Intentional Eating: 5 Ways to Tune into your Body

mala-beads-yoga-tiny-devotions-photographer-photographer-richelle-hunter-photography-summer-of-soul-240Intentional eating is certainly not something most of us do these days. With our busy work schedules, families, and the many demands that life presents, we don’t have much time to eat, let alone eat healthy and with intention. It can be a challenge to ask busy individuals to really think about the food they eat on a daily basis. I know the struggles first hand. I’m a Physician Assistant who works in a stressful medical environment where the hours are long and the breaks are seldom. But the fact is, if we don’t make a conscious effort to put nourishing foods into our bodies, we will have to live with many chronic ailments, including symptoms of inflammation, food allergies, excess weight, fatigue, disease and emotional problems. We may even shorten our lives. If we eat with intention though, we can give our bodies a fighting chance in a toxic world. Here are some tips that I use to help myself eat more consciously:

1. Think about what the food you are choosing is doing for your body: Is this food serving a higher purpose? Is it providing you with the proper nutrients, or is it just a filler food you reach for out of boredom or stress? So many of us are on auto-pilot these days. When we drive, when we work, and when we eat. So next time you reach for food, ask yourself, what is this food doing for me? The first step of intentional eating is to Be Aware.

2. Shop smart: Most of us don’t have a lot time to grocery shop. So it can be a challenge to read labels and really understand what you are buying. But it’s important to make smart choices because health starts with what you buy. Give yourself just an extra half-hour at the grocery store to read labels. Know what is in your food! A short list of things to avoid: GMOs, preservatives, added sugar, hydrogenated ingredients, and harmful vegetable oils like soybean, cottonseed, and sunflower oil.

3. Try cooking at home, even if it just one night a week: There is nothing more intentional than cooking the food you eat. You get to be in control of everything that goes into your food. And that is actually a very empowering thing! Even if you only have time to cook one night on the weekend, try it! Try a recipe you’ve always wanted to make, and make it fun by cooking with others or for others. When you cook you put love and effort into your food, which makes eating it more enjoyable.

4. Sit down, and chew your food: I know it sounds silly, but sit down when you eat. I used to eat in the morning while standing in the kitchen because I was in such a hurry to get to work. I’m pretty sure I barely chewed my food. Now I get up ten minutes earlier. Just ten minutes! I do this so I can sit down and eat breakfast and really chew/taste my food. Or if you don’t eat breakfast, sit down a few nights a week for dinner.

5. Do your research: I find that the more I read about and research nutrition, the more I enjoy eating and the smarter my choices become. You know that McDonalds is bad for you, but why? You know that kale is good for you, but why? What is it in kale that is good for you? How does it work in the body to help it run smoothly? The Internet is a source for a wealth of knowledge. Learn about your food. Instead of watching that last TV show, take some time to research the nutrients found in spinach, and what those nutrients do for you. Knowledge is power!

 891387_817309051626478_238689318_nErin Carey is a Physician Assistant who works in primary care/urgent care and is a yogi at heart. She practices yoga daily and posts pictures of her yoga journey on her Instagram page to inspire others to practice. She is a supporter of mental and physical health and hopes to help empower her patients to take charge of their health and see food and physical exercise as medicine.

Lora Hogan: 3 Lessons I’ve Learned Teaching Yoga

LoraHogan-159Yoga changed my life before I became a yoga teacher. Then I became a yoga teacher. And I discovered how my life is transformed on a daily basis.

