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Health + Wellness, Lifestyle, Mom Life

Seven Self Love Rituals for Busy Moms

We all want our kids to have the absolute best lives possible.

So much so that we often put their needs before our own. I feel you mama, trust me. I get it. And it’s okay. I repeat, it’s okay.

Here’s what happens when we get into a groove of putting others first: when we do have a little time to ourselves, we still end up doing things for others! You feel me? It’s like we don’t know what to do with the alone time, so we end up cleaning, doing laundry, organizing the kids’ rooms, cooking, etc. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we need to use time to ourselves to get these things done, but let me ask you… Did you already take care of you today?

I’ve got a seven day challenge for you. Here are seven simple self love rituals… one for each day of the week. The coolest thing? They only require ten minutes.

I realize how busy your days are, going here and there, doing this and that… it never ends. I literally feel like I’m cleaning up messes all. day. long. What I want you to realize is that you are what is making this entire operation GO! You have got to start putting yourself first, everyday. You will be a better mama because of it, you will love yourself more and, most importantly, you will expand your capacity to give more love to everyone in your life, including your kids (if that’s even possible!)

Seven Self Love Rituals for Busy Moms (in no particular order):

    1. Intention Journaling.

      This would be ideal in the morning, as it can set the tone for your day ahead. Grab a journal and a pen and write down your intention for the day. Beforehand, take a few deep breaths and feel into your heart space. What do you want out of this day? Strength? Compassion? Forgiveness? It could also be a person or relationship that needs some attention. Sometimes it’s just the very basic things that we need, like food and sleep – in this case your intention may be “Keep It Simple.” It could be one word with some doodles around it, or a paragraph of writing, whatever feels authentic to you. Journaling is one of the most powerful ways to manifest what we truly want.

      Self Love Rituals For Moms

    2. Music Meditation

      Choose a song around ten minutes long, sit down and close your eyes. Just breathe and watch your thoughts roll by. The idea is with meditation is not to stop your thinking, but become more aware of the thoughts and become unattached to them. A few of the many benefits of meditation include a self-confidence boost, increased seratonin levels (yes, please!), increased creativity, and improved relationships. Here is a playlist I created on Spotify that is awesome for meditating or yoga practice:

    3. Pillow Screaming.

      Go in your room, get on your bed, and scream into the pillow like there’s no tomorrow. Put on some rager music to really set things off. Anger releasing is a super important ritual. It connects us to our primal instinct, helping release fear and trapped negative emotion in the body. Scream from the pit of your belly – that is where the core of your emotions live. When you’re done with this one, give yourself a couple minutes to just sit with your eyes closed and let it settle. I always get a euphoric rush after doing this and it helps me not lose my shit on my son.

      Self Love Rituals For Moms

    4. Take A Walk

      Being outside is one of the most healing things we can do. Some of the obvious benefits include Vitamin D, eye health, improved sleep, grounding, and exercise. Leave your phone at home and immerse all your senses in nature. See, smell, hear everything around you. Can you taste the clean air? At the end of your walk, kick off your shoes and be barefoot in the grass for a few moments. Hippies have been doing it right all along…

      Self Love Rituals For Moms

    5. Read A Book

      If you don’t like reading actual books, check out audible.com for an incredible selection of audio books. I can’t stress the importance of always learning. Reading is a wonderful way to stimulate our brains to think outside of the box. It also reduces stress, improves vocabulary and increases knowledge, among many other benefits. Get out of your head and into a good book!

      Self Love Rituals For Moms

    6. Self Pleasure

      This one is arguably the most important! When we are connected to our sensuality, we invite more creativity and passion into our lives, which expands our capacity for love, power and freedom. For some ideas on ways to self pleasure head over to my post about how to fall in love with yourself.

    7. Do Absolutely Nothing!

      This one is definitely one of my faves. Pretty self explanatory… seriously, do nothing. Sit on the couch. Stare at the wall. Relax. Notice if this is really hard for you… it means you need to do it more! Giving ourselves adequate rest, especially as busy moms, is of the utmost importance… even if it’s just ten minutes of sitting with no agenda.

