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Yoga

Health + Wellness, Lifestyle, My Favorite Things, Yoga

Work It Out

Most of us are wired to think we aren’t good enough. It’s ok. What is not ok is sitting and whining about it.

The fact is… in the 20 minutes you just spent obsessing over your body YOU COULD HAVE ALREADY WORKED OUT by now! Get off your ass and MOVE! Get outside and run. Pick up some dumbbells. Use your own body weight. No more excuses! It doesn’t take long to blast those thoughts away once you get MOVING!

Lately, people have been asking me how I do it all…

Be a single mom, run three businesses and still have time to take care of myself. Here’s my secret: I put myself first. I schedule my life one week at a time (using my incredible Passion Planner) around my SELF CARE, YOGA & WORKOUTS. I put those things before everything, even my son, because I know that I have to in order for me to be the best mom and best person I can be.

Lately my weekly workout schedule has consisted of five yoga practices, three in-home workouts (done in my living room using a suspension trainer, 8lb dumbbells, and my own body weight – 30 minutes on average) and running twice/week outside for 20 minutes.

FREE YOGA, MEDITATION & WORKOUTS you can do at home:
Yoga Project Podcast Collection
BodyFit by Amy

All you need to do all of the above (click on images to purchase):

bellI admit, I do love to look a certain way. And I’m not ashamed of it. I love being lean, toned and strong. It feels damn sexy. But that’s a side effect of putting in the work. Work that reveals to me how much stronger I am than I realize… time and time again. It grounds me. It’s a daily commitment to my HIGHEST SELF. To raising my vibration. If you aren’t taking it to the next level you’re treading water, or even worse, going backwards. Don’t get me wrong, there are times to slow down and rest, but in order for your fire and passion for life to be ignited, you’ve got to move your body. You’ve got to awaken your energy.

We live in a world that disconnects us from our power by making us feel like we aren’t good enough. It’s time to take action and take your power back. No one else is going to do it for you. So, get up and MOVE! You are worth it.

Come practice with me! View my teaching schedule at Yoga Project Fort Worth.

View upcoming workshops and events here.

Yoga

Not Your Typical Yoga Anatomy Training

On the first day of the advanced yoga training module I took recently, Anatomy & Physiology with Free Life People School of Yoga (now Yoga Project School of Yoga), we were asked a couple loaded questions right off the bat:

What is yoga? How do you teach it?

Each of us excitedly spent some time journaling, crafting our answers with too many words, and then we went around sharing. I could share with you what my answer said but it would be pointless because it probably said exactly what you imagine it said.

Over the course of this eight day program, I was challenged, mostly, to check in with myself. Sure, we learned all about bones, muscles, breathwork, meditation, common injuries and how to work with them, assisting, and lots more, but that was the icing on the cake. After the training was over, we were astounded at how our answers had shifted. And simplified, though we had learned so many new tools for teaching yoga.

My final answer on the last day of training: “I teach yoga by embodying it.”

I realized my ability to show up for my students is directly related to my commitment to showing up for myself. Meditation practice was a huge and unexpected part of this training, and probably the most powerful part for me. I have actually stayed committed to a morning meditation practice because of it and am experiencing the daily benefits of self-observation mainly in the form of more awareness of my own tendencies… I find myself having moments of noticing what I’m doing as if I’m standing across the room watching myself. It’s wild! This practice helps me SEE MYSELF in a real, raw way. It’s an ongoing CHECK IN, so that I don’t CHECK OUT.

So, yoga teachers, how do you teach yoga? How do you LIVE your yoga?

WE MUST LEARN TO TEACH BY BEING.

Also known as walking your talk. As yoga teachers, we are always talking about going inward, self-care, “being the change,” but are we doing this ourselves?

Photo: Jake Dockins

Photo: Jake Dockins

YOGA IS A LIFESTYLE. It’s not about the poses. The poses are a vehicle to practice mindfulness, which draws us into the NOW by experiencing concrete breath and body sensation. But there are eight limbs of yoga! Asana (posture) is only one!

