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Where to Sweat: Ritual Hot Yoga

So I have many rituals...When I wake up in the morning:

  • I give thanks for a new day (even when I'm cranky)
  • I open my "Daily Teachings" app by the Secret and I read my teaching for the day
  • I kiss my boyfriend and wish him a good morning (and I thank my lucky stars for him)
  • I send loving thoughts to my family in NY
  • I make coffee and oatmeal with sliced strawberries
  • I check instagram
  • I then check the real news
  • I let the day settle in

On very good days, I also try to find some time to meditate so I am in communion with my inner self before facing the outside world. I could go on and on about many other rituals that I have because I like a good ritual. They provide a sense of grounding. I sometimes like to take mundane situations and apply a ceremonious spin on them. Consider your beauty routine, I love to work through every step with a sense of love and purpose. I think that when you apply a ceremonious attitude to anything you are harnessing divinity and the present moment.

A yoga practice or your sweat sesh of choice can be seen as a ritual in many cases. You usually go around the same time, frequent the same studios and follow the same teachers. In an actual yoga class it is sequenced in order to take special steps into consideration, think setting intentions, breath work, the physical practice, svasana... they all serve a very clear purpose. I had the pleasure of experiencing Ritual Hot Yoga as I partook in an event on behalf of SYYogaMag. They invited local bloggers into their "home" and treated us to fresh beats, a warming practice and delish local foods. Check out the full article on this experience over at SFYogaMag. If you are based in San Francisco I encourage you to check out this studio. Not only do they offer an amazing class but they are disrupting the ecosystem by truly taking care of their teachers. Okay, I'm giving away too much, just read this. If you are not in San Francisco, start setting and applying rituals to your daily routine and notice how present you just might become.

namaste.

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3 White Hot Sports Bras You Need Now

I love a sexy sports bra and I love white. So when you make a sexy white sports bra, game over. It immediately needs to be MINE.

I am sharing with you my TOP 3 selections that are sure to match that sexy sun kissed tan. Please note, it flaunts certain assets that aren't normally worked out in the bedroom VS the gym.

 

1. Michi Bionic Sports Bra I pretty much love everything Michi makes and this is no exception. Something about the white mesh makes this look so flawless. The bra cup is definitely sexy but the mesh almost provides a little bit of discretion. This bra inspires me to learn how to play tennis so I can give the mesh on the court a run for its money. 

2. Bodyism Olivia Stretch-Jersey Sports Bra  This sports bra screams FEM to me. I love the thick strap around the bra line. I think a little extra fabric doesn't hurt in this situation. The front and the back are equally on fire. I would rock this to one of my adult ballet classes. Not sure if the classical folks would approve but it would sure be fun to find out. 

3. Varley Terri Crop Top I have this in black and now I feel like I must own it in white. This bra gives me cleavage I know I don't have. I seriously wonder where it comes from? It has super powers like some of those Victoria's Secret bras. This I would wear any time I feel like making someone else red in the face that is not induced by a workout.

Work it, rock on and flaunt your sexy self.

 

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Monday Mantra

Fear. It is an ugly 4 letter word. It is probably one of the ugliest 4 letter words that you can say. I rather have you say the other word that starts with an "F". Heck, I encourage you to use that other word that we both know and use so well... I love using that word to strongly emphasize my feelings. But fear...that word is really the dirty one. It paralyzes you, diminishes you and makes you revaluate your self worth. No word should be given such authority. The truth is, we should not give it authority. A lot of times, fear is self inflicted by self limiting thoughts. When you say I'm afraid of "blank" a lot of the times that "blank" is something you aren't good at or maybe something that challenges you or maybe something your afraid of being judged on. Unless that blank is spiders (I mean who has 8 legs) you should face that fear. You should evaluate and embrace it. Ask yourself and be honest, "why am I afraid of this?" Truly answer why and see if you have misread the situation. Maybe you are perceiving something that isn't real. Maybe you are living in past or future tense without embracing the present moment. When you embrace the present moment, all fear disappears. It unmasks the stuff we are making up in our minds and it sheds light on our true essence which is to be brave. To be present. To be alive. 

Find one thing that you are afraid of and simply ask, why? And then see if maybe your perception is jaded. Challenge yourself this week to come into closer contact with that fear. Embrace it and unveil it.

wishing you light, love and courage  

 

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The Best Yoga Move For Your Abs

I'm back on the big screen to share some fitness moves you can do with me or save and learn for later! Today's video features a navasana "boat pose" series. This is a favorite, I always get asked to put it in the mix even though I get tons of eye rolls during it. Warning: if you have a foot phobia, you may not want to watch this because mine will literally be in your face. Please, please, please share with me any feedback on what you like, how I can make this better and what you want to see next. It helps me create better content that will help YOU meet your goals. Get to it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Monday Mantra