If there are elements of the yoga practice that seem hard for you to grasp, they will be uncovered for you as you teach. If there are poses that are difficult for you to master, they will find a place of balance as you teach. If there are any fears you are trying to hide, they will come out as you teach. Because, in order to be a great teacher, you truly have to be willing to dive in with your whole self…and watch, feel, and learn from what unfolds. Here are three of the greatest lessons I’ve learned since becoming a yoga teacher:

 1) Never assume. They say to practice compassion because “everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” The problem is you can’t always outwardly SEE the battle. I still recall the yoga class (as described on Yogaaudacious) where I broke down and suddenly started sobbing during savasana. I had looked perfect. I was 22. Perfectly skinny. Smiled a lot. Able to master poses that now I can’t even begin to find my way into. But inside I was suffering. Not everyone is struggling to recover from an eating disorder or sexual assault. But everyone has something going on. The marine who can kick up so easily into hand-stand may be battling with PTSD. The (seemingly) overweight yogi may be the strongest and most flexible of the bunch. The skinny runner may have shin splints and ended up in yoga class out of frustration. The mother may have had her daughter throw up in her hair that morning. The elderly woman may have a sister fighting terminal cancer. In fact, the young woman could even be recovering from cancer herself. YOU JUST DON’T know. And you can never know. Unless a student tells you something, do not assume anything about their body, their mind, their hearts. Always ask questions. And ask again and again. Because every day, every moment, is different for us all. Never assume you already know your students…because you will never know what each class may be like and what may have motivated him/her to come to the yoga mat that day.

2) Your students are your best teachers. Learn. Always learn. Learn from your students. To teach you must know. You must practice and seek out answers to your students’ questions. You must have a dedicated home practice. You must take advanced trainings and workshops. But, most importantly, you must watch your students. You must listen. You must treat every class as an opportunity to grow. How can you be better at teaching? What can you learn in each moment? Observe. Listen. Discover. Your students will tell you more than you could ever have thought possible. They may ask a question for which you have no answer. Or they may show up and actually BE a teacher you have studied with before. But your students believe you have something valuable to offer. So you must deliver. Time and time again. And if you ever stumble in class your students are there for you. They will help you get back on track. Because they are there for you, just as you are there for them. It is our duty to grow with our classes. We learn best when we learn together. Your students are there to teach you, just as much as you are there to teach them.

3) Always be authentically you. David Mamet said “Always tell the truth — it’s the easiest thing to remember. “ Similarly, always BE YOU. Fully you. Your students will come to your class for you. Some students will not come to your class because of you. But the only way to truly succeed in yoga is to be your most authentic self possible. To love yourself enough to show up fully, unapologetically, in each and every moment of every class. There will be students who will not like you. Someone may say you are “too high energy” or that they don’t like your music, your sequencing, your smile, or eagerness. But the very thing that will set you apart in the yoga world, that will make you the best teacher possible, is to love yourself so much that you can be 100% yourself in each and every class. Because being you is the easiest thing to do. And it will inspire all your students to go out and be their true selves–on and off the mat.

 LoraHogan-19LORA HOGAN, a yoga teacher, motivational speaker, and author provides yoga for runners, athletes and everyBODY. Founder of #PassLove, Lora also lectures on improving your wellness business, finding and living your passion, and self-love. Lora wants to challenge your body, connect you to the present, and promote self-esteem and compassion. Whether an Ironman, yoga teacher, or just starting the journey, Lora helps take the practice to the next level–on and off the mat. Lora’s yoga classes and workshops nationwide include Lora Love Flows, Yoga to Unstuck Yourself, Yoga for Creativity and Yoga for Athletes.

Website: www.lorahogan.com

Blog: www.lorahogan.com/blog 

Instagram: @lora_hogan

Twitter: @lora_hogan

Facebook: Facebook.com/DailySouthernSunshine

Pinterest: Pinterest.com/LoraHogan

Kickstart your Dreams: What I Learned in Thailand

_P9A2139 (2)I just got back from Thailand. For me, it was a dream, the trip of a lifetime. I got a chance to take a pause, smile in the sunshine, appreciate my struggles and thank the universe for new opportunities.  Dreams can become a reality, I assure you!  Go after them and seek that ‘something’ that sets the colors of your world on fire. To help you get there, here is a list of my shortcuts…

1. Pay attention. Kismet is calling you. Fate is real, that is a fact. I know for certain my path was paved with cobblestones of fate. There’s no other explanation as to how I got here except that I paid attention to the signs, went with it, and never stopped trying. Whether you believe it or not, I bet if you look hard, you can find messages everywhere that were meant for you. Why are they meant for you? Because you noticed them, and that counts for something. Pay attention. Listen to the nagging voices. Look around… the universe is calling.

