Which Yoga Mat Should I Buy?
Yoga mats.jpg

As a yoga instructor I often have students who are new to yoga ask me which mat is the best. There are so many different options out there and it all depends on what is most important to you in a mat. Some mats are thinner making them lighter to carry but, hard on knees if you have bony or sensitive joints. One thing I look for in a mat is how sticky it is because, when I sweat my hands slip on most mats. However, if you are more of a restorative yogi this might not be something that’s important to you. There are also other qualities about mats that are important in our consumerism; things like Eco-friendliness, price, and design. I personally have the jade mat right now and love it! Luckily, we aren’t the only ones wanting to know how mats compare. Here’s a link to a comparison of eco-friendly, non toxic yoga mats.


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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

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Finding your WHY and setting SMART goals

One of the most important factors in achieving a goal is our reason for why we want this goal. If we don't dig deep and find the root cause behind our drive to change we often find ourselves losing motivation and giving up. This exercise is called the '5 whys'. It goes like this. You say your goal then you ask your self, 'why do I want this goal?' then, 'why is that important', then ask 'why does that matter?', then 'why' two more times. I'll give you an example:

I want to be more active this year.
Why do I want this goal?
- Because when I'm active I feel more energetic and my body looks better
Why is that important?
- When I have more energy I do better at work, I have more energy for my social life, and I'm more confident when I feel good about the way I look.
Why does that matter?
- My friendships and energy level really change the quality of my life, being more confident helps me be more social
- I value my mental health and relationships
- Because I care about my well-being and I know these things bring me joy.

As you can see being active, for me, is really about feeling confident, happy and energetic so that I can live a better life and do the things that bring me joy. If I hold on to those reasons, I am more likely to actually be more active than if I just want to lose 10 lbs.

Now that we've discovered our WHY lets talk about how to make your goal SMART. Smart goals are more likely to be achieved because they are well thought out.
S pecific
the goal must be very specific. For my previous example. I need to lay out what 'being active' means to me. Does it mean walking around the block? Working out for an hour? Which activities count?
M easurable
the goal must be measurable. For example: Exercise 4x per week, every week of the year. This allows me to check my progress and measure how well I'm doing my goal.
A tttractive
the goal must be attractive to you. I have to want to exercise! If the thought of exercise repulses me, I'm probably not going to do it. Ideally, the goal is something that sparks your interest even if I don't particularly like exercising, the benefits are so attractive to me that I am excited about it.
R ealistic
the goal must be realistic. If I say I'm going to exercise everyday for the whole year! I will definitely fail. Set a goal that is really possible for you with all other variables of your life considered.
T ime-bound
The goal must be time bound. If I say, 'I'm going to exercise 4 times' there is no time frame for those 4 times. I could exercise 4 times through out the whole year and feel 0 benefits. Instead, I will say 'I will exercise 4 times every week of 2019'. This has 2 time-bound components, the week and the year. This gives me a gauge to know how well I am doing on my goals.

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Holiday Self Care Tips

As the days get shorter and shorter, I am beginning to feel the desire to stay inside curled up with a good book and cup of tea. This time of year is when most of my clients begin to share how difficult it is to get up and get moving. I completely understand!

To top it off this is the season of holiday parties, delicious food and drinks, which creates a perfect storm. We stay inside more, eat rich foods, drink sugary, alcoholic drinks, and stress more because, as wonderful as the holidays are, they are also stressful!

The holidays are a time when many of us travel and spend time family but travel and family time can often be stressful even if it's wonderful at the same time. This time can also remind us of people we used to spend holidays with or bring up feelings of loneliness if we are spending them alone.

For all these reasons I've compiled a list of holiday self care tips. To get moving, de-stress and practice mindfulness. I hope you find them helpful. Sending you all much love. 

Holiday Self Care Tips

1. Take a morning walk, solo or with companions, it can be a precious moment to think or bonding time with loved ones. 
2. Intentionally take time for yourself give yourself the gift of a moment of quiet alone time. 
3. Dance at the party this is a great way to get your exercise while still enjoying your holiday social time :)
4. Take a taste but don't stuff yourself try the yummy treats but don't eat to the point of discomfort. This thanksgiving I was uncomfortably full for an hour after eating! The food was delicious but I could have eaten a few less bites and felt great afterwards! One way to do this is to eat slower! Note to self. 
5. Practice the pause in communication, especially with those we are very comfortable with, it is easy to fall into reactive behavior. Practice the pause is an idea I came upon while trying to understand mindful communication. The idea is that before responding to something we pause for just a moment before responding. The act of pausing allows us to react in a more mindful way. 
6. Breathe: When you feel a bit overwhelmed, remember to take a few deep breathes. Feel your feet on the ground and smell the fresh air around you. 
7. Don't compare your life to social media If you want to read more about this one read my blog on the downside of social media.

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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.

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November the Month of Gratitude

First off, I want to thank all of you for taking the time to read this post! I like to view the entire month of November as a time to tune in to gratitude, to remind ourselves how much we have to be grateful for. When we shift our thinking into focusing on how much we already have, and away from how much we need, we start to experience many other positive emotions. Research shows that people who practice counting their blessings and visualizing their best selves and for just 2 weeks show increased positive mood and emotions compared to those who don't (Kennon, 2007). This is one of many studies that has found positive correlations between thinking or writing about the things we are grateful for and improvement in our general mood and sense of wellbeing. So, how do we practice gratitude? I've compiled a list of five things we can do to tune in to gratitude.
1. Write down 5 things we are grateful for each and every day.
2. Say thank you to someone in our life who has helped and been there for us, even for the little things we don't always remember to thank them for. 
3. When we encounter a difficult task, view it as a welcomed challenge instead of an obstacle.
4. Tell someone special how much we appreciate them in our lives.
5. Thank our bodies for allowing us to move, breathe, and live.

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