simple pleasure of the week: going for a walk

Our simple pleasure of the week is going for a walk. Going for a walk alone in silence, or with some awesome tunes blasting through your headphones is one of my favorite simple pleasures at the moment. If you can do this in nature, even better, because nature does some awesome things to your brain, body, and sense of connectedness to something greater than yourself. Walking is also known to be a great stress-reliever, and wonderful way to process stressful moments or traumatic events. Walking with someone is also an opportunity to get some quality conversations in. I think I do my best thinking and communicating while walking. Smiling at strangers, smelling the fresh air, moving through nature, and realizing the expanse of the world we live in are all great reasons to go for a walk. Best part about walking...it's totally free.

our top 5 low and no cost online yoga classes

When I can't make it to the yoga studio, want some new ideas for teaching a class, or need to recommend a good resource to help friends and clients practice on their own, these are my go to apps and websites. There are so many options out there and, let's be honest, most of them are not up to par. I have actually used these ones below and do consider them to be well thought out, safe classes for yogis of all levels. 

  1. Yoga Studio. Fabulous classes whether you are a beginner or have been practicing for years. What I love about this app is that every pose (they have 280 in their library) is demonstrated clearly and you can choose between quick 15 minute classes up to longer 60 minute ones. You can even design your own class to customize your practice. I have even used this site to create classes that I later teach in person. The app is available for both Apple and Windows devices and costs $3.99. Check it out here.
  2. DoYogaWithMe. What I like about this site is how much variation there is! Male and female instructors, plus all different length classes for yogis at all levels. The classes are all free. Check it out here.
  3. Gaia. This site consists of hundreds of classes led by some of the top yoga instructors from around the world. What's great about this site is you can pick out classes based on time, experience, and needs. So, you can take a restorative class one day and an intense arm balancing class the next. The classes are free as well. Check it out here. 
  4. Fitstar Yoga. The quality of this sites videos is great. They are clear and easy to follow with personalized content. You can get the basics for free or upgrade to their premium package for $39/year. You can check out their site or download the app. 
  5. Yoga.com. The app has 300 poses and is designed for all level yogis. You can customize a program or create your own. You can even use the app to track your workouts. The app costs $3.99. Check out their site here.

All of these apps/sites have a little something different to offer. If you don't feel like you are getting what you need from one class, just try another. Find a teacher and a style that works for you!

all natural yoga mat cleaner DIY

I don't know about you but I like to keep my mat fresh and clean. Yoga mats can get pretty gross and smelly when they should be your sanctuary. Unfortunately, my mat takes a sweat bath every yoga class since I practice the Bikram series hot yoga. And I smell pretty bad after class, so I know my mat takes a beating. I keep my yoga mat fresh and clean with a homemade spray that takes only 3 ingredients (one of them being water). It's all natural, and smells amazing! I even used this before yoga competition as an aromatherapy strategy to keep calm and centered during warm-up. I can't take credit for this recipe, I actually got the idea from our yoga studio Sweet Heat Hot Yoga, but thought I'd share it all with you, since it's effective and saves a lot of money. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart water
  • 2 tsp tea tree oil 
  • 1 tsp lavender essential oil

Instructions:

  • Mix ingredients together into a large spray bottle
  • That's it. It's that easy : )

Tea tree oil acts as a disinfectant, and lavender oil is known to support tranquility. The combo of the two scents together is pure bliss in my opinion, and I like my spray quite fragrant. If you don't need your cleaner to be so strong, you can always add less of each oil and play around with ratios. You can also take your quart spray bottle and fill a small spray bottle for travel like the one I have pictured above. 

simple pleasure of the week: fires in the fireplace

On a cold, rainy night there is nothing better than cozying up by the fire with a warm blanket and a hot drink. As I'm writing this I'm thinking, "well, yes that is amazing but what about hanging out by a fire pit on a summers day, or sitting by the fireplace first thing in the morning with breakfast and coffee?" Okay, so there are lots of ways to enjoy a fire in the fireplace and I'm not sure I can pick one scenario over another. What I am sure of, is that this is a simple pleasure of mine. The warmth it brings, the sounds of the crackling logs, the smell of the smoke, and the glow of burning embers. It envelops the senses. What is your favorite way to enjoy a fire?