 2. Find the right partner. Don’t settle. I was lucky enough to find the right person for me who stuck with me and supported me no matter what hair-brained idea I came up with that I wanted to try next. To achieve your goals, it is imperative to have the right person by your side who’s a best friend, a confidant and a support network. I have told all three of my sons that choosing a spouse is the most important choice they will ever make, above anything. The right one can make the world brighter and challenges seem easier to reach.

 3. Give back. Give thanks. This one’s a biggie. First, let me give you a small backstory. I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Cambodia within my recent travels abroad, and it was a place that absolutely changed me to my core. The second day I was there I knew I had to do something, and decided to start working on a foundation. If you are able, find a cause, contribute and volunteer. If not money, then donate your time. There’s a story about a kid standing on the seashore amongst millions of starfish that had washed up and were dying. He began throwing them out one by one back into the sea, and when a stranger approached and asked him what kind of difference he expected to make, he threw another starfish back and replied, “I made a difference to that one”. Be that person.  Try to make a difference, even if it’s a small one, and I guarantee you will find yourself closer to your own goals by default.

 4. Get a tattoo. Or something similar. What I really mean is that it is important to have a daily physical reminder to be thankful, pursue your goals and keep trying. If you aren’t into tattoos, wear a meaningful bracelet or keep a list of your goals in your wallet. Make the reminders that you need to ground you tangible. While in Thailand I received a sak yant blessing tattoo from a monk. That is my tangible reminder, and I’ve run my fingers over the blessing every day since I received it. If you are ever in Thailand, I highly recommend taking an adventure to Wat Bang Phra outside of Bangkok to get tattooed by a monk. It’s a wonderfully rad experience.

 5. Be Real. Don’t compromise. Find your voice. Find who you are. Be genuine and true to yourself and don’t copy other people. I have sadly watched friendships destroyed over businesses, money takeover principles, and greed destroy love. There are people who will lie, cheat and steal to great ahead, but those people’s successes never last. Strive to be the kind of person that your grandmother would be proud to know. Cut and dry, be an awesome human, don’t stray from humanity and success will find you.

6. Think big. Life is finite. All of those things you want to do… go out and do them! You may not see how to get there at first, but perseverance wins. Perseverance mixed with big dreams… wins big. Be unstoppable. And then go to celebrate on the sandy beaches of Thailand.

IMG_8831-150x150Tiffani Shipman graduated from University of Oklahoma with degrees in Psychology and Sociology, received her RYT200 through Tiffany Cruikshank Yoga Medicine, and is currently studying Acupuncture, Holistic Therapy and Sports Medicine. She is a contributor to Misfit Yoga and Wellness and you can also find her blog, yoga schedule and more at www.tiffanishipman.com When she isn’t studying her craft or teaching yoga, you’ll find her playing practical jokes on her friends and family, restoring old cars, baking cupcakes, hula hooping, or enjoying a beer in the backyard. She resides in Edmond, Oklahoma with her husband and three boys.

5 Ways to Seize a Fresh Start

mala-beads-yoga-tiny-devotions-photographer-photographer-richelle-hunter-photography-summer-of-soul-181The idea of embracing a fresh start can be two fold – filled with excitement of new possibilities and change, and at the same time, interlaced with feelings of uncertainty and doubt.  When I was entering a phase in my life this past year where a fresh start was needed, I flip-flopped between these two extremes what felt like every five minutes!  Throughout the transition process, I found some ways that allowed me to focus on the excitement and leave the doubt behind…

1. Start small. A fresh start does not necessarily mean a huge, life-altering event (move to a new country! Start a brand new career!)  A simple change to your exercise routine, a relationship with your loved one, or with yourself, can produce the same rejuvenating feelings as a major change.  There is no need to wait for a “perfect” moment to begin.  Start now, and start small.  Find little things to incorporate into your day that will align with the path you are ultimately seeking.

