The Adult Buddy System

I’ve set many goals that I haven’t achieved. There are some that I’m still working toward. The ones that I’ve actually stuck with are ones that I have/had accountability in place. Without accountability, I fell off the wagon pretty easily.

I listened to Tim Ferriss speak about personal accountability this week on the Rich Roll Podcast (my favorite podcast, hands down). One of the most effective ways that Tim engineers accountability in his health regimen is to pre-book personal training sessions or classes way in advance, put it in the calendar and pay for it all up front. There’s no way he can back out even if he wants to, or he’ll face losing hundreds of dollars.

Another intense but highly effective accountability example that Tim laid out is a person setting aside money (potentially an uncomfortable amount) and if that person fails to meet the expectations or the goal, their money is donated to an “anti-charity” or an organization that person detests. That’s a serious accountability program!  

What would cultivate deep motivation for you? Would it be losing a large sum of money by backing out of commitments? Would it be the sense of disappointment that others might feel in you when you don’t honor the plan you’ve set?

You can use this knowledge of yourself to put accountability programs in place. One method that has worked for me so far is that my husband and I make great accountability partners for each other. He can fall into healthy habits rather easily, and living with him is great motivation. Our accountability is our bond with each other... we each want to live up to the promise we've made to the other person.

We formalized it by creating a spreadsheet for the goals we are working toward every day. For example, there's a workout tracker where we log how many minutes we've worked out each day, and what we did. We both have access to it and can log the necessary information. We are showing up for each other every day and being transparent in our efforts to reach our goals and grow. And it's super gratifying to see it all laid out on "paper" -- especially when you see hundreds of minutes logged! 

Do you have someone like that in your life with whom you can create a check-in system? What would the stakes be like if you fail to meet the expectations you both committed to?

If you need someone to be an accountability buddy for you, that’s a big part of a health coach’s job. We can work together to define your goals, or if you already have them in place, we can set up a system of check-ins and support.

Don't hesitate to reach out if you're feeling the need for support and accountability on your way to hitting your goals, your topping personal bests and living your dreams.


Inside Out: The link between gut health & skin

I was one of those kids who was sick all the time. I had chronic sinus infections, ear infections, and had tubes surgically implanted in my ears on multiple occasions to help the fluid drain from my swollen head.

Throughout my childhood and into my young adult life, the second I sneezed, I had to start taking antibiotics in order to keep away or cure the inevitable infection that was coming. I cannot count the number of antibiotics I’ve been on throughout my life. Packs on packs on packs.

Flash forward two decades and I’m in a prominent dermatologist’s office, trying to figure out how I ended up with rosacea as a healthy young adult (a condition that normally surfaces in middle-aged adults). Rosacea is a pain in the ass. It causes itchy, red, hot and bumpy skin on the face. It’s obviously not life-threatening, but it is really uncomfortable and will deal a blow to your self-esteem.

Here’s a few of the tidbits I received from my health professional:

  • We don’t know what causes rosacea
  • We don’t know why you have it
  • We don’t have a cure for it
  • We think there’s a genetic link
  • We do know that you should avoid spicy food, alcohol, exercise, sunshine and steamy environments like saunas (I basically heard: NO FUN EVER AGAIN), because these things are triggers for rosacea patients. 

And here’s the last whopper:

  • We don’t know why, but taking low-grade antibiotics over the long term seems to help.


Now, I don’t have a license to practice dermatology. What I do have is enough common sense to know that I didn’t have an infection, so why would I be prescribed antibiotics for the foreseeable future? And I'm not the only one who's read about antibiotic-resistant superbugs that have started springing up in the recent past. Why should I be binging on them?! I declined the prescription and high-tailed it out of there with a moderately helpful synopsis of some triggers for skin irritation, but with a lot of irritated feelings toward western medicine as well.

Now that I’m a certified Health Coach, I’ve gone through enough studies and experimentation with my own body to know that the biggest link between my skin health and antibiotics is that these packs were likely the CAUSE of my symptoms, not the CURE. Western doctors had it completely backwards.

Antibiotics disrupt the balance of gut bacteria, tipping the scales in favor of harmful ones and away from protective ones. It’s like setting off a bomb in your gut -- you can wipe out up to a third of your bacteria with one pack. And it’s not quick and easy work to get the good guys back. We’re now learning that an imbalance in gut bacteria is responsible for many skin conditions, such as cystic acne, eczema, rosacea and other skin irritations, as well as many chronic auto-immune conditions.

My advice to anyone who has been diagnosed with an auto-immune disease or stubborn skin condition (or unexplained mood swings and depression!!) is to explore gut health. My all-time favorite book on the subject is The Microbiome Solution by Dr. Robynne Chutkan. You’ll be empowered to help yourself on your journey to better health, and to be your own advocate when dealing with doctors who might not be up to date on the diet and lifestyle changes that could easily help.

And if you're prescribed antibiotics for any reason, make sure to have a conversation with your doctor about whether it's absolutely essential for you to have them. It's for the good of your gut, and your entire being! 

To sign up for my workshop Caring for Your Second Brain: Intro to Gut Health, click here.

Caffeine Comedown

I love coffee. I really do. Quitting caffeine has been one of the hardest but most liberating things I’ve had to do for my health yet.

I read Dr. Sara Gottfried’s “Hormone Reset Diet” and learned that caffeine can contribute to estrogen imbalance in women. It’s one of her first recommendations to cut out to balance estrogen. I haven’t had my hormone levels tested, but I had noticed some new “symptoms” around my period - namely increased breast tenderness, a minor sign of high estrogen levels.

image via shutterstock

image via shutterstock

In my practice, I feel like the body is your own personal lab where you can experiment and find what actually works. I really just wanted to see what might happen! The pain was enough that I was willing to try it. I was also experiencing withdrawal headaches if I didn’t have my required amount by 1 PM. And historically I only ever had a single cup per day! My body was still painfully addicted.