Obviously these things are simple to do. The point is making the time.

This means when you have some time to yourself (even if it’s only ten minutes), set the chores aside. Notice your urge to continue doing things for others. It starts with the noticing. Make a conscious decision to change this habit. And then do one of the things listed above.

Make sure to be flexible with the time of day you do the ritual. And on those days you do not have any time for yourself (trust me, I feel you)… shut yourself in your room, lock the door, and do the pillow screaming ritual. Trust me! It works! Even just for five minutes, scream your damn lungs out into that pillow. Pound it with your fists, curse being a mom (we’ve all done it!), whatever you need to do. Release that shit!

Drop a comment below and let me know how your seven day challenge is going! I’d love to hear what practices resonate best with you.

You’re doing an amazing job, mama! You deserve some mala beads, check out what’s new in The MALA Shop here.

 

xo,

Loren

 

 

 

 

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Mama Love
Health + Wellness, Mom Life

My Birth Story

I’m finally writing it! …And hopefully coming out of a very interesting bit of writer’s block. The past 10 weeks have been a whirlwind of learning & emotions… truthfully, though, the most beautiful 10 weeks of my life. I am feeling GREAT… surprised at how fast I’ve healed physically after pushing a 9lb baby out after two days of labor! So here it is, my birth story… it’s a bit long but I hope it inspires or educates you in some way…

My due date was February 14, 2015. I went two weeks and four days past this day before my midwife said we needed to move things along. She did an ultrasound and said my placenta was calcifying a bit and my amniotic fluid looked low. Of course I wanted to deliver a healthy baby and avoid complications, so I trusted her judgment with the idea of induction. This also meant accepting that my birth experience was going to be very different than I had hoped.

I dreamed of having a natural water birth with no drugs… I read two books while pregnant that changed my view completely on childbirth: Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth (Ina May Gaskin) and Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way (Susan McCutcheon). If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, I highly recommend reading these books! They helped me realize what my body is capable of, empowered me to do what my body was made to do, helped me understand that birth is not an event that needs medical intervention (in most cases), and that it also does not have to be a fearful, scary experience like many women have had (usually in hospitals). I specifically chose a hospital that was a 40-minute drive from my house because of its excellent midwives and support of natural birth. I was excited to birth my son naturally and spent my entire pregnancy meditating on this & preparing myself as best I could for the positive, enjoyable birth experience I knew was possible…

So when the moment came that I was faced with my biggest nightmare – being induced – I got really emotional but agreed to it. It was truly the last thing I wanted, but I trusted my midwife. First, I agreed to having a cervical balloon, a more “natural” way of inducing labor (as opposed to Pitocin). This is basically two small water balloons – one is inserted inside the uterus and one outside, the one on the outside pulls the inside one down, forcing the cervix to dilate. Though there was nothing “natural” about this to me, I figured it was worth a shot because 1) it would give my body a chance to go into labor on its own and 2) possibly avoid being induced with Pitocin. Essentially the balloon is supposed to bring on contractions and, if it dilates the cervix to 4cm, it falls out on its own and ideally the body continues laboring on its own… So my midwife inserted the balloon at the hospital at 6pm on Monday, March 3rd, and sent me home. The balloon was extremely uncomfortable and I started having contractions immediately which built in intensity for 4-5 hours and continued through the night. I was able to fall asleep for about five hours. The next morning, I woke up to mild contractions (I almost couldn’t feel them), and the balloon had not fallen out (talk about not being able to fully relax – it felt like a HUMONGOUS tampon with two huge 12-inch plastic tubes hanging down as strings). I went back to the hospital to have it removed at 5pm. My midwife checked my cervix and I was 3cm dilated! Woohoo. Got sent home again (having mild contractions) and they wanted me back the next morning at 6am to be induced with Pitocin (which I still felt on the fence about). I got home, took a long walk with Carlos, had a glass of wine and took a hot bath… when I was in the bath I had a conversation with Julian and suddenly my mucous plug came out in the bathtub & I knew my body was going into labor. Yay! Contractions got stronger through the night, and we got up early to head to the hospital (Carlos, my Dad, & my doula).

