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Yoga, health, wellness, and recipes from YogaDownload.com


The Dangers of High Heels for Your Body
The Dangers of High Heels for Your Body
A high heel shoe puts your foot in a plantarflexed (foot pointed downward) position, placing an increased amount of pressure on your forefoot. This causes you to adjust the rest of your body to maintain your balance. The lower part of your body leans forward and to compensate for that, the upper part of your body must lean back to keep you balanced. This is not your body’s normal standing position. The normal s-curve shape of the back acts as a shock absorber, reducing reduce stress on the vertebrae. Wearing high heels causes lumbar (low-back) spine flattening and a posterior (backward) displacement of the head and thoracic (mid-back) spine.

Your Creative Force: Reflections on the Sacral (Svadhishthana) Chakra
Your Creative Force: Reflections on the Sacral (Svadhishthana) Chakra
A friend asked me what my most unusual job has been. After running down a few odd positions I’ve held in my past, (did you know I spent a year as a Glitter Fairy?) I landed on the rewarding work of being a doula, or birth assistant. This doula work was a natural culmination of my life-long gravitation to all things baby. I had spent the previous decade working as a nanny, mostly of newborns and infants, and had also started teaching Prenatal Yoga and practicing Prenatal Massage. Many of my girlfriends were on a journey of pregnancy and childbirth for the first time, and a few had asked for my help. Over the span of a few years I witnessed (and hopefully helped in some small way) twenty-six new, fresh baby beings enter into this world. Although every birth was its own messy, joyous and arduous event, after each I felt so extremely honored, to the point of tears, to have been there. Through the years of teaching pregnant women safe yoga techniques, holding hands and wiping brows during labor contractions, and changing poopy diapers of many little babes, I never once doubted that I would experience mamahood for myself. Being a mother was all I ever wanted since I was a little girl, my biological clock was all I could hear.

The Benefits of Hot & Cold Contrast Showers (Hydrotherapy)
The Benefits of Hot & Cold Contrast Showers (Hydrotherapy)
Want to know my new secret to success and well-being? Hot and cold contrast showers! Yep! Contrast showers, or hydrotherapy, are actually not a new trend, but rather have been used around the world for centuries as a healing modality. This technique, generally used by athletes to improve recovery between training sessions or post-competition, involves alternating between hot and cold water multiple times. I always start my shower with warm water for a couple minutes, then switch to icy cold for a couple more minutes. I do about three intervals of switching back and forth between hot and cold, always ending with water as cold as I can stand. (And learning about what I can “stand” is a meditation in itself. Hint, it helps to breathe!)

Why We Practice Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Why We Practice Savasana (Corpse Pose)
“For a star to be born: a gaseous nebula must collapse. So collapse. Crumble. This is not your destruction. This is your birth.” – Zoe Skylar Recently, I wrote about the importance of play. Today, through my sugar hangover, my attention turns to decay, decomposition, and death. I wrote this around The Day Of The Dead, All Souls Day, or Dia De Los Muertos, when we honor not only those who have passed on from this lifetime, but also the natural passage at the end of all lives. Here in Denver, the once juicy green leaves have dried, withered, and fallen, now are starting to emit the rotten Autumn scent, reminding me that everything must come to an end. Unpleasant though it may be, the fact is that death can come at any time, at any age; after a long or short illness, due to violent crime or an inexplicably tragic accident.

Yoga Anatomy: Trade in Your Buns of Steel for Fluffy Butt
Yoga Anatomy: Trade in Your Buns of Steel for Fluffy Butt
Besides being the “butt” of many jokes, the gluteus maximus is the largest and most superficial of the three gluteal muscles. It makes up a large portion of the shape and appearance of the hips. Its size is unique to humans; no other mammal has such expansive rear area, as pointed out in the classic Trail Guide to the Body. Perhaps this is why we are apt to laugh about it? All jokes aside, it’s important for us to give attention to this major muscle in order to maintain healthy posture and an happy lower back. When the gluteus maximus is unhealthy, adhered or possessing swarms of trigger points, it can start a game of tug-of-war with the lower back muscles, especially quadratus lumborum(QL).

