Lifestyle

Can't Sleep? Meditate

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After experiencing the sudden loss of a loved one last month, my mind has been hyper-obsessed with health and wellness.  Some of my habits need changing and one of them had to do with my sleep.  All the yoga and other workouts I did weekly was not helping me get a good night sleep.  I would fall asleep with no problem, but find myself waking up two hours later and either stay awake or fall back to sleep only to wake up a couple more times.  It was frustrating to the point where I dreaded bedtime, can you imagine? NOT wanting to go to bed because you knew it was gonna be another shitty night?  

I tried drinking a glass of wine earlier in the evening, that sometimes worked but mostly did not. I started taking Tylenol PM.  For a while it seemed like the Tylenol PM was working but it wasn't consistent.  Then I learned about the side effects such as messing up your kidneys.  I was responsible with how much I took every night, but I'm always nervous about what kind of long term damage I'm doing to my body.  That's why I never experimented with drugs and quit smoking 15 (!!!) years ago.  So damn, I was starting to think that maybe I should stop taking these pills that only sometimes helps me sleep.  What else can I try?

I recently brought meditation into my life and it has become a two-time per day (morning & bed time), daily practice.  A friend told me about Yoga Nidra for sleep and how I should give it a try. Using the Insight Timer, I found a few guided Yoga Nidra for sleep sessions and they were okay but some were kind of long and I've grown to like my meditations with background music.  Let me tell you, there are some great guided meditations for sleep and I've bookmarked a bunch.  I listen with my earbuds in so when I'm done (or if I wake up), I have to take them out and put my ear plugs in but find myself falling right back to sleep. It's become my regular routine and I can't go to bed without meditating first, even if it's only for a few minutes.

I'm happy to say that after doing this every night for the last several weeks, my quality of sleep has improved greatly.  I might still wake up but not as much as I used to, and I'm feeling more rested overall. I credit this all to meditation and not adding any foreign substances to my body.  There are so many benefits to meditating, not just for sleeping but being awake too. Meditation not only brings stillness, but it can also lower your stress level, improves overall health, increase your energy, taps in to your creativity, and bring some clarity to your mental well being - which makes sense, I mean, how many times do we lie awake in bed with a zillion thoughts racing through unable to sleep?

There are so many different ways to meditate, there is a style for everyone.  Meditation helps you to slow down and observe whats going on around you and how you respond to it.  In this current political climate, I think we can ALL use some meditating to help us step back and collect ourselves before we react to something.  

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Love and Acceptance In Your Forties

I wrote this in my private journal yesterday afternoon and felt compelled to share it here in case it might bring comfort, hope, reassurance to someone who is currently in a dark place hoping to get out of it.  Maybe it won't take you as long. It's never too late.

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It took a really long time to get to this point, most of my teens and twenties, part of my thirties living like this. For many, many years, I hated who I was. I was so insecure, so unhappy. I carried so much anger and sadness. That's what initially drew me to Yoga, hoping it will change me and it did but it didn't come quickly.  It wasn't until I got to my 40s to feel comfortable in my skin - accept every extra pound, every dimple, every scar. To really get to know who I am, what I am made of, and who I am capable of being.  I am strong, beautiful, smart, witty, funny, weird, and open. My silence just means I'm observing, listening, taking it all in. I don't need the attention, I know where my support comes from. We go through the shit we go through so we can look back and at it and say "Oh....that's why." There's something to gain from everything.  I'm still getting used to not being angry or sad all the time. Instead, I'm replacing that energy with yoga and working out - which has saved my life, and saved me from more unnecessary pain. It's opened new opportunities to experience, new people to meet.  I write this now with a heart full of contentment, compassion and acceptance of the person I've become. Looking back at who I used to be with some regret that I let that person carry on that way for so long. Don't worry about the time wasted, I'm looking forward to what the next part of my life has in store - older, wiser, confident, loved.

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Be Willing To Come Apart

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The title of this blog post is the name of Law 2 from 40 Days to Personal Revolution by Baron Baptiste. When I was reviewing this Law/Chapter, I thought "Uh oh!"  I had a feeling I was gonna have to go to a place I didn't want to.