By all means, meditation is freaking hard, it's work. It's not easy but it's not impossible. It also gets easier the more you do it. It's an investment on the very best asset in your life: you. When people ask me for tips on meditation first of all, I say: "just start". It's all you can do. Start with 5 minutes a day and add on 1 minute every week and before you know it, you'll be mediating for 10 minutes a day. Use music, use silence, use whatever will get you there. Also, recognize that the chatter is normal. You would have to be Buddah to completely silent right off the bat. Although it is challenging to silence the mind, it doesn't mean we can't ignore it. Essentially, don't identify with the thoughts. Let them come and go and every time you feel there is just a little space, a little quiet, that is actually you. Be the space, feel the space. Treat your mind like a toddler. If it throws a tantrum, look the other way. Ignore it until it decides to behave AKA shutting up. A lot of anxiety in our lives is caused by identification with thoughts. Mostly all past and future tense related. Let the thoughts dance in and out of your mind, you'll eventually realize that they only gather strength if you let them take over. If you feed it, you will fuel it. Make space this week. Make space for the true you which is not equivalent to the stories we make up in our minds. Be present, be the space.

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Monday Mantra


I wouldn't agree with every outfit or life experience Madonna has chosen but there are somethings she has aced, like her song "Open Your Heart". Do you think "Close Your Heart" would have been a successful hit? Well news flash, it's not a successful hit in your life either. This week's Monday Mantra is easy. Take a moment to open your heart and with that you may see that your mind opens, your body relaxes and endless opportunities become available to you. The heart is the superior organ, not the brain. Yeah, I'm aware that the brain is located physically above the heart on your body. So what, that doesn't make it superior. Think about how many times your brain has made mistakes. It's kind of like the weather man of the body. It can get the weather wrong and still keep its job. How is that fair? On the contrary, every time I listen to my heart which sometimes feels like your gut the darn thing is always right. In this case, your heart is like your parent's sound advice you ignored and lived to regret. I could have saved myself lots and lots of "mia culpas" had I listed to my heart instead of following my know it all brain. 

Lately, when I meditate, I take a moment to honor my heart. I listen to it beating, I feel it beating and I give gratitude for it's immense capability to forgive, love, heal and keep me present. Living more within your heart center will keep you grounded and satisfied with the choices you make when you listen to it. My friend Deepak (I wish he was my friend...so bad) says that you should listen to what it tells you when you need to make a decision -- I'm totally paraphrasing. Essentially, get a gut check when you need help making a choice and give that overpaid and overworked brain of yours a break.

I have also been incorporating this philosophy into my yoga practice. I try to arrive at the mat present and unaffected by the physical outcome. When I do that, my heart sings (maybe even Madonna) because I let it lead. Check out an article I wrote for SF Yoga Mag on my experience with Bhakti yoga.  

Join the chorus and sing it loud this week..."Open your heart to me, baby".....wear a cone bra too if your heart feels like it!

Rock on xo

 

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Monday Mantra

So, I guess you are wondering where the heck I have been? I must apologize as I feel like we went on a lot of really good dates and then I never called you back. I want you to know that it is truly not "you" and it has been all "me". 

Moving from one neighborhood to the next in the same city is already a pain in the ass. Moving cross-country is an inexplicable pain. I might as well have moved to a new country. It feels similar to when I moved to Italy well over a decade ago, that's how foreign some things truly are to me. Finding out that there are cultural differences within the same country has been so weird, it's something I didn't anticipate. Being a New Yorker, I was kind of cocky in thinking that New York is the center of the universe. I hate to tell you, but it's not. Lots of good stuff is going down elsewhere and just like New York other cities have their charm and areas of expertise. Taming that New York attitude has been interesting. You don't realize how much a place is part of your identity and how it clearly feeds into your ego until you detach from it. I will always keep many of my amazing New York characteristics but the truth is, I am in someone else's turf now so, adaptability is key. 

What I am learning the most about however; is me. I am learning all sorts of good, bad and ugly stuff. You learn where you have strengths and when you are just human which is not a weakness but something to stop and acknowledge. I didn't realize that my ego would spiral out of control when we finally got here. The ego needs external attachments in order to feed its identity. By physically moving, I have stripped away many previous "labels" and "identities". As a result, my ego is having a melt down because it doesn't know who to be. The beauty of this challenge has been that now, I am forced to look beyond the ego and into my higher Self. I can harness this detachment and reclaim my higher Self as worthy beyond the ego. In the end, the ego is truly no one and your higher Self is everything.

Another valuable lesson has been learning that I can't control the world. I am barely able to control any given day or when my freaking couch delivery occurs. I wanted to have everything strategically set immediately upon arrival and life just doesn't work that way. Giving yourself the responsibility to control endless variables is totally unfair. You are so setting yourself up for failure which can then lead to a variety of negative emotions. As a result of that amazing lesson, I wake up every day now saying that the day will unfold as it should. I will not have control over it but enjoy being part of its manifestation. Join me this week in living in acceptance versus expectation. The need to control is prevalent in many areas of our lives but it is a very unhealthy focus. Let go and live, that is where you can truly exceed.

In a nutshell, I have been MIA as I have been working through a massive transition but I'm here now, working through it and willing to share the journey.

