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5 ways to de-stress: HOLIDAY EDITION

Already spinning from the countless trips to the grocery store you’ve taken this week?Below are a few tips to help you maintain inner peace during the holiday madness. From kooky aunt Viv to obnoxious cousin Pete; keep your sanity and remain stress free!!


Find a quiet, semi-lit room. Set your timer for 30 minutes, and be sure to set the alarm tone to something subtle and soft. Find a comfortable seat. You can lay on your back, kneel, or sit: cross-legged or in a chair. To prepare your body for uninterrupted stillness find your center by stacking shoulders over hips. Close your eyes and draw your attention to your breath. In through your nose and out through your nose. Each moment you inhale take in love and acceptance, and as you exhale release the snark remarks cousin Pete made about your slightly burnt dressing. Before you know it, your timer will go off and all the drama will seem a little less important than the time you have to spend with them!

Take a Walk:

After dinner and dishes, take 20-30 minutes to walk around the neighborhood or to your favorite store. I like to walk solo but some areas aren’t safe so use the buddy system. Before you start walking take a moment to set your intention.  Inhale clarity and exhale spilling the wine on the table. (I’d have a moment of silence for a bold red blend…) Each step you take brings you closer to home and loved ones and further away from stress and anxiety. Before you know it you will have made it home and created space for more bonding.


When I think  of the holidays, I instantly smell my mother’s sweet potato pies. Our sense of smell is a powerful way to bring about feelings of happiness and nostalgia. Scented candles and essential oils containing sandalwood, eucalyptus, sage, or peppermint; scream relaxation and warm the spirit. Find peace in the reminiscent memories of holidays past.


I love to doodle, especially with my younger family members. There are no expectations surrounding what to draw or how much to draw. A circle could be a cloud or a bubble or even a face. Its whatever you want it to be!!


Everyone knows how affective yoga can be to aid in calming the sympathetic nervous system associated with fight or flight and stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system associated with our rest and renew function. The poses below aide in activating the parasympathetic system and are excellent to do before meals or bedtime

(this is the secret key to keeping pounds off too!! wake up your belly before you pile in the turkey. And the stuffing.. And the mac n cheese!)

…Nothing to it but to DO IT!



















What exercises do you do when you are feeling stressed? Let’s chat below!

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Five Ways to Get Fit With Bae

You don’t have to be #swolemates to stay active with your significant other. Even if you two aren’t a part of the #couplesthatlift trend, there are plenty of fun activities to keep off the rumored relationship weight.

Here are a few ideas to get you two lovebirds started.


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Buy a tandem bicycle, if you don’t already have one, and get those legs moving! Everyone will be jealous of how adorable you and your S.O. look, and nothing says “dream team” better than sharing a bike. Bonus points if you add some decoration: a basket, streamers, customized mini license plate, etc. Plus cycling is a great cardio workout, and a fantastic way to enjoy the warmer weather. It has also been proven to decrease high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.


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Practicing yoga with your boyfriend or girlfriend can help you deal with the extra stresses that come with a relationship, like compromising on what movie to watch Friday night (ugh). Yoga relaxes your mind, stretches your muscles and works your core – helping you both get leaner, fitter bods. It’s also been said that yoga leads to a better sex life, partly due to increased flexibility. This Fox News article discusses how yoga can benefit you in bed.


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Going for a jog with your boyfriend is an easy way to ease yourself into a running routine since you’ll have a buddy to keep you motivated. This will come in handy when your heart feels like its going to stop beating at any moment and the sweat won’t stop pouring down your face. Or if you’re already a runner, this activity could help you prove what a superior athlete you are. Just leave ‘em in the dust. Your boyfriend will get the message that he needs to improve his cardiovascular fitness.


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Zumba is another fun and upbeat fit-couple activity. You can live out your “Dirty Dancing” fantasies while improving your grooving skills. It’s also an entertaining way to watch your guy or girl flaunt their dance moves. “I used to drag guys to zumba and it was so funny,” said Oby Grace. “I would tell them I was going to the bathroom and then take pictures of them dancing.” Taking a zumba class can help you two get toned and maybe meet some more couple friends. Cue the tandem bike double dates.

Rock Climbing

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You’ve heard the popular saying – couples that climb together stay together.  You know it’s true love when someone doesn’t shove you off a cliff when they have the chance. Fortunately, many gyms have rock climbing walls available to the public. Aside from the relationship benefits, climbing also has numerous health benefits. Harvard Health Publications reported that a 155-pound person burns about 818 calories hourly during a rock-climbing ascent. It also reduces the risk for heart disease and helps lower body fat percentages. If your relationship is rocky, rock climbing may be the only way to save it.