What is Yoga Anyway?
What is Yoga Anyway?
I'm reflecting on my very first yoga class. As a college freshman, I somewhat arbitrarily signed up for yoga as a “physical education” elective. My beloved grandma had been practicing yoga for years, so I had a vague knowledge of what it was all about, but I had no idea how much that that one course would end up influencing my life. Since first walking into that college gym, I have gone on to study various styles of yoga with many wonderful teachers, taught yoga in different capacities for over ten years, and owned two yoga studios on opposite corners of Colorado. Twenty years after that first class, I embarked on another in-depth yoga teacher’s training; RootEd is a 230-hour “apprenticeship” with the inspiring Jessica Patterson out of Colorado Springs. For the RootEd application, I was asked to answer the question “What is Yoga?”

Slow Down, Check In, & Chill Out
Slow Down, Check In, & Chill Out
Can I be honest with you? Sometimes I get burnt out, grumpy, and in a funk. Just like many of you, I fall into the trap of the glorifying of busyness. Subconsciously I believe that I’m not doing a good enough job if I’m not running from one thing to the next, crossing things off my list, working late into the night and then rising in the wee hours of the morning to work again. As much as it benefits others, my career of massage and yoga education is not immune to stressful deadlines and schedules. Today a friend innocently asked me “so, how are you?” When I paused long enough to bypass the automatic answer of “fine,” I realized that I don’t know how I truly am doing. I haven’t made enough time to check in and listen lately.

Exploring Common Sanskrit: Om, Spanda, Sutra, Dharma… WHAT?
Exploring Common Sanskrit: Om, Spanda, Sutra, Dharma… WHAT?
This month I have the pleasure of taking part in a writing experiment. Susanna Harwood Rubin, a yoga teacher and writer on the East Coast, is prompting students every day with a new Sanskrit word to explore with a few of their own words. I’m less than a week into this experience, and am already surprised how it has enabled me to look inward and apply the words and concepts to my life personally. Following are a few of my word explorations, with more to come. OM

Perfectionism On & Off the Yoga Mat
Perfectionism On & Off the Yoga Mat
Do you long to perform better on your yoga mat? Maybe you’ve seen an impressive peacock pose on Instagram and feel shameful that your pose doesn’t look nearly that graceful? Well, I know the feeling; I’ve been there, too. But listen up, y’all. Contrary to popular belief, yoga is NOT about how flexible you are, your cute leggings, or your ability to stand on one hand. Everybody is built differently, and in an ideal world, each pose would be specifically instructed to fit each body. For example, the shape of my particular hip sockets will never ever – not even after twenty MORE years of practicing yoga – allow me to come into a safe lotus pose. And currently, my massage practice takes all I’ve got out from my wrists and leaves nothing else for arm balances.

Reset Refuge: 7 Day Gentle Yoga Immersion with Elise Fabricant
Reset Refuge: 7 Day Gentle Yoga Immersion with Elise Fabricant
Do you ever wish you could pull the plug and reboot your life the way you can reboot your computer? You know those days when your phone or laptop go haywire and you waste hours with minor fixes, but nothing works until you perform a full restart? 2020 has been characterized by dramatic shifts and some unwelcome and shocking changes impacting every single one of us. This week consider committing to a complete reset for your body, mind, and heart with our special Reset Refuge 7-Day Gentle Yoga Immersion with Elise Fabricant. Yoga is one of the most powerful tools we have to navigate the ebbs and flows of change. By concentrating on building our strength and balance from the inside out, we are better equipped to handle whatever comes our way. The definition of “Hatha” is Sun-“Ha” and Moon-“tha.”

To Force, or To Flow?
To Force, or To Flow?
“Don’t write a book unless you just can not NOT write it.” – Maya Angelou I haven’t been writing much lately, in my blog, or anywhere, truly. My yoga dharma talks, which were once the effusive ideologues of youth, have been reserved and quiet. My energy has been taken up by personal relationships and by growing my coaching business, which takes me being more extroverted than is in my true nature. And now, at the end of the day, I find that there’s not a lot left over to give to writing or inspiring. You understand, right? Even if you’re not growing a business or doing the dance of an on-again-off-again relationship, you pour your energy out in so many different directions. In busy times like these, we can learn to prioritize consciously, rather than succumb to a haphazard whirlwind of to-do lists. We can sort by which activities have the most impact, which takes the shortest amount of time, and which brings us the most joy.

