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Posts Tagged with: ayurveda

Master Your Morning Routine: How a Yoga Health Coach Starts Her Day

Paula Pister – busy mom, yoga teacher, and health coach – lets talk morning routine.

I have FINALLY — in the last few years — come to the realization that if I don’t have my morning routine crafted — intentional and automated — I will not experience the ease, flow, and productivity that I desire in my day.

Morning Routine Reality

I’ve always loved the mornings but never really had a structure around them. They used to be dictated by my work schedule in TV production that was all about “burning the candle on both ends.” When I moved to New York City and fell right into the flow and pulse of New York, perpetuating the same less than life-affirming habits that worked in opposition of my daily rhythms. Again, staying up late, eating late, waking up early to teach yoga classes, and then running around the city chasing auditions. Next up, I moved to LA and had kids. Kids can put a serious wrench in any parent’s habitual routine (good and bad) and more often than not, creates a ton of chaos on many fronts.

So if you are a busy, productive person in the world juggling career, family, personal life and all that entails, it is absolutely imperative that you have a morning routine that grounds you, energizes you, and sets you up for an intentionally AWESOME day. If we only have approximately 25,0000 adult mornings (that’s another blog post), then how are we going to spend them?

Jumping out of bed to the sound of an alarm clock, hitting the ground running, and depending on caffeine to wake you up is over time going to take its toll on your health, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally, too.

Imagine waking up early, greeting a new day feeling naturally energized, and having time to take care of YOU before the kids wake up, the emails get started, and your day shifts into GO MODE. Imagine having time to meditate, hydrate, and eliminate BEFORE your day transitions into taking care of duties, responsibilities, and other people.

My precious morning routine has simply saved my life, enhanced my creativity, and made me a better mom and spouse. It has empowered me to become the best version of me on so many levels. A regular, intentional morning routine will change your life — I guarantee it.

 

How To Create and Intentional Morning Routine

A productive and glorious morning routine HAS to start the night before. If you want to get up early and experience the best part of your day, you need to set it up the night before. Get to bed early so that you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep and eat your last meal at least 3 hours before bedtime. If you do this, you will wake up with the sun, feeling light, energized, and ready for action.

I’ve literally trained my body to wake up at 5 a.m. every morning. It took a while and required an alarm clock, but now the birds are my cue. Nature is such a great reminder to expand my awareness outside the four walls of my room and into the bigger picture. Do you think the birds think, “Oh shit, another day, here we go,” or snuggle back into their nests and pull the twigs over their heads feeling resentful that they have to wake up? NO!!! They wake up and see the morning as an opportunity to feed themselves, nurture their families, and continue their lifeline. We have to learn to take our cues from nature, because there’s no denying it — Nature does know best.

One last thing — I realize sometimes it’s impossible to have my routine exactly as I like it. Life happens, there’s travel, illness, and other unexpected events that sometimes play interference. Starting my day right is my KEYSTONE habit (the one habit that if I don’t do, everything else falls apart). I will do whatever I need to set myself up right from the beginning, even if it’s a 5 minute practice. It’s all about establishing this self-care habit in your day at this time. Once you begin to feel the effects of a positive morning routine, you will eventually do whatever it takes to make it happen, even when life throws you a curveball. It’s just one more powerful tool in your wellness/ happiness tool belt, and an even better one to teach your kids early in life.

My Morning Routine goes like this (in a nutshell) 

