My morning breathwork practice [VIDEO]

Ever wish you could experience the calm and balance that comes from a good yoga class (or good therapy session!) in more moments of your life?

You can through meditation and breathwork.

Most people have heard of meditation. It's gotten pretty popular in the recent years as more and more celebrities and big executives reveal that they meditate on a daily basis. Due to it's popularity, meditation has also become more accessible - you don't have to go to a yoga studio to meditate, you can learn and practice in the comfort of your own home with apps like Headspace and Calm. 

Today I want to share a little more about meditation's lesser known cousin: breathwork.

You could totally say that breathwork is a meditation, and that meditation involves breathwork. The two are certainly connected. Today I'm sharing some specific techniques that fall more under the "breathwork" category and are less well known than long, deep and even breathing that's taught alongside most meditation.

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I've been practicing and teaching different breathing techniques for the last few years, but it's only within the last year that I've committed to exploring and owning more of these techniques, mainly through my studies of Katonah yoga (more on that another time!).

Your breath is a powerful tool that you can tap into at any time - in the middle of a stressful meeting, on a packed subway car (or in the middle of a bumper to bumper traffic), when your child (or best friend or partner) is having a meltdown. You don't need to make an appointment with your breath - it's with you wherever you go, and you can practice using it almost without anyone noticing.

Personally, I'm most interested in using breathwork techniques to connect with my body and intuition, and to regulate my mood and energy. There are certain breathing techniques that will chill you out and others that can fire you up. In goes beyond that though:

In their 2012 book, The Healing Power of the Breath, doctors Richard P. Brown and Patricia L. Gerbarg wrote: “Studies are revealing that, by changing the patterns of breathing, it is possible to restore balance to the stress response systems, calm an agitated mind, relieve symptoms of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), improve physical health and endurance, elevate performance, and enhance relationships.”

WOW.

Breathwork is inherently a part of most meditation and yoga practices, but it can also be practiced on it's own. I recently participated in a yoga training where we did a full 1 hour breathwork class, which was simultaneously one of the hardest and most amazing things I've ever experienced.

From this training I was inspired (ha ha get it???) to add a more formal breathwork practice to my morning routine, which is what I'm sharing with you today. Even on the days when I'm tired, or don't have time for a full yoga sequence, I do a few minutes of breathwork and I immediately feel better - more grounded, more energized and more in ME.

Watch the video below to experience this practice yourself!

As with a meditation or yoga practice, consistency is key. While you will almost certainly feel something after doing breathwork once, the power comes from making it a part of your regular routine.

Leave a comment below with ONE WORD explaining how you felt during or after trying this breathwork routine. And then challenge yourself - can you do this once a week? A few times a week? The magic of the practice truly comes out with repetition.

Connecting to your intuition

Some of my favorite moments are when my life asks me to apply something I've been working on with one of my coaching clients.

On Sunday I had a call with a current client and I shared with her my tips for strengthening your connection with your intuition. She's a generally healthy gal and even studying to be a coach herself, but, like so many of us, can get caught up in the "shoulds" instead of listening to her own body's wants and needs.

She's definitely not alone. SO often I hear the "s" word used, especially when it comes to our food and self care practices.

  • "I should order a salad since it's the healthiest option."

  • "I probably should be going to yoga."

  • "I should just go home and get a good night's sleep." 

  • "I should cut out dairy - my friend did and her digestive issues completely went away."

  • "I should start a meditation practice."

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It's okay to want to improve or change your habits. It's okay to seek out advice from experts (or the internet) to help you make more informed choices. What's not okay is completely ignoring your own body's wisdom in favor of what seems to work for some girl on Instagram, or your BFF, or your mom.

Our bodies are designed to heal themselves. They are more intelligent than the most complex super computer out there. And given a chance, your body will tell you what it needs - it will guide you to the best food (and LIFE!) choices for you in each and every moment.

So how do you start (or strengthen) this conversation with yourself?

