Breathing for Anxiety

Breathing for Anxiety

I've received a few requests for breathing and stretching techniques to reduce anxiety. I think this is something that is very useful for all of us. We all experience anxiety, stress and worry at some point in our lives and it can feel very scary, overwhelming and out of control. This week I posted a video for a very simple breathing technique that focuses on slowing the exhale. I'll be sharing more breathing techniques and stretching sequences over the next few months. I always share these videos on my Instagram along with other yoga and personal training updates. If you'd like to follow along it’s @Sierratraining

The Ego, Social Media and Self Worth


I’ve been thinking about social media lately.There are a lot of things I love about Instagram. I like that I can keep in touch with friends who are far away, make new connections and learn about new things.

However, there is a dark side to social media. The problem comes when we begin to attribute likes and follows to self worth, personal or of others. The reason I’ve been thinking about this is because I’ve been thinking and learning about EGO. In yoga, the ego is overactive, if we begin to attribute our successes to our character. It is seen as under active if we attribute our failures to our flaws or lack of character. Ideally, in yoga, we would maintain the same sense of self worth regardless of our success or failures. While I love the idea of that freedom from the power success and failure I find this to be a bit unrealistic and lofty. In psychology we develop an integrated whole sense of self through many internal and external variables such as our family, job, friends, partners, self perception, skills, character, religion etc. The ego is not the enemy. The ego is actually very important for self preservation and protection. It is required in order for us to stand up for ourselves and have free thought. However, it must be balanced.The problem arises when we allow external variables to have control over our self worth that are not worthy of that power. Likes, follows and comparing our circumstances to another’s are quick and easy ways to feel our self worth drop.

No one has a perfect life. Social media is every persons life highlights and this creates a divide in how connected we feel. We don’t get to see the ugly, messy, hard times. Yesterday I spent at least an hour crying, overwhelmed and frustrated and today I’m posting a pretty photo. I’m not suggesting that we all have to share our deepest dark moments (that’s up to each individual) but I do think we need to remind ourselves to consider what should truly have power over our self worth.  I don’t know about you, but the people I feel most connected to are those that have seen my darkness and I’ve seen theirs and we both stayed. This is real ‘liking’ real ‘following’ and real connection. So, always remember you are enough. I am enough. We are all enough, flaws and all.

Upper Body Workout

As summer comes to an end, I find myself ready for new challenges and goals. I find the changing seasons to be a natural transitional time that inspires new growth. This change from summer to fall is extra special because it is the last change before the end of the year so it's a great time to reflect on what intentions and hopes I had for this year. As I reflect, some of these things are no longer important to me and some of them have become even more important! This is a time to reassess how my strategy for achieving these goals is working and then adjusting so that my plan for these last 4 months of the year is truly getting my closer to where I want to be. With that said, one of the ways that I get re-inspired in the gym is by trying new workouts. So, today I've included a video of an upper body workout. Each exercise is done for 10 reps and 3 sets.

Green Noodle Soup with Kale, Beans and Chicken

Did you know, vegetables picked in season and locally actually contain more nutritious value than those that have traveled to get to you? That's why I chose this recipe because kale is a winter veggie. I found this awesome recipe in the cookbook Ripe by Cheryl Sternman Rule. The recipe originally didn't have any chicken so if you prefer to leave the chicken out I'm sure it would be great either way! 


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 

1 small onion

1/2 medium fennel bulb (no fronds) Cored and diced

2 Garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 cups vegetable stock

2 bunches lacinato kale 

1 can (15 oz) navy or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

4 ounces spinach linguini or fettuccini, broken into 2 inch lengths

1 rotisserie chicken, broken into small chunks

In a large sauce pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel, garlic, crushed red pepper, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften and begin to brown, 8-10 minutes. Add the stock and 3 cups water. Bring to a  boil. 

Meanwhile, strip the kale leaves by "unzipping" them with a downward motion. Roughly chop the leaves. (Discard stalks.) Add the kale, beans, and linguini to the pot. When the soup returns to a boil, lower the heat to medium and simmer until the pasta is tender, 8-15 minutes, depending on the type and brand. Lastly, add the chicken. Adjust seasoning (you'll need about 1 teaspoon salt and plenty or pepper.) 


chicken kale soup.jpg

5 Health Tips for Holiday Season

It’s holiday season which means all kinds of office parties, friends parties, family gatherings, lots and lots of yummy food and less time for workouts. Around this time each year, I have many conversations with clients that have made a big effort to form healthy eating and exercise habits and worry about maintaining them through the holiday season. It is actually possible to enjoy some tasty treats throughout the holidays and not ruin your healthy habits!  Here are 5 tips to keep in mind as you enter this time:

  1. Eat your favorite holiday treat on that holiday! We all have certain holidays that we celebrate and particular foods that we really love to eat on that day. Let yourself have that food on that day! But only on that day. The tricky part is when that favorite food extends throughout the whole week of that holiday. This is when your habits start to decline. Eating a slice of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving will not kill you! But if you eat a slice of pumpkin pie everyday of the week following thanksgiving you will start to feel and see the effects.

