A regular daily practice of deep breathing is one of the best tools for improving your health and well-being.
Your breath is free to use and always available, and by training your body to breathe deeply through regular practice, you will begin to breathe more effectively even without concentrating on it.
Performing one of these breath techniques twice daily for only three to five minutes can produce long-term benefits. You can also use them any time you are feeling stressed or notice that your breathing has become constricted.
The breath comes in, the breath goes out. So simple and so powerful all at the same time.
Complete Belly Breath
Alternate Nostril Breathing
When you are feeling anxious or ungrounded, practice Alternate Nostril Breathing. Known as Nadi Shodhana in the yogic tradition, it will immediately help you feel calmer.
This is a favorite of mine. When you feel angry, irritated, or frustrated, try a cooling pranayama such as Ocean’s Breath, also affectionately called Darth Vader Breath, or Ujjayi (pronounced oo-jai) in yogic settings. This breath serves to immediately soothe and settle your mind.
When you are feeling sad or sluggish, use the Energizing Breath (Bhastrik) to give you an immediate surge of energy and invigorate your mind.
Keep breathing, my darling. Everything is going to be okay.
I love you and I'll see you real soon!
Since being diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder last year, I've made a bunch of small changes, one by one, in an effort to decrease our contact with toxins and increase our overall level of health and wellness.
These changes have also led to stronger immune systems in our bodies - we get sick a lot less than we used to around here, and when we do get sick, we bounce back faster than before.
If you are thinking about doing a "ditch and switch" to less toxic products, you might find inspiration from these 12 changes that we've made (or in some cases, are making) so far.
At any given moment, life sure reserves the right to come at us fast.
Lickety split decisions sometimes need to be made, developments in the world around us need to be processed at a rapid-fire pace, zigs get turned into zags on a moment’s notice.
Then you toss in this particular time of year, and things can intensify right quick.
We tend to ramp up our social obligations, set a slew of goals around our bodies, health, and nutrition, and we make grand declarations to ourselves or even the world at large of CHANGE and DIFFERENT and BETTER and FINALLY!
This is all fine and good, and riding that motivational high can indeed be a excellent way to build energetic momentum, but my question this week is: what are you doing to #prepare for it all?
Wouldn't it be grand if our intellectual understanding of something new immediately translated into perfectly aligned behavior that sent us effortlessly towards a goal realized?
Grand, perhaps, but realistic, no.
We have to #practice.
Time and time again, we practice. Over and over again, we practice.
And this is true no matter your goal, from fitness to finances to food choices - practice is what will get you there.
Looking to make it through a minute of jump squats?
You’ve got to #practice building endurance.
Want cooking sessions to be a priority on your calendar?
You’ll need to #practice putting them there.
Wish you could train your brain to use a deep, measured breath to calm down?
You can; it just takes a little #practice.
Energy flows where your attention goes.
In other words, what do you want in your life, and are you willing to #practice getting it there?
My current goals are to walk in truth with a strong body, clear mind, and open heart; accordingly, some my current practices include:
What about you?
How do your current days reflect the life you want to be living?
What are you willing to #practice this week to get you that much closer?
Wishing you a week of beautiful days and sweet surprises, my friend...
There is much that could be said about the virtues of taking Rest Days, scheduling Down Time, honoring Quiet Moments, and taking the occasional, proverbial Chill Pill.
In fact, we're real big fans of that kind of stuff around here.
“Listen to your body!” is an oft-used, highly-revered refrain around checking in with one's self around how far/fast one is taking a workout, with good reason: knowing when your body needs to rest is a fundamentally important skill to hone for a successful fitness journey.
Without rest, you risk injury, exhaustion, burnout.
There’s a flipside to all that resting, and it’s one I’d like you to consider today: how do you respond when given the opportunity to #push yourself?
We grow through effort.
Only when you #push yourself will you *really* know the full extent of your capabilities.
Sometimes, what we think we can do and what we can actually do are off by a few degrees. When that happens, it’s usually our assumptions that are wrong.
When you #push yourself, that’s when you get stronger, faster, leaner, and fiercer.
That extra moment of oomph is how your stamina develops, your endurance grows, your flexibility increases, and your confidence builds.
Don’t #push yourself, like, EVER, and you risk perpetual mediocrity, status quo, and boredom on the cusp of stagnation - blech.