Today I'm sharing 3 easy tips for connecting to your own intuition - tips that I had an opportunity to apply to myself this weekend when I felt lost with what to do with my Sunday evening (more on that below).

   Photo by Seana Pasic

Tip 1: Talk to yourself!

I talk to myself all day long. Sometimes it's just in my head, and sometimes it's out loud. If I'm having trouble making a decision (what to have for dinner, what workout to do, etc) I'll ask myself: What do I need right now? What would be most supportive?

Talking to yourself feel a little strange? You can also journal or type out your thoughts.

Tip 2: Ask your intuition everything.

Oftentimes we wait for really big or hard decisions to connect to that deeper wisdom, and then wonder why we can't seem to get an easy or clear answer. It's like not doing any cardio workouts for months and months and then suddenly expecting your body to run a 10K race.

Exercise your intuition like a muscle and it will grow stronger. Start practicing with smaller, simpler choices (what type of fruit to put in your morning smoothie, what type of tea to sip on in the afternoon, what music to listen to during your commute home, etc) and build from there.

Tip 3: Become a really great LISTENER.

Here's the part most people skip over: you have to take a moment and listen after you ask yourself a question. If an answer doesn't come up right away, sit with your question a little longer. Sometimes you may need to dig deeper and ask yourself if there's something else you need to think about or look at before resolving the issue and coming to a clear answer.

Which brings me back to my experience this weekend: On Sunday, I had a full day of coaching clients + interviewing potential new roommates. By the time I was done with everything and had fed myself, it was 7:30PM and I was beat.

I wanted to do something to relax and unwind, but wasn't sure what. So I tuned in and asked myself "What would be most supportive right now?"

A restorative yoga class at my local studio?

A session in my infrared sauna bed?

Some yoga at home?

A Netflix binge?

Reading in bed?

All great ideas, but nothing felt like a YES to me.

To be honest, I was frustrated. I just wanted to relax already!!! But instead of jumping into a choice, I took a moment and listened to my own advice.

I laid down on my floor, put one hand on my heart and one hand on my belly and just breathed. Staring up at the ceiling, I ran through my options again and then waited. And after a few minutes something new popped into my head: I had saved a longer recorded meditation and as soon as I remembered that I felt a resounding YES in my body.

I made myself some tea and settled in - the meditation was exactly what I needed.

Maybe this sounds like a lot of work for you, or maybe you're already doing this on the regular. Wherever you are with your connection to your intuition, I hope something that I shared today resonated, reminded or inspired you to strengthen and appreciate this relationship with your self.

As always, I love to hearing from you. Leave a comment below and share your intuition experience or questions!

Space to reflect

I had another blog post planned for today but when I sat down to finish it, it didn't feel right. 

I was planning to write to you about sugar cravings and some tips I've been sharing with my 1:1 coaching clients the past week (which I'll likely send next week because it is really, really good info!).

But something stopped me when I went to hit publish. I make most of my business decisions from my gut and so I knew I had to heed that hesitation and listen more closely for what wanted to be shared today.

So I took a minute and tuned in. I stopped what I was doing, took a few deep breaths and I asked myself "What would feel more in alignment here?" and the answer became clear.

Nothing new.

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With everything going on this week - the Jewish New Year, remembering 9/11, the hurricane (which hits particularly close for me as my grandparents live most of the year in Duck, North Carolina and I am actually supposed to be going down there next weekend) and the back-to-school/life/work really setting in, it didn't feel like this was a week to share or start something new.

It felt like this should be a week for reflection. For honoring where we're at right in this moment, for feeling gratitude for all the good in our lives (especially the things we take for granted on a daily basis) and for acknowledging our intentions for the year to come.

Holding space for reflection is so important, yet something that we often skip over in our fast paced lives.

We jump from one thing to the next and don't always allow ourselves to "digest" our life experiences (yes, experiences and emotions need to be digested too!).

Personally, I think a lot of the gut issues I've been experiencing lately are a result of this go-go-go mentality. Even if you love your job and fill your life with all things you enjoy, you still need space to just breathe and be.

