The Collective's Favorite YouTube Yoga Channels

YouTube Yoga has really changed the game. While, I know it’s not the same as practicing in a studio, surrounded by your community, YouTube yoga has truly made yoga accessible to anyone who has access to internet. When Matt and I were transitioning towards building our own yoga practice, we often practiced YouTube yoga classes in our living room. It was there where we learned the basic sun salutations, until we could eventually practice them on our own. I must also mention the amount of priceless knowledge available from big name yoga teachers, I would never be able to access were it not for the internet and the YouTube platform. Below are my favorite yoga channels. True to YouTube, all of the content is free. Hope you find something you love:

  • Alo Yoga - Although this is a brand channel, I really appreciate the focus on free yoga classes and workshops provided with only whispers of brand marketing thrown in. With so many yoga subscription services these days, this channel has managed to provide free content by big name yoga teachers. The quality and aesthetic of the videos is also professional-grade which is always appreciated.

  • Purple Valley Ashtanga Yoga - This is definitely an Ashtanga-based yoga channel and it offers tons of yoga class videos, as well as interview, lectures, and workshops offered by some of the biggest names in the Ashtanga yoga community. I have learned so much from these videos about technique, philosophy, and anatomy, all for free, all from the comfort of my home.

  • Sigismondi Photography - This is the channel I go to when I want to fall in love with yoga again. If you are needing inspiration to begin practicing, check out this channel. The video selection ranges from short yoga classes to artistically shot videos of yogis doing amazing things. All of the videos are beautiful and of the highest artistic quality IMHO. This channel is not to be missed if you love yoga.

  • Yogi Approved - Yogi approved was a yoga blog, which has now been acquired by Wanderlust. However, the channel is still alive, offering free, professional quality yoga class videos, interviews, educational content, and product reviews. If you want a channel that includes the entire yoga lifestyle, this is the channel to reference.

  • Cat Meffan - Cat Meffan is a professional yoga teacher/YouTuber/social media influencer. She provides quality vinyasa yoga class videos, product reviews, and personal videos. From yin classes, to sweaty power yoga to meditation videos, there’s sure to be something on this channel that’s up your alley.

  • FightMaster Yoga - This channel provided the Ashtanga yoga class Matt and I practiced in our living room before discovering our Ashtanga studio. This is a yoga class-based channel, with a nice variety of Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga classes ranging from all different levels and time lengths.

Are there any channels I’ve missed? If you have suggestions let know in the comments below!

Treat your mind like a garden

Photo by Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash

I recently came across a great metaphor for the mind in “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” by Robin Sharma. Sharma directs the reader to think of your mind like a garden. Negative thoughts are the weeds, positive thoughts are the flowers, and it’s our responsibility to care for our garden. If you want your mind to be efficient, sharp, and happy, you must tend to your mind like you would a beautiful garden, with intention. There’s the care of the soil, the watering, planting of seeds, and pulling of weeds on a regular basis. Too many people do zero maintenance on their minds, and then wonder why they’re so unhappy, why their garden has been overgrown with weeds. Weeds need to be pulled before they spread and overtake your flowers. Developing a consistent response to negative thoughts to prevent them from growing is how you manage the weeds. Developing positive thinking routines or habits is how you plant and tend the flowers. Practicing regular activities which nurture the mind, body and spirit is like watering your flowers. Finally, getting good sleep, keeping your body healthy so the mind can remain healthy is like the fertilizing of the soil. You must continue to tend your garden, to nurture and maintain the flowers, to pull the weeds, and to water and fertilize the soil. You can’t create a beautiful garden, stop pulling the weeds, and then expect the garden to remain beautiful. So too with the mind. Once you’ve found habits and routines that put you into a good emotional space, continue practicing these routines. Do regular maintenance on your mind, clean the stress on a weekly basis and continue to nurture positive thinking. Don’t let the weeds grow. Negative thoughts, much like weeds will grow faster than your flowers if you let them, so don’t.

