Never underestimate the power of this

Truth: I had a ton of resistance leading up to this past weekend's retreat in the Catskills. Even though I was cooking for the retreat, my mind made up all these reasons why I didn't need to go and why I shouldn't go.

Over the last 5 years, I've co-hosted, supported, helped organize and participated in over a dozen retreats. Each time some sort of resistance comes up. I somehow make it through and each time I'm blown away by the transformative power of a weekend (or week) away.

This weekend was no different.

Yogis do sunset in the Catskills - stunning!

Yogis do sunset in the Catskills - stunning!

The focus of the weekend was around self care: we meditated on what in our lives needs to go, we journaled on the practices or habits we felt needed to come in and we had real, honest conversations about our challenges taking care of ourselves as adults in the modern world.

Our three days in the mountains felt like WAY longer - there was time for all the things (yoga, healthy food, hiking, down time, sleep!). I felt myself shed an energetic layer of "stuff" I wasn't even fully aware I was carrying around.

The space and time for reflection also allowed me to get even clearer on my next steps: what's important to me right now, where I want to focus my energy and what I need to let go of in order for my goals to come to fruition.

Our weekend escape house - look at that blue sky!

Our weekend escape house - look at that blue sky!

As I've shared before, sometimes I feel like I'm just learning how to be a grown up now. Sure my parents, family and school taught me a lot of the practical steps, but as I walk through this 3rd decade of my life, I'm surprised at the emotional, mental and spiritual lessons I'm learning.

And while many of those lessons are learned in the day to day, the actual acknowledgment, processing and integration of those lessons usually occurs when I'm able to remove myself from my regular routine, like when I'm on a retreat or vacation.

I've said this after other retreats, and I'll likely say it again: never underestimate the power of a weekend away.

Whether it's a week in Sedona with your parents (major lessons there my friends - read this post if you haven't already), escaping the city for a quiet weekend in the country or renting an AirBnB for a night away from your regular routine, removing yourself from the distractions of your every day life has tremendous transformative and restorative power.

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On the bus ride back from the Catskills I was inspired to flush out all the details for an early fall retreat at my family's house in Maine. This is something I've been dreaming about for a long time (ever since we renovated the house 3 years ago). Even though I had other work to do, even though I was a little car sick from the ride, my gut said to DO IT and so I did.

This retreat is coming together (I promise I will be sharing details soon - it will be Sept 26-30 if you want to mark the date on your calendar!!) and I know none of this would have happened if I hadn't had the time away to recharge my body and my spirit.

Wildflowers EVERYWHERE! So beautiful.

Wildflowers EVERYWHERE! So beautiful.

One of my coaching clients joined us on this retreat. Earlier this week we had a call to recap what came up and how she wants to take what she learned in the weekend and bring it into her life.

My coaching for her (and what I do myself) was this:

  1. Create a small amount of space in your everyday life to retreat - Create some space in your daily routine where you disconnect from all the things (work, computer, TV, cell phone, friends and family) and reconnect to YOU. This can look like a yoga or meditation practice, nightly journaling routine or other ritual. Ideally this happens every day.

  2. Plan for regular, bigger retreat times. Aim to have a longer "retreat" on your calendar each week or month. Sure this can be a long weekend in Maine with a teacher who inspires you (!!), or a staycation where you leave the kids with your SO or parents and check into a fancy hotel, or a spa day with your best friend. But it can also be as simple as an afternoon where you turn off your phone and shut down your computer and are present with what's going on around you.

The important thing with both of these "retreats" is that you're able to tune out some of the noise of life (a lot of which comes from our technology!) and tune into YOU. Bonus if you can be alone and/or be in nature, but that doesn't have to happen every time.

So today I encourage you to look at your calendar. Do you have a true getaway planned? And if not, can you make the time and space for one, even if it is local, or more of a digital detox than a true vacation?

My next retreat will be in Maine - will you join me?

My next retreat will be in Maine - will you join me?

There may be resistance that comes up (I don't have time! It's too expensive! My family needs me!). This is NORMAL and likely means you're on the right path to something that your soul needs for change and growth.

And then I want to hear from you - what's your retreat plan? Are you going to join me in Maine in September? Is there another trip or vacation in the books? How are you going to bring this idea of "retreating" into your every day life? Leave a comment below and let me know!

For this past weekend's retreat I had the pleasure of fueling the group with delicious, healthy food. I put together a recipe book with all the yummy things we made including Paleo Banana Pancakes, Lemon Dill Salmon, Tahini Fudge and MORE!

Click here to download the Self Care Retreat Recipe Book.

What I've been leaning into

The last few weeks have been particularly intense for me. Between my grandma passing, my brother getting engaged (!!!) and spending the last week in Sedona with my parents, I’ve literally been feeling ALL the feels.

What’s been helping me through it all is allowing myself a ton of space to simply BE.

I’ve been leaning on those self care practices that give me space: acupuncture, meditation, down time, long walks and runs, and Universal Health Principles (UHP) sessions.

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I haven’t shared a lot about UHP here lately but it’s an integral part of both my coaching work and personal self care practice because it does provide such space and such deep peace (something that I don’t always find even in a yoga class or spa day).

So what is UHP?

