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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!

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.

Lifestyle, My Favorite Things

6 Realistic New Year’s Resolutions

We’ve arrived at that time of year where it’s time to start a new chapter.

We’re closing the book of 2017 and opening 2018 to a blank page. It can be overwhelming if we put too much pressure on ourselves, so here’s a list of non-stressful new year’s resolutions that you can actually accomplish.

1. Take Better Care of Yourself

Make a point to treat yourself every week. A coffee date. Buy yourself some flowers. Take a hot bubble bath. Make a list of 52 small things you’d like to do for you. Cross one off every week. Make this self care ritual something you look forward to every week. Your self worth and quality of life will skyrocket.

2. Simplify Your Life

Every month, clean up shop: choose a different room or space in your home to declutter. Get out a garbage bag and go to town. Get rid of shit you’re not using or wearing. Your trash is someone else’s treasure. Donate it or toss it, whatever makes you feel better. Having a clean, organized space will make a huge difference in how you feel and operate on a daily basis.

3. Take a Trip

Go on at least one trip this year. It doesn’t have to be to China – it could be a road trip to a nearby city. You’ve got to shake up your routine to keep things fresh. It’s good to be grounded, but we have to pull up our roots on occasion. Nothing great was ever accomplished in a comfort zone.

4. Start Meditating

No clue where to start? Check out my recent posts “Meditation 101” and “Guided Meditation – 10 Minutes.”

5. Give Back

Find a local nonprofit organization in your community and get involved. Being of service to others greatly enhances our self confidence and feeling of purpose in life.

6. Set Your Intentions

This lasts all year long. In order to create the life you want, you have to first be clear on what you want. Spend some time journaling about what you’d like to draw into your life this year, and what you’d like to let go of. I am having a 2018 Intention Setting Workshop on January 28th and I’d love to have you! See my Events page for upcoming workshop information.

Happy New Year, loves! I hope you are feeling rested and charged up for everything this year has in store. This is your year. Take that job. Date that person. Buy that plane ticket. Live as fully and magically as you can!

All The Love,

Loren

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.

Lifestyle, My Favorite Things

The FREE Shit

Finally, a day midweek where I get to completely slow down.

I actually slept in this morning for the first time in a while, and by sleeping in I mean 7:30am. I’ve excitedly prepared myself mentally for a food coma, watching football with my dad, playing outside with my little guy, and turkey dinner at my aunt’s house complete with that lovely tryptophan high.

Yep, it’s Thanksgiving.

So, I felt today was the perfect day to be reminded of the FREE shit (as my mom always calls it).

The “free shit” is stuff that is, well, free, and always available to us. It’s the things we often overlook when life gets busy.

Here’s the free shit I’m grateful for in my life today:

  1. Being born in the USA. We are all so incredibly privileged, y’all.
  2. My breath: saving me from losing my shit daily!
  3. Choosing to forgive people who have hurt my heart.
  4. Cutting toxic people and things out of my life.
  5. Playing with my son and feeling like a kid again.
  6. His tantrums that remind me life is not always rainbows and unicorns.
  7. Being a mom.
  8. The student who comes up to me in tears after yoga and gives me a huge hug.
  9. My flaws that help me stay humble.
  10. The courage to move far away and start over.
  11. The whisper of my spirit that continues to show me the way.
  12. Pain that requires healing.
  13. Healing myself to heal the collective.
  14. Karma, for giving people what they deserve.
  15. The fact that I can honestly say today, “I am beautiful and I love myself.”
  16. The excited feeling in my guts of what the future holds.
  17. Not knowing what the future holds.
  18. Being in love.
  19. Loving myself.

Happy Thanksgiving to you, my friend… Thank you for being a part of my journey, I am grateful for you! May you see the good in EVERYTHING today!

Cheers,

Loren

easy homemade blender hummus
My Favorite Things, Recipes

Delicious Homemade Blender Hummus

I literally can’t believe I’ve been buying store bought hummus for so long.

I was under the impression that I needed either a food processor or a Vitamix blender in order to make this stuff and for some reason I thought it would be a pain in the ass to make, take forever and make a huge mess.

Turns out I was able to make a legit batch of this Mediterranean deliciousness with my $25 blender from Target in less than 15 minutes. Seriously?!