Once at the hospital, I decided to labor on my own because I believed my body was ready. I walked the halls of the hospital, tried different positions & massage with my doula, leaned on Carlos & labored in the hospital room for a total of nine hours. At 3pm, I was only at 4cm. This is when I agreed to Pitocin. I think if I were at home laboring it would have progressed faster because I would have been more relaxed. If there is anything I would like you to take from this story, it is validation that hospitals make it harder to relax while in labor. No matter how hard I tried to get in my own zone, there was an undeniable element of pressure from simply being in the hospital and also an inability to completely relax with nurses and staff coming in and out of my personal space. After all, let’s be real… there’s no place like home.

I am actually surprised at how well I handled the Pitocin for as long as I did… having to walk around with a tall metal poll containing machines and bags of fluid pumping shit into me to make my uterus contract attached to me for eight hours… Yes, eight hours I labored with Pitocin with the intention of still having a water birth, as I was told this was possible! Well, at about 9pm the contractions got so intense that I started to cry… I think my body was going into some level of shock. There were no breaks between contractions and they were excruciatingly painful. In my heart I knew these contractions were unnatural, brought on by a synthetic hormone, and that had I let my body go into labor on its own, it would not have been the same type of pain.

My midwife came to check on me and I told her, after attempting to ease the pain by sitting on an exercise ball in the shower with Carlos holding the shower head beating on my lower back (which still didn’t make it feel better), that I couldn’t do this anymore… I needed the Pitocin to be turned off. It was unbearable. She checked me and I was still only at 4cm… WOW, right? So she gave me the option of turning off the Pitocin, getting some sleep and starting it back up in the morning, or having an epidural and keeping the process going until the baby comes. I chose the epidural because there was no way I was reliving this again the next day… I felt it was time for Julian to come out. So I had the epidural (which was also a scary experience… squeezing Carlos’ hands, still feeling intense contractions and trying to hold still while they stuck the needle in my back). I was very grateful for the pain relief that followed shortly, but the epidural was still nothing like I had imagined… I thought it would be heaven but it was far from that for me… stuck laying on my back, with a catheter in my urethra so I would pee automatically into a bag… so weird! My midwife broke my water once the epidural was in place. This is when things really got going, thank God. The nurse had to come in and turn me every 20-30 minutes so I was slightly laying on one side. I tried so hard to get some sleep but just couldn’t. The Pitocin was still running and I could faintly feel pressure from the contractions. The nurse reminded me the epidural was only supposed to take away 50% of the pain. Once the lights were turned low and my Dad & doula went to get some sleep in other hospital rooms, Carlos & I had an intense emotional moment together that most definitely brought us closer than we’d ever been. He is my rock, I couldn’t have done this without him… constantly reminding me how strong I was and how much he loved me… when I was doubting myself more than ever before. So, so, SO incredibly grateful for this man.

 

So fast forward… three hours passed & the nurse checked my cervix. I was dilated to 8cm! The Pitocin was still going and I could feel the pressure of the contractions getting stronger and stronger, even through the epidural, which was wearing off. Another hour passed and the contractions actually starting hurting again… I asked the nurse to check me because I felt like it was time, and sure enough, I was at 10cm and she had me do a “practice” push. She brought in all the equipment for me to push this baby out, and I got really excited. It was 3am when the nurse called my midwife into the room, who was sleeping down the hall, and I called in my doula & Dad as well…

 

The pushing stage quickly became my favorite part of this whole process. I finally felt like I could put my strong body & mind to use… it only took me 27 minutes to push Julian’s 9lb-2oz body out… and I did NOT TEAR! I was able to watch the whole thing in a mirror they put in front of me… and I felt 90% of it all because the epidural was almost worn off completely. I was so grateful for this because I was able to work with my body! This was the HARDEST most REWARDING work I have EVER done. I remember thinking, in the middle of pushing, that I couldn’t do it anymore… but there was no turning back! When there’s a baby halfway through your vagina you just have to finish the job! LOL. Carlos was the first to touch Julian… my midwife let him catch him when his head came out! It was such a beautiful moment. One more huge push and he was all the way out. Carlos brought him right onto my chest where we had immediate skin-to-skin contact for almost a full hour. Carlos cut the umbilical cord & gave Julian his first bath… Everyone in the room was tearing up and emotional while I was just exhausted and so happy my son was outside my body.