The withdrawal headaches from quitting coffee were debilitating. They were on par with the worst migraines I’ve ever had. I actually was debating take a day or two off of work and setting myself up for a long weekend so I could detox. Then I got hit with a nasty flu! I decided to just ride it out, since I couldn’t feel worse than I already did. My 4 day stint with the flu was also my caffeine comedown.

I had always drank coffee since I was around 15 or 16, so there hasn’t been a time in my life that I’ve been off of caffeine… Except now! I’ve been off since early February, and the biggest change that I’m finding it easier to fall asleep and to wake up. Falling asleep used to take me about 2 hours, but now it’s probably more like a half hour.

Waking up used to be worse than an actual nightmare. My body never was prepared for it and my brain was strung out until I drank a cup. I didn’t want to have to rely on this substance anymore in order to be nice to people or to feel like I can function. Now I can wake up on time and adjust to my life more quickly and happily. I also sleep more deeply and soundly.

I hope that this might help you to consider lessening the amount of coffee you take in, or to be more mindful around it in general. Everything we put into our bodies has an effect. If you’ve ever wanted to see how your body self-regulates, try cutting back or eliminating different substances for a set time. You might be surprised that once you move past the ritual, the physical body is so happy to be free!

"HALT in the Name of Self Care!" by Sarah M. Chappell

This blog post is re-posted from my dear friend Sarah M. Chappell's web site! I spoke with her about how to deal with crazed emotions on-the-spot. Keep reading for our tips on how to take care of yourself when you're having a hectic day!

You know you've done it. You've ignored the signs, kept plowing through your busy to-do list, and then all of the sudden you pick up your head from your work and everything is a disaster. You cannot see straight, you are sad and furious and confused and OMG YOU HAVEN'T EATEN ALL DAY.

Hungry. Angry. Lonely. Tired. This handy acronym came my way early in my twelve-step program experience, and it is a goodie. When the anxiety and the fear and the crazy come a-knocking, one of these basic self-care needs has not been covered. There's a reason my self-care checklist starts off with a reminder to eat! If we forget food, keep ourselves in frustrating situations, cut ourselves off from our friends and family, and don't get enough sleep, we sure as hell aren't going to be happy and healthy people.

Tired has an easy solution: sleep. I do get tired and cranky, but sleep is usually not a problem for me. When it is, I check on my caffeine intake, my screen time before bed, and invite in herbal nervines like skullcap and lemon balm tea (also great for calming the fuck down). If insomnia is an issue, check out passionflower or valerian (but please talk to a qualified herbalist or health professional before putting stuff into your body). 

Lonely is harder for me because despite my best efforts, I still have a hard time asking for help. But another gift of twelve-step programs is learning to reach out and stay connected. I have a go-to list of ladies who I know will text me back or pick-up my call, and I do my best to use that tool. Sometimes when I cannot muster the will to talk to an actual human being, I watch favorite old TV shows with characters who feel like friends. Slightly pathetic? Possibly. But it truly helps to move the needle and get me out of HALT energy.

Food is where I lose my will. If I put off eating, I become a monster. This is a well known transformation in my family, and I go all the way. And that transformation, my friends, leads directly to Anger. I wanted to address all of HALT in this post, so I called in some extra help from a certified health coach. Gabrielle Gray, INHC is a wonderfully talented healer who was totally game to share about the parts of HALT that I feel particularly unqualified (i.e. am particularly prone to) to make recommendations for. 

When faced with some HALT level Hunger, Gabrielle goes nuts (sorry!). "I recommend taking down a handful of unsalted nuts of your choosing," Gabrielle says. "They are loaded with healthy fats which contribute to satiety, but also send lots of useful nutrients to your brain. When you’re experiencing any HALT feelings, your brain needs a little back-up!"

Nuts for the nutty! I have done my best to implement this recommendation, and my general wellbeing (and that of those around me) is improved if I can just grab a handful of nuts and eat them instead of spinning into food crisis mode. I have a tendency to grab something junky if I get too far into HALT, which Gabrielle says is a no go: "Avoid taking in simple carbohydrates by themselves when you’re feeling like this, because it can spike your blood sugar, resulting in a hard crash, or an increase in some of the symptoms."

The truth hurts.

Nuts not cutting it? Try a smoothie. "The reason I’d pick this over a green juice in a HALT scenario," Gabrielle says, "is that smoothies are more well-rounded. Whole plants and veggies contribute nutrients and fiber, you can add protein powder to make it more filling, and there is sometimes a healthy fat option as well (coconut oil, nut butter, or chia seeds). By having a smoothie that’s a mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat, it’s more of a balanced 'meal' that will get you out of those painful pangs and support you."

So you managed to sleep, call a friend, and eat something that didn't come from the chip aisle of the bodega. And you're still pissed off. Yeah, me too. Anger is the most difficult of the HALT signs for me to address. Anger gets deep into my body, makes my adrenals work overtime, and quickly brings on panic. 

Thankfully, Gabrielle had some tips on anger, too. "Remember that old adage about taking 10 deep breaths? That’s not a way to suppress anger," she says. "It can be very calming and clearing. When something happens that triggers your anger or anxiety, we’re not trying to pretend we don’t feel it. We just breathe deeply until we feel better equipped to handle it. This can take you from a reactionary place (where we sometimes say or do things we regret) to a place where you are more thoughtful about the situation, and perhaps even more accepting of some of the things that we don’t have control over."

Deep breathing is great in the heat of the moment, but what about those triggers that you just can't quit? "Simply to write it all out," Gabrielle says. "What got triggered for you? What was coming up in that moment? Write it all on a sheet of paper in a paragraph or list form. You can keep it if you feel like that might help you handle it, but it’s so gratifying to actually throw it away or burn it! Take it out of your brain, put it on paper, and light it up!"

HALTing makes me want to burn things anyway, so this tip has become my go-to. Write it down, burn it up, and move on. 

Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired cover so much of the pains that we feel on a daily basis. Self care comes in many forms, but addressing these integral human needs when they appear rather than hoping they'll magically go away (manifestation is powerful but I have yet to see the witch who can use it to balance her blood sugar) lays the foundation for a deeper level of respect for your body and its needs.

Do you HALT? What are your tricks for getting out of the danger zone? Please share in the comments below, and use #HealYourSelfCare on Instagram. Need some new tips? Download my free Self-Care Checklist here.

The Fallacy of Loving Yourself

“You can’t really love someone else until you love yourself.” This is one of the memes that bothers me the most when I see it floating around Instagram, decorated in the guise of a helpful quote. I’d like to posit that it does more harm than good.

This idea makes people (read: women) feel even more pressure to have it all figured out and to have achieved some level of perfection -- whether it be emotional, physical or spiritual -- before they are “ready” to get into a relationship.

You CAN love other people, and even that special someone, no matter where you’re at in life. This quote presumes that we have total control over the timing of our lives.

Newsflash: we don’t! The universe always has plans and is acting in our best interest. To stubbornly stick to a timeline of how you thought your life would work out, or to wrench your life into an arbitrary set of parameters, is downright painful.

I chose not to accept society’s timeline for my life, and I couldn’t be happier. When I moved to New York City, I had been in a relationship that wasn’t serving me. Before him, I had been in a relationship that gutted me. I was determined that when I moved down here, I would have a few years of singledom and focus on my career (cue the lights and music!). But the universe laughed in my face and put my husband in my path on DAY TWO of living here.

He and I were actually trying to avoid getting into another relationship, but we both felt that this was a big love we were working with, and we chose to honor that, rather than the “rational” option of spending time alone and working on ourselves.

When you find that person who you want to be in a committed relationship with, you can grow together and guide each other. The dreadful quote above essentially assumes that you stop growing, and that loving yourself is a finite thing that you can achieve, and then move on to the next marker. Loving ourselves is a journey. Expanding your relationship to yourself is a journey. A long-term relationship is a journey.

If you are put in the path of another loving soul and you are drawn to each other, please don’t turn it down because someone on the internet made you feel that you’re not ready. Make that decision for yourself. That person may be sent your way to hold your hand on the spiritual path, or to be a teacher for you -- for better or for worse.

Jaded and Confused -- My Yoga-Teaching Hiatus

I’ve been making an effort to get on my mat for 20-30 minutes a day at home and rebuild my daily practice. I haven’t been going out to classes lately, and have been feeling a bit jaded about some aspects of modern/western practice.

But in the big picture, it’s still an invaluable part of taking care of my physical body as well as my mind and spirit. Recently, in a quiet moment, I received the message: “You are your greatest teacher.” Thank you, universe, for reminding me to listen to my intuition and to my body, and to release self-judgment.

Last year, I was working in a yoga studio that had a different approach to the practice than I do. Not bad or wrong, just different. I had a client returning to me for my morning classes on a very regular basis, but upon seeing her wobbling in a pose and occasionally falling out, my manager told me “That’s not yoga.”

Her argument was that as the body moves in and out of a pose and struggles, the mind cannot enter a steady, meditative place. (I find that the lessons learned when we fall out of a pose are a big part of the spiritual aspect of practice, but whatever.) What I heard in her first three words were an indictment of my teaching skill.

Yoga in the kitchen...

Yoga in the kitchen...

I was really hurt. I had studied long and hard, and I had a few classes pick up in attendance, but to be told that I’m not actually teaching yoga stung. I felt indignant. My relationship with that person and that studio fizzled, but it’s something I look back on regularly when I consider why I’m taking a break from teaching.

There are so many yogic schools of thought and styles of practice that they often are in direct conflict with one another. And at that time I didn’t feel strong enough or experienced enough to stand my ground on the issue.

After my time there, I began practicing at a studio that generally caters to more advanced students. I thought of it as the perfect opportunity to watch my practice evolve and push my boundaries. Sure enough, the studio was filled with people really pushing and striving.

I started to feel that the pendulum had overcorrected and swung all the way to a place where people were grunting and sweating their way into wobbling handstands. After being exposed to that energy, I started to feel an ugly, perfectionist, judgmental critical side of myself coming out: Why can’t I do that? Why am I so behind in my practice? Why aren’t I stronger?

All that striving energy woke up my inner overachiever, and it’s been a slow journey in getting her to simmer the fuck down.

I think in the near future, I'll get back to teaching, but lately my personal practice has been a loose, home-based one. One where I struggle on the floor of my kitchen and while laying on my belly, find a piece of uncooked pasta that got away from me. One where I can listen to reggae or Philip Glass or flamenco guitar as I do silly variations of cat-cow. One where I move for 10 minutes and meditate for 20.

And it’s been a major step in my growth to detach from the idea of what yoga “should be” and focus on what it is right now: mine.


New Year, Same Old Mindset

We’re officially one week into 2017. Are you still feeling the strength of your resolve? Are you feeling like the goals you set as “resolutions” for a “new year, new me” are realistic? Attainable? Healthy, even?

I know I sound a little snotty, but I hate the whole clock-strikes-12-and-I’m-a-different-human mentality. I actually feel like that’s harmful to setting goals and following through, and sets you up for a painful experience, rather than one of growth and success (whatever that looks like for you).

I attended a New Year’s Eve ritual with Ralph de la Rosa at Maha Rose Center for Healing and received some insight that solidified how I feel about resolutions. He said one of his teachers -- and I’m kicking myself for not writing this name down -- said that we are all innately perfect, but we can also all use some improvement. And that paradox is brilliant. We are not doing ourselves harm by seeking to improve, as long as we are approaching it from a purely loving standpoint.