  2. Eat dinner before attending holiday parties. If you eat a well balanced healthy dinner before you go to that holiday party you are less likely to snack on cookies and candy that will inevitably be there.

  3. Go on walks with the family. While visiting with family or friends suggest a walk around the neighborhood or a short hike. It’s great bonding time plus it allows your body to get moving and start digesting some of that yummy food.

  4. Give yourself alone time. I am a huge fan of holiday season it still feels magical to me. I love seeing family and feeling the energy in the air but this is also a stressful time for many people and I find it extremely helpful to give myself at least a little bit of alone time each day. There is so much going on that it is easy to get overwhelmed and end up not enjoying time with family or friends. I like to bring a book and excuse myself to read if I need alone time, or do a short meditation. Whatever works for you but remind yourself that giving yourself a short break is always an option.

  5. Dance at the holiday party! This one is just for fun :) Oh, and good exercise.


Self Love

I’ve been meaning to write this blog for a long time now but each time I sit down to write it, I have the feeling that I actually don’t know what self love fully means yet. While I still feel that way today, I realized that maybe that’s the key to self love! Self love is a process of discovering ourselves continually over and over again and then choosing to stand next to who we are in this moment on this day and support that person. I don’t think there is one way to self love, I think everyone finds the people, places, and things in life that make their eyes light up and their hearts open and allowing ourselves to go towards those things even though fear, anxiety and worries come along is a process of choosing a life that is loving and kind to us. In this process we have to say goodbye to things to make space for the things that make us grow. This ability to set boundaries and know our own limits is also self love. It is the decision to observe what we need and then construct a life that makes us feel loved by the people we surround ourselves with, the places we visit, the things we eat, the activities we do, the thoughts we think and the content we consume.

I can honestly say that the times I have struggled the most with self love were times when I was unclear about what I needed and wanted out of life. I was unable to give myself what I needed because I didn’t even know what it was, and at that point self love was just meditating, soul searching and trying to find the things that made me feel full. Even after uncovering what I needed  then it became a continually changing and growing process that must be updated regularly. Every day we have so many interaction and each one is an opportunity to learn about ourselves and the people around us. It is an opportunity to learn how to love and respect our own needs and the needs of others. It is not a selfish act. Deciding to understand ourselves on this level builds so much empathy and compassion for others because when we are truly honest with ourselves we are able to see the good, bad and ugly and accept it in others as well. All I know is that when I am truly loving myself I feel that I have enough love to give the people around me too.

Love Yourself.jpg

Release What No Longer Serves You

I’ve been thinking about this phrase that I often use in yoga class, “release or let go of what no longer serves you.” It’s a short phrase that is hard to wrap my head around. Sometimes I say it and think but what am I really intending to say with that sentence? It also seems to be a very common phrase that gets tossed around without much explanation. I think the intention is to allow each student to apply the idea to their own life situations but I think it’s helpful to actually explain a little more. Of course this could be interpreted in many ways but this is what it means to me.

Every person has a story of their life, how it’s going, how it will go, how it went, and these stories shape how we show up in our life, our identities or how we think of ourselves. Sometimes, we get stuck in a story that labels us as being a certain way and we tell the people around us that we are that way. This leads the people around us to treat us as if we are that way. For example, if I tell a friend I am don’t like raspberries, even though I’ve never tried raspberries, she will not offer me raspberries, right? I could go my whole life never trying raspberries because I’ve told the people around me that they are not for me. This is limiting me. While raspberries might not make much of a difference apply that to something of more importance in our lives and we could end up really stunting our growth. It could apply to not going for a job because we believe we aren’t ready, capable, good enough for it. It could apply to our relationship to other people if we pretend we don’t need something that we actually do, or we pretend we don’t care when we actually do. It is any time that we spend identifying ourselves as something that we known in our core we are not. Sometimes these stories are old and they haven’t caught up with the current version of ourselves and sometimes they are just stories that we think might be true but in actuality aren’t.

So this process of letting go of what is no longer serving us is really about sitting with ourselves and figuring out who we are right now, what we need, what we value, and then living true to that instead of our past selves or future selves. It is choosing to let go of the words and actions that do not actually align with our best selves. Or the actions and words that lead us down paths that do not bring out our best selves. This is a long process and it does not happen quickly but it’s fun to really be curious about what life is teaching us about ourselves because often conflicts can make it very apparent who we are, what we need and what we value.

I like to use breath to visualize this release. On the inhale, oxygen enters our bodies and spreads nutrients to all our cells so that our bodies function. On our exhale, C02 is released because the body does not need it anymore. C02 is a waste product of cellular respiration and is harmful if it is not expelled from our bodies. Just like our breath we must let go of the things that were created as a bi product of keeping us alive, healthy and happy. 


Spine Health: Lordosis, Kyphosis and Healthy Posture

Understanding Kyphosis, Lordosis and Healthy Posture. Follow my instagram @Sierratraining for more tips on correcting your posture!

