All Posts By

Loren

beginner meditation
Meditation

Beginner Meditation – 3 Minutes

New to meditation? Check out this three minute beginner meditation you can do anywhere, anytime.

It’s important to start small when you’re new to meditation so that you don’t overwhelm yourself trying to sit still for a long time when you aren’t used to it.

Make sure to check out my post titled “Meditation 101” to get a clearer understanding of why meditation is beneficial to your overall health and wellbeing.

Lifestyle

4 Ways to Love Yo’ Self on Valentine’s Day

Nothing like the perfect self love recipe on Valentine’s Day!

So, here it is. I promise if you do these four things you will woo yourself silly into having the sweetest day of all… Whether you have a sweetie or not, it’s always best to put yourself first!

*BONUS if you do all these things in a row… one after the other. It will only take you 30 minutes!

1. DANCE

ONE SONG (or more if you want) – put on your favorite song and just DANCE! Dancing is the perfect way to get energy moving in your body and connect to your feelings. Valentine’s Day is all about LOVE, so practice loving your body by moving it in a way that feels good. Sway your hips, shake all around and release anything that is not serving you today.

2. YOGA

Roll out your mat for TEN MINUTES. Connect to your life-giving breath. Don’t worry about what poses show up. Have the courage to let them arise. If it’s Child’s Pose for ten minutes, then so be it. Let your body move however it wants to. There are no rules here! LOVE your own creativity that arises! Let the yoga energize your body and calm your mind.

3. MEDITATE

Set the timer for anywhere from 3-10 minutes (or longer if you’re a seasoned meditator). Sit comfortably, close your eyes and focus on breath and body sensation. I’ve got some guided meditations here for you to choose from!

It is scientifically proven that mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation change the structure of our brain over time in a way that brings greater balance to our nervous system and overall health.

4. JOURNAL

Again, set the timer for just five or ten minutes and write whatever comes to mind. They are just words on a page so don’t give them much meaning. Think of it more like an energetic dump to clean your slate for the day.

ABOVE ALL, ENJOY THIS RELEASE OF BODY, MIND & SPIRIT! Take care of you today and love every second of it (and don’t forget to buy yourself some chocolates)!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

xo,

Loren

breathwork meditation
Meditation

Breathwork Meditation – 5 Minutes

Breathwork is the practice of breathing in a certain way with a specific intention.

In this breathwork meditation you will learn one of the most common forms of breath used in yoga and meditation and the science behind why it works to bring balance to your nervous system.

vulnerabilitty
Health + Wellness, Lifestyle

The Heart of Vulnerability

Let’s face it, vulnerability is scary.

And it’s a natural human experience. It’s that lump in your throat. Sweaty palms and a racing heart. It’s awkward and uncomfortable. And life is full of these (often very pivotal) moments where we are met with a choice to be courageous in the face of fear. And when we make it out alive, it feels damn good. We feel proud of ourselves for saying what we needed to say, standing up for ourselves, or taking the leap. It’s clarity. It’s our truth. It’s real and raw. And it’s this beauty on the other side that makes vulnerability the ultimate path to true joy and growth in life.

Being vulnerable is scary because we we live in a culture of scarcity where most of us are wired to think we will never be good enough, perfect enough, thin enough, powerful enough, smart enough, and the list goes on. This “never enough” problem perpetuates us in a vicious cycle of shame, comparison, and disengagement when what we really crave is connection.

In her book Daring Greatly, Brené Brown defines vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” She also debunks four myths about what vulnerability isn’t.

Myth #1: Vulnerability is Weakness

Some basic examples of vulnerability are: standing up for yourself, asking for help, saying no, starting your own business, getting fired, falling in love, trying something new, admitting you’re afraid, asking for forgiveness, and having faith. It is getting knocked down seven times and standing up eight. It is choosing to courageously stay open in the face of overwhelming uncertainty.

Do any of the above examples of vulnerability sound like weakness? NO!

Vulnerability means feeling. What is dangerous is when we start to associate feeling with weakness. It is never weak to feel and experience life. It may be extremely uncomfortable, but it is not weakness. Allowing ourselves to feel is one of our basic human needs. It goes right along with our need for belonging and safety. Willingness to show up and be courageous is never weakness.

vulnerability

Myth #2: “I Don’t Do Vulnerability”

Choosing to opt out of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure is just not realistic. Life is vulnerable. Just take a look back at that brief list of examples. If you find yourself operating from the belief that you “don’t do vulnerability,” Brown suggests asking yourself these three questions: 1) What do I do when I feel emotionally exposed? 2) How do I behave when I’m feeling very uncomfortable and uncertain? and 3) How willing am I to take emotional risks? If you truly don’t know the answers, ask someone you are close to.