If you’re going into the new year with a combative attitude toward yourself, that’s not going to help you move forward. For example, “I need to lose 25 pounds or I won’t find love” or “I need to stop acting like a piece of shit toward my family.” Banish those low-vibe thoughts and change your perspective on the situation! Find the will to take care of your physical body from the love you have for living in it. Find forgiveness toward yourself when people and circumstances challenge you.

I was so grateful to have found myself at Ralph’s workshop to hear those words, to start the year with a healthy mindset and to remind myself that any change and growth I want to happen in my life needs to start first with self-love.

Some things I add to healing baths: essential oils, flower essences, crystals, and a little palo santo or smudge spray to keep the space clear and relaxing.

Some things I add to healing baths: essential oils, flower essences, crystals, and a little palo santo or smudge spray to keep the space clear and relaxing.

One of the things I want to focus on in the new year is taking top-notch care of myself on a physical and spiritual level, so that I can be a vessel for change and serve others. One of the ways this manifests in my life is baths. I am so inspired by the healers who have crossed my path, like Deborah Hanekamp and Rebecca Conran, who have encouraged me to adopt baths as part of my routine.

I started in the fall of 2016 to really carve time to soak my body in warm baths with Epsom salt, oils, herbs, crystals, Reiki and other healing elements. Now I do it after intense workouts in addition to whenever I want to have some quiet time for self-care and reflection.

I hope some of this resonated with you and I encourage you to start with love! Then watch how the time falls away, and the effort and experience becomes more pleasant.


Winter is coming. Everyone can feel it creeping in.

The Thanksgiving holiday was a time for me to return to the past and to nature, spending time in the town where I came of age. Going home puts us in a perpetual state of looking back over who and where you have been. I took a long walk in a field along the woods. There were too many hunters out for me to take the hiking trail. I spotted a little withered plant (a teeny Deadly Nightshade sticking out from the grass) that still had a dead berry or two holding on.

Now that the harvest time is ending/over, what did we all reap? I’ve been thinking about the cycles of the earth lately. Throughout November, many cycles have completed for me and I’m reflecting on what I have.

November 6 marked one year since my husband and I began our journey with Vedic meditation, which in 2015 we had studied with Light Watkins. (This particular style is a mantra-based meditation done twice a day for 20 minutes.) The year hasn’t been perfect for my meditation rhythm. In fact, during my most busy times, I often didn’t get to sit for my afternoon session. But I’m really proud of myself that I’ve stuck with this habit. But like I shared in my last post, It’s taken me all year to really make it stick and feel like something I just can’t go without.

November 8 not only marked the completion of our election cycle, but I also graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I’ve been able to see clients since around the halfway mark, but I’m now fully committed to helping people change their lives in meaningful ways. I’ve seen just how much the benefits of eating whole foods, meditating, moving the body and other healthy habits have transformed my life, and I am ready to help bring that gift to others. During that first week of November, I quit my side job, so I have more time to devote to my clients and myself. 

November 9 was a day of strange energy for me. I suddenly felt free, after so many major parts of my life were finished. But we stepped into a precarious time in society. In the weeks since, we’ve all witnessed so much hate and division. I’m the last person to say that we shouldn’t feel our feelings and squash them or invalidate them. But my personal reaction has been one of clarity. Now we all see how diverse the beliefs are in our communities and countries, for better or for worse. The path is laid out in front of us and for many, our roles on this journey have been affirmed. It so important now for us to come together and take care of one another.

During that early November time, my friend Teva and I revitalized Community Reiki at Maha Rose, and in the weeks since, it has been so comforting for all who come to give and receive in love and without judgment. November 11 saw many members of our community come together to send aid to Standing Rock and to join our hands in prayer. The week after, I completed a 6-week Reiki Healer Mentorship with so many beautiful souls who share the intention of lifting one another up and spreading healing to all who need it.

I feel hopeful knowing that what I’ve brought into this world are skills to help my fellow humans. What I’ve reaped in my harvest this year is a clarity of purpose, a surge of hope, and bonds with like-minded people. And I have endless gratitude for the work and experiences that I’ve moved through to bring me here.

Do One Thing.

Just pick one thing. Find something that works for your morning and start to luxuriate in the 10 minutes or however long it takes you to honor yourself and your practice. Try it for a few weeks and if it feels like too much, give yourself permission to let it go and allow something else that comes naturally to you to fill its place.

Closing the Second Chapter: Saying Goodbye to a Sacred Place

Over the past few weeks, I've taken my time in processing a decision that has pulled me in many directions. 

When my mentor Denise announced that she was leaving Earth Wellness Yoga, I was sad, but I understood her draw toward her passions and commitments, and the intelligence she had to not stretch herself too thin. What really threw me for a loop were my own expectations of myself. 

Our Earth Wellness Yoga family (minus a few faces) upon receiving our certifications as yoga teachers.

Our Earth Wellness Yoga family (minus a few faces) upon receiving our certifications as yoga teachers.

With Denise leaving, I was in a place to take over the business and continue to run the yoga program. After a stark look at my finances and long discussions with my husband, I came to the conclusion that just as she is not in a place in her life to run the studio, I am not in a place to start my own business. 


We decided to close Earth Wellness Yoga as a physical studio, effective December 1. 

This was the project for which I quit my job at The New York Post. This was the place where I bonded with my classmates as we received our certificates as teachers. This was the place I went every day, rain or shine, students or no students, and gave my energy. For it to not work out broke my heart a little. 

This has been a long and difficult lesson in equanimity and acceptance. I have learned that even as the studio closes, it doesn't make me a less effective yoga teacher or business partner. It doesn't mean that I'm lazy or bad at my job. It is simply that everything has its beginning and end. This circumstance is no different. And who am I to judge whether this is good or bad? It simply is. And I must accept this, or be doomed to battle the outcome futilely inside my own mind with no end in sight.

