How to Create Your Morning Power Hour

Create Your Morning Power Hour  |  The Organic Beauty Blog

There is something magical about mornings.  Before the kids wake up, before we start checking our email or dealing with our never-ending to-do list… there is quiet.  There is calm.  Taking time for yourself in the morning is one of the most powerful things you can do to cultivate wellness, ease, focus, and a sense of control in your busy day.  By creating an intentional morning routine, you will find yourself making healthier choices for your body throughout the day, experiencing less stress, exhibiting more patience with your family, and getting more done in your work. Enter: your Morning Power Hour.

In Ayurveda, the daily self-care routine is called dinacharya, which is a customized set of practices (most of which take place in the morning) that drastically improve your health and mindset, balance your body, and set the tone for your entire day.  Though the full, traditional dinacharya is rather extensive and can take multiple hours, I have had great success in creating a modified  routine that takes no more than an hour (and can even be accomplished in less if need be), fits into our busy modern lives, and yields amazing results.

Below is a basic Morning Power Hour dinacharya that you can modify, add to or subtract from based on how much time you have to dedicate to self-care in the morning, and customize for your body/mind type (or dosha).

Click here to take our Ayurvedic Typing Assessment and discover your dosha!

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How to get through the rest of winter

How to get through the rest of winter | The Organic Beauty BlogAs we head into this final stretch of winter, we all seem to be getting a little fed up with the cold and the havoc it can wreak on our bodies and minds.  I moved all the way across the country from New York to sunny Santa Monica to escape winter, and even here, in the temperate 60 degree winter temperature range, my feet are cold, I’m sipping hot tea all day long, and I’m pretty much living in my long, chunky knits.

Cold weather, even Santa Monica-style cold weather, can dry us out, stress us out, make us feel depressed and unmotivated, and majorly hamper our glow factor.  But with a few Ayurvedic tips and tricks, we can heat things up, boost our mood and immunity, and get through the rest of winter with our glow on!

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5 Minute Bedtime Yoga Sequence for Sweeter Sleep

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

Those of us who have spent torturous hours tossing and turning in bed, or who wake up in the middle of the night with a head full of thoughts unable to get back to sleep know the power of hitting the hay with a calm and restful mind. Though managing your stress throughout the day and having a really good pre-bedtime routine go a long way towards improving sleep in the longterm, you can commit to just 5 minutes of relaxing stretches to sleep better TONIGHT.

This sequence calms the mind and relaxes the body, priming you for a restful night.  Best of all, you can do it in bed… No mat required!  Spend at least one minute in each posture, though longer is better!

1. Seated Twist: This detoxifying posture helps with digestion (which in turn helps you sleep deeper) and calms the nervous system. Repeat on each side.

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Surviving Wanderlust: Tips for the Best Yogi Vacay Ever

By: Nkechi Njaka

As I leave for the mountains, I’m excited to remind myself of the experience I had last year and what this year might be like. For those of you unfamiliar, Wanderlust Festival is a 4 day yoga experience in the mountains and I am going to attend the one in Squaw Valley, Tahoe. Some of the best yoga instructors in the world come from all over to teach. Additionally, there is a huge meditation and wellness component where thought leaders are invited to speak and teach as well.  Last year was my first time attending and I didn’t exactly know what to expect. I know that a few tips would have benefitted me so here is what I wish I knew:

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Exercise for a Perfect Period

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

Exercise for a Perfect Period | The Organic Beauty Blog

If you’re like most women, you reach a natural slump every month where it is just grueling to stick to your typical workout routine.  You drag yourself to boot camp, feel drained afterwards, and wonder what you’re doing wrong. Or you feel just too tired to stick to your routine, and end up skipping your workouts altogether for a week. This is because your body’s needs in terms of exercise vary pretty dramatically throughout your cycle.  In this installment of our Perfect Period Series we’ll be delving into the best forms of exercise to keep you in alignment with your natural hormonal patterns, which will decrease PMS symptoms, boost weight loss, balance your hormones, and help you feeling amazing and energized all month long.

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Daily Acts of Self-Love = What’s Missing in Your Life

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

Daily Acts of Self-Love = What’s Missing in Your Life | The Organic Beauty Blog

Daily acts of self-love aren’t just fuzzy, feel-good luxuries.  They are what is standing in between you and the body, life, and love that you are so desperately seeking.  They are a necessity, and their lack leaves a huge gaping hole in your life that you then fill with ice cream, TV, wine, unfulfilling sex, and potato chips.

I know all your excuses, I’ve heard them all before.  “But Natasha, I can’t afford massages!” or “I don’t have time for picnics in the park!”  That may or may not be true, but each and every one of us has some time and some money to dedicate to the fundamental cause of our own happiness.  So I’m doing the work for you!  I’ve compiled a list of daily acts of self-love that fit any budget, any schedule.  Make it a priority to pick one every day.. start small, and before you know it, daily acts of self-love, mindfulness, and joy will be a habit as natural to you as brushing your teeth.

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It’s National Yoga Month-Get One Week Free!