From left to right 👉👉 kyphosis 👉lordosis👉 healthy posture. These were actually quite hard for me to do and made me realize how much it hurts my back to stand incorrectly. For many people this is actually a very mild version of extreme lordosis or kyphosis and it hurts for them to stand in healthy posture because the muscles required for healthy posture are not strong while other muscles are too tight. Here is a quick idea of what each is; I will go more in depth later on. 

KYPHOSIS: excessive curvature of the thoracic vertebrae (the upper back). This creates the hunchback look. While some cases cannot be completely fixed there are exercises that can help. In this posture from a side view the ears will fall forward of the shoulders, the upper back will round from tightness in the chest, sometimes the tail bone will tuck or arch depending. This can cause pain in the upper back, neck and shoulders. 

LORDOSIS: excessive curvature in the lumbar spine (the low back area). The pelvis is tilting so that the hip flexors are shortening and the low back is tightening. The lower abs are weak here and the belly often protrudes forward. Sometimes this can be mixed with kyphosis of the upper back or lordosis in the cervical spine (neck area). This can cause pain in the low back and hips. 

HEALTHY POSTURE: Your spine has a natural curve. It is okay to have a natural arch in your lower back and a slight rounding in your upper back. Your ears should align over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hips, your hips over your knees and knees over ankles. You can see from the photo that I have a slight forward round in my shoulders due to tightness in my chest. 

Postures and Our Mood

Stop whatever you're doing for 5 minutes. Sit or stand with your hip directly under your shoulders, widen your collarbones, align your ears over your shoulders and plant both feet flat on the ground. Now, take 5 deep breaths. Inhale on a count of 5 and exhale on a count of 5.  

How do you feel? A little lighter? A litter calmer? A little more grounded? We have so much power to make ourselves feel good. Our bodies are constantly sending messages to our brains about how we feel. If we hold ourselves in a way that is good for our bodies, it is also good for our brain and our mood. 

If you have extra time watch this video :) I am currently reading Amy Cuddy's book "Presence: Bringing your boldest self to your biggest challenges". I highly recommend it! 

5 Tips for Exercise Mindset

I find that it is easy to fall into the mindset that exercise is something we do to change ourselves. We exercise because we don’t like something about our bodies and we want to change them. This mindset may get us to the gym or that yoga class but it will not sustain a long term lifestyle change. Once we change that thing about ourselves, lose the weight or tone up, we quit. We quit because it was never something we did for enjoyment; it was something we did because we didn’t like ourselves. However, if we chose to adopt the mindset of exercising because we love our bodies and want them to be healthy, to feel better, to live longer and to wake up with energy we will continue to keep exercise in our lives forever. We will learn to love exercise because of what it gives back to us. It allows us to be aware and in tune with our bodies and have more energy for our work, friends and families. Exercise is something that our bodies need. When we chose to move our bodies we are caring for them. The people that I have seen make the biggest changes and sustain those changes started from a place of simply wanting to feel good in their body. It was not a decision based off of self hate but actually a longing to live life more fully and with more compassion towards their body.

I’m not saying that it is easy to change our mindset from disliking ourselves to caring for ourselves but I do have some tips on how to start:

  1. Move a little bit each day. It could be 5 minutes to start.

  2. Write one sentence after you complete your movement about how you feel.

  3. Note your energy, sleeping patterns, water intake, food intake. (You don’t have to track it all perfectly at first but just start to be aware)

  4. When you are selecting the type of workout for each day, choose one that you actually enjoy.

  5. Do not focus on the numbers on the scale or the number of calories you ate, just observe how exercise is making you feel in your day to day life.


“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”-Buddha

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”-Buddha

Tapas: Self Discipline

Often, in yoga class, I hear the teacher say, "When you want to stop, that's when the pose really starts." The moment that my legs are burning and shaking and I think I cannot stay a moment longer is always the moment the teacher chooses to say this phrase. Last week a teacher said it and it made me take a moment to observe what was going on in my mind. My thoughts were a combination of desperately trying to find a way to make the pose easier mixed with blaming the teacher for keeping us there so long. As soon as I observed this I had to laugh at myself. I was the one who chose to go to yoga that day because I wanted to practice and there I was in class trying to get out of doing the work all the while blaming the teacher for doing exactly what she was meant to do. So I took a breath and just stayed in the pose and stopped blaming or trying to change the moment. I just stayed with it.

It goes further than that though. That little moment of observation extends deeper into life. It is a way of dealing with conflict. When things get hard in any area of life is it possible to stay with it and live in the difficulty without running away, cheating, or blaming someone else? You may have different thoughts that pop up when you have to stay in a pose for long periods of time but, whatever those thoughts are, I bet they will tell you something about how you live your life as well. Remember staying in the pose helps us grow stronger! Every struggle we encounter helps us to grow and learn.

"In those times when we don't know how to get through the next minute of what seems unknown and overwhelming to us can we hold on until we are somehow blessed by our struggle?" -Deborah Adele

"In those times when we don't know how to get through the next minute of what seems unknown and overwhelming to us can we hold on until we are somehow blessed by our struggle?" -Deborah Adele