When I was at The Post and considering leaving, I interviewed at other corporate jobs for about 8-9 months, and just could not get another 9-5, salary-and-benefits type job. I finally gave up when I was deep in my training because none of it seemed to matter anymore, and I wanted to devote my time to helping people. I think it was God or the universe shaking me free of attachment to a false sense of security.

Now I think it's happening again on a deeper level. This time, I think my lesson is to realize that my yoga and spiritual practices are only connected to my own consciousness, not any one teacher or physical space.

Message received, universe. Thank you. I will be forever grateful for the lessons I've learned at the studio, whether in business, yoga or life. I look forward to seeing what future form Earth Wellness Yoga will take.

Home Practice Blues

I have to confess to a bit of internet hypocrisy.

I post stuff on Instagram all the time under #yogaeverydamnday. Truth is, while I might have taught that day, meditated that day, or tried to bring the teachings of yoga into my daily life, I haven't been practicing alone for myself in far too long. 

This seems to be a common theme among yoga teachers. We get so enamored with how beautiful the teachings are and how wonderful practice makes us feel that we can't help but spread it more in more. However, as we start to teach more, we may cut corners when it comes to taking time for ourselves. 

So I recently rearranged my home space to make for a more comfortable area in which to practice. I made the mantle in our bedroom an altar of beautiful things that bring peace and positivity to our environment. I got some amazing incense and lit that ish up! (I also diffuse my Young Living oils whenever possible. #shamelesspromo) 

Even though it may be small, my home is truly my sanctuary. It's a comfortable little haven for my husband and I, which we both really need after full days in the energy of this city. So now that I've purposefully made space in the physical realm for my practice, it's time to make space in the mental realm: my damn schedule!

We all are rushing around so much and often feel like we have no time to practice! Not having enough time is the primary cause of so many people's stress, and it's my No. 1 issue for certain. I recently listened to an interview with the late poet John O'Donohue in which he said that stress is just a perverse relationship with time. Spot on. And New Yorkers might be the most warped of all in this department! 

I'm happy to say that this morning I woke up early as hell (for me) and started my day with 20 minutes of meditation and 30 minutes of flow. And I feel wonderful. (Just patting myself on the back.) Besides the obvious physical perks of a deep stretch upon waking up, I feel like now that the most important things are taken care of, I can feel pretty good about the day no matter what happens.

It seems like in every interview I listen to, people are always saying that they wake up early and take care of themselves. I've heard it countless times, but I only feel like it's just now really sinking in. They're totally onto something with this self-care thing! 

Meditation and Synchronicity

I've been doing guided meditations now for a few weeks consistently, and things are really getting interesting... I feel a lot of clarity when it comes to my own emotions. At certain times in my life, my emotions were these waves that ebbed and flowed, and sometimes they crashed down on me, and I never felt like I could surface.

I've really started to feel comfortable in my own emotional state. I can see a little better WHY certain things arise in me. Or if I don't have the why, I have the clarity to know that these things may be coming up in this moment, but they will pass. And I have faith in that because I've had them pass more and more often. My time of getting back to emotional equilibrium is shorter.

One other really interesting side effect of all of this emotional/mental/spiritual work is seeing crazy amounts of synchronicity! If you're not familiar, a synchronicity is essentially a coincidence, but it's not attributed to mere chance; it's attributed to the fact that the universe is lining up and you're right where you're supposed to be. They're sort of like signs that you're on the right path. It's been happening so much recently that it borders on spooky... but it's a really thrilling moment when you realize one as it occurs.

Practitioners and advocates of meditation have said that the practice can be linked to these occurrences. Licensed psychologist Robert Puff, PhD, wrote in Psychology Today: " I believe that synchronous events happen more often when we’re meditating. Why? Here’s my theory: The central goal of meditation is to help you slow down, quiet your mind, and be still. As you develop your practice, as you learn to slow down, and as you quiet your mind, you may find that synchronous events begin to increase. Because meditation is such a powerful change agent and improves your life, I sometimes wonder if the universe or God is giving back to us to let us know that we are on the right track and remind us to keep meditating."

This weekend, my husband and I went away for Labor Day weekend/our anniversary, and he and I were amazed by their frequency throughout the trip. We visited family as well, and the things that came up in conversation were subjects we had all been thinking about separately that day, or perhaps he and I discussed, but never with anyone else. It happened more than once with meaningful songs, or songs we had spoken about moments/hours before. I happened to think "I need a car wash right about now" and realized that I was parked across the street from one. A hotel room that had the same (non-original) artwork as our home. One that was playing a marathon of our favorite werid-ass show.

If any or all of these things had happened with much more time between them, you might think nothing of it, or might not even remember the other ones. They are, after all, relatively minor. But the fact that they were happening with consistency throughout the day was astounding. 

It'll be interesting to see how things develop as our meditation practice becomes even more consistent. I'm hoping to try to journal as many moments of synchronicity as I can to look back at the days and weeks. 


Breathing into Being

Maha Rose Healing Center was warmly lit on a Friday night, filled with a dozen or so people willing to open their hearts and get free. We were all there to participate in a breath work session (my first), a form of active meditation in which you breathe vibrantly through the mouth to flush out stuck energy and potentially have an emotional release.

As a group, we talked a bit about how the breath can bring you out of your body and into a psychadelic sort of place. We all shared our intentions for this practice, and laid down to start the process.

As I began the breathing pattern, I felt pinned by the weight of the energy. It started in my third eye chakra and spread down through my body. I felt an intense vibration like no meditation has ever brought me. I let go and allowed myself to be consumed by the feelings - physical and emotional. My hands cramped up and felt as if I was holding tennis balls in each one, squeezing tightly. I physically vibrated as if I had laid over the bass speaker at a stadium concert. The energy was all-consuming. I felt specifically that it was circulating and buzzing in my throat and diaphragm.

I was overwhelmed, but it was joyous. I cried tears of happiness at what I was feeling. I sang out so loud and made my heart split open. 