 

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Monday Mantra

So I am not a big fan of using words like "right" or "wrong" but if I am going to ever use them, I think I will use them now. I have done something very wrong. I have disobeyed this very sage advice: "allow yourself permission to enjoy the adventure of life". If every bit of life is "planned" then it is not an adventure. Oh, and sorry to break it to you but if you think you are adventurous just because you are visiting a cool city or country but you have a full blown itinerary (that you will rigidly stick to) that doesn't make you adventurous. The destination may be adventurous but you aren't. I know, I'm harsh sometimes.

When I was moving to San Francisco, I was so impressed with myself. Wow, "I'm so adventurous" I thought. I also thought, "I am not the kind of person who needs a meticulous life plan, I can go with the flow and figure it out as I go along".  What I failed to note is that I am go with the flow for about two weeks, you know, just about as long as a good vacation. I started to fall apart once we were into week three. All of a sudden, I couldn't stand not having one constant in the midst of change. I wanted to know where I would be living, working, and visiting New York again. I wanted to know EVERYTHING. The idea of not having any answers started to cause an insane amount of fear and anxiety within me. All of a sudden, I was fragile. I was afraid. I thought if what I "want" and "need" doesn't manifest now, will I never "have" it? I am using an excessive amount of quotation marks because I realize that what I think I "want" and "need" aren't always truly what I should "have". What the heck do I really know in comparison to the awesome universe? It truly does have a supreme plan for you. It's as if you were trying to compete with your friend who is an event planner on throwing an amazing halloween party (stay with me on this one). Instead of just going to her awesome party that runs so seamlessly and every detail is accounted for, you decide to throw your own party.  You stress yourself out, forget a bunch of things and impose experiences on people that you think are cool but really aren't. Why did you resist the expert? Why didn't you just go to the damn party instead of competing with it? This is like you VS the universe and if this comparison is hard to follow, just think of bridesmaids.  You (in this case me) are trying to fight the universe and totally think you know what is best when the universe is the one who knows what is best. What's missing in order to get rid of the anxiety and let the universe take over? Trust. Faith. And detachment. You can not be so attached to an outcome. Even when you are Type A and an OCD planner, you can't avoid every circumstance that life presents. There is always going to be stuff that we couldn't have foreseen or planned for.  In my case, I exhausted myself from all of the stress and I am giving into the universe this week for two reasons: 1. because I am freaking tired and 2. because I am reading Deepak Chopra's The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success and it is helping me achieve a different POV. His ridiculously soothing voice and logic, have managed to talk me off the ledge. Join me this week in experiencing detachment and having a little bit of faith.  Link to the book is below in case it can help you too. I hope my honesty with my journey can help you in some way, shape or form. Wishing you endless light, peace and love.

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Monday Mantra

Okay, I have been very naughty.  I need to go back and reread every freaking Monday Mantra I have written and then say to myself…“hey girl, practice what you preach”. So, I am one week into this marvelous new city: San Francisco! I'm kind of a Cali girl right now. Well at least a partial Cali girl. I kind of like the idea of being ½ NYC and ½ Cali girl. It’s the best of both worlds and kind of like being ½ Irish and ½ Dominican except, for the times when I have to apologize for the bad temper that this lethal combination has created. Yes I have a temper because I am human and there is plenty of shit I am working through #everydamnday. Anyway… as per usual, I digress. I have been naughty because I have not been taking my own advice of being in the present moment. Something amazing about switching from NYC to Cali is like all of a sudden life gets turned down a notch. I am kind of walking through life as if I just experienced the most epic svasana ever. For non-yogis it’s as if I am on xanax and for those of you who have never found themselves in need of a xanax (lucky you), I'm just slower. But slower in a very good way because I am not annoying everyone around me for being slow because they are all slow too. So you would think this is all good, right?

Well, I may have physically slowed down but the chatter in my mind is sprinting through the streets. I have only been here a week and I think I should have a million things settled by now. Like where am I working, where am I living, who’s coming to my birthday party in 2017 (I won’t have one this year because I don’t really know anyone yet). So this is all of the crap going on in my head while only being here one week. Meanwhile, I have gone on 2 interviews, I have inquired about teaching in two locations, I’ve hung out with 2 people who live here and I have made 2 new friends. That’s weird. As I wrote this down 1. I realize that everything seems to be happening in 2s for me and 2. I am an overachiever. I might as well have joined 2 charities and tried to run for local politics. WTF? I am worried that I won’t get shit done. Really? Something that hits me like a ton do bricks is something that my sage healer says (obsessed). He says, that I should know that I have worth for being absolutely still. For doing nothing. For simply being. It is in my “control patterns” to feel like I need to define every minute of my day and to create “worth”. Honestly, that’s kind of sad. A lot of us do it and I am not ashamed to share that. A lot of us feel like we need to define our worth by monetary compensation, the illusion of power, responsibilities and having every second of the day accounted for. This post is kind of therapeutic because every paragraph that passes I am thinking WOW I need to take it down a few notches. Even just one notch. This yogi needs to get yogi.