By Callie McBride

So, if you didn’t know already, check this out: the Department of Health and Human Services recognizes September as National Yoga Month, and Yoga Health Foundation is offering up one free week of yoga in celebration. Over 2,200 yoga studios around the country are participating, and all you need to do is type in your email address, find a studio, and sign awn’ up. Upon receiving your beautiful yoga month card, you get to choose one week in either September and October (they are extending the dates to accommodate those super busy folks) and visit a new studio (you can’t be an existing member) for a full week of lovely yoga! This celebratory month is meant to educate people on the incredible benefits of yoga and yogic healing. Let’s review, shall we?

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*increased flexibility

*better brain function

*better skeletal alignment

*strengthened joints

*weight loss/maintenance

*LESS STRESS!

*peace of mind

*mental focus and clarity

*deeper spirituality

*mind-body integration

*and so much more. From relieving PMS symptoms to correcting back aches to remedying an off day; the healing powers of yoga seem to be endless. Visit Yoga Health Foundation for more info, and head over to this link to get your Yoga Month Card now! Namaste.

Are You Getting The Most Out of Your Yoga Practice?

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

Are You Getting The Most Out of Your Yoga Practice? | The Organic Beauty Blog

The amazing health, body, and spiritual benefits of yoga are no secret.  People with a regular yoga practice are on the whole slimmer, happier, less stressed out, eat healthier, have lower blood pressure, and experience less headaches, pain, swelling, anxiety, and hormonal imbalance.  I mean, if that’s not reason enough to get on that vinyasa train, I don’t know what is.  But, just showing up to class doesn’t guarantee those results.  There’s doing yoga, and then there’s doing yoga.  I see tons of people in my classes that bring their phones into the studio, half-ass their poses, don’t breathe, break up the flow of their practice with tons of fidgeting, water drinking, and other distractions, and then leave before shavasana. If you’re one of these people, you are robbing yourself of a truly impactful, effective, and meaningful practice!  Make sure you’re getting the most out of your practice by following the tips below.

1.  Try not to get wired before class.  

If you routinely grab a Starbucks or soda on your way to your yoga class, you’re going to make the mindfulness, deep breathing, and ultimately relaxation (if only just at the end) of a successful routine much harder for yourself.  Caffeine speeds up your breathing and heart rate, causes racing thoughts and can increase anxiety, which is pretty counterproductive for yoga.  If you need to have your coffee in the morning, have it 2-3 hours before class, or wait until after to get your fix.  Better yet, use yoga to help you break your coffee addiction!

2.  Put away your phone.

From the moment you set foot in the studio, try to put yourself in a focused, relaxed mindset.  Checking your email on your mat creates a stressful environment that makes settling into a mindful practice much more difficult.  Plus, it’s distracting and even stressful for everyone around you!  Your fellow practitioners are coming to yoga for a reprieve from their busyness and stress, and you being on your phone is a distracting reminder of everything they’re trying to put on pause.  So for the sake of your own practice, and that of everyone around, leave your phone in your bag and fully arrive in the space, mental and physical, from the moment you walk in.

3. Set an intention for your practice.

As with most things in life, if you go into your practice with a specific intention, you’re going to get a whole lot more out of it than if you’re just going through the motions.  Some great intentions can be “I’m going to do my best and push myself further in my practice today,” or “I’m going to focus on my breath and relaxation today… No stress, no pressure.”  You can dedicate your practice to someone in your life that’s in need of a little love and support, or to someone you are struggling with or in the midst of a conflict with.  Yoga isn’t just a workout.  It doesn’t need to be this whole huge spiritual, om-filled, flowery experience if you don’t want it to be, but completely eliminating the mindfulness component is totally selling yourself short and robbing your practice of the meaning that supercharges it’s effectiveness.

4.  Don’t be afraid to personalize your practice.

We can often get so wrapped up in the competitive, comparative aspect of a yoga class (“I can totally get my leg higher than her!”), that we short change ourselves on having a practice that fits exactly what we need on that given day.  Don’t be afraid to use props, rest for a moment in child’s pose, not take a bind, or otherwise make adjustments to poses to fit your needs, your body, and what feels best.  We often see props as a crutch or a sign of being a beginner practitioner, but B.K.S Iyengar said that “confidence and willpower are built up by props.”  Props allow you to progress in your practice and gain correct alignment in your poses, which is so much more important than how you look compared to the girl next to you.  Listen to your body.. If you need to take a break in child’s pose, that is always available to you, and knowing when you need to take that pose is truly the sign of a mindful practitioner.  But make sure to maintain your focus in your practice.  Stopping to fidget, fix your hair or drink water when something feels hard is not staying focused. These are the crutches.  Instead, breathe and listen to what your body needs.

5.  Never skip shavasana!

So many of my favorite teachers have repeated over and over again that shavasana, or corpse pose, is the most important part of a yoga practice.  And yet, every class, at least one person leaves before this crucial final pose.  Shavasana is what your whole routine is building up to.  The mindfulness, the exertion, the pushing yourself, and the breath are all leading you to the vital moment of peace and quiet meditation at the end of class.  To skip that valuable moment is literally half-assing your practice.  If you’re one of those people that has trouble sitting still or quieting your thoughts, use your yoga practice as a tool to focus and calm your body and mind, and use shavasana as a way to integrate all that amazing work into your body.  Focus on your breath and just relax.  If you’re still having trouble with racing thoughts, repeat a long ommmm in your head on every exhale to help you stay mindful.