And that is exactly what Stacy & Dave Dockins teach in their programs. The teaching journey is a journey of the self, first and foremost. The anatomy and physiology and class sequencing and all that jazz are our tools as yoga teachers – they help us create moments of awareness in our students, but the ultimate journey is within YOU.

Are you a 200 hour yoga teacher ready to advance toward your 500 hour certification? Check out Free Life People School of Yoga, I am so thrilled to complete the remaining two modules for my 500 hour certification within the next year. There are three trainings total, each 100 hours and about a week long. If you’re looking for a unique & powerful experience that will enrich your teaching and your LIFE, look no further! One of the many unique aspects of FLP trainings is the live practice teaching that happens from day one. It is very hands on and empowering. Thank you, Stacy & Dave, my life has been greatly enriched by your presence and I am forever grateful!

Stacy Dockins, creator & lead facilitator of Free Life People School of Yoga

Stacy Dockins | Photo: Jake Dockins

“Honor the uniqueness of YOU. When practicing yoga, it is vital that YOU be the ultimate guide of your practice. Each one of us has a unique body which carries its own history. This has a profound effect on your overall experience.  Listen to what your teachers offer to you, then embody it… feel it… be curious… listen to your inner knowing. Only YOU know what you are feeling.” ~Stacy Dockins @txyogastacy @theyogaprojectstudios

For a full list of upcoming trainings, visit www.yogaproject.com.

See Loren’s teaching schedule here.

View upcoming workshops and events here.

Lifestyle, Meditation, Mindfulness, Yoga

How to Be Happy

I was recently asked to consider the question, “Who are you?”

I thought, “Damn, that’s a loaded question.” And a real good journal prompt, so I took the pen to paper…

My immediate reaction was to associate who I am with what I do, so I thought, “I’m a yoga teacher, web designer… blah blah, etc.” But that’s not who I am. That’s what I do.

So I sat with it for a few more moments and eventually words started appearing on the page before me…

I am simply a human on this journey called life trying to figure it all out and share my experience as I go. As a passionate yoga teacher, web designer, artist, and lover of humanity, I desire to help others find happiness through becoming fully present with life. To reconnect with the wisdom of our bodies, step into our power, and create a joyful life doing what we love.

When we are connected to our body we become present with life. Life happens through us – starting with our breath, our bodies are this incredible vehicle for the miracle of Life.

The question is, how curious, loving, and open can we be to this wisdom in our guts and our hearts? Is it possible that this can fully guide us into living the fullest expression of our lives possible?

The answer is a big, fat, juicy YES.

How? We have to train ourselves to be present with life. It doesn’t happen automatically – we are conditioned otherwise. We live mostly in our heads, in the past and in the future. We are constantly bombarded with messages telling us how to live, how to love, how to look, eat, speak, and be.

The truth is, happiness and joy are not in any of those things. They exist in the small moments happening right now.

I like to think of life as a collection of moments. Why is it that we remember certain things? Isn’t it interesting how specific moments stand out to us? We may even recall sounds, smells, tiny little details of these events. Why? Because we were fully present in those moments.

THE UNIVERSE WANTS US TO BE PRESENT WITH LIFE. It wants us to be happy and feel that joy deep in our core.

So, with our awareness bouncing all over the place 24/7, how are we supposed to be present?

The key is to be connected to your body. In yoga we speak of prana, which in Hindu philosophy represents our vital life force energy. This flows through us at all times and we connect to it using our breath – we refer to breathwork in yoga as pranayama – control of our vital life force energy.

We have to train our awareness by shifting the way we pay attention. This is a practice. You have to look at your awareness like a muscle. Just like you would strengthen any other muscle, you have to strengthen your awareness muscle. The stronger your ability to shift your awareness is, the easier it is to be present with life.

HAPPINESS IS A CHOICE that we choose everyday. It is a practice.

