In yoga, I often refer to a chaotic mind as a “dirty cup of water.” I know – it’s not the prettiest thing to imagine, but neither is a mind that is going a million miles per hour! Now, I use the “dirty cup of water” analogy because when it is shaken, the water is cloudy and full of debris, but when the water is still, the dirt settles to the bottom of the cup and the water becomes clear again. The practice of meditation is like letting your cup of water (your mind) become clear and still again.
As a yoga instructor, I will be the first to admit that meditation is not easy – if it was, then everyone would do it. Even after years of practice, it can still be a struggle to reach that state of calm and serenity. The fact is, most of us lead pretty hectic lifestyles when it comes to work, family, engagements, etc. and we can’t help but be in determination mode 24/7. Even taking five minutes a day to just close our eyes and breathe seems like an impossible task.
Well, I’m here to help make meditation more readily available to you. You can practice the following meditation technique in silence or with calming music playing in the background. It’s up to you. 🙂
Here are some steps you can take to help transform your mind and your meditation practice.
Sit or lie down in a comfortable and quite space, allowing your palms to face the sky.
Stay present and become totally present of your surroundings. What do you hear? Do you feel any tension? What are thoughts? Now let ALL of that go. EVERY SINGLE THING.
Focus on your breath by inhaling and exhaling out your nose. Take long, deep breath to help your mind stay focused. I like to useSama Vritti (equal breathing) here. This type of pranayama requires you to inhale and exhale for an equal length. Inhale through your knows for five counts, hold your breath at the top, and then exhale for five counts. Repeat this breathing technique throughout your meditation practice.
While you’re meditating, do a body scan by taking note of each part of the body. I like to start with my toes and then work my way up the body until I reach the crown of my head.
Towards the end of your meditation, take five to 10 deep inhales and “Om” as your exhale. I promise, nobody will make fun of you.
Remember, practice makes perfect. If it feels difficult the first few times – stick with it. You will be pleasantly surprised at how much easier it gets to meditate if you keep a regular practice.
Om shanti and Namaste!
So… I’m a huge fan of this healthy restaurant we have here in Phoenix called Flower Child. I LOVE the concept of this restaurant because it allows even the busiest of people to have a healthy meal. I wouldn’t call this a fast-food restaurant because I feel like that gives off the sense that there is unhealthy, crappy, unsustainable food involved… but you can order your meal and have it sitting in front of you in under 10 minutes. Another added bonus? They use fresh, local produce in all of their dishes!
Unfortunately, if you don’t live in Arizona, California or Texas… you won’t be able to bask in the glory that is Flower Child. However, I recently took a stab at recreating one of my favorite salads from there dubbed The Organic Kale. It’s simple. It’s colorful. It’s delicious. It’s filling. It’s literally amazing. So if you’d like to chow down on this at home, try out this recipe. I added some crumbled bleu cheese on top, but you can easily make this vegan by omitting it. 🙂
The Perfect Kale + Brussels Sprout Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette (gf)
makes 4 dinner-sized salads or 8 side salads
for the dressing:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whole grain dijon mustard (I use this simply for texture)
1 shallot bulb, finely diced
salt & pepper to taste
for the salad:
1 pound brussels sprouts, shredded*
1 bunch dinosaur kale, de-stemmed and shredded*
1/2 head of red cabbage, shredded*
1 apple, cored and diced (I used Pink Lady apples)
3/4 cup dried cranberries/cherries
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
crumbled bleu cheese to top, optional
salt & pepper to taste
*For convenience, you can also purchase the “Cruciferous Crunch” salad mix at Trader Joe’s!
make the dressing: throw the vinegar, oil, maple syrup, dijon, salt and pepper together in a mason jar along with the chopped shallot. Give it a shake to mix all of the ingredients together. I like to make this dressing the night before I use it to give the ingredients a chance to meld. However, you can use this dressing as soon as 10 minutes after making it.
make the salad: Shred the brussels sprouts, kale and red cabbage. Add dried cranberries, pomegranate seeds, diced apple, bleu cheese (if using), and dressing. Toss to combine. You can eat this immediately, or you can make it ahead of time. If you store this salad in an air-tight container in the fridge, it will last for 1 day.
Happy eating, y’all!
Avocado Toast (gf)
This is my take on my favorite meal that I order from Kaleidoscope at the Madison Improvement Club. I could literally eat this everyday and not get tired of it! 🙂
4 large eggs
4 slices gluten-free bread (I used Udi’s)
1 ounce micro greens
Juice of 1 lemon
extra-virgin olive oil
pinch of paprika
pink himlayan salt salt
freshly ground black pepper
- Fill a medium saucepan about two-thirds with water and bring it to a boil. Lower the temperature so that the water is at a rapid simmer then carefully lower the eggs into the water. Cook the eggs for 7 minutes.
- Meanwhile, coat each slice of bread with some oil then place on a grill pan over medium heat until toasted to your liking.
- While the bread is cooking, prep the avocados. Cut, pit, and peel the avocados then place in a bowl with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Use a fork to mash the ingredients together.
- When the eggs are ready, drain them, and place them in a bowl of ice water. Carefully crack and peel the egg (slip a teaspoon under the egg shell to help you to carefully remove the shell) then halve. Top the toast with the mashed avocados, the halved eggs, some micro greens. Finish with a pinch of paprika, salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Getting enough protein during the day can be a challenge when you are a vegetarian. My solution? Protein Smoothie Bowls!! As you can see from my blog roll, I have become quite obsessed with making “bowl” recipes for lunch. This particular recipe packs a hefty 33 grams of protein – thanks to a scoop of pea protein powder, some Greek yogurt and chia seeds. Since I fancy myself a pretty active person, I’m supposed to take in a minimum of 100 grams of protein every day. Having a protein shake in the morning and this protein smoothie bowl at lunch makes it easy to consume the necessary protein one needs during the day. 🙂
Chocolate Protein Smoothie Bowl (gf)
1 banana, divided
(1) 3.5-oz Sambazon Unsweetened Acai Smoothie Pack
2 tbsp Nutrasumma Chocolate Pea Protein Powder
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 cup frozen raspberries
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
unsweetened coconut flakes
Blend the banana, acai smoothie pack, protein powder, almond milk, blueberries and raspberries into a frosty, smooth mix. Place a big scoop of Greek yogurt at the bottom of your serving bowl and pour the smoothie mix over it. Sprinkle with toppings of your choice. Serve immediately.
Acai Bowls have been my go-to lunches for quite some time now – ever since I started experimenting with them at Kaleidoscope (formerly S.E.E.D.) at the Madison Improvement Club. It is the perfect post-yoga (or any workout, for that matter) meal because they are refreshing, nutritious, delicious and filling. I like to layer my bowl with a big heap of plain greek yogurt to punch up the protein factor. Here is my basic recipe:
Berry Acai Bowl (gf)
1/2 small banana
(1) 3.5-oz Sambazon Unsweetened Acai Smoothie Pack
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
plain greek yogurt
- In a blender, add banana, acai pack, strawberries, blueberries and a splash of almond milk. Blend until smooth, adding a splash of milk every so often.
- Place 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt at the bottom of your serving bowl and pour the acai puree over the greek yogurt. Layer your toppings according to your preference.
- Smile and enjoy!