  1. Wake up at 5 a.m. I spend a minute visualizing my ideal day and expressing gratitude for yet one more morning I get to be alive. I then have my “workout” clothes available so I don’t have to think about whether or not I do my breath body practices later on…. I just roll out of bed and get dressed. This is called setting yourself up for success.
  2. Scrape my tongue
    That white stuff on your tongue in Ayurveda (the sister science to yoga) is called AMA= TOXINS. That’s the body trying to rid itself of left over undigested food and gunk. Your tongue is a roadmap to the health of your organ body. Google an Ayurvedic tongue map and you can learn to understand what’s going on deep inside.
  3. Hydrate
    This is not for hydration purposes, this is for peristalsis and elimination. Within 10 minutes of waking up I guzzle a large Mason jar of warm water with lemon. Think of it as a tidal wave whooshing through your intestinal tract to stimulate a bowel movement. Ever been constipated? Nobody wants to walk around all day with fecal matter stuck in their colon — literally junk in the trunk. Get that s&*t out and THRIVE in your day.
  4. Eliminate
    This may be easier said than done for some. Me, I’m like clockwork at this point and you want to be, too. If pooping is a problem, let’s nip that issue in the butt. If you’re constipated, your system is not operating optimally and over time that buildup of undigested food and AMA turns to inflammation and eventually disease. Never mind the fact that if you’re not a pooping machine (it’s possible), you’re suffering on a daily basis because of it. This is worth taking the time to remedy. Start with a huge morning water flush. If that’s not instigating movement, start to look at your diet and where you can add in foods that stimulate the digestive process naturally.
  5. Meditate
    The yogis refer to this time between 3-6 a.m. as “Brahma muhurta” and call it THE most magical and creative time of the day when consciousness is the most expansive. This is when I settle onto my meditation cushion, where I’ve established a special place, to sit for 15-20 minutes and open my mind to a bigger perspective, connect with my inner guide, and get intentional.
  6. Do breath and body practice
    This usually is 15-20 minutes of movement. Here’s when we get out of our sleepy heads and into our bodies. If I’m teaching yoga that day, I’ll practice my class. If I’m taking a yoga class later in the day, I’ll balance it out with more of a cardio workout — jumping jacks, burpees, light weights, or a short vigorous walk. No matter what you have planned “exercise- wise” later in the day, choose a practice that cultivates the opposite. Another example: If you’re taking a long run or have a date with weights at the gym, keep your morning practice more fluid with stretching & yoga. Point being, MOVE YOUR BODY FIRST THING in the morning, somehow, some way. If this sounds impossible, start with 1 minute of jumping jacks. You’ll feel the benefits and naturally want to do more. Build from there.
  7. Nourish my body
    I make a green smoothie. This is the best way to get a good shot of chlorophyll into the bloodstream along with all the nutrients that dark leafy greens offer. When you make your smoothie, lean more toward greens and less toward sweet fruits, as it’s easy to load up on unnecessary sugars that don’t offer the same benefits. You want to drink this on an empty stomach. If 20 minutes later you have a larger appetite, eat a healthy, easily digestible breakfast like oatmeal, stewed apples, toast, and eggs.
  8. Intentionally imagine & plan my day
    If and when I don’t do this, my entire day is a crap shoot — who knows what’ll go down. After 45 minutes of taking care of my body’s needs, opening to a bigger picture of life, and moving my body, I now have 15 minutes before the kids are up to curate my day. I’ll take this time with my morning smoothie (these can be made in batches the night before and kept in the fridge for 1-2 days for optimal freshness) to pull out my journal and open my Google calendar (and if you’re like me also use other systems to keep myself aligned with my daily/weekly/yearly goals such as S.M.A.R.T sheets and 12-week scorecards). I check in with what I have on my calendar and confirm it’s doable. If not, it gets moved. I’ve developed this habit and streamline it every day – it only takes 5 minutes. If I can I’ll tap into this creative time of the day and write for my website, my blog, and others. Twice a week I wake an extra half-hour earlier to JUST write.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post which will include some handy tips for setting yourself up for the best day possible!

Paula Pister -Yoga Teacher and Health Coach 

#ODDlight Feature: Ayurvedic Clinician Eleni Tsikrikas

Every month One Down Dog finds an #ODDlight feature for you all to learn about. Meet Eleni Tsikrikas – your local Ayurvedic Clinician who teaches our teachers, consults us privately, and opens the doors to self care in the form of yoga’s sister science. The natural medicine of Ayurveda.

Intro to Ayurveda and making teas starts October 20th & 27th!

Part 2: November 3rd & 10th

 

Name: Eleni
Hometown: Los Angeles and Sydney Australia

Favorite color: Blue
What’s your sign?: Pisces
Most embarrassing moment? 
Recently I was in Athens, Greece, feeling very relaxed and happy. Went to dinner with my husband as usual we ordered too much food, so we took the rest in a doggy bag. On the way home, we decided to give the food away. I approached a man I thought was homeless and offered him the food. The man became angry and told me he was not homeless and how dare I assume…….. I was sooooo embarrassed and felt so stupid and ……………..remembered an old saying…….Never assume, it makes an ass out of you and me
Most empowering moment? When I finally got it that life doesnt happen to me, its an inside job……“life emanates from me”
Fun Fact most wouldn’t know about you?
I love to knit and do needle point
Fun Fact most wouldn’t know about you?
I love reading other worldly books.  Outlander, Harry Potter series

Fun Fact most wouldn’t know about you?
Love to laugh, right now rewatching  “Will and Grace” series

