Peace of Mind

Isn’t it strange how we can lose ourselves for hours mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, yet there’s not enough time in the day to meditate for 10 minutes? I’m guilty of it, after a long day, when I’d need the benefits of meditation the most, I’d grab my phone, numb my mind, and easily waste 45 minutes.

On the rare occasion that I would put the timer on and try to meditate, I’d jump around between different practices, trying to recite mantras and counting the length of my breath, mentally screaming at my thoughts to pipe down.

Even though my lame efforts didn’t show it, I was committed to learning how to meditate, so I downloaded the Headspace Meditation app that my sister recommended. The program offers 10 free guided meditations, and after the 10th session, you unlock additional levels with a paid subscription.

I’m extremely open to spirituality, but what I liked about this program was that it was a straightforward, tangible approach to meditation. Forget about picturing aura colors and channeling your third eye. The British guide, Andy Puddicombe, gently guides your practice, without making you memorize mantras or hyperventilate with distracting breathing techniques. He leads you into your headspace, asking you to become aware of yourself and your breath. And better yet, he doesn’t have any weird speech patterns or nuisances to distract you from your practice.

The sessions are only 10-minutes long, which can feel either extremely short or excruciating long, depending on your mood. To keep myself on track, I’ve started waking up 10 minutes earlier to ensure I have time to dedicate to the practice.

After the 10th session, I realized I’d have to pay a monthly subscription to access additional meditations. While I have no doubt that the other sessions are valuable, I’ve found that the 10-day challenge gave me the jumpstart I needed to hunker down and begin exploring meditation on my own.

The Gist: While I’m not forking over the monthly fee, this program has helped me get on the meditation train. It’s made me aware of a different style of meditation that I can easily integrate into my lifestyle. If you want to learn, but are feeling intimidated by the process, try this app to ease into your own headspace.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Hot Yoga

By Chloe Mulliner, Guest Blogger

My first few hot yoga classes were rough. Ok, I’ll be honest, I didn’t even make it through my first class without having to tap out and leave the sweltering 105-degree F room. During my next few sessions, zenful yogis gracefully maneuvered into handstands and contortionist-worthy moves, while I sat there, trying not to pass out or throw up.

I struggled through each class, but I continued attending at least one hot yoga class each week. I slowly began to challenge myself and hold the stretches for longer. Within a few months, I was craving hot yoga, and I even started looking forward to the extreme heat and intense workout. I felt my confidence increasing as I gained muscle and flexibility. I also noticed a decrease in my anxiety and a new appreciation for being present.

Because it took me time to fully understand how to enjoy hot yoga, I wanted to pass on a few words of wisdom to help beginners beat the heat and survive those first few classes:

Change the rules

My personal rule is that I have to try something at least three times before I form an opinion about it. However, if I’d followed my own rule, I would have quit hot yoga after my first three pathetic classes. When it comes to hot yoga, I say try it at least 10 times before you bail. Ten classes and you’re probably hooked!

Tune it out
Hot yoga is a mentally relaxing practice, but it’s impossible to get into a peaceful mindset if you’re worried about what others are thinking about you. Everyone has so much sweat clouding their eyes, they can hardly see past their own noses. No one’s checking you out, judging your downward dog, or counting the number of breaks you take. For the best experience, focus on you, and only you.

Drink up
You’ll sweat unlike you have ever sweat before. It’s extremely important to hydrate before and after class, but don’t chug a gallon of water five minutes before stretching. Nothing’s worse than feeling all that water sloshing around in your stomach during your first set of planks. Your body takes time to hydrate, so knocking back a bunch of water all at once won’t do the trick. For best results, consistently drink water throughout the day.

Eat lightly

Gorging on a huge meal right before class is one sure way to ruin your entire practice. The few times I’ve made the mistake of eating too much or too close to the start time, I’ve spent the entire class trying to keep down my food. Eat a small meal around two hours before your class starts, so you can focus more on your pigeon pose and less on your escape route.

Create your own pace

Hot yoga isn’t a synchronized sport. Everyone works at their own speed. Don’t worry if you’re a few breaths behind the instructor’s pace. There is no such thing as moving too slowly. Listen to your body, challenge it when you can, and ease off when you need to.

Practicing hot yoga is mentally and physically challenging, so even the littlest accomplishments, like working through an entire class, can be extremely rewarding. Follow these tips to slowly, but surely, become a sweat-loving, toe-touching hot yogi yourself.
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By Chloe Mulliner, Guest Blogger

Sometimes I wince at the very thought of working out. I dread the huffing and puffing, sweating, and the cramping in my muscles. There’s a whimper as I lace up my running shoes and a last-minute attempt to bail on yoga class. If it were up to me and my lack of drive, I’d count my laps around the mall as a workout and call it a day.