This process helps because regardless of our willingness to “do vulnerability,” it does us. Attempting to avoid vulnerability causes us to engage in behaviors that are often inconsistent with who we want to be. May as well understand it, accept it, and embrace it.

vulnerability

Myth #3: Vulnerability is Letting it All Hang Out

“Vulnerability is based on mutuality and requires boundaries and trust. It’s not oversharing, it’s not purging, it’s not indiscriminate disclosure, and it’s not celebrity-style social media information dumps. Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them.” -Brené Brown

Next time you’re about to share something with someone (or a lot of people), take a moment to check your motive. Who are you sharing this with? Have you processed the experience on your own already? Do you have a clear understanding of it? We don’t share our deepest struggle with someone the moment we meet them. Check your motive. Are you craving attention? Are you feeling bad about yourself? Allow yourself time to process your own experiences first. Next, share them with people you trust when you are ready. Then, after even more time has passed, it may be the right time to share them with the world.

vulnerability

Myth #4: We Can Go it Alone

Our culture places high value on individualism. If you’re like me, you tend to think you’re Superwoman and can solve everything by yourself. Reality is, that’s just not realistic. If we want to be vulnerable and experience a life of joy and connection, we have to accept support.

“We need folks who will let us try on new ways of being without judging us. We need a hand to pull us up off the ground when we get kicked down in the arena (and if we live a courageous life, that will happen).” -Brené Brown

Most of us are great at giving help, but we also need to ask for help, too, and practice allowing ourselves to be supported. This all comes back our self-worth. When we know our worth, we take good care of ourselves. This often means asking for help and taking support when needed.

vulnerability

Bottom line: anytime we put ourselves out there, we risk being criticized or feeling hurt. This is the heart of vulnerability.

Back to the scarcity epidemic: it’s important to understand that the opposite of scarcity is not abundance. The answer isn’t to go from “never enough” to “more than enough.” We need to go from “never enough” to simply “enough,” a concept Brené Brown has coined Wholeheartedness, which “at its very core is vulnerability and worthiness: facing uncertainty, exposure, and emotional risks, and knowing that I am enough.”

When our self-worth is high, potential criticism and worries of feeling hurt have a lot less power over us. This is the direction we want to go. But, how?

Self care practices strengthen self-worth

The biggest thing we can do to embrace vulnerability is practice self-love. Notice how the scarcity mindset takes form in your own life. Work on your self-worth by taking care of yourself. You belong here. You have a purpose. You are enough. Just the way you are. Know that you were wired into this predicament and it’s going to take practice, patience, and lots of compassion with yourself to learn a new way of being. You are WORTH IT. Don’t give up.

On an energetic level, worthiness and self-love have to do with the root & sacral chakras. Learn ways to balance these chakras in my posts titled “Six Ways to Balance Your Root Chakra” and “All About the Sacral Chakra.” To learn more about the chakra system, check out my post titled “Getting to Know Your Chakras.”

Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston where she holds the Huffington Foundation – Brené Brown Endowed Chair at The Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past sixteen years studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy and is the author of four #1 New York Times bestsellers – The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, and Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and The Courage to Stand Alone. Brown’s TED talk – The Power of Vulnerability – is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world with over 30 million views.

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gratitude meditation
Meditation

Gratitude Meditation – 3 Minutes

Practicing gratitude is a wonderful way to explore the mind-body connection.

What is gratitude?

Gratitude is being thankful for what you have. It means choosing to see the beauty all around you and within you. Being grateful is a choice that we must make everyday. It is a practice. The more we focus on the positive, the more positivity we will draw into our lives. This is called the law of attraction.

In this simple three minute guided meditation you will experience the ways in which gratitude affects your body. This is in invitation to joy and positive thought that can be done anywhere, anytime of day. No experience necessary. Meditate with me!

Make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more meditations coming soon!

rainbow buddha bowl
Recipes

Eat This Rainbow Buddha Bowl to Balance Your Chakras

You’ve heard it before, “Eat your colors!” But, why?

The benefits of eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies are obvious… they are packed with nutrients and are water-based foods, so they easily hydrate and rejuvenate your body.

The seven main chakras, or energy centers in the body, are also known as the “Rainbow Bridge” because each chakra has a corresponding color. Foods are energy and they carry a vibration. Color is simply energy vibrating at a certain frequency. When you eat food of a certain color, it sends energy to the corresponding chakra. Cool, right? Learn more about the chakras in my post “Getting to Know Your Chakras.”