What I know for sure about every person reading this right now is that there isn’t a mediocre soul among us - we are built for excellence, and we have the power to #push ourselves there.
I challenge you to look for ways to #push yourself.
It doesn’t have to be big, just a smidge more than you perhaps were initially planning. Get up off that couch after the long work day. Finish the entire minute of mountain climbers. Complete the whole set of bicep curls. Entertain a different perspective that stretches your worldview.
#Push your beautiful self out of your comfort zone, into the dazzling light of possibility.
I promise you it's worth it.
I don’t know about you, but I sure do love a good challenge.
The very idea of stretching myself beyond my comfort zone is exhilarating, if not a little intimidating at times. I know the best way to grow is to push myself, which is exactly what challenges are designed to do.
Plus, that feeling of satisfied accomplishment upon completion can’t be beat!
Often times, my gut reaction to a challenge is to put on my game face and charge ahead with a no-nonsense attitude of determination and grit, drive and focus.
This is all fine and good, but what I find time and time again is that I enjoy a challenge SO MUCH MORE when I can be #playful with it.
Defined as "mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty," courage is something with which we are all equipped.
We have an endless supply, actually - the trick is learning how to tap into it on command.
Because courage is necessary to face change, and change is necessary for our soul's development during our lifetime, so the more we flex our courage muscle, the better.
Fortunately, opportunities to call upon our own personal stash of the stuff seem to multiply as the years go by.
A couple of years ago I was in Miami for a coaching conference.
The night before it began, there was a little “mixer” in the hotel bar, and in typical Alex fashion, I walked into the huge room full of people I didn’t know, smiled and looked around for about 35 awkward, uncomfortable seconds, then quietly slipped out the door and beelined back to my hotel room, where I immediately put on my pajamas and climbed into bed to read.
No big deal, I figured; large social gatherings where I’m expected to make small talk with complete strangers is a hit or miss scene for me, and that night, it was a miss. It happens.
The next morning, I was recounting the situation with a laugh when something a colleague said stopped me in my tracks, potentially changing the way I show up in my life from here forward:
“But what’s the point if you don’t #participate?”
In my "Non-Scale Victories of Consistent Self-Care" blog post, I provide a comprehensive list of ways to gauge your progress towards a health/wellness goal, and why they are better than stepping on a scale.
Here is that list in a simplified form. Whether you print it out or simply use as reference, I encourage you to spend a few moments contemplating each item and making note where you are at before you begin any new undertaking or challenge or change in diet or increase in movement. Then, use the same list throughout and after your challenge to see how far you've come!
Directions: on a scale from 1-10, with 1 being "Excellent/Not a Problem Whatsoever," 5 bring "Average/Sometimes an Annoyance," and 10 being "Ugh, this is a Daily Source of stress/anxiety/embarrassment/frustration and I'm OVER IT," rate the following considerations before and after your program to measure your progress on your health and wellness continuum.
I am a planner.
I love making a plan - I enjoy creating a vision of an ideal outcome, and then considering all of the necessary components for reaching said outcome.
I find it pleasing to strategize, satisfying to ponder.
I like hammering out logistics, thinking through eventualities, factoring in best practices and creating a clear way to Get. It. Done.
I also find comfort in having a plan in place, in knowing there’s an intentional path at the ready, specifically designed to lead me directly to my desired result.
I like how plans can unite people, allowing them to rally around a common cause or work together towards a common goal.
I use plans to wring excess worry out of a situation and create a buffer around the anxiety of having to navigate brand new or historically uncomfortable circumstances.
But here’s the thing about plans - they are truly only valuable when they inspire actual and consistent #action.
You can have a million plans in place, but if you’re not DOING anything with them, they’re not going to get you very far, amirite?!
So yes, plans are my friend, and I have lots of big ones, but lately I’ve been focusing my energy on what #action I can take to turn my plans into reality.
#Action is where it’s at; #action is what separates the superstars from the rest.
It’s been said that vision without #action is merely daydreaming, but vision WITH #action can change the world.
So while having a plan can be helpful, turning that plan into #action is always where the REAL magic happens.
This week, I invite you to join me in looking for ways to take #action on our good ideas and our best laid plans.
I just know there is magic out there that is ours for the taking. :)