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.

Three things I do when I can't sleep

FACT: I used to have trouble falling (and staying) asleep. While practicing yoga and meditation (plus some targeted supplementation and nutrition hacks) have helped TREMENDOUSLY, I still have nights where my mind is racing and I can't seem to wind down.

Last night was one of those nights.

I thought I would have NO trouble sleeping - I spent a ton of time outside, got plenty of exercise AND went to an hour-long gong meditation (yeah... that was COOL!). I even told my friend Nat "Oooh I'm going to sleep SO well tonight."

Yet somehow when I got home and got into bed I could not relax. My mind felt like it was going a million miles per minute. In the past I would've freaked out more: UGH I'm not going to sleep tonight, I have so much going on tomorrow, just FALL ASLEEP ALREADY!! Instead, I used some of my tools to quiet my mind and calm my body so that I could fall asleep peacefully.

Here are the three things I do when I'm having trouble sleeping:

1. Journal - I journal every night, but find it especially helpful on the nights where my mind is busy. I write down whatever is going on in my head (worries, to-do lists, things I'm excited about, etc) and imagine those thoughts literally coming OUT of my brain and onto the paper.

2. Breathe - Regulating your breath is the easiest thing you can do to calm down. When you breath slowly and deeply, you drop into your body's parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for stimulation of "rest and digest" functions of the body, so simply slowing your breath can drop you into this place of calm and ease. Try this breathing technique, it works every time.

3. Brain Balance - Brain balancing is a tool that I learned during my Universal Health Principles training. This simple practice has the power to stop anxiety in it's tracks and, like regulating your breath, brain balancing helps drop you into your parasympathetic nervous system. I'll probably write a longer post or make a video with more on this practice, but for now watch THIS HOW-TO VIDEO and just try it!


These three practices are so simple yet so powerful. Next time you are having trouble falling asleep, try one (or all three!) of these.

Lavender essential oil also helps :)

Lavender essential oil also helps :)


Do you ever struggle with falling or staying asleep? What do you do? Leave a comment below and let me know! I love to hear from you :)

Simple stress management techniques

The topic of easy stress management came up in nearly all of my health coaching sessions last week, and I can understand why. We are nearing the end of the summer (I know, I don’t want to admit it either!) and work obligations are ramping back up.  I’ve felt this energy too: even though I’ve been away from the hustle and bustle of New York City, I’ve had lots of emails and people reaching out to plan fall events and workshops.

No matter what you got going on this time of year, here are my top tools for stopping stress in its tracks. You can even do most all of these in your office, without getting strange looks from your co-workers ;)

  • Get away from your desk - Go for a walk or go to the bathroom or go fill up your water bottle (you keep a water bottle at your desk, right???). Whatever you do, just get up from your desk. The act of taking yourself out of the environment where stress takes place can help it dissipate, plus the movement will help relive physical tension that has built up in your body.
  • Focus on your breathing - I’ve shared this breathing technique with you all before and it’s my favorite stress-buster because you can do it literally anywhere. Breathing in this way activates your para-sympathetic nervous system (your rest and digest function), physically calming you down.
  • Visualize your happy place - Okay, I’m about to get a little woo woo on you but trust me on this one because it works: Close your eyes and visualize your happy place. Feel what it feels like to be in that place. For me that’s reading on the beach in Maine, sun shining on my skin, salty sea breeze blowing through my hair, no plans or obligations for the rest of the day. My body is relaxed, my face is at ease. If you know you hold tension in a specific part of your body (brow, jaw, shoulders, stomach, etc), focus on softening that area as you build your visualization. Your mind and your body are connected - when you relax the body, the mind will follow. 

Now I want to hear from you - which of these tools will you try out this week? Or maybe you have another technique that you use to stop stress in the moment? Share with us all in the comments below!

3 Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season

Hello December and hello holiday season! Today I'm sharing with you my favorite no-fuss tips to feel your absolute best through the holidays. Because there is so much going on this time of year (cocktail hours and office parties! visiting family and friends!), we often forget to take time for ourselves. 

The truth is, when we forget to take care of our bodies, we aren't able to fully show up to everything else in life. As a result, we feel stressed, anxious, and even angry during what is supposed to be a joyous and celebratory time. So do yourself (and your loved ones!) a favor and make that time for yourself every single day. 

Here are my top tips to feel your BEST this holiday season:


1. Start your day with ME time - Begin each day with meditation and exercise. This doesn't have to be anything crazy! 1 minute of breathing and 5 minutes of movement is enough to get your blood moving and energy pumped! 

2. Eat a balanced breakfast - When you make good food choices in the AM, you are more likely to continue those choice throughout the rest of the day. This also leaves room for "treats" later in the day - maybe those Christmas cookies your co-worker brought in or a festive drink at happy hour. I love a green smoothie, but oatmeal and eggs with veggies are other great options.

3. Chew your food - Chewing each bite of food helps us slow down and savor, not only the meal but also the moment! Take deep breaths and engage your senses - see, smell, hear whats going on and soak it all in.

Try one or all of these tips, and let me know how they work for you! I'd love to hear how you feel in the comments below!

Resolution Reflections + Headspace

Can you believe that we are already one month in to 2015? It's about this time every year that resolutions start to falter (I blame the cold!) and old, less-than-desirable habits creep back in.  While I am not one to promote crash diets or crazy gym routines, I do think that new years resolutions have the potential to be a positive thing - it's good to reflect on what you want out of life and how you plan to get there.  But why do we all feel the need to commit to one, over-ambitious on January 1st, only to feel dis-heartened and burnt out a few weeks later?    

This year, I'm breaking free of this unproductive cycle.  Instead, I will be making a series of smaller resolutions throughout the year - ones that ring true for the season and that I can (reasonably) hold myself accountable to.  January started off strong - I developed a new, energizing morning routine that has put a pep in my step all month.  So what will I commit to for February? Meditation.  

The more I read, the more I learn about the power of thought and the benefits of visualization. I've been wanting to establish a meditation practice for a while now, but I keep talking myself out of truly trying it.  I think part of the problem is that "meditation" has always implied silence and calm for an extended period of time - something that I'm not ready for, just yet at least.  

And then I learned about Headspace - an app that eases you into meditation 10-minutes at a time.  10 minutes?  Even I can handle that.  Oh, and it's user friendly too, complete with graphics that help you demystify meditation techniques.  You can read more about the app here and here.  

image via Headspace

I'm excited to see where this month of meditation takes me.  There are some big changes going on in my life, so I think this choice of resolution is perfect for me right now.

Have you ever tried to meditate? What were the results?  I'd love to hear your stories, and any tips and tricks from all you seasoned meditators out there.