 

We stayed another night in the hospital and went home the next day. I had my placenta encapsulated into pill form (it gets dehydrated first and then placed in capsules). Following the directions, I took three capsules 3x day for the first week, two capsules 3x day for the second week, and then one capsule 3x week until they were gone. Because the placenta contains your own natural hormones, there are many health benefits of eating it after childbirth (which sounds crazy, but listen!): reduces postpartum “blues” or depression, boosts energy, replenishes depleted iron, lessens postnatal bleeding, has been shown to increase breastmilk production, and helps the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy state. Plus, an awesome fact you may not know… most all mammals eat their placentas after birthing their offpsring. I can say it did help me, because I have felt amazing this whole time & my body has been extremely resilient in returning to its pre-pregnancy state. It has been almost three months now and we are all doing WONDERFUL!


I have been wanting to share this story since it all happened, but have needed some time to process it all. I had to get over the fact that the birth didn’t go as I had imagined. I believe everything happens for a reason… that there was a reason I went through what I did with the Pitocin & epidural… I can say everything I read about it was true. And I still believe in natural childbirth (no drugs) not being as painful. I look forward still to the experience I had hoped for with Julian… I see a home birth in my future! Our bodies are INCREDIBLE… and awareness of the subject of childbirth is a must if you are pregnant or trying to conceive.

 

If you take anything from this story, I hope it is that you always TRUST your intuition… Do not let anyone — any doctor, nurse, family member, friend… try to sway or convince you on any topic regarding pregnancy, childbirth, or parenting. We all have different, unique stories & situations. Educate YOURSELF by reading books and articles… Meditate and listen to what resonates with YOU. And make sure you have good support, whether it’s from your family, friends, or an outside group of people who think like you – though I didn’t do birthing classes, they are a great place to meet people in the same boat! And hire a doula if you can – Afton Brown is my amazing doula and I couldn’t have done this without her!

 

I am so grateful for a healthy baby. That I am a Mommy now. That I have an amazing partner and father to my son. Life is good. Family over everything!

 

Peace, Love, & Light…

 

Namaste!

 

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Loren Ashley
Health + Wellness, Lifestyle, Mom Life, Yoga

Yoga Found Me

When I first started practicing yoga, it was all about the physical. I had retired my pom poms as a Seattle Seahawks cheerleader and felt like a washed-up gym rat stuck in a hamster wheel every time I walked through the doors of LA Fitness. Simultaneously going through a breakup with my first serious boyfriend, it was time for a change. A big one. I decided to give hot yoga a try, for the third time. And it’s true, third time’s a charm.

The first time I tried hot yoga I was about fourteen years old. I hated it. I went to a class with my dance teacher and her daughter and remember walking out of that hot room after what felt like the longest ten minutes of my life. I thought, “never again!” I went to another hot yoga class with some fellow Sea Gals years later. Still wasn’t feelin’ it. Walked out after ten minutes.

The third time I tried hot yoga was at a Bikram studio – the classic 26 postures in the method of Bikram Choudhury, a 90-minute sequence designed to increase balance and flexibility as two sets of each posture are held 30 seconds to one minute each. I had met a friend there, which always helps in the realm of motivation. And a miracle happened. I made it through the ENTIRE class without leaving the room. I was immediately inspired to use my “New Student” 10-day pass to the fullest extent… so I went to class ten days in a row. But I wasn’t done. I was on a mission. 30 classes in 30 days. A personal challenge. And I did it. It was like the doors to heaven opened above me and the angels came down and enveloped me in their golden feathers. Well, not really. Lol. But it was a start. An amazing start to a beautiful journey of self-discovery that has grown & transformed into one of the things I cherish most about Life. My yoga practice. It found me. It tried and tried and didn’t give up… and I am so very grateful for its perseverance.