Share a story or anecdote with us – something magical, changing, funny, or adventurous. Something that you love to tell.
I had the most magical experience last Month in Greece. I was in a small town of Koroni, sight seeing with some friends.   I lost my purse ( with cash, credit cards, drivers license and green card) yikes!!!! Reported it to the local police, looked around, cancelled my credit cards, called the embassy……it was a mess
and it meant that we had to cut the holiday short and get to the US Embassy in Athens to sort me out for reentry into the US.
A few hours later, I was sipping tea on our balcony going through my emails. I received a message from Chris, a Greek man, living in New York, whose Mom lived in Koroni ( the town I lost my wallet. She found my purse on the steps of her store, when he happened to call her from the US.  You still with me.
He asked her to go through my wallet, he got my name, found me on line, emailed me in Greece…. I called him in New York, he told me his mum had my wallet at her store in Koroni. I drove back to the town, found his mom and my wallet with everything intact.   One of the best experiences Ive had

When you aren’t at the studio where can you be found (favorite past time)?
At my home/studio in Silverlake

How do you define yoga?
The road towards personal transformation
Why do you teach?
Because I want to share this transformational teachings
What brought you to become an instructor?
Curiosity and personal development

What is your favorite song to play in class?
I love Cafe Del Mar Dreams series

What is your favorite pose or flow? Why?
My own practice
Memorable yoga moment?
When I quit smoking cigarettes 15 years ago. I learnt from studying the yoga sutras, that the mind is a habit making machine. I took responsibility for my actions, changed my habit, practiced it consistently and consciously until it wasn’t a problem. Very freeing for me.


How did you first hear about One Down Dog?
I met Jessica in a class

What is your favorite yogi prop or piece to wear or use? (favorite mala etc)
None

What special causes or non-profits do you hold dear to your heart?
Greenpeace, KCRW,

Food as Meditation: 3 Stages to Rethink How You Eat

Jerry Seinfeld once said, ‘Thank god for relationships. Without them, all we would ever talk about is food.  These days, wherever we look, we find a new blog, book or ideology proclaiming the health benefits of a new superfood, supplement or diet,  guaranteed to give you, among other things,  effortless weight loss, boundless energy, mental clarity and eternal youth. So, of course, you give it a try, and, voila, it works….. well, for a few weeks, anyway. Then, unable to sustain this radical new way of eating, you’re back to your old habits until…. the next fad diet promising, well, you know the same results as the last one.

We have bought into a reductionist, cookie-cutter mentality, believing that we can all eat the same thing and get the same results. Ayurveda, the planet’s first nature-based medical system teaches that, although some things are right for some people sometimes, nothing, no foods, fads or diets are always right for everyone. This observation is based on the premise that, each and every one of us, is completely different and totally unique.

With respect to food, the only universal truth is that we all need to eat. Period. Beyond that, we each have various likes, dislikes, preferences, aversions and what we regard as the perfect meal. Every day, however, we are faced with the same problem…having to choose.  This dilemma brings us to the topic of this blog…. Food As Meditation

First, let me explain a few concepts. Meditation is a tool for clarifying our values and creating a calm and focused mind. It is a simple, yet profound practice which, eventually, transforms our perception and, ultimately, changes our behavior.

Classically, meditation is a three stage process requiring the abilities to: 1.Choose 2. Focus and 3. Sustain.

Choose– this is the most difficult step in meditation, as in order to choose to eat certain foods, I must forgo a whole bunch of other food choices. Choice comes from the inside. It implies taking in information from the outside, filtering it through your individual experience and applying the parts that are appropriate to you depending on your goals. This considered choice implies reflection and commitment which leads to the second aspect of

Focus. When I choose freely and willingly the foods that work for me then I am more likely to stay with these choices for a long time because it feels good and it’s the right thing for me. With this as my foundation I am more likely to stay the course and

Sustain my eating plan. Why? Because I am the one choosing based on what feels right for my body. This is the ultimate meditation. Someone who takes their cues and changes their behavior based on what feels truly right for them!


This is part one of a 3-part Ayurveda series. Be sure to check back next month for more great information from Eleni and check out her intro workshop 6.25.15.

Eleni Tsikrikas is an Ayurvedic practitioner based in Silverlake. She coaches and empowers students to make  amazing food and lifestyle choices. She teaches Ayurveda Skills For Living courses and regular workshops at One down Dog Yoga.


Ayurveda 101: 5 Morning Rituals to Create Balance

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Ayurveda is the science of life. It’s often referred to as yoga’s sister science, as they both originated with Vedic scholars some 5,000 years ago. Ayurveda strives to create balance in our natural constitution, or dosha, taking into account external factors such as the time of year or the climate where we live. While modern yogis often associate Ayurveda with diet, there are many ways to incorporate the practice into your lifestyle.

5 Morning Rituals 

1. Lemon water

Ayurvedic science states that drinking a warm glass of lemon water in the morning helps to purify the blood. There are many articles floating around debating this theory, but all agree that lemon is a good source of vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant to protect cells from free radicals – vital for every cellular process from improving the look of your skin to helping prevent cancer. The citric acid in your morning tonic will also enhance your body’s ability to flush out toxins1. And the citrus flavonoids work to suppress appetite and calm mild stomach upset.