For the pulling of the weeds:

Try This One Experience to Prevent a Bad Experience From Ruining Your Day

10 Ways to Reset Your Energy

How to Give Thanks When Gratitude is The Last Thing You Feel

For the Planting of the Flowers:

Morning Routine and How it Can Change Your Life

Affirmations for Happiness and Success

For the Watering of the Flowers:

Why Self-Care is Non-Negotiable and How to do it Part I

Self-Care Part II

Self-Care Part III

For the Fertilizing of the Soil:

Daily Rituals for Nurturing Mind Body & Spirit

Live Well: Diet Habits of Those Who Live Past 100

Harnessing the Energy of our Moon Cycle

Earthy Sourdough Pancakes

To make this recipe, you'll first need a sourdough starter. For directions on how to make a sourdough starter, check out this in depth tutorial here. It's actually quite simple to make a sourdough starter, and once you have one, it lasts years. In fact, sourdough starters have traditionally been passed down through families, from generation to generation. Natural sourdough is much better for you than regular bread. I'm going to make a bold statement here and say the only bread you should be consuming should be made with whole ingredients (e.g. flour, salt, water) and naturally fermented or sprouted. True sourdough goes through a natural fermentation process which breaks down the phytic acid found in bread, making the bread much easier for our systems to digest and making the nutrients found in the whole grains available to us. This is how bread used to be made before instant yeast was created, and one of the reasons gluten intolerance wasn't an issue for our grandparents' generation. Unfortunately, this bread is much harder to obtain since its a lengthier, more labor intensive means of baking bread. Read more about the process here

I found this recipe here, one of my new favorite blogs. I only modified the recipe slightly, adding in buckwheat flour because, 1. we love buckwheat, and 2. buckwheat is an even healthier grain than whole wheat flour IMO. It gave the pancakes a lovely earthy flavor, very very hygge.

So now for the recipe (trust me it's so delicious, it was worth all the reading to get to it). 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Directions: The night before take 1 cup of active sourdough starter and add the 2 cups of flour to it. Mix thoroughly, set aside and cover in plastic or with a towel to sit out overnight (for at least 8 hours). The flours will ferment overnight naturally breaking down the phytic acid and making it easier for your body to digest the next morning. The next morning add the remainder of the ingredients to your sourdough mixture, add the baking soda last. The mixture will foam when you add the baking soda. This is a good thing : ) Then, ladle out batter onto a buttered or coconut oiled skillet and flip after the batter has formed bubbles and the bubbles have popped. Make sure the skillet has had proper time to warm up before you add the batter. Directly after you ladle out your batter onto your skillet is the perfect time to add anything you want (e.g. nuts, berries, chocolate chips). We kept it simple and added blueberries but the sky's the limit. Have fun with it. These are so good! I hope you enjoy them! 

5 Hidden things that could be cluttering your mind

It's hard enough to get the space we need to think clearly and effectively with the constant stimulation that electronics, and to-do lists provide. It's also completely crucial to create space for mental and emotional processing, relaxation, and recharging and it's our own responsibility to clear the mental and emotional clutter so we can feel truly relaxed when we do have the time to unwind. Below are 4 hidden things that may be cluttering your mind and preventing you from truly relaxing:

  1. An unclean home: We can't not be effected by our environment. It's almost impossible to feel truly clean mentally, if we are living in a home that is unclean physically. Dirty dishes in the sink, dusty tables, crumbs on the floor or mold in the shower all take up mental and emotional space. Make it a point to keep your space clean in order to keep your mind clean.
  2. Excess clutter: Things take up mental energy. Every item your eye falls upon as you scan your home, occupies space in your mind. Even if your items are clean, and dust free, removing excess "stuff" from your home frees up mental and emotional real estate. 
  3. Procrastinated projects: Procrastinating feels good in the moment, but simply prolongs the stress of the looming deadline or project. Every "to do" we have hanging out in the back of our mind produces an amount of stress. Some produce more stress than others, but every time you're reminded of that thing you haven't completed, it's a feeling that takes emotional and mental energy. 
  4. Unclean bedsheets: The bed is literally the place where we recharge. It's difficult to feel completely relaxed in a bed that doesn't feel fresh and clean. I always recommend keeping your bed energetically 'clean' as well, meaning you reserve that space solely for rest. Watching movies, working from home, basically anything that doesn't feel restful, should be banned from the bed.
  5. Unpaid bills or debt: I know debt is more and more common nowadays with the increase in education costs, but do everything you can to pay off debt as quickly as possible. Even if you have to live in a studio apartment to pay your bills quicker, I believe it's worth it. Make your studio cozy, and beautiful. Enjoy living in simplicity for a few years and celebrate the simple pleasures, all the while knowing you're working to clear away the mental/emotional stress debt places on you. 