What is your favorite way to enjoy a fire?

using your senses to de-stress and improve mood

We use our senses of sight touch, taste, smell and sound to receive information. Since our senses are a highway to our emotions, we can also use them to change our emotions, lower our stress, and improve mood. 

Here are a few simple ways to use your senses to de-stress:

  • Sight: Viewing the sights in nature can definitely improve mood, but studies show that even looking at beautiful pictures of nature, can have similar effects. Reading a great book, posting a mantra on your wall, or simply browsing inspiring pictures can manage stress and improve your mood.
  • Touch: massage is my personal favorite way to de-stress and improve mood. Even if you don't have someone to massage you, using a foam roller or laying on tennis balls can release tension in your muscles. putting your hands in sand, playing with clay or silly putty, petting a dog/cat, or cuddling with a loved one are all ways to use touch to improve your mood.
  • Taste: chocolate always makes me feel better ; ) No but seriously, you may have a food from your childhood that makes you feel at home, hence the term "comfort food". Herbal tea, or drinking a green juice with the intention of cleansing your body and soul can also be helpful.
  • Smell: this is one of my favorites. Scent is a powerful tool! Lavender, eucalyptus, and citrus are scents known for uplifting your spirit. Rubbing essential oils on your pulse points, diffusing them into your room using an essential oil diffuser, or using aromatherapy products are all great strategies.
  • Sound: Whenever I'm feeling blah, an awesome song pumps me up. Putting on great music to pump you up, soothing music to relax, or nature sounds can be a stress management tool. I personally like to sleep with a noise canceller, and I now find the white noise soothing. 

When you need a mood boost, remember that your senses are a tool you can use to change your mood and/or mindset. Give one of these strategies a try and see if you don't feel better afterwards. 


protein packed gluten free pancakes

It's guaranteed that either Saturday or Sunday every weekend we'll be eating pancakes. We are obsessed. Between the quality time spent with Perkin baking up a storm,  the smell of the pancakes cooking on the griddle, music playing in the background, and the morning light streaming in through the windows...it doesn't get much better. When pancakes are for breakfast, I know it'll be a slow, peaceful morning. Of course, we do still try to keep it healthy. I know I have mentioned Kodiak Cakes in previous posts. They are still my favorite mix if I just want to add water. But once in a while I decide to make some from scratch. This recipe I am sharing today is a great, simple alternative to the mix and a wonderful treat for someone looking for a low carb, flour free, gluten free alternative. 

Serves 2

Ingredients: 

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut flakes  
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen organic blueberries  
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 5 eggs  
  • 1 tsp cinnamon  
  • Coconut oil for the pan/griddle  

Instructions: 

  • Mash up bananas in large bowl
  • Whisk eggs in separate bowl
  • Add eggs to bananas
  • Stir in other ingredients until fully combined
  • Heat oil on frying pan/griddle
  • Pour a small portion onto the pan and fry on both sides until browned
  • Serve with maple syrup, jam, berries, or just on their own!  

recipe adapted from Green Kitchen Stories

simple pleasure of the week: friendship

It was my birthday on Wednesday and what came to mind as I sat down to write this post is just how important connection and friendship is in life. I felt so grateful being able to celebrate life with some of the most genuine, kind hearted individuals I know.  Neurobiological research shows that stress is reduced through supportive relationships. We are social creatures. Relationships lift you up, brighten your spirit, and satisfy the soul. What better way to decrease stress than going out with your girlfriends? The great thing about this simple pleasure is you don't need to spend any money. You can go for a walk, exercise together, or meet up for coffee. 