So, before you reach for that bag of Skittles, try this much healthier way to taste the rainbow.

Ingredients

Maifun Brown Rice Noodles

Red Bell Pepper & Grape Tomatoes (root chakra)

Oven Roasted Sweet Potato & Fresh Sliced Carrots (sacral chakra)

Yellow Bell Pepper (solar plexus chakra)

Mixed Greens, Sliced Cucumber & Avocado (heart chakra)

Blueberries (throat chakra)

Purple Cabbage (third eye chakra)

Toasted Garbanzo Beans & Slivered Almonds (crown chakra)

Hummus

Honey Mustard Dressing

 

Preparation

Chop sweet potato in cubes and drizzle it with olive oil, salt and pepper in a roasting pan. Put in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or so, until it gets golden brown or a little blackened (depending on your preference).

Cook rice noodles as directed (they take about five minutes to make!). After you strain the noodles, rinse them in cold water and set aside. Heat some olive oil in a small pan on high and throw in some garbanzos, salt and pepper. Continue to toss them until they blacken a bit. Add slivered almonds to the mix halfway through.

Slice up all the veggies. Place a small amount of mixed greens in the bowl, put the noodles across from them with the garbanzo and almond mix. Then start building your rainbow bowl around it! Have fun and enjoy the process!

I love Brianna’s Honey Mustard dressing so I drizzled it over the top. Make sure to add a dollop of your fave hummus in the center.

Eat with intention and enjoy nourishing your body with this incredibly healthy meal!

 

chakras
Chakras, Health + Wellness, My Favorite Things

Getting To Know Your Chakras

Chakras are energy centers in the body.

It’s important to consider our chakras, or energy system, as an integral part of our total picture of wellness. It’s a part that often gets overlooked in the western world with so much focus on physical and mental health.

The truth is, everything is energy. We are in an energetic exchange with everything, all day long: people, places, and food, for example. Our chakras are constantly receiving, assimilating, and transmitting life force energy so that we can make sense of the world around us.

You can think of chakras like portals connecting our inner and outer worlds.

chakrasThere are seven main chakras in the human body, from root (base of the spine) to crown (top of the head). Each chakra has a corresponding color, element, symbol, vibrational sound, and relates to a specific part of the body. For a more in depth explanation of what a chakra is and where the system came from, read my post titled “What is a chakra?

Here is a simple guide to your chakras.

Know that the system works as a whole, so we can break down each one to understand its qualities, but ultimately everything works together, like the parts of a car.

Root

chakrasChakra one is about our health, our survival, and our grounding. It is located at the base of the spine and its element is earth. It has to do with our basic needs – shelter, food, water. Think self care. Exercise. Eating habits. Allowing yourself to slow down and relax. Feeling at home in your body. Because it is the foundation of the entire chakra system, it represents stability, which is also reflected in our financial situation. Fear, anxiety, eating disorders, and financial problems are some examples of root chakra imbalance. For ideas on how to balance this chakra, read my post titled “Six Ways to Balance Your Root Chakra.”

Sacral

chakrasChakra two is about pleasure, sensuality and sexuality. Its element is water. Water moves and flows, just as a healthy second chakra allows us to move and flow with life… not resisting change, not being rigid. This chakra is all about our emotions. We have to let them move and flow. When considering the health of this chakra, look at your emotional stability, your attitude toward sex, toward self pleasure, and the health of your hips and sexual organs. Self love practices of any kind (taking a warm bubble bath, buying yourself flowers or treating yourself in some way – doesn’t have to be sexual pleasure) will bring balance to this chakra. It’s important for our health to allow ourselves to feel pleasure. We are sensual, sexual beings. The fact that we have skin proves that we were meant to feel, and when we deny ourselves this basic human need, we get closed off energetically to enjoying life in general. Sexual problems and pain in the hips and low back are common signs of sacral chakra imbalance. Read more about this chakra including ways to balance it in my post titled “All About the Sacral Chakra.”

Solar Plexus

chakrasHere lies your personal power. Your will, your fire, your energy. No surprise that it correlates to the sun, its element being fire. Imagine rubbing two sticks together to create a spark. The sticks represent the first chakra, the movement needed to create the spark represents the second chakra. The fire of chakra three is born. The first three chakras provide the basis for the entire chakra system above to flourish. With this fire and energy deep in our core, we now have the power to choose how we want to direct it. This shows up in our career choices, ways we are of service to others, and what we choose to do in our lives in general. It has everything to do with our self esteem and confidence. Chakra three governs our belly and digestive system, so any issues with these parts of the body can point to imbalance. Low energy, low self esteem, indecisiveness, and lack of motivation in life are all signs of imbalance. Running or cardio exercise, laughter, and setting healthy boundaries (learning to say “no”) are all ways to balance this chakra.