I'm a Type-A personality.   I'm very particular, I plan out everything, and everything needs to be done exact and if a monkey wrench is thrown in, I get frazzled or I just yell "#&@%!!!!!!!!" I used to punch walls until the last wall I punch ended up with a hole in it and poor Mike had to patch it up. 🙁That was embarrassing. The point is, I was never one of those laid back, go with the flow types.   I do feel like that is changing as I get older. 

Getting back to this law I was reading, I really had to look into what was holding me back from being my best self and this aspect of my personality was a part of it.  I can't control every aspect of my life and I can't lose sleep over it anymore.  Ever watch a Control Freak lose their shit? It always happens, because things never go exactly as planned, I know this...but I plan anyway without leaving room for flexibility or change. 

I'm learning that when you start to let go, that is when things start to fall into place.  Last Summer, when I was in the thick of purchasing my first home, I was sooooooo stressed out about everything - when do we close? How much do I need for closing? Can't they just tell me how much I need to close already? I need to be out of my apartment by the end of the month! What if we don't have enough money to pay for everything? This was my entire Summer.  Now I look back and everything went fine and I made myself sick for nothing.

That was a big lesson for me and was something I reflected on during this challenge.  I need to let go. Give up control to heal all the harm I inflicted on myself mentally and emotionally.  Let go of expectations and be open to what can happen.   Stop trying to make things happen but instead allow things to happen. I'm opening myself up to opportunities now that a month ago, I would not have considered (more on that in another post).    There are other things going on right now that have been unexpected and pretty upsetting but this new outlook is helping me get through it.  All of this recent self-reflection has totally shifted my way to looking at how I live life and the type of impact I want to leave on others.  

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Forty Days Later

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Forty+ days later!  I wanted to write a recap of the 40 Day Challenge in my last blog post.  I finished last week, I did it! I didn't drop out!   By about Day 20 I was considering it but I knew if I did, I would be really disappointed in myself, and I'm tired of being disappointed with myself. 

In addition to the insane amount of yoga I was able to fit in, I found myself feeling stronger, more confident, more self-aware and acknowledge the parts of me that needs improvement - not physically but junk that is taking up space in my brain.  The self-inquiry was the hardest part of this challenge, I really don't want to self-evaluate that much, I mean who does?? But it's necessary to do once in a while.

One of the things I learned is  that I cling to things too much, especially things that are no longer in my control.  I don't need to think about people from my past who I wish could see how much better off I am without them, who cares? And I don't need to plan every detail of my life.  It's okay to just be present, which meditation has helped greatly. 

I mentioned the Insight Timer app and oh my God, it has been life-changing! I went from a person who struggled to meditate on their own for five minutes, to meditating twice a day in the morning and at night.  So many bookmarks and teachers I follow now!  I continue to struggle staying asleep, some nights are easier than others.  The nightly meditations help. I really don't want to take Tylenol PM anymore, although that didn't always work either.  

Then there's also the community, I love my yoga studio!  I mean I loved it before but I have made more friends and connected with more of my fellow yogis, it's pretty special.  It's nice to go somewhere and be a part of a group that is so open, supportive and welcoming.  I look forward to doing more workshops and classes there.  Plus there's a group of us that's been taking Spin/Boxing classes in Beacon which I'm pretty obsessed with.

That's actual footage of me!  It's great to get my sweat on and move.  I've grown to like the cycling and my cardio is getting better. With Boxing, I still gotta work on my form but boy do I feel it in my arms and shoulders.  Plus my coach is A-W-E-S-O-M-E!  If you're reading this Eva, YOU INSPIRE ME!!

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Life Lately - A New Home and LOTS of Yoga!

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I'm back! Well, let me not get ahead of myself.  I'm back to writing my blog.....today. No promises of how regular this will be, but I have good intentions! 

So much has happened since my last post in July. For one, I bought a home! I moved into my new condo with Mike at the end of August. It's only a few minutes from where we previously lived and it's bigger.  The whole Summer was a big stress-ball and there were moments trying to get a closing date just made me want to give up and keep renting. In the end, everything worked out and we're settling in nicely. I can't wait until we are totally unpacked, shelves up, and more furniture is purchased but overall, I love my new home. 