Little List of Summer Hygge

Hygge (pronounced hue-guh) is the Danish word which means coziness, enjoying simple pleasures, or creating intimacy with others or with yourself. It's a difficult word to define because hygge is a feeling, an emotion. It's the closest concept I've found to our simple pleasures posts, and probably why I love hygge so much. Hygge is part of the Danish culture, and a major protective factor against seasonal depression that can so easily happen in the dead of winter. I hope you like my little list of summer hygge, and begin to make your own list, or add on to this one. Hygge is such an amazing concept for cultivating happiness, focusing on life's little pleasures, and realizing you don't need a lot of money to have a beautiful life. Read more about how to apply hygge in the spring here and in the wintertime here. In the meantime, I hope you all have a hygge summer!

Spicy and Aromatic Chai Recipe

As you may know, I recently began teaching Ashtanga yoga. One of the studio's traditions is for the teacher to bring some good Indian, yogi chai for students to enjoy Sunday mornings after class. So, of course, I've been perfecting my recipe, trying it out on my husband, and drinking it throughout the week. It's such a lovely, comforting ritual, a full sensory experience. The warming blend of spices smells like heaven, and the warm cup in between your hands as you drink calms the mind and body. 

Interestingly, chai tea has tons of health benefits. It's an Ayurvedic drink, said to help with decreasing anxiety, improving digestion and circulation, balancing blood sugar, helping with weight loss, lowering blood pressure, and relieving PMS symptoms. The spices used have wonderful antioxidants and antibacterial properties, believed to help ward off cancer, lower inflammation, and boost the immune system. Plus, it tastes good, and makes your house smell wonderful as it's brewing!

I like to make up a big batch of the concentrate, store it in the fridge, and reheat throughout the week, adding in the milk and honey when I'm ready to drink it. Below is the recipe I've been using:

Ingredients

  • 8 cups of water
  • 8 slices of fresh ginger root
  • 50 black peppercorns (add less if your resting temperature already runs hot)
  • 30 cloves
  • 30 cardamom pods cracked open
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 black teabags (you can find these in bulk at any supermarket)
  • raw honey to taste (I have been adding 1 spoonful/glass)

Directions

Bring the water to a boil, add in all the spices, then turn down the heat to a low simmer. Let simmer for 15 minutes before adding the black tea. After adding black tea, let simmer for another 15 minutes. If you want your tea less caffeinated, add the teabags later on, but do let the spices simmer for no less than 30 minutes. Turn the heat off and strain your mixture. When you're ready to enjoy, add in milk and honey to taste, heating until the milk has warmed. I have been using equal parts milk and tea, and 1 spoonful of honey per glass I'm making. You should play around with ratios according to taste as some like a sweeter chair, others like a spicier chai, or milkier chai. I have been using organic whole milk but almond, coconut, or soy would also make a lovely combo. Optional ingredients also include star anise, and fennel, but I haven't tried these out in my chai yet. Again, you can save the tea concentrate and then heat up throughout the week. Enjoy!

 

Make these changes to harness the Spring Season's Energy

Photo by Sandrachile . on Unsplash

We are probably more disconnected from the earth than we've ever been. We use electricity to stay up past sunset, heaters to keep us warm in the winter and air conditioners to keep us cool in the summer. We can eat whatever produce we want whenever we want thanks to trucks and planes that transport food all over the world. We used to live our lives based on environmental changes. We would wake with the sun, go to bed with the moon, eat foods according to what would grow that season, fish with the tides, and plant crops according to the moon cycle. There's something beautiful about living this way and I'd like to begin living with the earth rather than separate from it. 

