hooked! During these sessions I kept hearing the teachers mention the concept of yoga off the mat. Huh? What was that? And how can I get some?  I pursued it. I learned about meditating as a way of healing the mind and body. That led me to the idea of an Eight-Limbed practice.

This blog chronicles my pursuit of that journey.  Welcome, take a seat. It’s going to be a bumpy ride! 😉

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