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So today (or this weekend) I encourage you to give yourself just that. Take a break and go for a walk without your phone. Sit on a park bench or your sofa without a book, cell phone or TV for distraction. Leave an hour of your day unscheduled (or if you tend to schedule EVERYTHING, block off an hour in your calendar to do nothing).

The most important part? Let go of your expectations of this time. Literally, expect nothing of yourself. Don't expect to feel amazing or rested or restored afterwards. Don't plan for revelations, insights or big emotional ahas (although those may naturally happen).

In that time, first just breathe. Let your thoughts wander. Allow your gaze to linger. Just be.

And then if there is something that you know you need to reflect on or simply be with, allow yourself to go there. Have your thoughts, feel through your feelings and let your body and your mind digest it all.

This is not a "to do" but if you do try this out or if something I shared above resonated with you, I'd love to hear from you :) Leave a comment below and let me know.

Guess who's back on the mat?

Just over a year ago I made a conscious decision to take a break from teaching yoga. This decision was not an easy one to make: I loved my students and I loved teaching. I loved that my classes and workshops were regular times where I was required to show up, be present and be seen.

 

 

Despite all that, I slowly started to resent my teaching commitments.
And I felt so guilty for feeling that way.

 

I was exhausted from running around the city, teaching early mornings and weekends, while still working full time on other projects during regular working hours. My attention was scattered. And I started to feel like a fake because between everything I was doing, I wasn't making it to my own mat regularly.

So I decided to take a break from teaching. I thought it would be good to have a month or two off during the summer when studio traffic slows down anyways. I figured I'd be back in the fall, refreshed and with a renewed excitement for teaching.

Well, it took a little more than a month or two (more like 12...), but I'm now READY to step back into this role, or rather step FORWARD into this new version of yoga teacher me.

 "Always forward, never back" (name that TV reference!)

"Always forward, never back" (name that TV reference!)

I share this for a few reasons:

  1. For my students - "It's not you, it's me" I just want you to know I've missed you SO much. I'm beyond excited to practice with many of you again soon (see upcoming classes below!)
  2. For my fellow yoga teachers - It's okay to put yourself first, it's okay to take a break. It's okay to love what you do but not to want to hustle so hard. It's okay to want to make good money. It's okay to want more time to yourself. It's okay if the group class thing is not working for you - there are other ways.
  3. For myself - Writing is so therapeutic for me. Putting words down here allows me to work through what's been going on in my head. What I wrote above is important: while I am "stepping back" into this role, I truly see this as moving FORWARD into a different reality of teaching for me, and I want to hold myself accountable to holding the vision of that different reality.

 

 

Like I said, I see this as a new era of teaching for me.

 

Here are the things I've decided to commit to (at this time) so that teaching can feel sustainable and supportive of me:

  • Teach local - For regular group classes, I'm only going to teach at studios that are within walking distance to my apartment or office. Not having to commute makes such a difference for me!
  • No more hot yoga - I love you hot yoga, but I literally burnt out teaching so many heated classes. While I'll still practice at a hot yoga studio occasionally, I won't be teaching in the heat.
  • Own my worth - I've increased my rates for privates and special events so that I can show up in the way that I want to: fully, and going above and beyond what's required.
  • Maintain my personal practice - If I feel like my personal practice is slipping, I will re-evaluate what I'm committing to on a weekly basis so that my practice can be a priority.
  • Invest in my own development as a teacher - I'm signed up for an advanced training later this month and will continue to take workshops and trainings to further hone my knowledge and skills as a teacher.

 

 

More than anything else, I want to continue to check in with myself before I commit to new classes, say YES to workshops or events or take on private clients.
 Taking a moment to check in.

Taking a moment to check in.

All that being said, I'm thrilled to share a few upcoming opportunities for us to practice yoga together this month!!

