Stress Relief for the Holidays: 4 Ways to Let Go and Ohm All Day Long

We’ve all heard that practicing meditation is key to creating a stress-free life. It can increase happiness and has been to shown to improve concentration, benefit health, and even slow the aging process. Along with exercise, healthy eating, and getting enough sleep, it’s basically one of the best things we can do to live a healthier lifestyle. So why isn’t everyone doing it? Probably because most of us think meditation is a daunting task that requires laser focus and loads of time. And they’re also not really sure how to do it even if they could fit it into their schedules because, realistically, there are very few “How to Meditate” classes being offered at the local gym.

  1. The truth is, you don’t have to be Buddha levitating over a mountaintop in order to reap the benefits of meditation. It really can be an easy and effective way to find more joy in your life and doesn’t need to take up a lot of time. Try incorporating the following 4 simple practices into your daily routine to increase your peace and help you enjoy the upcoming holidays.Is someone driving you crazy? Your boss, teenager, or noisy neighbor? Instead of taking their actions personally, try imagining that person surrounded by a big ball of white light. Once you can see that, send loving thoughts their way. Remember that, just like you, they are only doing the best that they know how to do with the information that they have at this time. Envision them in a glowing sphere and send love their way until you feel lighter. Smile, let them go, and get on with your day.
  2. A great way to stop overwhelm in its tracks is by practicing a mini-grounding session: stand up and kick off your shoes, place your feet firmly on the ground, close your eyes, and imagine that the bottom of your feet have roots. Now picture those roots growing down into the ground. Keep the visual going until you’ve hit China or you’re breathing deeply and ready to get back to the task at hand.
  3. When your stress levels are at their highest, try the Tibetan Buddhist sky-gazing meditation. Find someplace where you can see the sky and sit down. If you can’t see the actual sky from where you are, pull up a picture of it on your computer. Keep your gaze on the sky or monitor while taking long, deep breaths. Fully concentrate on your breath: watch your exhaled breath sail into the clear, blue sky. Follow your breath in and out, noticing how it dissolves into the blue space in front of you. Continue until you feel calm.
  4. If you find yourself distracted and unable to focus, try this: get into a seated position and concentrate on your breath. Think of a word that either brings to mind serenity or one that you would like to embody, such as “peace,” “love,” “bliss,” etc. As you inhale, say the word “I” to yourself. On the exhale, say “am” and whatever the word was that you chose. I (inhale) (exhale) am love. I (inhale) (exhale) am peace. I (inhale) (exhale) am enough. If your minds starts to wander, simply bring it back to your silent mantra without judgement and continue until you feel ready to take on the rest of your day.

Namaste.

How to Take Your Fitness Practice Outdoors with Sunset Beach Yoga

By now you’ve likely heard that practicing yoga provides many benefits, including increased flexibility, improved energy, and an overall sense of relaxation. I’ve been practicing various types of yoga for over a decade and can tell you that while I definitely dig the way it strengthens my body, what I really appreciate about it is what it does for my mind. As in: Slows. It. Way. The. Heck. Down. And. Keeps. Me. Mindful. OHHHMMM.

While I love yoga, I also like trying new things. Luckily for me, there are a bunch of different types of yoga practices out there: yin (best ever – I do it a few times a week), Bikram (I call this one torture yoga), Vinyasa flow (great cardio workout), SUP yoga (trying it this weekend; fingers crossed I manage to stay on the board), yoga with goats (seriously, it’s a real thing and I’m going to try it someday), aerial (yoga in the air – what’s not to love about that?!), glow (not high on my priority list, but I’ll probably do it at some point), restorative (just went on an excellent remote retreat for this type last weekend), and on and on.

If you’re lucky enough to live near the ocean or a lake, you can also try sunset (or sunrise for those of you who live on a totally different schedule than I do) yoga on the beach, which is as relaxing as it sounds. Fair warning though: it’s not as simple as it seems. In fact, I’ve listed a few things below you should know before you give it a try.

  1. Wear layers: when the sun goes down and the wind kicks up it gets chilly fast and nothing ruins your zen like goosebumps and chattering teeth.
  2. No matter how careful you try to be, sand will get everywhere. If you don’t like a dirty mat, I suggest designating an old one just for beach yoga or bringing a towel to place underneath it.
  3. Speaking of sand, wear a hooded sweatshirt so that when you go into your final savasana pose you can pull up the hood to avoid getting a bunch of it in your hair.
  4. If you have long hair and it’s windy, you hairdo will be destroyed when you’re done. Throw on a hat and just deal with it.
  5. The sand is going to throw off your balance and stability, so you won’t feel as sturdy as you do in a studio. You can smooth out the sand prior to placing down your mat, which helps a bit. You can also place a bamboo mat or thick blanket under your yoga mat to create a more even surface, but you’ll still waver with your movements. I’m currently trying to invent ways to improve on this: a yoga mat crossed with a thinner boogie board? A yoga mat on thick bamboo stalks? I don’t know, but if you have any ideas I’d love to hear them.

Until next time, namaste my friends.