2. Embrace the fear and uncertainty. Yes, these feelings are going to be there, and the more you give into them, the louder they are going to scream and convince you to stop moving forward.  Instead of letting these emotions overwhelm you, let them be part of the process.  Sit with these sensations, acknowledge the uncertainty – in fact, own it! – and use the fear as a sign that you are moving the right direction.

 3. Gather your tribe Find people who will support you- those who have gone through the process of starting fresh.  Use them to silence out anyone who may be questioning your decision of whatever change you are making.  Surround yourself with those who uplift you, those who you can count on to be there when those pesky feelings of fear and uncertainty become a little too loud in your head.

4. Be prepared and be ready to work. Hopefully the members of your tribe that you gathered will tell you this, but this whole fresh start thing does take work!  For example, when you make the decision to begin a new job or career, make sure you are prepared and able to support yourself during any transition period.  Starting over in a completely new town? Make sure that it is one that has the resources to support you and your vision.  Dreams and visions are often the catalyst to start down a new a path – action and hard work is what will make them a reality.

5. Be ready to change! This whole process will change you!  You will feel empowered from overcoming the doubt and uncertainty.  You will trust yourself and know how to stand on your own two feet. In the wise words of J.W von Goethe “We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves, otherwise we harden.”  Cheers to new beginnings!

khSince a young age, Kaitlyn Hochart has been fascinated by the intricacies of the human body. This fascination originally brought her to a career in nursing, and eventually to the mat as a yoga practitioner, teacher, and life long student. She has over 400 hours of yoga training, including 200 hours of in-depth anatomy, alignment, and adjustment studies with internationally renowned yoga teacher Tiffany Cruikshank through her Yoga Medicine teacher-training program. Combined with six years of experience as a registered nurse, she is passionate about sharing her knowledge of the human body as it manifests in our yoga practice with my students and fellow teachers. 

Why 108?

10707013_924351350912559_1751746405_nEver done 108 sun salutations during a yoga class? Or wondered why there are traditionally 108 beads on a mala?The number 108 is auspicious and spiritually significant in many traditions. Here’s a few reasons why the number is so magical…

Heart Chakra: Chakras are the intersections of energy lines in the body, and there are said to be a total of 108 energy lines converging to form the heart chakra. One of them, sushumna leads to the crown chakra, and is said to be the path to self-realization.

Upanishads: It is believed that there are 108 Upanishads, texts of wisdom from the ancient sages.

Desires: There are said to 108 earthly desires.

Time: Some say there are 108 feelings, 36 related to the past, 36 related to the present, and the 36 related to the future.

Planets and Houses: In astrology, there are 12 houses and 9 planets. 12 times 9 equals 108.

Goddess names: There are said to be 108 Indian goddess names.

Sun and Earth: The diameter of the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth. The distance from the Sun to the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Sun.

Sanskrit alphabet: There are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet. Each has masculine and feminine, shiva and shakti. 54 times 2 is 108.

Chemistry: Interestingly, there are about 115 elements known on the periodic table of the elements. Most of those, around or higher than the number 100 only exist in the laboratory, and some for only thousandths of a second. The number that naturally exist on Earth is around 100.

Astrology: There are 12 constellations, and 9 arc segments called namshas or chandrakalas. 9 times 12 equals 108. Chandra is moon, and kalas are the divisions within a whole.

Breath: Tantra estimates the average number of breaths per day at 21,600, of which 10,800 are solar energy, and 10,800 are lunar energy. Multiplying 108 by 100 is 10,800. Multiplying 2 x 10,800 equals 21,600.

 

Kindness is Contagious

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4 Ways to Find Inspiration Daily

223e2a68d99cafe186c67b03e6bc2c3cAs a writer and yoga teacher, I am constantly on the lookout for inspiration. I love watching people in creative yoga poses, passionate discussions with friends (using apps like the new Conversation Starters by Danielle Laporte) and sitting at cafes with large floor to ceiling windows to enjoy the view and people watch for the afternoon.