One of the things that becomes very clear to me is that it is hard for us to go beyond our comfort zones. You have your usual coffee, yoga, nail spot, etc. Whatever you need done, you have a place for it. We are kind of creatures of habit and sometimes we forget that there is a big bad world around us with plenty more to discover. In the midst of my madness, I have told myself to look at this as an adventure. The opportunity to explore new places, have no judgements and to build something new upon. This is actually an opportunity, I should feel reinvigorated instead of scared. This week, week 2 in good old San Francisco, I pledge to look at this as a beginning of a new life and to let all sorts of magical opportunities to unfold. I am obviously beyond my comfort zone already by being here, now I plan on diving in so I can let life begin. 

xo

 

 

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Monday Mantra

Stop acting like you will get 100 do-overs because you won’t. You are not on an audition, this isn’t the practice exam; it’s the real thing. What am I talking about you ask? Life that is! We keep thinking we need to get it “right” or “perfect” it. There is no such thing as either of those things. What you need to do is just be in your life, BE IN IT. Get out of your head, get out of the past because if that didn’t help you then why is it going to help you now and get the heck out of the future. I remember day- dreaming in school when I was younger and it was usually when I didn’t want to “be” in a particular class. Day dreaming about all sorts of stuff and the future took me out of the present and “elsewhere”. That was fine for my pubescent self who did not understand the value of the present moment but what about now? Should we be dreaming and willing ourselves out of our current lives? That actually relinquishes your ability to get anything marvelous and great accomplished if you are literally out of your body and the present moment. Get back in there. Get in the game; it’s the only freaking way to find happiness. Be. Life is short, it is fleeting and in the end you will be that much more fulfilled knowing you were an active and conscious participant.

 

Go live a little. xo

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Monday Mantra

Lots of weird things are happening. First of all, it's leap year. There is this one extra day every 4 years as a corrective means to account for the sun not orbiting around the earth in exactly 365 days. This comes from the source that I trust above all other sources; wikipedia

Also, Leonardo DiCaprio won an Oscar last night in case you are still living under a rock this morning. You may stop reading now and never read my blog again when I say, I am not a big fan of Leo. Sorry, I just never have been. I've pegged him as smug since Growing Pains. I know, it is totally unfair to judge someone you do not know. I kind of act like a snubbed Victoria's Secret model and I have no explanation for it. Although, I am not about to start a fan club for him, I am happy the poor guy finally won an Oscar after 6 nominations. If I were him, I would retire if I didn't win this time around. Another thing I will reluctantly admit is that I really liked his speech. He said "I do not take tonight for granted". I love that! Okay, maybe I'll start to appreciate him more. To openly admit not taking something for granted when you are a millionaire and can do pretty much whatever you want and have people still love you is so humble and spiritually impressive. Shows he's a man living in the present and showing gratitude for all of life's blessings.

I went to a hot yoga class this morning taught by a friend and I took Leo's advice (we are definitely on a first name basis now). I took nothing for granted. I enjoyed the birds chirping at 6:30 am, the farmers setting up for the market and the warm sun on my face. In my humble opinion, the sun is orbiting just fine. 

My mantra for this week: don't take TODAY for granted. Another symbolic gesture being that it is a leap year and all, course correct here and now! Even the glorious sun, doesn't get it perfectly right. Take a moment to forgive some of the "mistakes" you have made recently, let them go and begin a new path to orbit on starting TODAY.

Wishing you love, light and a smooth orbit around the most precious thing you have...life! xo

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5 Luxurious Products That Are Good For Your Skin & Your Health

 Photos by  Elena Eshleman

Photos by Elena Eshleman

So I can be a bit fussy, about what I eat, where I work out, etc. Please note, I said fussy and not high maintenance. Essentially, I am not embarrassed to make 3 modifications to a menu item even at the risk of the waiter rolling his eyes at me (and embarrassing who I'm with). I am cautious and contentious about the kind of exercise that I do because I know this bod needs to last me another 55 years. That is, unless they figure out a way to turn us into robots by then (I'd like to be a hot robot if I'm given the option to choose). So where does this leave the biggest organ on my body...my skin? Wow! Turns out my skin has been neglected and given the short end of the stick. I actually feel like I owe my skin an apology for slathering on tons of stuff over the past few decades (yep that's how old I am and how young I started) without even questioning its origin and affects. Shame. On. Me. Not too long ago, I watched a documentary called the Human Experiment. It was around the time I became obsessed with documentaries that would put the fear of god into me. After I watched all of the food ones that would make me want to eat grass for the rest of my days, I figured...eh what the heck. Let's see what else I should not be consuming. That was the beginning of what I'd like to call my "awakening". Before I knew it, I threw out endless products that I clean with, switched to aluminum free deodorant and I started to really question "what is better beauty".  In a nutshell, the US has not passes a law to regulate the safety of personal care products since 1938. Imagine a current world where no laws have been passed since 1938 to cause any reform or improvement. What kind of world would we live in today? I can think of hundreds of things that would be wrong with today's society if that were the case. So why is the personal care industry stuck in the past when we have evolved significantly since? That would mean we have learned nothing since 1938, imagine that? Also, only 10% of chemicals in personal care products have safety data attached to them. Imagine someone told you that about the food you eat or feed your children? This makes it no different. Last thought I'll leave you with, the EU has restricted 1,300 ingredients and we have restricted 11. I am not a mathematician but that seems pretty off to me. Overall, as I mentioned, I care to know more about what I use and what I do and how that affects me. I am by no means perfect and I understand I can't live in a bubble but I can in fact make small and informed changes in my life. I will work on controlling the variables that I can. Full disclosure, I became a Beautycounter Consultant so I can enrich my life and help others make better beauty decisions. If there is anything you'd like to try from the below, you can find my page (and badass picture) here. This is also a mission super close to my heart, Beautycounter is fighting for reform and going straight to Congress for those changes. We all need to play our role to empower ourselves, one decision and one product at a time.