Speaking of being home, I've been spending A LOT of time at Firefly Yoga practicing several times a week.  It helps that they're so close to home. I've completely fallen in love with the practice again.  I've dusted off some of my old books. I just finished The Living Gita: The Complete Bhagavad Gita - A Commentary for Modern Readers and I'm now reading Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life: A Guide for Everyday Practice.

I started posting videos on Instagram doing a couple of inversions.  I figured a couple of things: 

1) I see too many videos of people in the gym lifting weights. 

2) Not to sound egotistical, but I like to see myself.  I like to see if my alignment is right.  My lower back has been giving me problems for a long time and I don't want to make it worse. 

3) Being a bigger, stockier, bulkier, curvier girl - whatever you wanna call it, I hope someone who is curious about trying yoga but is afraid because they don't have that "yoga body" will see it and say "Wow! If she can do it, why not me?"  I got a yoga body too! It's just not what most people think of at first. 

I still have those insecurities.  Recently, I stayed in the city and reserved a spot for a class at Lyons Den Yoga in Chelsea. I've never been there before but I heard great things about it and they teach Baptiste Yoga which is the type of yoga I've been doing.   I could not sleep the night before because I had SO MUCH anxiety of walking into a yoga studio full of beautiful, tall, fit NYC people and then there's me.  I hate feeling that, I thought I was over it since I've developed a stronger practice but nope! Turns out I had nothing to be worried about and I felt like an ass afterward for losing a night sleep.   

No matter how much I practice asana, the biggest challenge is always getting out of my own head.  I learned from that day and hope to go back to Lyons Den when I stay in the city.  It would be a nice balance to all of the unhealthy eating I do when I'm there. =D

I hope to get back to blogging again on a regular basis, this Summer was just ridiculous with the move that I didn't get a chance to really enjoy the Summer.  Now that Fall is here and it's my favorite time of year, I hope to bring myself back to some kind of normalcy which includes writing more. 

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NYC Pride Parade 2017

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Hey guys! Long time, no write - or read! I had such a fun weekend, I thought I'd write about some of it. For the first time in about 20 years I went to spectate the Pride Parade in New York this past weekend.  I especially wanted to go in light of the last year and all of the negativity floating about.  There is so much division, anger, frustration, and intolerance.  I wanted to get a shot in the arm of something positive, open, and welcoming.  It was such a fun day once I found a spot to stand.  This parade gets more and more popular every year.   

Progress has been made with LGBT rights but there is still a lot more work to be done.  Now that the Supreme Court has decided to look at the "Wedding Cake" case from Colorado, such objections make me shake my head just because of religious views. I just hope the SC will review this and realize that this is just another form of discrimination and should not be tolerated. Where do you draw the line? Can a doctor refuse to treat a trans person because they think they're a freak?

I digress, the parade is more as a celebration now but it started as a march that took place June 1970, one year after the Stonewall riots, as a form of protest.  Over the years the march has turned more celebratory but there is still a lot of politics and causes represented in the parade.  Check out my Instagram pics below (scroll right!)

Early in the parade you see the politicians shaking hands and waving flags, then you have civil rights and other protest groups making their statements.  Once all this passes, the corporate sponsor floats appear with the dance music thumping and everyone gets into party mode. The corporate sponsorship was a bit much but they do give away lot of freebies...

Maybe it's part of that bubble I feel like I live in and sometimes get defensive about, but I was really happy to see people come together and celebrate this way. I wish to see this more.  I love that I live in a state that supports the LGBT community and that I live in such close proximity to NYC.  Not all of New York state is like this which is frustrating, I don't get it.  I don't understand why there are still people who feel the need to preach hate against this group, or any group that's different from what they know. When your only reference to speak out against homosexuals is biblical, I'm sorry, that just doesn't sit well with me.  Unfortunately, I don't see that going away completely any time soon but I'll try to keep doing my part as an ally and speak out for equal and gender rights. 