Of course, this simple ritual will also jump-start your water drinking for the day, which is always a huge plus! Use the juice of at least half a lemon, and add spoonful of raw organic honey for a little sweetness (and natural anti-inflammatory powers).

2. Oil pulling

A teaspoon a day keeps the dentist away! Place a spoonful or two of organic coconut or sesame oil in your mouth. Hold it there for about three minutes, then swish vigorously for another minute (be sure not to swallow). Repeat at least one more time. Spit the oil into the trash, and rinse your mouth well before brushing your teeth. Studies show that this process helps prevent plaque buildup and gingivitis2, and it will make your teeth feel cleaner and brighter right away.

3. Tongue scraping

After brushing, run a u-shaped metal tongue scraper (available at any health store) along the top of your tongue from back to front. Repeat 5-10 times, rinsing the scraper after each pass. When you’re finished, rinse your mouth and gargle gently. This will remove bacteria and stimulate saliva production, both important for maintaining a healthy mouth and fresh breath. In a pinch, you could use the edge of a metal spoon instead.

4. Dry brushing

Dry brushing is one of the best ways to improve circulation and exfoliate skin. Use a brush with medium-stiff bristles made from natural materials. Stand or sit in a dry tub and start brushing in a circular motion on the soles of your feet. Then move to the tops, the ankles, then up the legs using longer strokes to match the shape of your bones. Continue along your torso and arms, all the way up to your neck, avoiding the delicate skin of your face. Always brush in the direction of your heart.

Stimulating the skin in this way helps to circulate lymph, which carries away cellular waste to be eliminated. It removes dead skin, and the Huffington Post even reported that it helps diminish cellulite3! Plus, it’ll help you feel invigorated even before you step into the shower.

5. Oil massage

I’ve saved my favorite for last. Abhyanga is the practice of self-massage with oils. In colder months or for drier, more brittle bodies, sesame oil is grounding. For the summer or naturally oily, warm bodies, coconut oil is cooling.

Take a little oil and rub it between your hands to warm, then begin to massage the crown of your head with your fingertips. Spread your hands and continue rubbing your scalp in a circular motion, then the face, then move from the extremities up the limbs toward the torso. Use long strokes toward the heart as you would for dry brushing. Pay extra attention to joints like knees and hips, rubbing in a circular motion. Massage the abdomen and chest clockwise, following the shape of the large intestine. Then spend a little extra time on the feet, rubbing the soles with your palms to create friction, then kneading with your knuckles, spreading the toes, and any other motions that feel good.

Allow the oil to soak in for at least 20 minutes before taking a gentle shower or bath. You could also use a lighter coat of oil after a shower in place of lotion (skip the hair).

Abhyanga lubricates the joints, moisturizes the skin and stimulates circulation of lymph and blood. It’s also incredibly soothing for the nervous system, and a beautiful way to show yourself a little love.

 

To go deeper into your Ayurvedic practice and bring balance to your body and spirit, check out our six-week Herbal Apothecary workshop with Eleni Tsikrikas beginning Wednesday, February 25.

 

ayurveda herbal apothecary workshop

 

Discover Ayurveda, the planet’s oldest, nature-based medical system. 

In this 6 week course, we will look at health and wellness through the Ayurvedic lens, discovering the natural principles underlying this ancient science of life.
Together we will explore:
• Week 1 (February 25th): Intro to the Ayurvedic lens
• Week 2 (March 4th): Culinary Spices: Ginger, Turmeric, Cadamom, Cumin, Fennel, Cinnamon, Black pepper
•Week 3 (March 11th): The Leaves: Peppermint, Spearmint, Thyme, Oregano, Rosemary, Parsley
•Week 4 (March 25th): Tea Herbs: Astragalus, Alfalfa, Hibiscus, Lemon Balm, Licorice, Nettle, Red Clover, Spearmint
•Week 5 (April 1st): The Rejuvenate Fruits: Amalaki, Bibhitaki, Haritaki
•Week 6 (April 8th): The Nervinces: Ashwaganda, Brahmi (Gotu Kola/Bacopa), Shankapushipi, Skullcap, Tulsi

 

References

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2637791/
  2. http://www.jaypeejournals.com/eJournals/ShowText.aspx?ID=5204&Type=FREE&TYP=TOP&IN=_eJournals/images/JPLOGO.gif&IID=400&isPDF=YES
  3. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/21/dry-skin-brushing-benefits-cellulite_n_1811708.html