I hoped that going into my second session, I would access that positive energy again. However, going through this, I know that I'll get what I need from the experience. If I need to let go of something negative, it will come out of me. 

I was happy on my second visit to also bring my husband, who was game to try it to deepen his own meditation practice and get some clarity on creative projects. My intention this time was to bring some productive energy to my own creative pursuits. With a different guide on this journey, we began by talking about the energy of the Supermoon, which came quite close to us this past weekend, amplifying some of our emotions and perhaps contributing positively to our creative energy and our drive to explore it. 

As we settled in for this round, I kept my intention in the forefront of my mind as I breathed rhythmically with those around me. It was a deliberate choice to not lose myself completely, but direct my energy and intention to one specific part of my mind. I experienced many of the same physical sensations, but this time I accessed some memories and past feelings that surrounded my own creativity. I had been holding onto a few hang-ups or some "baggage" relating to the music that I once created, that had at one point in my life, consumed my vision.

Upon leaving that session, I do feel as though I have answers to some things I have been sitting on for a long time. I was able to reflect upon the past 10 years and see how the choices I made at different times and under varying circumstances set me on a path that led me to my current state. I also was able to see that unconsciously, I was letting external factors dictate certain parts of my emotional/mental state. I had too readily allowed my creativity to be swayed by those around me, for better or for worse. 

I feel empowered now to really express myself and dive into projects, regardless of outcome or the work required to realize them. I  cleared out my heart and throat chakras and released some old, nasty stuck energy.

I feel lighter. I feel love. I feel it all!

Birthday Mind

Yesterday was a birthday for me!

I'm forcing some positivity into the forefront of my mind, focusing on keeping my rose-colored glasses on and cleansing the doors of perception (as my breath work teacher said last week. More on that in the next post.).

This day brings up challenging emotions for me. I am not the type of friend who is going to force you to come out with me on a birthday night. I tend to turn inward and think about what this small change means for me on this journey.

Typically, it makes me feel like I missed out. Which I know is a crazy thing. My monkey mind swings around thinking of the ways in which I could have taken advantage of my young life. And I've done a lot. I've pursued passions, traveled, had a whirlwind romance with the love of my life. It's been a great ride. During my 28th year I got married, and spent the remainder of my time training to become a yoga teacher in my community. It's been a year with a lot of highs and some challenging lows, like leaving my big-girl job and taking a financial hit for doing so. My life is now generally awesome.

But sometimes a birthday reminds me that time is passing rather quickly, and there's no more time to put off anything that I've been holding back. It's a huge kick in the ass to my slacker self. So this birthday has me thinking of ways to progress and push forward some things that have been on the back burner. 

It's also made me step back from my own thoughts... Why am I in a bummed out place about one more year passing? What's the big deal about moving forward, anyway?

Society has infused women's brains with the idea that as they age, they have less value - particularly in beauty and virility. Simply put, I feel pressure to have accomplished or be damn near accomplishing my goals since I'm "pushing 30." And all because BABIES. The cloud hovering over us is saying "Hurry up and live because once a baby comes, YOUR life stops for 20 years." And logically, I know that is not true. I am/will be my own person, even in the face of major change and sacrifice of time.

I spoke to my parents about it, and the IDEA of aging is what actually ages us. 30 is not old! 40, 50 and 60 are not old!  And yet so many people buy into the myth that they have to stop certain activities, behaviors, fashion choices and limit a myriad of other parts of their life, simply due to getting another year older. (My mom just read Christiane Northrup's book and loved it, so she's been applying these ideas to her own life.) 

So I've resolved to keep myself young by continuing a lifelong yoga practice, and always looking for the joy in life. I will keep my physical body in a healthy state, always seek to find the joy in every moment and find time for play!

We only stop feeling childlike wonder in our lives because we choose to let it slip away. We can access it again simply by choosing to feel it. 

Resisting Meditation

I started to incorporate meditation on a more regular basis because of my yoga-teacher training program. At first, I was perfectly content to develop my asana practice only, and I convinced myself that I was in a meditative state while moving through the poses, my mind focused on nothing else other than the breath steadily moving in and out of the nose and the movements I would make with each pass.

None of that compares to the simple intensity and difficulty of sitting still and turning inward for 10-20 minutes per day.

Now, that small portion of time is my daily goal for meditation. I knew it would be a challenge to dedicate myself to this on a regular basis, and I didn’t feel prepared to jump in totally. So I gave myself just a few minutes as a manageable baseline.

Even still, there are days when the idea of sitting for 10 minutes has me agitated. When I sat down to meditate this morning, I felt dread. I thought “Ugh, really?” I felt like a petulant teenager asked to do chores. I was clearly resisting this activity that I not only know is healthy for my mind and body, but is something that I’ve actually taken immense joy from the feeling afterward.

 Yesterday, my husband and I sat down to meditate, using a 20-minute guided program. About 15 minutes in, I felt compelled to stand up and walk away. It was about 14 minutes coming, so I gave in. I felt anger and frustration swirling up from the depths of my being. My mind was conjuring past regrets, negative memories, anything to pull me from the serenity of being.

And I succumbed. It’s not a proud moment, but it’s something that I think many people practicing meditation have experienced... a day when you’re just not feeling it. You don’t even want to be there.

But an even more embarrassing element was the jealousy I felt toward my husband’s practice. I was frustrated that I couldn’t take on the practice with the same ease that he did (or at least what I perceived to be ease. It’s arrogant of me to assume that I can tell how his practice is developing).

I had a realization about this frustration and jealousy: It’s my ego coming up to disrupt my day.

I have an over-achieving, perfection-seeking ego that believes I should just naturally be good at anything I put my mind to. If I have to work hard at it, I’m embarrassing myself. God forbid I make mistakes, admit that the task is harder than I thought, or struggle with the discipline.

The act of meditation allows me to slowly distance myself from the hold that my ego has on my experience. When I am actively sitting and turning inward, finding peace, gratitude and the other benefits of meditation practice, I’ve signaled to the ego that I no longer need it to run this show.