On the flip side, I am a taurus to the T. I love luxury and I will not compromise that even while I aim to be more contentious of what I consume. I want to share with you a few products that are luxury approved by me that will be kind to your skin, appealing to your senses and mindful of your health. You can totes have a spa day at home with these products. I just tried Zeel for the first time and I am obsessed. If you have never used them, you can use promo code: RELAX and save $25 off your first massage like I did! For an at home spa day, I would recommend, starting with a Zeel massage and then using some or all of these products for the finishing touches. Have a robe handy, some soothing music, light a few candles and grab a delicious read. 

1. Start with a nice and clean canvas. I love the Counter Time Nourishing Cleansing Balm. It feels like a spa day every day when I use this product. I like to compare the consistency to coconut oil. You apply this on to dry skin and massage it in. You then use the wash cloth it comes with and remove it with warm water and then rinse it off with cold water. I am falling asleep from being so relaxed as I type this. If you have oily skin, I would not recommend this product.

2. Tata Harper's Resurfacing Mask this product does in fact provide an instant glow. I use it before my shoots and you need only 10 to 30 minutes to see amazing results. You can apply it and multi-task around the house or indulge in a trashy gossip magazine like I would. I love how this brand grows its own ingredients and manufactures the products. They also give back to the planet with their renewable mission.

3. I have pretty dry skin so I love a face oil like no one else. A massage, daily environmental stressors or even a kick ass work out will dry you up. A face oil will restore all of that. These come in three scents and from what I have seen, I can't really recommend one specifically as scent is so personal. I would check these out and see which generally appeals to you most. They come in Calendula (sensitive skin), Jasmine (dry or mature skin) and Ylang, Ylang and Wild Chamomile.

4. Scrub it off. I love peeling off the layers. A good scrub gets rid of the old and let's in the new. Full disclosure, I accidentally ate some of this and it was pretty tasty but I don't recommend that. It's a sugar scrub and I am in fact a sugar junkie (I know, sugar isn't great for you but I need to conquer the world in baby steps).

5. Lastly, top it off with an oil party. If you just had a massage, you are no stranger to oil by now. After a scrub, oil will seep in to your skin and hydrate you very, very well. I would apply this generously on to the body and put that robe back on. If you are putting on some clothes, give it a few minutes to sink into your skin. No clothes, no problem. Get on the couch with a book or Downton Abby (my current poison) but for goodness sakes, at least wear a robe.

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Monday Mantra

I'll be honest and say that this Monday Mantra is to help give me more strength on my current journey and I hope I to empower you by sharing my own vulnerabilities. Change is hard. It doesn't matter how adventurous you are or how "ready" you are for it, it's always challenging especially once it starts to happen. I think we all desperately want change and then when it happens we freak out and start to back pedal because maybe somewhere deep down inside, we didn't think it was actually ever going to happen. Or maybe we just like to complain all the time and blame external forces for the situations we become complacent in.

In any event, I have surprised myself. Quite honestly, I never cease to which keeps my relationship with myself very interesting. I am in the midst of a cross-country move. In three weeks, this native New Yorker moves to San Francisco. I absolutely love change. I know that I have one life to live and I want to maximize every minute of it. I love the idea of an unknown journey and all of the possibilities that it may lend. Nevertheless, I have spent two weeks being irritable, stressed, emotional and resistant to this change. I am sure there are lots of underlying reasons causing this. The primary driver and constant reason would be fear. Of course there is fear that comes with the unknown, what we can't control and the sense of no longer belonging. The truth is that even if I stand still, I can find 1,000 things to be fearful of right here and now. There is nothing we can per say "control" in life nor should we truly want to. As a result, I will be following this mantra this week. I plan on jumping in head first and dancing versus standing still. I will put on some dancing shoes and simply float with it.