The coolest thing about yoga is that it’s just a PRACTICE. It is not a skill to master, nor is it a competition. It’s a practice because we are never done… we are always learning, always growing. There is always somewhere new to go with our physical body – in the form of asana, or posture – which is a direct invitation to explore our emotional, mental, & spiritual body as well. All we have to do is remain open & willing to take a look within. Our yoga mat becomes a no-bullshit place where we have the opportunity to look at ourselves honestly, let go of things that aren’t serving us, choose positivity, & set powerful intentions for our day & our life.

I had NO idea any of this stuff was possible when I first started practicing at that Bikram studio. I was just looking for a new way to burn a ton of calories, keep my physique in bangin’ shape, and feel good. After practicing the Bikram method for a few months, I decided to branch out and try a different studio that offered Hatha (similar to Bikram) and Power Vinyasa yoga (a faster paced style where movement and breath are connected in a flow, with focus on upper body & core strength). I immediately fell in love with vinyasa yoga… it is so much like a dance as movement and breath work together, and with my dance background, this resonated deep in my soul. It wasn’t long after this that I cancelled my gym membership and found myself practicing everyday. I was in the best shape of my life.

At this point something amazing started happening. I didn’t realize it right away, but the passing of time has a beautiful way of giving us perspective on things. I developed a greater awareness of my physical body & my monkey brain, which was always thinking and very hard to turn off. I became aware of the thoughts rolling around in my head. The negative self-talk. The feelings of not being good enough. By taking one hour each day to shut my mouth, focus only on my breath, & strengthen my body, I got to know myself a little better, one practice at a time. Only through this beautiful awareness was I able to start on an honest journey to self-love.

I became a certified yoga instructor soon after falling in love with my practice, and started teaching right away. The joy of leading a room full of yogis is something I cannot explain. The way I see it, I can only keep what I have by giving it away… I consider teaching the highest honor I could possibly have… the opportunity to help others find their own inner peace through the simple practice of yoga. To develop the most incredible strength of body, mind, & spirit that literally has the ability to carry a person through the hardest of times & the happiest of times. We must always be grateful.

Being pregnant has brought a whole new perspective to my yoga, and in turn, my teaching. I have gained 50 pounds and have never felt sexier in my entire life. Who would have thought? At first it was extremely difficult for me to work with the changes in my body. I felt fat, unattractive, & hesitant to practice yoga at all because I was so conditioned to practicing intense power yoga — always challenging myself, working on advanced postures. I felt like I couldn’t do anything. I boycotted my yoga mat for a good month. Well, that just wasn’t workin’ for me after a while. I felt like a huge ball of shit and eventually decided to end my pity party.

So I threw my mat down & started leaning into the discomfort. I started embracing an extremely relaxed, modified practice. I threw out the silly idea in my head that a “practice” needed to be at least one hour. I put on some kickass music. And I just started doing what felt good. Not what I thought I “should” do in a practice. Lots of hip openers, meditation, & funky new variations of classic postures. I just let my body move to the music. I was shocked at the awesome things I was coming up with, it was like something else was working through me. I found my creative energy soaring through the roof… my entire being full of possibility. Surrender is a beautiful thing. I became stoked to share what I was doing… I even had an opportunity to during a class I taught when I went back to Seattle recently. It was a blast! Something incredible has happened since I have started doing this regularly at home, three to four times per week. A home practice. Something I have always wanted but struggled to develop, until now.

Once again, yoga found me. And I am so grateful. The reason I go to the mat now is completely different than when I started five years ago. Now I go to the mat to check in with myself… to remind myself I am beautiful, strong, & that I am enough. I go to the mat when I need a creativity boost, when I feel anxious, when I feel tired, sad, happy, pissed off, whatever. For me, it’s not about the physical anymore… it’s about keeping myself grounded & my heart open. A hot bod just so happens to be one of the killer “symptoms” of practicing yoga… along with the fact that it’s virtually impossible to eat poorly because of the awareness that comes along with being a yogi. Amen.