And I think I’ve scared it. Because I don’t need this entity to dictate my experience of life, it’s really not a fan of this “new me.”

But I am.

Closing the First Chapter: Reflecting on Teacher Training

Montauk, July 2015

Montauk, July 2015

My life has changed so dramatically since January, and it’s all for the better. I began my teacher training then, and I’m receiving my certificate at the end of August. I haven’t been as active on the blog as I had planned to be when I started writing, but I made a choice to have a singular focus and to dedicate myself to the training.

As soon as I allowed yoga into my life on a daily basis, I have found the benefits of the practice seeping into all aspects.

Teacher training has begun a great force in my life – a force that has pushed me toward unabashedly declaring my goals and putting momentum into achieving them. It has rounded out three broad aspects of my being and brought me into a lovely balance. It’s a balance I have to constantly work toward, but one that I’m grateful to have, nonetheless.

The benefits of yoga for the body, mind and spirit are well documented. Here, I can only add the ways in which it has personally touched me.

My Weary Mind

 Yoga has calmed me. It has given me the gift of a discipline. I actually want to meditate every day. In the beginning of the program, I was resistant. I didn’t like the way my body felt, and my brain felt like there was not only one voice inside me, telling me that this was ludicrous, it takes too long, or bringing up past/present/future situations; it felt like there were multiple voices. Like my brain was an onion, and I would peel away distracting thoughts only to find another layer of them. 

Now, meditation feels pleasurable. I made it over some hump of challenge and can now take true joy in the practice of letting go of thoughts, expectations, hang-ups, memories, anxieties, etc. It all doesn’t serve me in the present. 

A Body of Work

The benefits of asana for the body are some of the most obvious. It’s easy to see that a few weeks ago, maybe you couldn’t stretch as deep as you now can. What I am so grateful for is healing. Through the physical practice, I’ve seen huge improvement in the hip, knee and ankle pains that I’ve had in the past. Old injuries sidelined me from lifting heavy weights or doing cardio. However, diving deeply into the practice made them feel good. I can walk the streets of New York City without pain! That is a tremendous gift that felt nearly impossible not long ago.

I also know that not only is my flexibility slowly increasing, but my strength as well. I was not always able to enter into a controlled supported headstand, but now I can. I have gained the strength in my core to do so through consistence. These changes only encourage more consistency!

 It’s like abundance – once you start to identify and appreciate the abundance in your life, you suddenly realize that you have more than you could have imagined!

 Strength of Spirit

This has been such a lovely effect of a yoga practice. It was not something I knew I needed until dedicating myself to the mat. I see looking back that part of my entry into teacher training was actually because I was, deep down (and still am), a spiritual seeker. I wanted to find something that truly spoke to me, and something I could support. I didn’t always have that in my life… I often felt like an outsider among people who could affirm up and down what they believed. 

Now, through the practice and studying the teachings of yoga, I have taken small steps on what will be a lifelong spiritual practice. I have taken parts of teachings and applied them to how I look at life and how I participate in it. I have taken a deeper interest in making my life one that is spiritually connected, and helping others who may find themselves on a similar path. 


If you are considering participating in teacher training, I hope this post convinced you to take the leap. I firmly believe that yoga teachers, as well as other healers, are light bringers. As my teachers have said, this world can use as many light bringers as we can get. If you're inclined to better yourself, help those around you and build a community, this is a valuable step on the right path. Your energy is needed. Your presence is wanted. 

Love and light.

Getting Free: Beating Pain Through Yoga

My journey to be free from pain started 10 years ago.

I started taking an interest in exercise and maintaining my body in the beginning of my college years. I would use the elliptical, run the track and generally try to move more. I always felt like I was pushing myself at a medium level of intensity, but my goals were just to not gain the Freshman 15.

During this time, I started to notice pain in my kneecap or below it while ascending stairs. It was a prominent, sharp pain... and the key that made me realize my body was changing, and not for the better.

In the years since, my knee pain intensifies when I go hard. When I do squats, explosive movements or even lunges, the pain starts to come back. It shocks me out of the illusion of progress I get from pushing my edge. I've quit running due to how it makes my knees feel, coupled with my fear of inflicting long-term damage on an already fragile body part.

The months leading up to my wedding were a breaking point. I entered a course of physical therapy treatment... my third in the past 10 years.

The third time was indeed my charm, but yoga has played a big part in the fact that at 28 and after a lot of struggle, I'm largely pain free. During the first two courses of treatment, I hadn't dedicated myself to my practice in the way I did with the most recent treatment.

Even as my muscles opened and got stronger, I faced challenges in many poses. I had to modify things and then beat down the ego that rose inside me, telling me that I look like an elderly woman on the mat. But I had to come into certain poses with care. I cringed at the thought of lowering into Malasana, as my doctor had advised me never to do the *ass to grass* squats that are so popular with Crossfitters. My knees are just not built for it. I even used to experience a bit of pain in Utkatasana. The angle is more subtle than Malasana, but the squat motion was trouble.

"You have to treat your knees as if they are precious little eggs, and that you have to protect them from all harm and pain," an orthopedist told me. I was just built in a way that they don't quite line up, and thus create friction and pain in the booty-burning poses.

Lately, I've continued to incorporate the original physical therapy exercises I did every day for a few months. I do them a couple times a week, and I do yoga 5 - 7 times a week. This combo has, over the past few months of consistency, really strengthened my leg muscles.

Now when I come into what were once trouble poses, I feel much more stable and (with the exception of the muscle burn) comfortable.

The key to knee health is building strength in the surround muscles of the hip, hamstring and quadriceps. These are the goals I strive toward in both yoga and physical therapy, to keep my lower joints healthy. My physical therapist directed me to work on strengthening the hip joint and gluteus medius, in order to essentially pull the other muscles into balance.