Wishing you immense love and light this week xo

 

 

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Diaries of an Exercise Virgin: Y-7 Part 2

 Photo y7studio.tumblr.com/

Photo y7studio.tumblr.com/

This post was written by Contributor Gabriela Del Valle

 

As part of this series, I’ve been trying a different fitness class every week. First it was SoulCycle, then Y-7. Logic would dictate that the third post would be about a third fitness class, but since I chose to sign up for Y-7’s two-week unlimited membership, I’m going to dedicate this week’s post to my second week of Y-7.

Like I mentioned before, I love Y-7. I love that I can listen to Drake and Fetty Wap while doing yoga. I love that the instructors don’t hesitate to correct your form if it looks like you need help, but also understand that everyone in the room is at a different level. Most importantly, I love the feeling of accomplishment that I’ve gotten from slowly but surely improving my practice, from becoming incrementally stronger and more flexible.

I notice a drastic change in my mood on the days I’m able to attend a Y-7 class; I feel more relaxed, more energized, and far less tense. Lately, I’ve also become aware of any tension I’m carrying in my body, especially on the days I can’t go to class. In order to combat this, I’ve started to do sun salutations in my living room on days where my work or school schedule prevents me from attending classes.

This week’s tips for other exercise virgins:

·       Take the lessons you learn in your fitness classes (be it SoulCycle, Y-7, or any other class you enjoy) and try to apply them to a daily routine.

·       If your schedule prevents you from doing a full workout on a particular day, work out at home instead. Even a little bit of activity makes a huge difference.

·       The changes you notice in your flexibility, strength, or resistance levels will be incremental—be proud of them! 

 

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Diaries of an Exercise Virgin: Y7

Y7 .jpg

 

Signing up: Y7’s website is fairly straightforward. From the homepage, you can access a master class schedule that lists all the classes available for the week. They also have an iPhone app where you can check schedules and book classes, which further streamlines the process. In order to sign up for a class, you have to create an account, which takes pretty much no time. Unlike SoulCycle’s website, there isn’t a page for each studio, so you have to make sure to filter by location so you don’t accidentally book a class in West Hollywood when you live in Williamsburg. Not that it happened to me, but it almost happened to me.

When signing up for a class, you have the option to either make a single reservation or make a recurring reservation, which will automatically book a class for you on a regular schedule. While the recurring reservation option is great for people who know they’re into the classes, I suggest starting out with one class and seeing if you enjoy it.

A single class costs $25; a two week unlimited pass for new students is $45. Take the plunge and buy the two week pass. If you live in New York, you’ll be able to try out different instructors and studios around the city and find the one that works best for you. It’s worth the extra $20, and it’s an endless amount of classes for less than the cost of two.


Preparing for class: After signing up for a class, you’ll receive an email confirmation with the location, time, and instructor name. Make sure to get to class at least 15 minutes early; depending on your location and what time you go to class, it can take a while to get changed into your yoga attire. And definitely wear clothing you don’t mind sweating in. Upon checking in, you can choose to rent a mat ($2) and/or a skidless towel ($3). Since I don’t own a yoga mat (yet) I rented one, but chose to opt for a regular towel (free) instead of the skidless option.

Each studio comes equipped with deodorant, hand sanitizer, makeup wipes, q-tips, whatever you need to get prepped for class. There are large cubbies where you can store your belongings, but space is limited so again, make sure to show up early. After showing up to a SoulCycle class after the lights had already dimmed and the class had begun, I cannot stress how important it is to show up on time. Also bring a water bottle. Bring. A. Water. Bottle. I can’t stress that enough, either.
 

The class: I noticed two very distinct things upon walking into the yoga studio: it was super hot in there, and one of my favorite Drake songs was playing ("Right Hand," in case you were wondering). The pre-class email mentioned it would be hot inside (80 – 90°F, to be exact), but the whole winter-in-New-York thing made me forget what warmth even felt like. The lights were off and the only light came from various candles scattered across the room. Don’t worry, it’s totally fire-proof.

I laid out my mat in the middle row – despite having arrived early, I didn’t get there early enough to get a spot in the back corner where no one could see me fall over. The class started out with breathing exercises and affirmations led by Kate, the instructor – “You are not here to compete with others. You are here to engage in your own practice, to strengthen yourself, to push yourself. If you find yourself losing breath, repeat this mantra: I belong. I belong here.”

Yoga instructors often tell you to let go of all your anxieties, tensions, and stressors during your practice. Or, more specifically, to use your practice to let go of all your anxieties, tensions, and stressors. As a chronically stressed-out and anxious person, this is something I wish I could do, but I’m not great at it. As Kate told us to clear our minds and release our tensions, I tried harder than ever before to do it. And it worked. 

We did a variety of stretches that tested my ability to control my muscles. I found myself being able to go a bit further than I thought I could, but also kept my physical limits in mind. That is, I pushed my limits but also knew when to stop. At one point during free flow – while a Lil Kim song was playing – I found myself retreating back into Child’s Pose for a minute in order to catch my breath while the people around me did complex headstands, but I learned to be okay with that.

I’m not great at yoga. I’m not flexible enough to touch my toes and I fell over four different times while in Warior III. But I left the class feeling energized and completely, if temporarily, relieved of stress. The tension I had been carrying in my back earlier that day was gone.
 