With the Spring Equinox and the mark of this new season, I thought there was no better time to start connecting with the earth than now. Spring has always marked the idea of rebirth as the earth wakes up from its winter hibernation. Spring is a time for new beginnings, for creativity, vibrancy, and for cleansing the mind body and spirit. Just as the earth is cleansed with spring rains, we too need to cleanse ourselves from what's accumulated throughout the winter months. Spring Cleaning really is a thing. Below are Ayurvedic tips for harnessing the spring's energy:

  • Diet: Eat lighter. Spring is a time to cleanse the body from what's accumulated during winter so as the temperatures warm up it's recommended to reach for lighter foods. Eat lots of veggies, fruits, legumes and grains like quinoa. Drink warm teas or hot water with lemon and honey. This is also a great time to incorporate more bitter greens like dandelion greens or kale. Use your diet to battle the excess mucous and weight that may have accumulated during winter. Spring is also a great time to practice some type of cleanse whether it be a juice cleanse, full-on fast, or just cleaning up the your diet. 
  • Exercise: Get your body moving in the morning to jumpstart your metabolism and ignite your inner fire. Push yourself a bit but not too hard during the spring. You want to jumpstart the body's cleansing process without pushing yourself off balance. Spring is all about a lighthearted energy so bringing that energy to your exercise routines would serve you best during this season. 
  • Lifestyle Routines: This season is a time for early waking. It's recommended you wake with the sunrise in the Spring (5:30-6:30am) and jumpstart your morning with an energizing routine. This season is a great time to begin a morning pranayama (breathwork) practice, read something inspiring, or begin writing morning pages in your journal. Kapalbhati or ujjayi breath would be the best breathing techniques to clear out mucous and open your breathways for the day. 
  • Personal Growth: Spring is a time for new beginnings, vibrancy, and creativity. It may be a wonderful time to begin a new chapter in your life, work on a creative project, or set life goals. Spring is a time to create new space after the winter hibernation, and to fill that space with positivity. Start new projects, but try to maintain balance. If you work too hard, you may unknowingly be filling the space created by spring with stress or negative energy. Create healthy routines for yourself to ensure you maintain balance and positivity throughout this season. 

Do this one thing to harmonize your life

I recently delved deeper into looking at yoga from an Ayurvedic perspective. Ayurveda, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, is one of the oldest medical systems, created over 3,000 years ago in India. Ayurveda is a holistic healing method which works to balance and harmonize the person as a whole, taking the entire self system (e.g. mind, body, energy) and how it relates to environmental changes into account. One very important concept stuck out to me when studying Ayurveda and yoga. When one imbalance is present, you will become naturally drawn to that which further contributes to the imbalance. For example, if you are amped up, and having difficulty sitting still, or calming down, you will crave yoga postures that amp you up even more, when what you might need are slow deep forward folds to calm and harmonize your system. This is also true for emotional imbalances. I see so many depressed people who naturally are drawn to stillness, laying in bed, isolating, all low energy activities which further the depression, further the imbalance.

If you are anxious, feeling restless, you may need to get still. If you feel like you have no time for stillness, you probably need it the most. If you feel like laying in bed all day, you might try getting out and going for a walk. Get the idea? Whenever you're feeling ungrounded, off balance, do the opposite of your current energy state and see if it doesn't harmonize your energy. I'm not saying, don't listen to your body, because I am a firm believer that if we listen hard enough, our body, mind, and spirit will guide us in the right direction. What I am saying, is take this concept into consideration when deciding what you need. Analyze your current energy state, and determine if you would benefit from shifting this state. If you need more energy, practice energizing activities. If you need calming, grounding, practice calming grounding activities. Listen to what you need vs. what you want and that may make all the difference. 

Mindful Minute: Rainy Day Study

The weather here is beautiful, with no rain in sight for the near future, but as I was looking through pictures we'd taken on a rainy day here by the sea, I thought of the Rainy Day Study exercise. On the next rainy day, truly listen to the pitter pattering of rain atop your umbrella, roof of the car, or roof of your home. Close your eyes, notice any patterns of sound, tune into the smell of the rain if you're outside under an umbrella. Notice how the air feels on your skin. Really study the full experience of rain. Take some slow deep breaths through the nose as you do this, and see if you don't feel more grounded, and a bit calmer after that one minute is up. 

20 Ways to Show yourself Love

With it being Valentine's Day week, I thought love to be an appropriate topic. Our relationship with ourselves is the foundation for all other relationships. We can't fully receive love from others if we can't first love ourselves. What better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than with a little self-love? Above are 20 ways to show yourself a little love. Most of them are completely free while a few cost just a small amount of money, proving you don't have to have money to treat yourself! Pick something everyday that represents self-love and do it because love is a verb and you can't get good at something if you don't practice.