MINDFULNESS PRACTICES

Everything starts in your mind. Start paying attention to the effect your thoughts are having on your physiology. For example, a stressful thought comes in… Your heart rate increases… you feel a tightness in your chest, maybe your palms get sweaty. Your stress level rises and your body starts to prepare for battle (fight or flight!). But wait, is this truly a life-threatening situation? Usually the answer is NO.

We live in a world where we are in a constant state of stress most of the time, always prepared for battle. Our sympathetic nervous systems are on OVERLOAD. We need some parasympathetic tone to bring balance. We have to wire in new reactivity patterns in order for anything to change.

MEDITATION & YOGA

Mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation have been proven scientifically to actually change the structure of the brain, specifically the middle prefrontal cortex – which houses our ability to relax, calm down, and actually assess whether something should require us to gear up for battle.

When you sit and meditate or practice yoga you simply place your attention on breath or body sensation. When your awareness is on those things you have no room to place any awareness on busy thought or be caught up in the story of your life (which is all in your mind and is the cause of stress). In these moments are you are fully connect to prana, your life force energy… you bring yourself to the present moment.

This is a practice. And it’s not always pretty. Uncomfortable feelings and emotions arise, and we have to be courageous enough to allow ourselves to feel them.

There is nothing more powerful than connecting to the wisdom of your body. Your heart and belly have just as many neural pathways as your brain! YOUR BODY is the most readily available tool to practice mindful awareness and, in turn, experience the joy of life happening right in front of you.

So, breathe and move your body today. Engage all of your senses with whatever you are doing. Be loving and compassionate with yourself when you catch yourself stuck in your head or in the story of your life. It’s ok.

Make the choice to be present with life. With all the little moments. The highs, the lows. Love it all. Embrace exactly where you are at in your process because it’s exactly where you are supposed to be.

Here is a free 10 minute guided meditation I made just for you. Make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel!

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Manduka yoga mat home practice
Health + Wellness, Lifestyle, My Favorite Things, Yoga

The best yoga gear & how to start a home practice

Why would you practice at home when you can go to a studio? What are the benefits of practicing at home? Where do we start?

Practicing in a heated studio is always great… there’s nothing like being led through a sequence, feeling the group energy, and getting a total body workout. But what if you could reap these same benefits at home? What about the days you just don’t have two hours to do the whole process of going to a studio to practice? What if you could create a special space in your own home where you could gain these same benefits in just 20 minutes? Well, guess what? You can.

I’ve been practicing vinyasa yoga since 2009 and teaching since 2010. Here is what I’ve learned about home practice: it takes commitment and discipline, but the benefits are huge. Follow these simple steps to set yourself up for success and carve a path to creating a mini yoga sanctuary in the comfort of your own home.

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The Benefits

  1. It can be short and sweet. Or it can be long and strong. For so long, I used to avoid home practice because in my mind I thought I “had” to do a full hour or 75 minutes. I’ve learned to let go of that. Sometimes my home practice is a simple 15 or 20 minutes. It might be a relaxed, yin style practice with no music, or it may be a jam packed 20 minute session of powerful sun salutations, arm balances and inversions with some kickass beats blasting. Regardless of what you do, the point is that you carve out the time and do it. Try to let go of expectations or judgments around what you do on your mat. Not only will you feel good physically, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually too.
  2. New creativity arises. Without the guidance of an instructor, your practice becomes a work of art as you connect with stillness and hold space for yourself. I promise you will be surprised and delighted at the movement your body makes all on its own. Just let your breath be the guide.
  3. Mindfulness practice. You may choose to just sit and breathe and do a few simple postures. Or you may kill it with a strong sequence. The cool thing is you get to check in with what your body needs that day. The idea is to simply set aside some time for yourself, to be with yourself, meet yourself right where you are, enjoy your breath and body, and get centered. Yoga is a moving meditation practice!
  4. Gain confidence and connect with your intuition. When you take the time on your own to sit and listen to your inner voice, a whole world of possibility opens up as you allow this voice to guide you.