Heart

chakrasRepresenting the center of the chakra system is the fourth chakra, the heart. Its element is air and it deals with love, relationships, connection, compassion, balance, and forgiveness. With three chakras below and three above, the heart chakra represents balance in its purest form with the grounding energies of the first three chakras below and the ethereal qualities of the upper three chakras above. This chakra governs the heart, lungs and respiratory system, so any health issues with these body parts can point to imbalance. Depression lives here, as sadness is often a matter of the heart. Breathwork is a wonderful tool for balancing this chakra. Pay attention to the posture of your shoulders. Notice if you are often hunching over, protecting your heart. As the center of the system, it is paramount that we pay close attention to this chakra every day, and attempt to keep it healthy and open.

Throat

chakrasWe now move into the upper chakras starting at the throat, which is all about communication, creativity, and self expression. How do you speak your truth? How do you create? We are all creative, some of us are just more tapped in than others. Notice your attitude toward creativity. Creative expression can come out in song, written word, or art. This is also about how comfortable we are speaking and listening. The element of this chakra is ether, or sound. Vibration. As we move upward through the chakras, they become less dense. The throat chakra deals with sound and vibration, so singing, chanting or repeating mantras is a great way to balance this chakra. Again, we have to look at all the parts as a whole. We have to be grounded (chakra one), emotionally stable (chakra two), confident (chakra three), and open-hearted (chakra four) in order to express our truth and creativity in a healthy way. If there are major imbalances happening in the lower four chakras, creative expression and communication may be challenging.

Third Eye

chakrasThe brow chakra is the seat of your intuition. “Trust your gut” is the perfect phrase to describe it. The sixth chakra’s element is light and it has to do with truly seeing the world around us. Think vision, visualizing life, not just seeing what’s in front of you but actually seeing with clarity and making connections about what you see in a greater sense… seeing the way all the parts work together as a whole. Those gut feelings you get… that you shouldn’t go to that party or you just know you need to see that person but you’re not sure why… that is your intuition. The world we live in is a disempowering society telling us how to live, how to eat, how to dress, how to be, and everything in between. We are at a constant struggle to listen to our own wisdom within, which resides in our bodies… our skin, our bones, our hearts, our bellies… this is our intuition. It is a voice we can hear if we listen close enough. In order to get more connected to your intuition, you need to connect to your body and breath. Yoga and meditation are wonderful tools. This chakra has to do with the eyes so vision problems correlate with it, as well as headaches. Lavender is a wonderful essential oil to help balance this chakra and invite in a sense of calm clarity.

Crown

chakrasFinally, we reach the crown at the top of the head, symbolized by a thousand petaled lotus. This chakra represents higher consciousness, connection with divine spirit, and with our higher self. The best “element” to describe it is thought. The crown chakra is primarily associated with the pituitary gland, and secondarily to the pineal and the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus and pituitary gland work together to regulate the endocrine system. Because of its location, the crown chakra is closely associated with the brain and the whole nervous system. The crown chakra is associated with the transcendence of our limitations, whether personal or bound to space and time. The quality of awareness that comes with the crown chakra is universal, transcendent. Being immersed in the energy of the crown chakra feels like bliss… a state of union with all that is. Signs of imbalance include being disconnected from spirit, living in your head (disconnected from your body), and closed-mindedness. The best way to balance this chakra is to meditate. Check out my post titled “Meditation 101” and “Guided Meditation – 10 Minutes” to get started with meditation!

Eating plenty of fresh fruits and veggies will help balance your chakras. Foods correspond to the chakras based on their color. Check out this Rainbow Buddha Bowl recipe for some serious chakra balancing deliciousness!

intention meditation
Meditation

Intention Meditation – 5 Minutes

In order to live with intention, you need to get in the habit of setting an intention everyday. In this intention meditation, you will do just that!

What is an intention?

An intention can be something you want to draw into your life or something you want to let go of. It could be one word, such as: love, compassion, presence, breath, forgiveness, or strength, for example. It could also be a person. It doesn’t really matter what it is, the point is that you set your focus on something everyday. It’s also smart to set bigger intentions for your year and then use daily intention setting as a practice to accomplish your larger goals. Remember that every action you take, every decision you make, it propelling you in a certain direction. By setting a daily intention you will steer yourself in the direction you want to go. You are the creator of your life!