Inspiration is something I always need as I never want my well to run dry, so I’ve created a quick list of places we can find inspiration in a pinch.

 1. Pinterest. My favorite place to draw in inspiration would be Pinterest! It is such a creative hub full of everything you could need. In the past few months I have used it to style my newly PINK and blonde hair, create a few fun vegetarian dishes for our family and grab fun quotes for my Facebook pages. I have also used it to create a bit more style in my life. As I LIVE and breathe in yoga pants, it’s nice to have a few “days off” outfits.

But here’s the trick my boho friends – some days you need to re-inspire yourself. This is when you need to look at your own pins. What inspired you weeks ago, or yesterday? Instead of constantly searching for the new, see if you can find some inspiration from a few days past. The same goes for old notebooks, blog posts or emails – check it all out and see what inspired you in the first place.

 2. Get outside! In nature. In the city. By the ocean. People watch. Listen to others stories. Sit in an urban garden. Watch the stars. Hear the stillness of the lake or the crunch of the leaves underfoot. Tune in and be present to the world around you. Step away from your computer. Go LIVE, connect and breathe into each moment. Or as Emerson says in my favorite quote: “Live in the sunshine, Swim in the sea and Drink the wild air”

10632365_1535952673301109_401587611_n3. Write a bucket list. This is one of my favorite things to do! I LOVE writing lists and do so for everything: to-do lists, Core Desired Feelings, a themed word for my year ahead, seasonal goals and intentions etc. I am constantly finding inspiration by plotting out what it is I want to do and how I want to create a life I love. By digging deep every few weeks or months, I am able to connect to how I want to feel and what it is I truly want in life.

The biggest key here is visibility. I always use a beautiful card each year and create a list of fun goals, intentions, to-dos and wishes. I place this card on my desk at work, or my meditation altar in order to see it all the time! This is why I choose a beautiful card; it’s something I want to view often to connect with my own inspiration and intentions.

 4. Go on a date. You can go on a date by yourself or with a loved one. If you’re alone, bring your notebook. Record musings of your day, conversations you’ve overheard and drops of the chai tea you let loose over your thoughts. If you’re with a friend get creative: think outside the box, bring along that same notebook and make some BIG plans. Instagram your delicious lattes and promise one another that you have #bigthingsbrewing. Dream big and then talk about those dreams OUT LOUD. If you’re out with your honey, do something unique. Go pumpkin picking. Explore Six Flags in the fall. Drink lattes after a late night movie. Watch the stars as you hold hands and fall back in love.

Your life is truly yours to live. You get to choose whether you want to snuggle in with a delicious mug of chai and use Pinterest for hours on end, or if you’d like to explore the world as you watch it spin around you. Get out there boho babe and CREATE inspiration by being you. Live life out loud, have FUN, connect, breathe and play.

1157699_383157768473367_247012539_n-199x300-150x150-150x150Jenny Ravikumar is a yoga teacher, blogger and studio owner of Barefoot Yoga Shala. As a teacher and self-proclaimed boho mermaid, Jenny has been bringing her yoga lifestyle knowledge to the online world for years through her blog, jennyravikumar.com. She specializes in helping women dig deeply into self-love & care, while also explaining yoga philosophy and love on her blog and through her courses/private online groups. You can catch her teaching 6 days a week in Massachusetts or pouring love all over the internet 24 hours a day.

From Hana with Love

It was something we never thought we could do (which has made it all the more powerful).

When our founder, Diana, tried to make it to Hana, Hawaii back in February she had to turn around at the halfway point after suffering from severe motion sickness.

Even though she was feeling a strong unexplainable pull to get there, she surrendered to her body and said to her husband “there’s probably nothing there I had to see anyway” (she was wrong).

A few days later while flipping through photos on Instagram she was e-introduced to our Tiny Devotions Ambassador Eliza Darling (who she then discovered lived in Hana).

Eliza embodies the spirit of Tiny Devotions. She is a beautiful yogini filled to the brim with energy, truth, strength and magic.

Diana instantly knew that this was the missing Hana piece and regret started to set in that she hadn’t made it.