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My Introduction to Hot Yoga

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It's been almost 3 months since I got back into yoga, hooray!  It's been great so far and I really wish I didn't wait so long to get started again.  Today I wanted to specifically talk about Hot Yoga which I started back on Friday, April 21st.  I mentioned in my previous post that the idea of "Hot Yoga" freaked me out.  I hate the heat! I don't like Summer! I'm clumsy, I'll probably slip on my own sweat and break my face. But Firefly Yoga in Fishkill is sooooo close to home.  I wanted to include more Vinyasa into my practice because I missed that flow movement and  it feels like a full body workout. 

I talked about signing up for a Power Vinyasa class, taking the class, and hating the class because I thought I was going to die from the heat, I was thinking negative thoughts about myself the whole time, but I couldn't stop thinking about the class afterward.  I've been back every Friday since - I went this morning!  It is just one hour but it is the most difficult hour I put my body through. 

I learned my lesson after the first class. I need to hydrate starting the day before, not just that morning.  Thursdays I am drinking water all day and peeing a lot.  When I went back the following week, I was better prepared for the heat and the mind games that may happen.  This time was better. I still took breaks when needed but I kept my mind on my breath and in each pose as I mentally cheered myself on instead of being self deprecating.  I was still super wiped out afterward but felt good.

In the weeks following, I can see a difference in my body.  Poses I struggled with the previous week were more solid the following week.  I know there will be weeks where my body will still struggle but these Hot Yoga classes have been more mentally challenging than physical - don't get me wrong, they are REALLY intense physically and sometimes my lower back just doesn't want to have it, but I see it as a real mind over matter practice. Plus my teacher, Noelle, is super sweet, it's hard to hate her lol!

Now I feel like I've turned into one of those Crossfit people who never shut up about doing Crossfit, except it's Hot Yoga.  I'm just so excited to have a regular practice and exercise routine again!

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Being A Yoga Beginner...Again

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Let's talk about really being into something and good at it, then stopping for many years, and then starting it again and discovering that you can't just pick up where you left off. 

Years ago, I was crazy about Yoga and practiced several times a week when I was still working in the city and living closer to NYC.  It was great, I was doing a bunch of crazy stuff and feeling confident in my practice.  Then I moved to Fishkill and my daily commute became a killer.  It sucked the life out of me and my yoga practice died off. I was always tired and just hating my situation.  

I neglected yoga for years! Even after I left my job, I didn't start up my practice. I had surgery, I got older, I gained weight, I tried jogging and other ways to get in shape, I wasn't driving yet so I couldn't get to a yoga studio even if I wanted to.  I've been driving for a little over a year and I'm feeling more comfortable behind the wheel.  I started thinking about yoga earlier this year but whenever I thought about going to a place, my insecurities would kick in - the same ol' nagging voice that's been sleeping for so many years: You're too fat for this, you're body is not the same anymore, you're gonna look stupid. Yes, I have gained weight and my body is definitely different than it was 8 years ago, more aches and pains, more cracks and pops but I don't want to accept this.

I learned about Two Trees Yoga in Beacon through A Little Beacon Blog and they have a lovely website.  I liked their brand of "simple, honest yoga" and being a place for "anyone who is living with movement limitations, body and joint stiffness, physical disabilities, chronic illness, pain and fatigue." I fit in there somewhere. I went to a morning Gentle Yoga class and felt right at home. I signed up for an Unlimited membership that same day.  I've been going to Gentle Yoga class twice a week and it has helped a great deal to get reacquainted with the mat and muscles that haven't been used in years. 

However, I wanted to push myself a little more. I missed that vinyasa flow of yoga, that good sweat where you feel like your'e cleaning the bad stuff out.  There is a studio very close to home, Firefly Yoga, but they do Baptiste Yoga which physically demanding and very hot, not "Bikram Yoga" hot, but still pretty damn hot.  

Hot Yoga always scared me. The last thing I want to do is pass out during a class, so I stayed away.  I've taken classes where I sweated my ass off but it's not the same. For weeks I kept looking at Firefly's website and their Facebook page and debating whether I should sign up for a class - a Friday morning to start off my weekend.