Loren Boyd Home Yoga Practice

What to do:

  1. Create a sacred practice space. It can be inside or outside, depending on the season. I love practicing outside in the summertime. On a hot day it can feel exactly like being in a heated studio. Wherever it is, make this place somewhere you want to go. Place things nearby on a mini altar like candles, mala beads, incense, oils, crystals, a vision board, photographs… whatever inspires you. Get a space heater to recreate the hot studio atmosphere and work up a good sweat!
  2. Get a good yoga mat and blocks and a strap. Manduka products are my favorite:
  3. Set a realistic goal for yourself. I like to do a combination of studio practice and home practice. I shoot for five practices/week. Usually two or three of them are at home and anywhere from 15-45 minutes long.
  4. Roll out your mat, put on some music (or not), and go! Give yourself the first couple minutes in a simple seated posture, child’s pose, or down dog to just practice breath awareness. Simply place attention on your breath and allow yourself to shift from the mindstuff to the simple experience of feeling your breath and body on your mat. This is what brings you to the present moment. The movement will come naturally and your body will do what it needs to do once you connect with breath and body sensation. If you don’t know what to do, throw on a YouTube video! There are also some great subscriptions you can get through Gaia and also oneOeight with tons of awesome teachers, different styles of yoga and free trials. Also check out the free podcast collection from The Yoga Project where I teach!

The more you practice, no matter what length of time you spend on your mat, the more connected you will be to your inner voice… the easier it will be to hear it on a regular basis. Yoga is simply a mindfulness practice. When you get into what you are doing – and take it back to the basics – concrete breath and body sensation – you allow yourself to slow down and awaken to your inner knowing. Then you really start to dance with life.

The more you do it, the easier it gets.

You will discover a new rhythm on your mat practicing at home vs. practicing in a studio. Keep at it long enough to really allow yourself to feel the benefits.

Please comment below with any questions, I am here to help you!

Make sure to subscribe to my blog for more inbox inspiration, workshop offerings and tips on how to live a healthy, vibrant life!

-Loren

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Five Ways Yoga Works Off the Mat
Lifestyle, Mindfulness, Yoga

Five Ways Yoga Works Off The Mat

The practice of yoga offers us tools for life that can help us tremendously when we leave the mat. It is our choice whether to apply them as we continue our day. Dripping with sweat, floating from the yoga high, we are already planning our next practice. We are yogis. Here is what keeps us coming back:

1. LET IT GO

As we flow through postures on the mat, the fleeting nature of Life becomes glaringly obvious. All we ever have is RIGHT NOW. Moment to moment, we are forced to let go of each pose as the next one comes. Each pose comes, and then it goes. We feel it, we stretch it, we breathe in ALL the goodness we can, we hold it in, and then, just like that… we breathe. it. ALL. out. We let go of things no longer serving us. We feel lighter. Less resistant. More accepting. We literally learn to go with the flow.

Let Go

2. LEAN INTO DISCOMFORT

Some postures are extremely uncomfortable. We feel a ton of sensation and we want to back out. We may even get angry. For a while we may back out of a pose or even avoid it altogether, but as our practice progresses, we learn to lean INTO these uncomfortable sensations because we notice an incredible release on the other side. It starts by showing itself physically in the form of flexibility or strength. Then we notice more. We become more adventurous. We let our hair down. Our minds open. We get comfortable going out of our comfort zone, on and off the mat, because we know it’s the only way to grow.

Comfort Zone

3. BREATHE DEEPLY

When you spend enough time listening to your breath, stretching it extra long, holding it in, squeezing it out, getting really empty, controlling it with patience, and moving your body with it, it becomes increasingly easy to do the same when you are late for work, get stuck in a traffic jam, feel an argument coming on with your spouse, stub your toe, and the list goes on. Your breath is always there for you. In every single moment that passes, whether you are aware of it or not, your breath is your anchor. Learn to see it as a friend, as nourishment, as comforting, as grounding. We roll out our mats to listen to & move with our breath. To honor it. We put it first. This simple practice of breath awareness leads us to a more automatic tapping into our breath in the moments we need it the most.