Practicing yoga is magic. One thing I can promise you… is that you will never finish a practice and think, “I wish I wouldn’t have done that.” So, give yourself the gift of lifelong health & happiness by making your yoga mat your best friend.

 

Namaste.

Photo Credit: Jami West Photography

It's A Boy!
Health + Wellness, Lifestyle, Mindfulness, Mom Life, Travel, Yoga

A Warm Welcome

Welcome, friends! I am so excited for the opportunity to create this platform to share with you. I’ve been building this website in my head for some time, it’s amazing to see it come to life. There have been far too many moments lately where I have thought to myself, “I should write about this,” or, “I want to share about that.” So, here it is. A “grab bag of awareness,” from my heart to yours. Because I can only keep what I have by giving it away. This is my experience. My strength. My weakness. My hope. My heart. I hope it will somehow brighten your day or inspire you along your path, wherever you’re at in your journey.

Welcome to my Life. I am currently living in Fort Worth, Texas – ironically, the exact town in which I was born in 1986. I never thought I’d be living here in Texas. Crazy how life comes full circle. Having lived in Seattle for 27 years, then transferring myself to the Costa Rican sunshine, Texas was the last place I thought I’d end up. But here I am, arriving last September after living in Costa Rica for five incredible months. It was never my intention to leave there, but the Universe had other plans for me. Needless to say, I am grateful to be reunited with family here & have the support I need during a very special time…

Welcome, little one. Just when I thought I had everything exactly how I wanted it, BAM. The biggest curveball that’s ever been thrown at me… A baby! I fell in love with a beautiful, incredibly talented Costa Rican musician upon my arrival in paradise, and the rest is, well, history. Fast forward to the present, where I now have two beautiful boys to look forward to spending my future with… one of them in my belly, due to make his first appearance in just five weeks! When I found out I was pregnant, I was scared at first, but quickly realized what a Blessing it was… the Universe was telling me I was ready to be a Mom, something I have always looked forward to. Being pregnant has brought me a whole new outlook on Life, family, yoga, and brought me to a whole new level of self-love. Plenty of stories on this to come!

Welcome, new perspective on Yoga. During my travels in Costa Rica, I was in a massive space of decompression. Coming from a fast-paced life in Seattle to the slow-paced “Pura Vida” lifestyle was exactly what I needed to reconnect with myself. I was broken when I got there, but quickly learned some incredible things that have changed me forever. I lived with a Reiki Master for three months who taught me about the chakras, which brought a whole new element of INTENTION to my own yoga practice & teaching. She helped me develop a healthy new perspective on meditation that turned into a beautiful meditation practice of my own. On top of that, getting pregnant and learning to work with my changing body – embracing a very relaxed, modified yoga practice & loving my new curves – has brought an additional element of change to my practice that I have grown to love and can’t wait to share once I start teaching again in the near future.

Welcome, Awareness. My intention for this blog is to share my experience with you. To share what has worked for me, what hasn’t, share music, art,  awesome information, and lots of LOVE… from the perspective of a yogi, a yoga teacher, an artist, a writer, a friend, a lover, a daughter, a mother (whoa!)… and to help everyone understand that yoga is not just about asana. It is a lifestyle! There are eight limbs of yoga, and asana (posture) is only one limb – the other seven include meditation & other practices of mindfulness intended to help us live a more meaningful & purposeful life.

My intention through sharing my own knowledge & experience is to heighten your awareness of your physical body & the world around you, and how to incorporate the practices of yoga into your own life. In turn, you will receive the gifts of choosing to live consciously so that you can brave this crazy world with eyes wide open & a sense of empowerment in your being.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you make a habit of it! You can subscribe to my blog by simply entering your email in the box to the right ——–> Please leave comments, follow me on social media, and contact me for private yoga instruction & wellness coaching!

Love you all!

Namaste.

Photo Credit: Jami West Photography