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Workout of the Week: Yoga for Stress Relief

Becoming a human pretzel for a few minutes a day is a great way to alleviate stress and anxiety levels. As you may already know, yoga has many fantastic physical and emotional benefits. It reduces stress levels, clears the mind, increases energy and strengthens the core. Taking an hour-long yoga class isn’t always necessary when it comes to reaping these benefits (although I strongly encourage it). The following four poses can be done anytime, anywhere to help handle soaring stress levels.

 So when the work starts to pile up this week, or you can’t seem to catch a break, dedicate 5 to 10 minutes to these poses. You’ll feel more centered afterwards – I promise! Focusing on your breath is also key in reaching a calm, relaxed state. When holding these poses really pay attention to your inhale and exhale; trying to deepen the breath.


Eagle Pose

The eagle pose helps relieve stress and improve concentration. It also improves balance and works abdominal muscles.

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For eagle pose, or Garudasana, start standing tall. Put your weight in your left foot and begin wrapping your right leg over and around your left leg. Your right foot may hook behind your left calf or it may hang out in the air; depending on your body and flexibility. Next, stretch your arms straight out and sweep your right arm under your left. Try to have your palms meet, but you can also rest your hands on opposite shoulders. Make sure you have a straight spine and hold this position for 15-30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.


Tree Pose

 The tree pose is another great balancing pose. I personally like it a little more than eagle; tree pose makes me feel more centered and at peace. It is said that this pose can aid in building confidence and help you achieve balance in all aspects of life.

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 Start standing and place your left leg on either your ankle, calf, or inner thigh. Avoid the knee at all costs. Place your hands in prayer position at your hearts center or, if your balance permits, reach your arms up to the sky. Stay here for 15-30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.


Child’s Pose

 Out of the poses listed here, child’s pose, or Balasana, is probably the most calming and relaxing. It makes you feel more grounded helps you focus on the breath. Aside from releasing stress and anxiety, child’s pose also releases back and shoulder tension.

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Start kneeling on the floor. Bring your knees hips distance apart, or further. Then slowly lower your torso and head over your knees, to the ground, while pressing your tailbone to your heels. Your forehead should rest on the ground while your arms are reaching forward, actively pressing the palms to the ground. Make sure your spin is lengthened as well and focus on taking deep, cleansing breaths. Since this is a resting pose you can stay here for a few minutes.


Bridge Pose

 Bridge pose opens your heart to people and possibilities. And it reduces anxiety, fatigue and insomnia. In this pose, your chest and hips are stretched while your back and butt are strengthened.

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Start lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Bring your feet as close to your butt as (comfortably) possible. Then lift your hips and pelvis off the floor while pressing your feet and palms firmly in the ground. To deepen the stretch you can try rolling your shoulder blades under and clasping your hands beneath your back. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute.

Practicing yoga teaches you flexibility on the yoga mat and in life. It physically and mentally strengthens you while helping you learn balance in your life. If you don’t already practice yoga these four moves are a great place to start.

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Inhale Love, Exhale Fear

“So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality.” At the beginning of my yoga class last week the instructor gave us yogis some pre-practice inspiration. She talked about the importance of choosing love over fear, and added a clip from Jim Carrey’s Maharishi University commencement speech for good measure. The message, that we need to actively choose love over fear when making decisions, really resonated with me. Maybe it was the zen, candle-lit environment or too many down dogs, but I walked out of class contemplating the roles love and fear play in our lives.


I think we can all easily recall a time when a decision was made out of fear rather than love. We can be afraid of taking on more responsibility or working towards that dream job. The possibility of failure is scary. We can be afraid to let people in to our lives; caring about others is scary too, especially when we know they might not always be there. But when we act on these fears-that things may fall apart or we’re not good enough-it only holds us back from what can be achieved. In Carrey’s speech he urges us to be bold and fight for what we want out of life. “What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect, so we never dare to ask the universe for it. I’m saying I’m the proof that you can ask the universe for it – please!”

Don’t let your path in life be clouded by negative thoughts, always tensed for what could go awry. How boring is that? Don’t settle for things you think you should want; your journey doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) resemble anyone else’s. And don’t be fearful of your potential; lend your talents to the world and leave an impact on others. “The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is.” Being conscious of what drives my decisions is something I definitely want to improve upon. We’ll all be happier with our choices, and lead lives that are truer to ourselves, if we begin to base our actions on love and faith rather than fear.