Fortunately, my exercise routine isn’t completely up to me. My sister and I have agreed to remain workout partners till sixpacks do us part. We attend hot yoga sessions, go on 5am runs, and take evening walks between blending up green juices.

When I’m twisting myself upside down in an awkward yoga position, I look over at my sister, silently giggle, and suddenly I don’t feel so silly and self conscious. And there’s something so refreshing about sharing the serenity of a morning run on the beach with the first morning ocean breeze and colorful horizon. With a workout partner, I’m not alone on the journey to wellness. It holds me accountable. If I backout on a workout, I’m not only letting myself down, but I’m letting down her and our agreement too.

Instead of taking the easy way out and squeezing in a couple more zzz’s, we encourage each other through that first stretch. I push her to run an extra leg and she gives me the thumbs up when I master a new yoga pose. We high five each other at the end of our exercise sessions with our endorphins releasing and our muscles aching with gratitude.

Its the way we feel after our workouts, flushed faced and determined, that reminds us why we’ve made our pact in the first place. When my skin radiates with that post-workout glow and my jeans fit a little looser, I’m so appreciative for that support. Thanks to my workout buddy, I realize my potential. I may huff, puff, and sweat, but I know I’m capable and stronger because of it.

When you’re in a exercise rut or lack the motivation to take your wellness up a notch, consider finding a buddy to bring some accountability to your workout regiment.

Daring to Detox: A Juice Cleanse Experience

To most people, a juice cleanse sounds like an extreme form of self torture. I hardly even considered the idea until I had the opportunity to watch my coworker, Carolynn, embark on a five-day cleanse. What once seemed like a ritual reserved only for people who do head stands during yoga class, now seems achievable, and maybe even enjoyable.

Cleansing allows your body to take a break from the digestion process to heal other areas. While you may temporarily lose weight, dropping pounds is not the goal. It can, however, kick-start a healthier way of eating by quickly eliminating excess sugar and processed foods from your diet.

I had tons of questions about her juicing experience and wanted to document some of them here. Hopefully you, too, will be inspired to try a cleanse.

-Why did you choose to do a cleanse?
​I have been wanting to cleanse my body/system for a while now, and when I recently returned from my vacation in Puerto Rico, I felt an emergent need to clean my body of all the unhealthy/fried food I ate while I was there. Also, I felt an urge to get my eating habits back on track by “starting new” and first cleaning my system.

-Was it expensive?
​I bought a five-day juice cleanse on Living Social for $194, which comes out to about $6.46 per bottle of juice, and I consumed six juices per day. It’s a little pricey (in my perspective), but the benefits were well worth it.

-Was this your first cleanse?
Yes, this was my first Juice ONLY cleanse- I did not have ANY solid food for the entire five days.

-What was the most difficult aspect of the cleanse?
​My first two days were the most difficult because of my cravings, however, by evening time of the second day my cravings had subsided.

-Although you didn’t choose to, were you allowed to eat any solid foods during the cleanse?
I was allowed to eat egg whites and steamed vegetables only.

-Did you like the juice flavors?
Yes, the juice flavors were great!

-Did you experience any negative effects? Skin breakouts, shakes, low energy, mood swings, cravings?
​I experienced cravings the first two days, but they subsided by the evening of the 2nd day. No mood swings, although on day four I noticed I had less patience for people. No breakouts, no “shakes”, and my energy level was great!

-Did you notice any physical changes in your body? Any immediate positive effects?
Yes, I noticed I lost inches, so I looked leaner. I did not weigh myself, however, I’m sure I lost some weight because my body was leaner. I noticed these changes around day three.

-Did you cheat?
​Not at all, and I was VERY proud that I stayed strong!

-How did you keep yourself dedicated and on track?
​I stayed focused on my juices, and I watched the documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” to give me inspiration. I did not want to deviate from the juices.

-How do you feel now that its over?
​OMG, so refreshed and renewed!

-Would you do another cleanse? If so, would you choose the same duration?
​Absolutely! Yes, I would do another five-day cleanse, a three-day, and continue with a one-day (monthly or weekly) maintenance cleanse. I would really like to do a 14-day cleanse, but at a detox retreat where I’m surrounded by people doing the same thing.

-Any advice for cleansing newbies?
​Don’t let your fears hold you back. When you try it for the first time, think about all the positive effects it has on your body. I recommend watching food/healthy eating/juicing documentaries and/or reading about the benefits of juicing- it will give you inspiration to stay on track and keep going.

Carolynn used a kosher five-day cleanse through Jus by Julie. For an organic option, check out Gentle Giant.