Needless to say, my addiction has now worsened. Are there 12 step programs for hummus addicts?
Not only is it delicious and nutritious, it’s gluten and dairy free, making it a huge staple of my diet! So…

Without further adieu, I present you with the simple-ass recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 (540 ml) can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 2 tbsp good quality olive oil
  • 2 tbsp good quality tahini
  • 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 small garlic cloves, chopped (or use roasted garlic for a sweeter taste, this is my fave!)
  • 1/4 cup water as required to process (you may need a bit more, just keep an eye on the consistency as it blends)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt or pink salt
  • Additional olive oil, paprika, & parsley for garnish


Raw Organic Kosher Gluten-Free Vegan Superfoods

Steps:

  • PREP YOUR INGREDIENTS
    • Chop and squeeze fresh lemon juice into a bowl
    • If using fresh garlic, chop it
    • Chop a bit of parsley for garnish
delicious easy homemade blender hummus

Get your ish together…

THROW IT ALL IN THE BLENDER

  • Dry ingredients first!
  • Add water slowly, as needed
  • Blend it up – I take the lid off once it gets going and stick a spoon in there around the edges while its blending to make sure it gets as mixed up as possible
  • Transfer to a bowl, add a sprinkle of paprika and chopped parsley, and drizzle olive oil
easy homemade blender hummus

Mix it up yo…

Have fun and experiment with different variations, like adding jalapeno for some spice or doing avocado or black bean versions. The possibilities are endless!

Serve with tortilla chips, or my favorite lately is just baby carrots and mini bell peppers!

Full disclosure: this does in no way mean I do not want a Vitamix blender!

Hummus lovers unite!

Enjoy! Feel free to share the love and make sure to subscribe to my blog to stay updated with more healthy and delicious recipes, yoga inspiration, and wellness tips.

 

With Love,

Loren

 

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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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Sage
Health + Wellness, My Favorite Things, The MALA Shop

Smudging 101: How to Cleanse with Sage

Kill airborne bacteria, cleanse negative vibes.

A recent study proved smudging to have major health benefits. The 2007 study titled “Medicinal smoke reduces airborne bacteria” found smudging to have life saving implications by purifying air of harmful bacteria. Smudging consists of cleansing something with the smoke of sacred, medicinal herbs. Traditionally, this practice is said to rid a space or aura of negative energy. When burned, sage releases negative ions, which scientific research links to a more positive mood.

SageEnjoy the process.

To prepare, get a Sage stick in The MALA Shop.

Open all windows and doors in the space you want to smudge.

Light end of stick with flame and place herbs in an abalone shell or clay bowl.

Gently blow out flames, let material smolder.

Metaphorically wash your hands in the smoke. Take it over your eyes, face, chest, and head. Breathe it in and waft it over your body. During these moments allow anything to release that needs releasing. Breathe deeply and feel the whole experience with all your senses.

For smudging a space, start on the left side of the room and work your way around. Repeat a mantra or prayer as you slowly take the Sage to all corners of the room.

You can leave it to burn and let the smoke fill up the room, or you can put it out.

SageBe mindful with the ashes that remain. Native American tradition says they symbolize what is left over from the ceremony and it is best to take them outside and place them on the Earth… what you clean off should be put out.

When & What to Sage…

Some of the most common reasons for smudging a space would be moving into a new home or work space, general changes in the home environment, or an argument that took place in the home. Most importantly, trust your intuition. If something needs cleansing, you will know…

In addition to cleansing a space, you can also cleanse objects, like crystals, mala beads, used clothing or other used items. Smudging is also seen as an aromatherapy practice due to the soothing smell of the herbs used.

SageMake this ancient practice part of your lifestyle to find a deeper spiritual connection with yourself and the world around you.

Thanks for stopping by! If you need a sage stick, visit The MALA Shop.

Good Vibes Only,

Loren

Music, My Favorite Things, Yoga

Music for Yoga – 30 Minutes

Get Inspired.

Music inspires me through my own yoga practice, & creating playlists for my time on the mat is one of my favorite things to do. Nothing like practicing to beats that soothe my soul & raise my vibration. I am constantly listening to music, old & new, of all genres. I absolutely love chill house, mellow electronic, peaceful ambient & indie sounds. Turns out they are perfect music for yoga! I made this 30 minute mix for my own home practice but it’s great for just straight chillin’ too. Enjoy! Namaste.

Need some more upbeat music for yoga?

Check out my sweet electronic mix called The Roller Coaster. A guaranteed energy boost!

Music, My Favorite Things, Yoga

Upbeat Music for Yoga – 15 Minutes

ALL UP IN THE MIX…

Music mix for when your coffee kicks in… A short 15 minute mix I made to jam to, out of some of my fave electronic songs.
Put it on for a round of intense sun salutations, some kickass core work, or for just straight pumpin’ up your day. Namaste!

For a more chill ambient vibe, check out Acceptance Flow a 30 minute mix great for home yoga practice.