The aftermath: I liked the class so much I immediately booked one for the next day, and will continue to attend classes for the next two weeks. I was a little sore afterwards, but completely relieved of all mental and bodily tension.
 

Would I return? See above. Yes yes yes yes yes.

Tips for other Y7 virgins:

·       Show up early! This is proving to be a tip for all classes, but with reason. Plus, you won’t be let in after class starts.

·       Bring water. Drink water.

·       Wear breathable clothing because you will sweat a lot.

·       If you feel overwhelmed, take a minute to gather yourself, then get back to work.

·       Don’t focus on anyone else’s practice. Focus on your own body and your own breath, even if the people around you are contorting their bodies in ways you didn’t know were possible and you fall over a thousand times in an hour.

 

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Monday Mantra

The mind is such a powerful instrument. It has the ability to manifest feelings and emotions within you and it also has the ability to manifest creations outside of you. Everything that you feel, believe or think becomes manifested in some way, shape or form. We are the creators of our universe which means you actually have endless potential to create good, to shift your current and future predicament. All you have to do is actually believe that you can and start taking note of what thoughts fuel what in your life. This week every time "can't" pops into your mind replace it with "can" and watch the endless opportunities unfold. 

xo

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How To Strengthen Your Yoga Game

It's a popular misconception to think that yoga is all about stretching. It's not. There is actual muscular work taking place, if and only if you are doing your poses correctly. One of the ways you can begin to strengthen your yoga game is by understanding what muscles need to work when so you can activate them. Essentially hollar at your hamstring in Warrior II and say, "hey buddy, can you help me out here"? Activating your muscles in a variety of poses, especially standing poses will help you strengthen your entire body while doing yoga. I am sharing with you a few exercise that you can do in order to build strength that you will need to call upon during your yoga postures.

STRENGTHEN YOUR UPPER BODY AND CORE:

What you'll need: a yoga block, a yoga mat and your fine self

Step 1: Grab a comfortable seat where you can have a straight spine and stack your shoulders over your hips. Take a block and hold it in-between your forearms. Your fingers should be spread out and finger tips pointing towards the ceiling. Your elbows should be parallel with your shoulders. Once you are in this position, begin squeezing the block. It won't move but you will begin to activate your upper arm, back and chest muscles. Perform 20-30 of these. This will improve your chaturangas and arm balances.

Step 2: Get your chaturanga and plank form on fleek. Take the block horizontally and make an "L" shape with your hands and place it at the corners of the block as a place holder. Come into a straight arm plank stacking shoulders, elbows and wrists. Push back through your heels and fortify your quadriceps. Feel the hips gathering and firming and bring the naval to the spine.  Initial activation of the muscles begins here! Look in front of you about 6 inches and HOLD.

Step 3: Come down slowly, hugging the upper arms by the rib cage. Elbows should be pointing back. Come down 90 degrees and HOLD.

Step 4: Once you hit 90 degrees, press firmly into your hands, push back through the heels, fortify the legs and come back up to a straight arm plank. Do this movement in a very slow and controlled fashion. 

STRENGTHEN YOUR HAMSTRINGS & GLUTES:

What you'll need: a yoga block, a yoga mat and your fine booty

 

Step 1: Place a block horizontally in-between your ankles and squeeze the block. It will be harder than you think to keep the block in place. Press the pubic bone into the mat. The upper body is in a sphinx like position, forearms in the ground, elbows stacked under shoulders and finger tips pointing forward. With control and activating the hamstrings and glutes, bring the block slowly towards the glutes.

Step 2: Once you reach the glutes, drive the block towards the ground with control slowly releasing the contracted hamstrings.

Step 3: Repeat this movement about 5-10 times. Hamstrings are needed in a variety of standing poses. This will help you strengthen your legs in standing poses versus relying on sheer flexibility which sometimes causes hyper extension in the bones, ligaments, etc. You get it...what I am telling you to do is WORK IT!

 

  

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Monday Mantra

It's a new month. It is also the second month in this new year. A perfect time to check-in and see where you are. I love the beginning of a new week, hour, month, year, you name it. Although I strongly believe in making changes in the present and not waiting for the "perfect" moment, a little moment never killed anyone. I love the idea of a fresh start propelling us to vibrate at a higher frequency. With this new week and new month upon us, ask yourself the three simple questions:

1. Am I going after what I want?

2. Am I even asking for what I want? Maybe that refers to asking someone or even asking the universe for what you want. Maybe you need to check in and ask yourself, "what do I want"?!

3. Am I stepping forward or standing still?

The only way to have answers is by simply asking questions. Sometimes, that is all that it takes...the willingness to inquire, explore and check in. This week, I encourage you to have a sit down with your self and ask these simple questions. Be open and receptive to the answers, you may just blow yourself away.

xo

 

 

 

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Diaries Of A Fitness Virgin: SoulCycle

Last week, I explained how one of the most important things I need to remember is that there’s no reason to be intimidated by fitness classes, since everyone was a beginner once. I decided to tackle my intimidation problem head-on by attending what I personally think is the most intimidating of all NYC fitness classes: SoulCycle. Why am I so intimidated by it? Honestly, I have no idea. Maybe it’s all the locations. Maybe it’s the branded gear. Maybe it’s the massive following. I went to an evening class taught by Lori A. at the West 77th Street location. Here’s how it went down.