Make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more guided meditations coming your way!

better sleep
Health + Wellness, Lifestyle

5 Ways To Get Better Sleep Tonight

Better sleep is just around the corner with these five simple tricks.

We all want to sleep well, and our busy lifestyles these days can make that hard to achieve every night. Here are five simple things you can start doing now to get better sleep tonight from Matthew Walker, professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California Berkeley.

1. Regularity is key

Put your best effort in to get eight hours of sleep every night. Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday no matter what day of the week it is. Even if you didn’t sleep good, still get up at the same time and allow your body to reset.

better sleep

2. Dim the lights and set the mood for better sleep

We are a dark-deprived society in this era, and we actually need darkness in the evening in order for our bodies to release melatonin, which helps the healthy timing of our sleep. One hour before bed, dim all the lights in your house and avoid bright computer or phone screens. These LED lights actually put the brakes on melatonin production and fool your brain into thinking it’s still daytime when it’s actually nighttime!

better sleep

3. Keep it cool

Many of us keep the room too warm. An optimal temperature is about 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Your brain and body actually need to drop their core temperature about 2-3 degrees Fahrenheit to get good sleep.

better sleep

4. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime

Yep, sorry. Alcohol is so misunderstood. You may think it helps you sleep, but it actually does the opposite. Alcohol is in the class of drugs called the sedatives. This means that by drinking before bed, you are just knocking your brain out – you’re not putting it into good sleep mode. It is also known that alcohol fragments your sleep, causing you to wake up many times throughout the night. It’s also a very potent chemical for blocking your dream sleep, or rapid eye movement. Caffeine, on the other hand, is a stimulant, an alerting chemical. Even if you can have a coffee after dinner and fall asleep fine, the depth of the deep sleep you have is not as deep as it would be if you didn’t have the coffee. You may likely wake up feeling groggy and reach for two or three cups of coffee the next morning, easily creating an addiction cycle.

better sleep

5. Don’t stay in bed awake

If you haven’t fallen asleep within 20 minutes or you wake up in the night and can’t fall back asleep, don’t stay in bed. Your brain quickly learns the association of your bed being a place of being awake vs. being asleep. Instead, get up and go to another room and read a book in dim light (no phones, no food). When you feel sleepy, go back to your bed. An alternative here would also be meditation. Meditation helps quiet the mind and body, triggering the parasympathetic nervous system – the part of you that says it’s ok to relax. If you’re new to meditation, check out my posts titled “Meditation 101” and “Guided Meditation – 10 Minutes.”

Getting better sleep means you have to become aware of what is causing the imbalance, so be curious and experiment on yourself by eliminating certain foods or habits before bed time, or putting some of these new habits in place.

Pay attention to how you’re feeling and look at all the parts as a whole. Make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day and eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Sleep time is recovery time, so better sleep means fueling your body well throughout the day so it can use those nutrients to recover over night.

Matthew Walker is a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California Berkeley and the author of the book, “Why We Sleep.”

Mindfulness, My Favorite Things, The MALA Shop

The Meaning of 108

Malas have 108 stones. Why?

Here is an excerpt from Yoga Journal on the meaning of 108:

“The number’s significance is open to interpretation. But 108 has long been considered a sacred number in Hinduism and yoga. Traditionally, malas, or garlands of prayer beads, come as a string of 108 beads (plus one for the “guru bead,” around which the other 108 beads turn like the planets around the sun). A mala is used for counting as you repeat a mantra—much like the Catholic rosary. Renowned mathematicians of Vedic culture viewed 108 as a number of the wholeness of existence. This number also connects the Sun, Moon, and Earth: The average distance of the Sun and the Moon to Earth is 108 times their respective diameters. Such phenomena have given rise to many examples of ritual significance. According to yogic tradition, there are 108 pithas, or sacred sites, throughout India. And there are also 108 Upanishads and 108 marma points, or sacred places of the body.”

When choosing a mala, I think it’s best to go with whichever one is calling to you. The stones all have different vibrations and meanings, but what matters most is the mala’s meaning to you. The true meaning of 108 is what it means to you.

Design Inspiration

Inspiration for my shop came from my Mom, she is an incredible jewelry designer and has always encouraged me creatively. Each piece I create is one of a kind and made with love. My design process sometimes lasts for days before I even start tying a piece together. Intention is infused into each piece. I knot between each stone using organic materials and semi precious stones.

Follow me on Instagram @lorenashleyyoga #theMALAshop to see all the latest!

Visit my Events page to see when my next trunk show is happening!

Go to The MALA Shop on Etsy.