I was greeted by the instructor who was super sweet and welcoming. I stepped in the studio and it was already SO hot! I hope I was hydrated enough (I wasn't).  I was hating the class and thinking "This ain't for me. I'm not coming back. You tried and you suck." I took many breaks and internally kicked myself every time, I was disappointed that I couldn't hang like I used to, and was struggling to hold the most basic poses. I felt like my body gave up on me, defeated.  Finally came time for Savasana - it's over!! I laid there and thought "Yay! You did it!!"  I'm gonna write a separate post just on my introduction to Hot Yoga because it's pretty crazy.

I totally feel like I'm starting over again. I get frustrated when I am unable to do a pose I used to be able to.  While I "know" yoga in my head, my body doesn't anymore and I need to respect that. Some people say it will come back sooner than I think. I need to be patient with my practice.  This Hot Yoga class was a reminder that yoga is not just the poses (asanas) but also a mental practice which can be harder than the poses.

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Be Gentle With Yourself

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It took a few months but I dropped my 2-post per week goal for the year ha ha! It's okay, I won't beat myself up over it.  How have you been?

Now that I'm practicing yoga again, I've been going back and looking through my old issues of Yoga Journal. They're from several years ago but it's all still relevant today. I was reading an article that quoted Indra Devi which I titled this blog post after. The article was about trying to do TOO much all the time. The author, who had a super busy career, was going on a retreat only to find they were trying to do ALL THE THINGS instead of just relaxing. That's always been my problem.

I recently had to step down from an activist group I had just joined.  It was just way more involved than I thought it was going to be and I just couldn't bring myself to give them the type of commitment required. A Little Beacon Blog is getting busier and busier and I really need time for yoga and a day off every week, that's all I ask. I really burnt myself out following all the politics and craziness going on. I was hesitant to step down, I am super organized, why can't I handle this??? I hate saying I'll do something and then go back and flake out, because it makes me feel like a flake. But it was just too much. Once again, I had to say "no" to additional work

I like to help! I want to do my part! I want to be involved with things - this is especially important when you work from home, you start to feel disconnected from the world and the internet can only give you so much.  I think that's one of the reasons I've dove back into yoga as much as I have with possibly taking three classes a week.  While these classes aren't exactly a social call, it's a chance for me to say "Yes" to myself and allow myself to be out and just experience life outside of my four walls.

Do you overcommit? How do you keep yourself in check?

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Tattoos, Tax March, and Easter Outfits - PICTURES!

I wanted to share some pics I took from my recent visit to the city. I spent Easter weekend down in NYC and it was busy, busy busy!

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Friday I went to the New York Historical Society to check out the Tattooed New York exhibit.  It was very well done. They had a lot of ground to cover.  Tattooing as we know it has been around for over 300 years and it pretty much started in New York down in the Bowery.  There was even a live tattooing demonstration, it was kind of weird to watch - like I was invading on the person's privacy or something.

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Saturday was the Tax March in protest of Trump not releasing his tax returns after he said he would before he was elected.  One of the many promises he has yet to keep or flip-flop on.  The Trump Chicken was there too! It was a very big turnout, probably the biggest turnout of all the Tax Marches that took place that day. 

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If people don't understand what the big deal is, it is a VERY big deal. It is about transparency, and not doing what you said you were going to do.  The President is clearly hiding something and is doing a very bad job convincing us otherwise.  He owes it to all Americans to disclose this information and prove once and for all that he is not in Russia's pocket (or vice versa).  His hands are in way too many cookie jars and he needs to come clean. 

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Sunday was Easter and one of the most fun things to do in New York is to check out the Easter Parade on 5th Avenue.  It's not exactly a parade, it just people hanging out on a closed off street showing off their crazy outfits and having their picture taken.  It's not just the hats anymore, it's the whole outfit! People get more and more creative every year and will also use this opportunity to make a political statement.

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Always a good time!  It was over 80 degrees that day and Central Park was PACKED!  It was probably the most packed I've ever seen it.  

And what's a weekend trip without FOOD!  Shout out to Hold My Knots at the Gansevoort Market on 14th Street and The Meatball Shop which opened a location in Hell's Kitchen.  I had carb-overload!  I was not expecting to get this much food but it was so delicious. Next time I'll skip the pasta side and choose a veggie instead. Mike had the chicken meatballs with spicy meat sauce and it was really good, I'm getting that next time! 

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