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10 tips for practicing yoga at home

By Ramdesh Kaur

Practicing yoga at home has never been easier.  If you are a beginner to yoga or relatively new and want to establish an at home yoga practice, it is important to do some groundwork before jumping into the fray.  To prevent injury and maximize the power of your yogic experience, careful preparation and modest investments can make learning yoga at home viable, efficient, and fun.

Here are ten tips to help you establish an at-home yoga practice.

1)  Create a space

Set aside a space dedicated to your yoga practice.  Make sure it is free from furniture that could create a hazard to you as you do various yoga asana.  Your yoga space should be clean and serene.  Decorate it with images and objects that create a peaceful and sacred feeling in your heart

2) Invest in tools of the trade

If you do not already have a yoga sticky mat, purchase one.  There are yoga mats for every budget and taste.  A mat cleaner will keep your mat smelling fresh after tough workouts.  Make sure you have two blocks and a strap for modifications and consider getting a yoga blanket.  Not only will they keep you warm when you relax in savasana but they can also be rolled up to help you modify poses.  You may need two bolsters for under your knees, and you will probably want at least one style of zafu or meditation cushion.

3) Carefully prevent injury

If your grandmother told you that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, she was right.  When you practice yoga at home, it is your job to make sure that you don’t injury yourself.  Keep your space clear  of obstacles like furniture and children’s toys, and if possible, do your yoga in a room with hardwood floors.  Soft surfaces can injury joints and thick carpet makes balancing difficult.  Lifeboard is a hard surface that you can put on top of carpeting to make a transportable yoga floor if necessary.

Christel Pierron (Seva Simran Kaur), an experienced teacher of Hatha Yoga, YogaDance, and Kundalini Yoga in Cape Cod, cautions, “Never force a posture. If you are going to tip over your edge, it is better to have a teacher who can watch you and help you go further.  At home, take it easy.  Don’t compete with your body. Love your body, nurture your body, and be present. Be present, warm up, fully get into the poses you know…that is how an at home practice should be.  More difficult poses should be in a class, where your teacher can make a safe environment for you.”

4) Choose your yoga style

There are so many styles of yoga to choose from that it can be a little daunting at first.  But rather than be overwhelmed, be excited!  There are so many forms to choose from that if you don’t like one, you have several others to test out.  Hatha yoga is the most common form of yoga, but there are several schools of Hatha yoga to choose from.  Pierron recommends that beginners try something like Iyengar yoga or Kripalu yoga to help them learn the mechanics of a pose.  If dynamic movement and deep meditation is your true love, Kundalini Yoga might be the perfect style for you. Shop around for teachers and styles that appeal to you, so that you know what will inspire you at home.

6 more tips here.

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By the editors of FITNESS magazine

New to yoga? Try these basic yoga poses to get stronger and more flexible.

Mountain Pose

Stand tall with feet together, shoulders relaxed, weight evenly distributed through your soles, arms at sides.

Take a deep breath and raise your hands overhead, palms facing each other with arms straight. Reach up toward the sky with your fingertips.


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My yoga teacher, who is much younger and much wiser than I, posted this today:

My tomorrow is a reflection of what I do today.

I seriously needed to read that. It’s an affirmation. Affirmations are reminders to ourselves that what we can accomplish our goals, that we can invite what we want into our lives. Do you want to be healthy? Avoid drama? Make new friends? Affirmations remind you to take steps daily toward these, or toward whatever it is you want.

I have been feeling, lately, that I’ve lost sight of some of the goals I had set for myself. I’ve been feeling – well, off. Part of that is because I’m falling into my own trap of self-doubt, pity, and of a huge fear of failure. Guess what? The more I feel like a pitiful failure, the more I affirm this.

So, here are a few of my goals: To be a more dedicated writer, a dedicated yogi, a happy person, a loyal friend – among other things. All this week, I’ve been up at 5:15 and on the yoga mat by 5:30, the first time in a long while. I’m up at 11 on a Saturday, making a blog post – when I could be asleep or sitting at a club, listening to jazz. But I’m happy. And tomorrow I will continue: Will get up, hit the mat, write a story, go to a photo shoot, and write yet another story.

What are your goals, and what are you doing today to reach them?

Dartinia Hull