Inhale Exhale

4. MINDFULNESS

In the same way we visit a friend, we pay a visit to ourselves. We suit up & check in. We participate in a silent, moving meditation. We get quiet. We listen to our breath. We notice where sensation arises. We don’t have to do anything about it. Just notice it. We choose to step off the roller coaster of thought. We don’t judge what comes up, we just let it be. We notice, accept & embrace exactly where we are. Thoughts come in constantly but we keep choosing our breath. Each pose is just a place to come back to breath – our first priority. The postures become a vehicle to practice mindfulness. To FEEL alive. To JUST BE.

Mindfulness

5. STRONG BODY, STRONG MIND

There will always be a new challenge presenting itself on the mat, whether it be a posture or an injury. Breath and asana are the keys to freedom from self limitation that lives in your mind. There is always somewhere new to go on your mat. Modify, intensify, do what works for you, but remember, the postures you avoid are the ones you need the most. Get real with yourself. Is what you’re doing working? Get out of your comfort zone. FIND YOUR EDGE. In every single pose, find your edge. Sometimes this means backing off a little bit. Listen to your body. Lean into sensation. WELCOME the challenge with open arms. We bend so we don’t break. We go upside down to stay right side up. Our commitment the practice helps us handle life’s challenges with grace. We are true warriors.

Strong Body Strong Mind

ON AND OFF THE MAT

Every single one of these things is a PRACTICE. Everyday we have a choice. The hardest part is suiting up and showing up. Every time I roll out my mat I learn something new about myself. It’s not always pretty and I don’t always want to do it, but I am always in a better mood afterward and it has only gotten better.

With that, to all my amazing yogis and friends out there… PEACE OUT 2015! Thank you for making it so amazing. Happy New Year to ALL OF YOU, let’s make 2016 even more incredible… TOGETHER!

 

Love,

Loren

Yoga is a mindfulness practice. Read more about this in my post Mindfulness is a Practice.

Handstand, Alki Beach, Seattle
Chakras, Health + Wellness, Yoga

All About The Sacral Chakra

The Second Chakra: Opening to Creativity

Seems like every time I do a lot of hip opening postures on my mat, I experience a burst of creativity afterward. Also, an overall sense of openness, sensuality, & self love. This is no coincidence.

Svadhisthana (Sanskrit), the Sacral Chakra

The sacral chakra is a spinning vortex of energy located in the lower abdomen. Turns out, it is considered the “Seat of our Emotions,” it is the second of seven major chakras along the central core axis. Chakra two allows for emotional and sensual movement in life.

  • opening to pleasure
  • embracing change & creativity
  • connecting to others
  • learning how to “go with the flow”
  • Color: orange
  • Element: water
  • Associated Body Parts: hips, sacrum, lower back, genitals, womb, bladder & kidneys

Imbalance & Deficiency Signs

As a result, when this chakra is out of balance we may experience sexual problems, low back issues, hips & reproductive organs, bladder infections, kidney problems, overly emotional behavior, sexual guilt or addictions, or excesses in food, sex and drugs. Circumstances that cause deficiency in this chakra include being raised in an environment where emotions were repressed, pleasure denied, or one where constant need for pleasurable stimulation (entertainment, partying) or frequent emotional drama were present. Any issue regarding fear of pleasure, being out of touch with feelings, or resisting change.

Find Balance

When this chakra is in balance we feel healthy, open, friendly, imaginative, intuitive, energized, creative & successful. We are able to focus on our objectives and react more positively to all people and situations in our path. We have healthy concern, tolerance, & patience for others.