What is a Reframe?
What is a Reframe?
Glass half empty or half full. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Life is what you make it. A silver lining, a blessing in disguise. Seeing the positive in life has been a constant struggle for me. I was that melancholic child, that broody teenager, and that unpredictable young adult. With an artistic temperament, even as an adult I’ve appreciated the existential tenderness of darkness and despair. And it’s true that there’s much darkness in our experience on earth. A lot of shitty things happen to a lot of people. We can’t change this fact. But we can change the meaning about what happens to us and others. This is called Reframing. Reframing is about changing the meaning of an event or experience, essentially putting a new frame around it. Reframing causes a perspective shift, and the practice can lead to greater empowerment over a situation that once felt disempowering.

Are You Exhausted But Can't Sleep?
Are You Exhausted But Can't Sleep?
“Also, I could finally sleep. And this was the real gift, because when you cannot sleep, you cannot get yourself out of the ditch–there’s not a chance.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love One of the most agonizing states I know is the purgatory of insomnia, when I am desperate to sleep but still my mind and body hold me captive in the waking world. If the Centers for Disease Control statistic that one in three adult Americans are not getting enough deep sleep on regular basis is right, you may well know this particular agony also. Sleep, so seemingly simple, continues to allude many of us. Why does sleep matter anyway? As Liz Gilbert says, we must sleep well enough and long enough in order to stay out of the “ditch.” Here are some of my favorite practices and tips to set myself up for good sleep.

Do You Need a Pattern Interrupt?
Do You Need a Pattern Interrupt?
“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine, it is lethal.” ~ Paulo Coelho While nestled in the mountains near Granby, Colorado on the YogaDownload.com retreat this August, a student called her week away a “pattern interrupt.” (That’s us in the picture, having a coaching session “al fresco”). And indeed, unless one’s regular life consisted of camping in teepees, being served three colorful vegetarian meals per day, receiving Thai massage in a tent in the meadow, hiking to waterfalls, outside yoga twice daily, sipping fine whiskey at the state’s smallest bar, and throwing an impromptu dance party with new friends, then the experience surely interrupted the daily routine. We all need such breaks in the routine.

Are you Getting in Your Own Way?
Are you Getting in Your Own Way?
Can I tell you a secret about my work as a health coach? There’s a misconception that health coaches prescribe a diet plan or exercise regime to their clients. In fact, that’s not what I’m up to at all. The reality is that most (not all) people come to me knowing exactly what they should be doing to have a healthy, vibrant, powerful life. And yet they just aren’t doing the things they know would propel them towards their goals. They are getting in their own way. So then my job becomes to help my clients not with a meal plan but with motivation, not with diet but with discipline, not with exercise ideas but with overcoming self-sabotage. Have you ever been all hell-bent and determined to change something in your life and initially attack it with passion then somewhere along the way drop it to the side, perhaps looking back at it every so often with regret or shame? Think New Year’s Resolutions. The honest truth is that improving one’s life and health takes work and often that work can be uncomfortable and unfamiliar. It can be easier to get in your own way, and not move forward towards the goals you're apsiring to. When faced with discomfort it’s absolutely normal for we silly humans to interfere with their own progress.

7 Tips to Stay Hydrated
7 Tips to Stay Hydrated
"Is there one thing that you know you could be doing that would have a big impact on your health and your life that you just don’t do consistently?” This is one of the questions I ask in my initial Health Coaching Discovery Session. when I was once asked this question a clear and simple answer almost screamed in my head: DRINK MORE WATER. Hydration is something I know the benefits of, and talk to clients about on the daily. So why is it so hard for me to make it a habit? Especially in the midst of cold winter days, my tendency is year for a hot cup of coffee (and later a smooth glass of wine) rather than a glass of water. These tips to stay hydrated make it easier to have to remember to drink water and make it more second nature. Lately I’ve been nothing less than obsessed with habit change (loving this book), and the why and how of creating new habits to support overall life goals. I’m leaning that in order to introduce new habits – like drinking more water – one must keep in mind the overall benefits as motivation, and also to set up cues and rewards to make that habit stick.