UHP is a mind body healing modality. As a certified UHP practitioner, I have been trained to use muscle testing to tap into the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

Your body WANTS you to feel good. It wants you to be focused, energized and comfortable in your skin.

While a lot of the coaching work I do focuses on the left brain and conscious mind (eat this, do this workout, take this supplement, etc), UHP session work more with the body and subconscious mind, uncovering belief systems and thought patterns that may be holding you back from becoming your next level of you.

A session feels like a deep meditation - I LOVE giving and receiving UHP sessions before bed because I always sleep SO soundly.

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I bring UHP sessions into my coaching (both 1:1 coaching and the work I do with Robyn in the Rockstar Coaching Collective group) but I’ve decided to open up a few more regular spots for just UHP.

No need to sign up for a whole coaching program or purchase a package. This is an awesome opportunity to experience this special practice and see if working with me (and UHP) is something that would be supportive for you.

Limited space for single sessions are available - through the end of the month it’s $80 for a 30-40 minute session (which will be held virtually via Zoom video conferencing).

Learn more about UHP here.

To book, email me and I'll be touch with details on payment and scheduling.

Tips for a better winter

One of the most interesting concepts I've learned throughout my years studying nutrition and wellness is that our bodies (and lives) are cyclical in nature. We, like the moon, have phases, some of which repeat on a predictable basis.

And just like the pull of the moon influences the tides, our bodies are impacted by these different cycles and the different seasons.

Today I want to share a little more about the season of winter, the season that we in the Northern Hemisphere are currently experiencing (and experiencing HARD - it's in the single digits in Brooklyn as I write this).

I used to hate winter. I despised the cold and wanted to just put my head down and push through it as quickly as possible. I still prefer warmer temps (there's a certain freedom that comes with them when your main mode of transportation is a BIKE), but once I learned to honor the season for what it WAS instead of trying make it look or feel like a different season, I learned to really love this time of year (okay... maybe not LOVE but at least LIKE and appreciate).

Plus, by leaning into the winter-ness of winter, I'm better able to appreciate and use the energies of the other seasons when they come around.

Me embracing winter - ie home early, snuggled up with a heating pad + good book

Me embracing winter - ie home early, snuggled up with a heating pad + good book

So how does one "lean into" winter?

First, let's take a moment to think about what we associate with winter. This will give us some insight into the role of the season, and some clues for how to best use it's energy.

Here's what I think of when I think of winter...

Winter. Cold. Staying in. Gathering around the fire. Sleeping. Reading. Hibernating. Finding warmth. Comfort food. Less growth. Fewer hours in the day. More darkness. More blankets. Quiet. Reflection. Clarity. Coziness.

The cold and quiet is not "bad" - it's just different, especially for our go-go-go society. If we expect ourselves to operate on the exact same schedules as we did when we had 14 hours of daylight and temperatures in the 80s, it's going to feel hard.

If instead we work with these natural tendencies, if we use this season as a time of rest, reflection and getting in touch with our selves, not only will we feel more in harmony with the world around us, but we'll be better prepared for the energy and expansion of spring when it comes around.

Restorative yoga is amazing this time of year.

Restorative yoga is amazing this time of year.

Beyond food there are also activities that are better suited for these cooler months. Below I've listed out some specifics to give you some ideas, but these lists are not exhaustive. Feel free to use your own intuition and what it's telling you is best for your body based on what you've read here.

Foods to focus on:

  • Warm foods (especially baked, slow roasted and stewed)

  • Root vegetables

  • Soups

  • Warming spices like garlic, ginger and cinnamon

  • Cooked whole grains (brown rice, oats, barley)

  • Kidney beans and black beans

  • Food from the oceans like deep sea fish (halibut, swordfish) and seaweed*

Foods to avoid:

  • Too many raw foods (too cold)

  • Excess fruit and sweets

  • Overeating in general (we naturally move a little less this time of year so our diets should reflect that decrease in physical activity)

  • Ice water

Activities:

  • Yoga (especially slower practices with longer holds like yin and restorative yoga)

  • Reflection practices like journaling and meditation

  • Breathwork (to move energy without having to be out in the elements)

  • Staying in. Yes. Do less, especially on week nights. Meet for an early meal or invite friends over so that you're not out and about late.

  • Salt baths*

  • Use a heating pad, especially on your lower back (to focus on keeping the kidneys warm)**

*According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the Winter is associated with the element of water which is why these foods and activities are recommended this time of year

**Also according to TCM this is the season of the kidneys and bladder. The kidneys are said to store our chi or energy, which can be depleted easily this time of year if we run ourselves down through poor food or lifestyle choices. 

Whether you live in a climate that feels traditional seasons or not, you can still explore the concepts and tips that I shared above - there is a shift in energy that happens even if the weather changes aren't as noticeable.

For more in depth advice on eating and living in tune with the seasons, I highly HIGHLY recommend this book: Staying Healthy with the Seasons

My favorite book on living in tune with the seasons.

My favorite book on living in tune with the seasons.

If anything I hope what I shared in this post has given you permission to go a little easier on yourself this time of year, or at least take the next few months as an opportunity to slow down. To do a little less and spend more time reflecting on where you're at and where you want to go in the year to come.

Wishing you a cozy, quiet and introspective winter!

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!