For leg strengthening, I use Warrior 2 and Utkatasana. Lengthen the leg muscles with balancing poses like Warrior 3 and Tree pose, which will make all of the muscles on the standing leg fire away!

I also regularly work on hip-openers. The ladies in my Tuesday night vinyasa class know I love them! I often practice Lizard pose, Pigeon pose, Bound Angle pose, and even Revolved Triangle pose, which all feel likedeep openers to me. I still need a lot more opening before I can safely access any form of Lotus, or the Fire Log pose.

But I'm patient, and I'm caring for my damaged knees like the delicate flowers that they are! And it's paid off. I can still practice yoga and have made tremendous strides in my practice by listening to my body. I heard a quote once that said "If you listen to your body when it whispers, you won't have to hear it scream." And I'm so grateful that I did!


KonMari: Yoga for your home

I’ve always been sort of a messy person, but I like to believe I’ve gotten better as I’ve gotten older. When I was a teenager, my messy room never bothered me much. Now, though I still have the ability to achieve the same level of strewn clothing and paper, it aggravates me to no end. The last thing I want to do is come home and clean.

I happened to stumble across the KonMari method during an Internet time-suck session. It’s a way of keeping your home/closet neat, established by Marie Kondo, a Japanese goddess of tidiness.

In a nutshell: You keep only what brings you joy. Get rid of anything else.

Martha Stewart's site has a great write up, and you can watch a brief video of Marie speaking here

My atrocious mess, which I'm hoping the KonMari method will help me navigate. Fingers crossed. ;)

My atrocious mess, which I'm hoping the KonMari method will help me navigate. Fingers crossed. ;)

Because I’m still in the tail-end of my yoga teacher training, my mind instantly went to the concept of Aparigraha. It’s one of the five yamas of yoga, or to put it plainly, things we abstain from. Aparigraha means “non-coveting.” You keep only what you need and let go of everything else.

I often try to meditate on the idea of letting go. Our jivamukti teacher at Earth Wellness urges us to “Inhale ‘let’, exhale ‘go’.” It’s a powerful, beautiful concept, because holding tightly to notions of how you want your life to unfold -- or even notions of who you are -- can hold you back and cause deep unhappiness.

Letting go of whatever you don’t need is actually necessary to maintain a healthy mental and spiritual life. I’ve learned to let go of painful memories. They never served me in a positive way and will no longer have a hold over me. I’ve even learned to let go of people who are no longer a positive part of my life.

It’s not an easy thing to do, but it seems like it should be the simplest thing.

While aparigraha can be intimidating to observe, letting go of the stuff we don’t need might be at least a little easier. When progress is measurable, it’s comforting, because you’ve can clearly see that you've achieved something. 

However, in letting go of thoughts, ideas, memories or people, you think you’ve made some progress, but a moment or situation may make it clear that you haven’t fully let go.

But letting go of an old pair of pants I haven't worn all year is something I can get behind. I don't want my possessions to have power over me. It’s yoga for the home.

Origin story

I’m quitting my job.

It’s been a long time coming, with a lot of long talks with my husband and hot subway rides where I hung my head and let tears roll down my cheeks

I had studied journalism in college and always wanted to write for a living. I paid my dues at internships, temp jobs, freelance jobs and I finally landed a foot in the door at a major news publication.

The only problem: After 10 years of hard work and perseverance, I realized that I didn’t want it anymore. I was stuck in a place with only one or two other souls to relate to and with little-to-no ambition. My team was difficult to galvanize and my boss, with whom I had a great relationship, had decided to leave.

It wasn’t a wake-up-and-everything’s-different change; it was a slow decay, during which many things changed for the worse.

But I turned to yoga, and I saved my spirit.

After returning from a zenned-out honeymoon in Hawaii in September 2014, I decided to seek out a local studio to reinvigorate my practice as a way to deal with a knee injury and manage my stress from work. I had done yoga on and off for 10 years, and it had been too long since I regularly practiced. It was like I’d neglected a friendship and needed to make an effort to renew that relationship.

I found Earth Wellness Yoga and started attending regularly. I struck up a friendship with one of the teachers and soon decided to invest some of our wedding money into getting my yoga-teaching certification from her. It felt like serendipity to meet someone with whom I had a great connection and who had so much knowledge to offer. My training began in January of 2015, and I’m set to finish in the coming weeks.

My life has been changed so drastically by a chance moment in which I decided to duck in for a class and by what I have learned since about the practice and myself.

Yoga has given me the tools to handle my stress levels. I was faced with so many scenarios at work that challenged my sanity and my clarity: my new boss’ temper, surly coworkers, an increasingly annoying and crowded commute, and to top it all off, the sinking feeling that I wasn’t fulfilling my life’s purpose. Establishing a regular practice has helped me let go of those stressors that I was chewing on day-in and day-out. I learned to breathe through those moments and not let it destroy my peace.

The teacher-training program also injected discipline into my daily routine. I had homework, and I needed to meet a certain amount of class hours each week. Before long, my schedule opened itself to accommodate my practice. With a combination of physical therapy, regular yoga and a commitment to the practice, I managed to heal my knee. I got healthy in body, mind and spirit. 

Most important, I learned to listen to my gut. I was able to engage with my feelings about my circumstances. I was depressed. I was disappointed -- in myself and and how what was once the biggest opportunity in my career had changed. Maybe this was my quarter-life crisis, or maybe it was the universe showing me that I was ready to make a change, whether my head believed that or not. I’ve learned that my intuition is valuable, and to ignore it is to do a disservice to myself. It makes life so much harder when you struggle against what you know to be true deep down, but you’re unprepared to accept.

My two-week notice is in, and I’m prepared for the benefits and struggles of doing what I’m meant to do. It’s a scary leap out of the safety net of nine-to-five employment, but it’s a necessary one.

And yoga has given me the strength to let it go.

I will be forever grateful.