Tips to Care for Your Yoga Mat from Aurorae

Aurorae Tips for a Clean and Long-lasting Yoga Mat

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water before class to reduce any natural oils in your hands. The natural oils in our skin, while sweating, can cause slipping so it is important to keep as dry as possible.
  2. Do not use creams or oils on your hands or feet before your practice.
  3. Wash your mat in the bath tub/shower with a soft brush/coarse sponge, warm water and small amount of non-oil based detergent/soap. No Bleach. (Some customers also mix sea salt in the water) Rinse thoroughly. This will help break in your mat and reduce any resin that may be sitting on the top surface of your mat. (Repeat as necessary) Resin is an oil base that is put in all synthetic materials to help preserve your mat. When it lies on the top surface of the mat it could cause slipping when wet. This is normal for all new mats and is part of the production process to keep your mat safe during handling/shipping as well as maintain a long life.
  4. Wrap your mat is a bath towel after washing and squeeze out any excess water. This will expedite the drying process.
  5. Hang dry outside in the sun if possible for best results. DO NOT PUT IN DRYER. (If you can’t hang outside, trying hanging over your shower rod)
  6. Always keep a micro fiber towel near you to wipe away any perspiration. Keeping your mat and body dry are keys to prevent slipping on your mat.
  7. If necessary use an Aurorae Yoga Slip Free Rosin Bag to absorb any perspiration and increase gripping power. Just tap a little on your mat where your hands and feet go and no more slipping.
  8. To preserve your mat as well as keep it free from bacteria, use the Aurorae all-natural organic mat wash.

{Image: Aurorae Yoga}

Yoga Mat Essentials from Aurorae

Sexy Yoga Essentials for Wanderlust and Beyond!

By: Nkechi Njaka, Msc.

I am leaving for Wanderlust today! I am so excited to travel up north to Tahoe with a car full of my yogi friends for a weekend of yoga, music, amazing food and people.

One of my favorite things that I did to prepare for my trip was create a mini look book for the Lululemon Cow Hollow store. It was so fun to piece together festival looks and styles that would work for a weekend at Wanderlust or any summer vacation.

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Lululemon.com: Hot Hitter Dress | Festival Bag | Essential Polo | Daily Short | Every Day Gym Bag

Lululemon.com:  Mod Moves Tank | Wunder Unders | Energy Bra | Iconic Wrap

Lululemon.com: Mod Moves Tank | Wunder Unders | Energy Bra | Iconic Wrap

Lululemon.com:  Free to Be Bra | Ago Go Crop | One Hit Henley | Surge Short | Sand to Savasana Bag

Lululemon.com: Free to Be Bra | Ago Go Crop | One Hit Henley | Surge Short | Sand to Savasana Bag

And while I was dancing around my apartment listening to Beyonce while packing, I realized something about my excitement.  It’s not about the clothes. I mean, it is, and it is also about how I will practice yoga on the top of a mountain outside in the middle of summer.  I really can’t think of a better vacation! In order to enjoy EVERYTHING while I am there, I must stay hydrated, fueled and skin-protected.

Here are my 6 must-haves:

 PROBAR | Intelligent Nutrients Hand Sanitizer|Harmless Harvest Coconut Water| Elemental Herbs | The Mat

PROBAR | Intelligent Nutrients Hand Sanitizer|Harmless Harvest Coconut Water| Elemental Herbs | The Mat

 

Why these guys?

PROBAR is rich in raw ingredients and nutrient-dense calories for lasting energy and nourishment. Great for a post work out snack or something to grab in between means. I love that it is non-GMO product, gluten free and vegan. Happy for all dietary restrictions. They also happen to be DELICIOUS.

Intelligent Nutrients Hand Sanitizer 99.9% of bacteria eradicated while being Chemical-free. It is a safe, effective alternative to preventing the spread of germs and impurities. #notoxicshit

Harmless Harvest Coconut Water Nothing is added, nothing is ever heated. They source unique coconuts from small organic agroforestry farms. Super hydrating, outstanding flavor and the nutrition of raw and organic without the need for unnatural and harmful additives. Shweeeet!

Elemental Herbs includes a host of rich, skin-saving certified organic oils–including jojoba, coconut and avocado. Amazingly tested and approved by people like us, the sunscreen is chemical-free and coral reef safe. Beautiful!

The Mat is hands down the best mat to practice yoga on. It doesn’t slip or stick, it provides a ton of padding for those difficult poses and it is easy to clean.

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Nkechi Deanna Njaka, MSc. is a health and wellness lifestylist combining her backgrounds in neuroscience, dance and nutrition to create a holistic practice.  Nkechi is a private practitioner, seminar and workshop leader and a writer. Professionally having studied and worked as a neuroscientist and as a choreographer/dancer, Nkechi has spent the majority of her life investigating the relationship between the brain and the body. In her practice she approaches stress management and lifestyle goals with equal parts mindfulness, movement & diet.