How to Have Beautiful Skin? Avoid these 10 Mistakes
How to Have Beautiful Skin? Avoid these 10 Mistakes
Here are 10 common mistakes to avoid to have beautiful skin and keep your skin healthy.​ 1. Trying to hydrate with sodas or energy drinks. How these drinks age your body and why avoiding them will keep your skin healthy: As the years go by our bodies literally dry up from the inside out. Our skin just can’t continue to retain moisture like it used to back in the day when we were plump infants with juicy flesh that stored water like desert succulents. Diet sodas and energy drinks may quench your thirst on the spot but they don’t hydrate your system and help have beautiful skin in the long run like good old H2O does! Why? Because they are jam packed with artificial flavors, sugars, chemical preservatives and acidifying agents that can lead to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, tooth decay, organ stress and lowered immune system. What you can do to make a change: DRINK WATER, DRINK WATER, DRINK WATER. Drinking water is the true fountain of youth! It is all your body needs to stay hydrated and the easiest way to have beautiful skin. How much water should you drink? A good rule of thumb is to drink between 64 ounces and 0.67% of your body weight per day. For example, if your body weight is 150 pounds, then you need to drink anywhere between 64 ounces and 100 ounces (0.67% x 150) of water per day. Read more about hydration hacks here. 2. Getting too much sun exposure without SPF. It is common knowledge that ultraviolet (UV) rays is harmful to your skin because it damages skin fibers called elastin, which makes your skin stretch and sag like a dry old rubber band that you use tie a bunch of mail together. What you can do to make a change and keep your skin healthy and beautiful: THINK SUN KISSED NOT SUN DRIED!

How to Take Action Toward Your Goals (and Why You Haven't Yet)
How to Take Action Toward Your Goals (and Why You Haven't Yet)
This is where meditation can be a great asset. Just taking time to pause and separate yourself from your own mind. Observe your thoughts as they come and go without attachment or judgement. Get curious, watch yourself think. It can also be extremely helpful to have a coach to help tease from your the deep, dank thoughts and beliefs that haven’t shone themselves to you in some time. When you start to clearly see your thoughts that drive your feelings that create your actions, you empower yourself to make the decision whether or not you actually want to change. Maybe, when push comes to shove, you actually don’t? But trying to change from the action level alone without this behind-the-scenes sleuthing will be most likely frustrating, and perhaps even futile. Instead, look into the big WHY you’re doing or not doing something. It may take a bit of reverse engineering.

How Not to be S.A.D. this Winter
How Not to be S.A.D. this Winter
I spent most of my youth in rainy Oregon. When I moved away it was to even gloomier England. Throughout my childhood I was known as grumpy, bratty, and moody (i.e. a “difficult kid”). I’ve done a lot of work on myself since then, arriving finally at a place of happiness, health and ease. One of the best gifts I’ve ever given myself was to move to a sunnier locale. I was 20 when I transferred colleges and ended up in sunny Arizona. Although the drama of the early 20s continued, I was able to see that with enough sunshine I was not an inherently gloomy young woman, but rather susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that corresponds with the changing of the seasons, usually provoking symptoms to start in late fall or early winter. Signs and symptoms of SAD may include:

What is Power?
What is Power?
When we think of power, we tend to think of domination or control. A few years ago, though, I heard of a healthier and more yogic definition of power which resonated with me: power can be measured by how quickly you can make your desire into a reality. When we are in our personal power, we get what we want so easily, as if in the blink of an eye. To access the kind of personal power that allows us to quickly transform what we want into what we have, we must have a clear vision of which possibilities we actually desire. Visualization and goal setting can be a helpful practice to turn the gaze inward and initiate this kind of alchemy.

Full Up: Eat and Schedule to 80% Full
Full Up: Eat and Schedule to 80% Full
I can almost still taste last weekend. Tacos, tequila, BBQ, sausages, mimosas, ceviché, beer, benedicts, ice cream…Two of my best girlfriends and I spent the weekend eating around Austin, TX. Sure, we caught a little bit of live music, did some window shopping, and took a walk around Lady Bird Lake — but mostly we just ate and drank, and ate some more. This week I decided it was time for a cleanse. Yep, time to clean out the ol’ intestines with a reset elimination diet. For the past 7 days I’ve ousted wheat, meat, booze, dairy, sugar, caffeine, most grains, legumes and nightshades. Side-effects of this elimination experiment have been a heightened sensitivity to flavor – good morning, tastebuds! – and an awareness of my tendency to comfort eat. It’s now clear to me that most of the time I put food in my mouth it’s for a reason other than true hunger. Maybe I’m bored, lonely, or feel that I need a reward or entertainment. And stopping at 80% full as recommended? Rarely.