Hanging out with your friends really does force you to be in the present moment, and as long as you have supportive, positive friends, you will feel better after hanging out with them. I know when I am feeling overwhelmed and stressed, I tend to isolate when what I really need to do is be around others. So, next time you feel stressed or just want some extra joy, call up a friend for a walk, coffee, or dinner.

how to turn meditation into a daily practice

Two years ago I found and shared this fabulous infographic about the benefits of meditation. There is lots of info out there on the world wide web about the benefits of meditating. It is clear that this practice can help improve your physical and mental well-being. Turning to the present moment and focusing inward during meditation helps us to improve our intuition, clear our minds, reduce anxiety levels, increase serotonin levels (which improves mood), increase energy levels...The list really does go on and on. Despite all of these great benefits I have trouble getting myself to just do it! And I know I'm not alone. I have spoken with friends and clients about this exact problem. Finding time in the day can be a struggle. Especially when it is recommended to do 20 minutes a day. I believe most of what we do in the day is habit forming. The times we eat meals, the time we wake up and go to sleep, even the little day to day tasks like the way we pick out what to wear for the day, showering, checking Facebook, or watching TV. These can become mindless activities that leave us with little time in the day for anything else. So, my thought is, let's start becoming more aware of those habits, let's change them to give ourselves more time for other activities we've been wanting to do but are putting off.

That's my plan at least. If I wake up a few minutes (that's all really!) earlier, check Facebook once a day (only in the evening) instead of twice, and pick out my outfit the night before instead of in the morning I will actually have time for that 20 minute meditation and I didn't have to cut anything huge out of my life to make it possible. My hope is that I can turn meditation into a mindful habit. I want it to be something I do everyday as part of my morning ritual, no questions asked. 

The steps above make meditation even more doable. I am starting with 10 minutes a day and adding a couple each week until I reach 20. EVERYONE has 10 minutes to spare, so if meditation is something you have wanted to try, start with 10 minutes of breathing and silence. It ALL begins and ends in your mind so take some time to clean it out everyday : )

the most amazing kale salad you've ever had

This is hands down the best kale salad I've had. Anywhere. Ever. The dressing pairs perfectly with kale, and I literally take this salad to work for lunch almost everyday. I still haven't gotten sick of it, and I've convinced even the biggest junk food junkies how great this salad is with just one bite. Also, since we just posted the top 5 reasons to eat kale, we thought we'd feature a recipe using the stuff. 

Ingredients:

  • Kale
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Garbanzo beans (I used canned organic)
  • Red, orange or yellow bell pepper chopped
  • Avocado

Instructions:

  • Chop kale, bell peppers, and avocado
  • Assemble all the extras on top of a bed of kale

The Dressing

Ingredients:

  • Bragg's Aminos (this is like a healthy soy sauce)
  • Lemon Juice (1 lemon should be enough)
  • Olive Oil

Instructions: 

  • Simply mix together ingredients using a 1 : 1 : 1/2 ratio of Bragg's: Olive Oil : Lemon Juice
  • You can add more or less of one ingredient depending on taste (I prefer more lemon juice)

Enjoy!! This salad will fill you up, and it's a great one to impress guests at a dinner party or holiday party, or to make up at the beginning of the week in separate tupperware to take to work. The kale is hardy enough to last all week prepped in the fridge. 

simple pleasure of the week: beachcombing

We love to take advantage of the fact that we live near the ocean, on a peninsula with some of the most beautiful coastline we've ever seen. There's something special about being near the sea. I've heard people talk about the healing properties of water, and when I'm at the beach, I become a believer because I always feel better near the ocean. This picture was taken during a huge swell, the ocean was so powerful, and also equally beautiful with all the white water.  There's something special about walking barefoot, with the sound of the ocean in the background, looking for shells or sea glass. This is also something that is totally free, simple, and pure, and the reason why we chose it as our simple pleasure of the week!