What can you do? Wear orange. Eat orange – carrots, sweet potatoes, oranges. Use essential oils like bergamont, cardamom, clary sage, neroli, orange, patchouli, rose, sandalwood, and ylang ylang. Meditate using this chakra’s vibrational sound, “VAM,” as your mantra. But of course, my favorite way to balance this chakra is to practice the following poses:

YOGA FOR THE SACRAL CHAKRA

When we relax our hips, we relax our resistance to life. We release tension in and restore our reproductive organs. We become open to our creativity, sensuality, & sexuality.

Physically root your pelvic floor and base of your spine into the Earth. As a result, you plug yourself into the vibrational current of the Universe. All hip & groin openers provide freedom of movement in the pelvis. Don’t force it. Ease into these postures and invite creativity to arise as you play with different modifications. Find what works for you.

– EKA PADA RAJAKAPOTASANA  (half pigeon pose)

– AGNISTAMBHASANA (double pigeon pose, pictured above)

– TARASANA (star pose)

– MANDUKASANA (frog pose)

You can heal yourself with yoga, meditation & healthy eating. Believe it! Try some of the above suggestions and see if you can tap into the energy of your sacral chakra.

Namaste.

Learn about the first chakra in my post titled “Six Ways to Balance your Root Chakra.”

Read “Getting To Know Your Chakras” for an overview of the whole chakra system.

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21 Day Yoga Challenge
Lifestyle, Yoga

Challenge: 21 Days of Yoga

It takes 21 days to create a habit.

So, on Sunday I started a personal challenge – 21 days of yoga practice in a row… whether it be at a studio or at home. I also told myself that it’s okay if it’s only 20 or 30 minutes some days. Sometimes I just simply can’t get an hour in. The point is to have a solid daily “visit” with myself… we visit friends and family all the time, but how often do we really visit with ourselves?

Up for the challenge?

Today is day four and I feel incredible already.

I started practicing a bit around eight weeks postpartum, with some gentle vinyasa yoga at home, and have worked my way back into my normal vinyasa practice now at three and a half months postpartum. To feel my core waking back up after being pregnant is an amazing thing… to feel and see my arms getting strong again from lots of chaturangas… to feel super sore in my legs and glutes… is AMAZING! Needless to say, having a tiny baby has been quite an adjustment and finding time to practice is not as easy as it used to be. But thank God for my amazing partner, who leads by example. He continues to roll his mat our and remind me of the best thing I can do for myself everyday… practice. Make time! Period. We committed to doing this 21 day yoga challenge together with the intention of creating a new habit… a daily practice.

Practice. Everyday.

I haven’t had this in quite some time, and I feel ready now. The more I get on my mat, the more clearly I see behaviors that don’t serve me. When I don’t practice, I cut myself off from an incredible opportunity to grow – one that I can create all on my own – in my own space.

Feeling uncomfortable can be a bitch, but that’s where growth is. Getting out of our comfort zone. Challenging the mind. Asking more of the body. The entire Universe is within us, and I am ready to explore. To stop fighting myself. To surrender. To welcome positive change and growth. To accept my new body, internally & externally. To replace fear with love. Everyday. With every warrior I feel myself getting stronger. With every down dog I feel more grounded. With every wheel I open my heart and purge the shit that doesn’t serve me… I feel lighter. And a bit closer to my Highest Self.

It takes just 21 days to create a habit…

So I am doing a 21 day yoga challenge, & I invite you to do it with me! Make practicing yoga a daily habit. Start today.

Follow me on Instagram! @lorenashleyyoga

Love & Light!

 

Namaste,

Loren

Read about my story with yoga in my post Yoga Found Me.

 

 

 

Warrior One
Chakras, Health + Wellness, Yoga

Six Ways to Balance Your Root Chakra

What is a chakra?

Chakra is Sanskrit for “wheel.” A chakra is a spinning vortex of energy that is part of the subtle body. This energetic body, which overlays the physical body, is the first thing to process energy we come into contact with… people, places, and things. It is then distributed through the body in the form of feelings, thoughts, and sensations. Though there are many chakras in the human body, there are seven main ones located along the central core axis.