 

Signing up: Signing up for SoulCycle is incredibly easy. You go to their website, select your location, choose your bike, and check out. If it’s your first class, you have to call the studio directly and make your reservation by phone instead of online, and the class is $20 as opposed to the usual $34, and your cycling shoes are free. When you sign up, the person reminds you to eat a light snack about 30 minutes before class and show up early so the employees can help you get settled. I did neither.

 

Actually, that’s not entirely true. I entirely forgot about the snack, but I did show up ten minutes before the class was supposed to start. Unfortunately, ten minutes wasn’t early enough. I had enough time to sign up for the class, strap in to my very confusing cycling shoes, put my clothes in a locker, and get in line for the bathroom. I looked around at all the fit, beautiful people in the room, all decked out in SoulCycle attire. I was intimidated, but it was too late to back out; class was starting soon. The bathroom line was so long that by the time I was finished, the class had already started. I walked into a dim, loud room and prepared myself for what would be the most strenuous workout experience of my young life.

 

The class: As I mentioned earlier, you have to rent cycling shoes (unless you already have your own), because you have to clip your feet on to the pedals. I assume that part of the reason they tell newcomers to arrive early is so someone can show them how to clip their feet in. Too bad I showed up after the class had already started, because it took me a full five minutes to figure out how to clip both my feet in. Another important thing I missed: instruction on how to adjust your seat height. I was frantically pedaling away while also trying to adjust my seat height to no avail for about ten minutes. Luckily, the instructor (a wonderful woman named Lori) noticed something was wrong, came over to me, and helped me get fully adjusted.

 

I’d like to say it was smooth sailing after that, but that would be a blatant lie. It was hard. Like, really hard. We alternated between cycling while sitting on the bike seats and cycling while standing on the pedals, often leaning forward. There were times when we had to do push-up-esque exercises while continuing to cycle. At one point, we had to do arm exercises with small, five pound weights. It seemed easy at first, but by the end of it I felt like my arms were going to fall off. I wasn’t exaggerating when I said I don't know how to work out.

 

During the first half of the class, all I wanted was for it to be over so I could go home and collapse onto my bed. My legs were sore, I was tired and sweaty, and I felt like I was the only person in the room who had no idea what they were doing. After a certain point – aka when a song I really like, “Justify My Thug” by Jay Z came on – I started to get more into it. It was hard, but I was sure I wasn’t the only person who was struggling to keep up. I began to notice Lori walking around the room, going up to people when it seemed like they were struggling or needed some help or extra motivation.

 

The last five minutes of the class consisted of a yoga-like cooldown period that can only be described as very zen. Lori turned the music down and talked us through a series of stretches, peppering her instruction with affirmations and encouragement. “It’s not about numbers,” she said. “Not about speed or resistance numbers, not about number of calories burned, not about fitbit or weight numbers.”

 

When the fluorescent lights came on and everyone got off their bikes, I felt great. Exhausted and sweaty, but also relaxed and proud of myself for having gone to a class I was so intimidated by. While everyone else gracefully unclipped themselves from their bikes, I realized I had no idea how to release my shoes from the pedals. So I did what anyone in my position would’ve done: I took my shoes off, then removed them from the bike with my hands. I felt pretty dumb for not knowing what to do, but the job was done.

 

The aftermath: After class, Lori congratulated me for attending my first class and doing well despite my initial struggles. I left the class sore, sweaty, and starving – all signs of a good workout. My inner thighs were sore from the bike seat, but that was to be expected.

 

Would I return? In a heartbeat. Lori was an awesome instructor and provided a great experience.

 

Tips for other SoulCycle virgins:

  • Browse through the instructor profiles to get a feel for what kind of music they’re into. It’s a good idea to choose an instructor with similar music tastes to yours; the soundtrack is a huge part of the experience.
  • Show up early! They tell you fifteen minutes, but I would suggest twenty just in case the bathroom lines are long.
  • Eat a snack beforehand so you aren’t starving in the middle of class.

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Monday Mantra

Okay, this is a tough one but after a long snowstorm, I think we all need a kick in the ass. I like this quote because it pretty much applies to anything in your life. That body, job, man, etc. that you want isn't going to magically happen appear into your life. You need to put energy and effort into it in order to materialize it. Yes, I wish someone gave me a magic "Get J. Lo's ass" pill but that's never going to happen. What I can rely on is the immense power to execute that lies within me and lies within each and everyone of us. You have the power to change endless things in your life if and only if you choose to harness it. Let's all get off the "couch" and seize what we really want rather than day dreaming about it while sitting there.

Still love you, mean it xo

 

 

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