Practice with me:

  • Friday July 6th 4PM // Jewel City Yoga, Crown Heights BK // I'm auditioning at my local yoga studio by hosting a community yoga class. If you're in town, I'd love your support at this class. Click here for details!
  • Monday July 16th 6PM // Virtual class via Facebook LIVE! // I'm going to try out teaching a virtual class on Facebook LIVE. LIKE my Facebook page for updates!
  • Sunday July 22nd 9AM // Lululemon Smith Street, Cobble Hill BK // Join me for a free class at the Lululemon on Smith Street. In addition to the yoga class, I'll be chatting about my favorite essential oils for summer and you'll have the opportunity to sample and buy some of these amazing oils! No need to RSVP, you can just show up!

I am also open to taking on one or two new private yoga clients. Contact me if you're interested and we'll chat!

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Whatever your job or schedule, I encourage you to check in with yourself before committing to events, activities, etc. This is YOUR life and you deserve to be in the driver seat. So take a breath and take the wheel.

We got this.

Leaning into simplicity

I’ve had this pair of Converse sneakers for probably 10 years. I love 'em because they’re a little different (you don’t see tan Chuck Taylors as often as white or black) - they’re my version of a classic. I’ve worn these shoes through many different phases of my life - high school, college, during my days as an auditor in DC, here in NYC, and through many travels.

Recently I noticed they were getting a little worn out. I tried to take this photo so you could see the holes:

 Not really rainy day appropriate shoes - especially with the holes!

Not really rainy day appropriate shoes - especially with the holes!

I finally admitted that I needed to replace these shoes and started thinking about what new sneaks I’d get: What would be as effortlessly casual and go with both yoga gear and a cute dress? What would match with all the colors in my wardrobe? And of course, what would be comfortable so I could walk or bike for miles?

I actually began to stress a little bit: Would I ever find the perfect replacement sneaker??? These had served me so well.

 

 

And then it dawned on me: I can literally buy the same shoes again.

Especially in today's society, instead of being satisfied with what we have, we’re constantly looking for the next best / cool thing. “Settling” has a negative connotation. We don’t always appreciate what we have or miss what’s right in front of us because our eyes are searching elsewhere.

If you love your routine, the same old jeans or breakfast: IT’S OKAY. Sure, variety adds some spice to life but there’s no need to switch things up just for novelty’s sake.

As soon as I realized I could just buy another pair of my beloved Chucks, a weight lifted. Suddenly I didn’t have a decision to make; it was simple.

 

 

Today I want to invite you to lean into simplicity. Is there an area of your life (or wardrobe) that you’ve been unnecessarily complicating?
Ask yourself: how can I make this easy?

I think you’ll be surprised how good it feels.

I'm challenging myself to do this too, and not just with my shoes.

 More quiet time = more peace

More quiet time = more peace

Here's how I'm leaning into simplicity:

  • More quiet time. Instead of scrolling on social media, watching Netflix or any other form of distraction, I'm focusing on quiet time. I'm allowing myself to just sit and breathe, to people watch or be with my thoughts, instead of always feeling like I need to be accomplishing something.
  • Cleaning on the closet. This time last year I did a HUGE closet clean out, but I still have quite a few things that don't fit my body or my lifestyle anymore (that bike-commute life requires a very specific wardrobe!). When I get home from my current travels I'm going to clean out my closet again and only keep the things that truly make me feel good RIGHT NOW. And if I love a t-shirt or pair of jeans, I'm going to let myself buy a few different colors of the same style.
  • Simple, good food. It can be easy to get overwhelmed with all the food noise out there, the latest and greatest supplements and superfoods. I'm giving myself permission to not be on top of ALL the current trends and new products, and get back to basics with food. For me this means lots of veggies, easy to digest proteins and healthy fats.
  • Go with what I love. I know what activities, places and people make me feel good, and likely you do too. I'm focusing on filling myself up with these, and not worrying about what else there is out there.

Do you see a trend here? I do ;)

 

 

Focus on what you have, what you love, and what makes you feel good.
Tune out the "noise" of everything else.


With that in mind, I'd love to hear from you: where can you lean into simplicity? What food or life choices can you make easier on yourself? Share with us all in the comments below.

 

xxo