Muladhara, the Root Chakra

The first, or root chakra, is where it all begins. Located at the base of your spine, it is your body’s intake point for Universal energy. Just like a house must be built on a strong foundation, so a human Life in balance must be built on the foundation of a healthy root chakra. It is the foundation of our physical body, dealing with our sense of grounding, security, how we take care of ourselves, & how we purge wastes from our body. It deals with our immune system and all things pertaining to it.

Root Chakra, Muladhara

Muladhara (Sanskrit), the Root Chakra

When this chakra is in balance, we feel safe, secure, patient, willing to slow down & stay in one place, and an overall sense of calm. We feel healthy, confident, alive, centered, optimistic, steady & full of vitality.

When out of balance, we may experience issues with weight, lower back pain, chronic fatigue, low energy, clumsiness, insecurity, low self esteem, recklessness, constipation, diarrhea, sleep disorders, eating disorders, greed, poverty, arthritis, & a poor sense of smell.

Circumstances that pull up our roots & cause deficiency in the root chakra include traveling, relocation, feeling fearful; big changes in our body, family, finances, business; feelings of anxiety, unworthiness, or a lack of confidence.

The color of this chakra is red & its element is Earth. Associated body parts are the base of the spine, legs, feet, large intestine, adrenal glands, colon, kidneys & bones. Any types of disorders with these organs are directly related to an imbalance in the root chakra.

Six Ways Balance Your Root Chakra

1. Go outside… Spend more time in nature. WALK BAREFOOT. Breathe it in! You are of this Earth… bring yourself back to your ROOTS, literally.

2. Wear the color RED.

3. Eat your GINGER! Cook with it, throw it in your morning smoothie (my fave)… however you like it best!

4. Meditate! The root chakra’s vibrational sound is LAM. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, visualize a beautiful spinning RED vortex of energy at the base of your spine inviting positive Life energy into your body. Breathe deeply. You can chant “LAM” with each exhale, or use a mantra with each inhale, like “I am Enough,” and just release whatever comes up on the exhale. These are just some suggestions! There are countless ways to meditate.

5. Use essential oils. 10-12 drops in the bath tub, or a few drops directly on the skin (mixing with coconut oil is a great way to diffuse essential oil & make it last longer on the skin)… cedar, clove, patchouli, palo santo, frankincense, myrrh.

6. Practice these YOGA postures:

– UTTANASANA (standing forward fold), stretches the backs of the legs & creates a sense of calm

– PACHIMOTTANASANA (seated forward fold with legs extended), stretches back of the legs

– ARDHA HANUMANASANA or HANUMANASANA (half or full splits), stretches groin, hamstrings, & calves

-UTKATASANA (chair pose) & WARRIOR POSTURES, strengthen legs & feet

– SUPTA BADDHA KONASANA (reclined bound angle)/BALASANA (child’s pose)/SAVASANA (corpse pose), peaceful restorative poses to calm the mind, surrender to gravity, & be at HOME in your body!

Root Chakra Yoga

Start by focusing on your feet. Spread your toes, roll your ankles, flex & point your feet, feel all four corners of your feet ROOT down into the earth. In strengthening postures like chair pose & the warrior postures, root down through your feet and build strong muscles in the legs to boost self-confidence & build a strong foundation for your life. When hamstrings are tight, the contraction creates a sense of constantly being prepared to run away… an immediate sign that it’s time to give your root chakra some love. Lengthen and relax all the muscles in your legs through deep stretches like standing or seated forward folds.

Happy practicing!

Have fun with these ideas, try some of your own, figure out what works for you. Getting into a rhythm of what works for you is key. Listen to your body & learn to LOVE healing yourself!

Namaste.

Feed your root and boost your immune system with this Chakra Balancing Rainbow Buddha Bowl.

Read “Getting To Know Your Chakras” for an overview of the whole chakra system.

 

 

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, 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