Then the idea came to bring Hana to our Tiny Devotions community. It was partly selfish (we wanted to experience the free spirited, raw, and gorgeous life of untouched Hana ourselves). But it was so necessary for us. Anything you can’t do, is usually something you must do. We made some calls, pulled some lei’s and we got the breathtaking, awe inspiring photos to prove it.

If there is still a modern day bohemia it’s Hana, Hawaii and we are so thankful that Quincy, Eliza, Iris, Jess could bring it to us (and you)…

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4 Natural Ways to Boost your Energy

923815_953524334663153_482527648_nWe’ve all experienced that point in the day when you just want to crawl under cozy blankets or at least have a quick cat nap, but a million errands have your name written all over them. I love naps so I’ll totally get 6 or less hours of sleep and mid day I’m paying for it if I don’t get a nap in. When I feel my body wanting to shut down here are my four favorite things to do to rev up my engine and finish my day strong:

1. Find a hydration station. Most of the time when you feel low on energy it’s because you’re dehydrated. Next time you’re feeling low energy before you grab a cappuccino, drink a quart of water. You’ll be amazed at how refreshed you feel. Another great way to make sure your energy is always up throughout the day is to schedule your water breaks. That’s right! Put them in your phone like appointments every 4 hours and you’ll stay well hydrated throughout your day. I like setting my water breaks for 8am 12am 4pm 8pm and I always have the most energy and look my best when I’m well hydrated.

2. Grab Fast Fruits. Let’s say you’ve hit your water breaks but you just haven’t had time to get a good meal in and the energy tank is on empty. The second best thing to rev up your energy is fruit. If you’re a little emotional and feel low there’s nothing like the color, smell, and juiciness of fruit to boost you back to your bright and beautiful self. I love tangerines, pineapple, and bananas. Try keeping a fruit bag in the car of apples, oranges and bananas or store strawberries, pineapple, or watermelon in the fridge for a fast energy boost.

3. Dance. I know you think I’m joking but it’s one of my favorite ways to boost my energy. When I’m in the car all by myself and the traffic isn’t moving I just turn my music up and sing out loud to my favorite artist. If you’re in the office try going over to your co-worker and starting the electric slide (If you don’t know how to do the electric side please stop life now and learn…you’ll thank me later.) Dancing increases circulation and if you’re not that good your laughter will boost your energy as well so you have a win win situation.

 4. Workout in the morning. Studies have shown that working out in the morning burns more calories and increases your heart rate for the rest of the day. You can toss in your favorite workout video, go for a walk around the neighborhood or hit the gym. No matter what you choose you’ll have more energy for the rest of your day if you warm up your engine in the morning.

MG_0024column-150x150Koya Webb is an internationally recognized holistic health and wellness coach, author, motivational speaker, and professional fitness model who is helping revolutionize raw/vegan cuisine, yoga and the holistic living landscape.

Website: www.koyawebb.com 

Instagram: @koyawebb

Facebook: Koya Webb

Free Zen Takes Toronto

In a city divided by politics and culture, Torontonians are unified by their commitment to being busy and staying stressed.  The trouble is, many have no idea that they’re committed to this lifestyle and that they may, in fact, be addicted to stress.

Tuja wellness decided to do a little social experiment by trying to bring 30 seconds of relaxation to a city known more for going than for letting go. As a yoga and meditation teacher, I planted myself in the financial district with a sign that said “Free Zen.”  The producers for tuja wellness assured me that it could do no harm. In the worst-case scenario, I’d embarrass myself and have to nurse a few emotional wounds after a day of aggressive rejection.  But, I was reminded, in the best-case scenario, people would remember that it’s the simple things – a deep breath or an unexpected detour – that can release stress and open up an opportunity to change your whole perspective on the day.

So, did I find the best or the worst case scenario on the busy streets of Canada’s biggest city?  Luckily, we videotaped the whole thing so we could share the results with everyone.

Courtney Sunday writes the Everyday Mindfulness column for tuja wellness and teaches yoga and meditation in Toronto.