Happiness, Self-Care, & How You Can Change The World

I teach a weekly class where one client is always negative. She complains about most everything. The class is in a residential building and other residents know this about her and try to keep their distance. When I see her, I try to keep my energy calm and lead by example.

I wonder about people like this.

She doesn’t deal with chronic pain (always my first thought since I know how difficult it is to deal with pain on a regular basis). She’s been this way for years from what I’ve heard.

Why are some people unhappy? Does she have love in her life? Does she have “people”? Is there any touch in her day?  

It makes me grateful to return every evening to my loving home, to connect with my wonderful community, and to practice self-care through out the day.

With every act of self-care you practice, I think you subconsciously tell yourself that you love yourself and you realize that you’re worth loving. The more that happens, the more you believe it. It becomes part of your being, your very fiber. You exude it and most people pick up on that. You may find that people are nicer to you. It builds on itself. 

You may tell the guy with the hat how much you love it. You may tell the cashier at the grocery store how fabulous her haircut is. You may tell the child how great his/her glasses are. You may just smile at people. Notice they smile back. You made their day.

Your Self-Care practice made their day! How magical is that?! Being happy is contagious.

(Not sure how to practice Self-Care? Try some of these. Connection is important too. We’re social creatures, even us introverts. We need touch. We need love.)

So getting back to my negative Nelly (and no, her name isn’t Nelly), what to do regarding her? I’ll keep practicing Self-Care, being grateful and leading by example. I offer her kindness and let her make her own choices. … and probably bulk up on kindness to me when I get home! 😉

Try it for a day and let me know how it goes! I want to hear if (more likely, how) your happiness changed your world.

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Backpack Strap Massage

Stress got you down, your back tight, and your shoulders way up? Grab a ball and roll out your tension.

You probably don’t even realize how tight your upper back is. Hours of hunching over your computer, carrying heavy purses/computer bags, and poor posture leaves your trapezius muscles carrying a heavy load (literally!). Be careful and go slowly because it is incredibly tight!

This Back Pack Strap Self-Massage can be intense but only because it needs lots more love from us! Get rollin’ and let me know your thoughts.


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Sand Shifter

I have a joke I’m fond of telling. If you want to make yogis really angry. Go to a really packed weekend workshop but only attend the Sunday session. Get there early and put your mat down in the center of the front row. Watch many of the yogis – who remember are all practicing non-attachment – simultaneously freak out and try desperately to not look like they’re freaking out.

I know I have a warped sense of humor but if it’s any consolation, karma has sunk its fangs in me. Luckily, in hindsight I appreciate the irony!

I keep saying that I think I’m finally finding my footing and feeling like myself again. Then, the sand shifts again and down I slide. Maybe I’m learning to cha cha?  Two steps forward with one step back? Maybe, though, I was having a much harder time than I realized. Maybe I was depressed – maybe?! – and I am feeling more like myself every time but I was really really bad off in the beginning?  Who knows.

What I do know is that I’m relying on all of my self-care tips and I’m still struggling. Maybe the lesson here is to stop struggling. Admit that I’m having a rough time and then let go of it?  Meditate more but not because I’m trying to become anything but because meditation is good for me. I feel better when I do it. Like, immediately better and leave it at that.

Practice yoga more. It doesn’t have to be a full session. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be on the yoga mat but move more. Play with my balls – I have so many different sizes. YTU balls of every size, Yamuna balls, balls whose names I don’t even know. Practice biomechanics and restorative exercises. It doesn’t have to be a long session but use what I know and move my body how it feels good to move it.

Eat food that supports me, not just food that gives me a sugar /processed food rush. Eat food that is yummy and good for me.

Let go of what I think should be happening. I’m not doing as much as I thought I would by now. The work I’m doing is rough. I’m starting over in so many ways but also don’t fixate on that. I’m starting over but I’m doing it with the love and support of a husband whom I respect, value and love so much.

Treat everyone with kindness. What you put out does come back to you. I always helped people network to find the health care providers, jobs, people they needed. I moved back to Florida and people are doing the same for me. At first, I was uncomfortable with it because I have nothing to offer in return and then I remembered how nice it felt to help people in Chicago. I did it without thinking twice and now the favor is being returned and I’m grateful.

Let go of what I thought my life would be. If you compare your life to fantasy, well that probably won’t go very well. On the other hand, when I look around me, I have so many blessings to count. It took me a long time to get where I am today. It’s not where I thought I would be and it’s not even where I thought I wanted to be – Florida anyone?!  – but I’m amazed that if I sit back and forget about the fantasies, I’m really happy, content and grateful – I know that word is getting a lot of play here.

So many things didn’t work out. So many doors were shut in my face. Thankfully they led me to where I am today and thankfully, I’m able to see that now. For a very long time, I only saw the doors closing so now when another door closes, maybe it won’t bother me quite so much. I’m a yogi who is trying to practice non-attachment. I’m standing on shifting sand, after all.

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Holistic Help for Inflammation

Top Holistic Treatments for Inflammation

The easiest tips to incorporate are to drink more water and rest. I have to be careful with rest though. If it’s discomfort due to my fibromyalgia, I need to move – slowly and gently at first but staying still isn’t helpful.

I’m a big fan of dry brushing – again going very gently but oh my gosh, this feel so good! It increases circulation and helps to bring me back to life.  Anything that increases circulation will be helpful – massage and self-massage. I love my massage therapy balls. Plus the jokes are really helpful for breaking the pain cycle!

Epsom salt baths are a staple in my life too. I probably take at least one a week and sometimes every day.

If you know me, you know I’m borderline obsessed with food and spices/herbs. I’ve long realized there’s a direct connection between what I ingest and how I feel. Everyone is slightly different but below are some great guidelines. Again, though, everyone is different – broccoli and kale are super nutritious but there are conditions making it a no no for some people.

I am not a medical professional. Please work with your doctor to find what works best for you.

Here’s the list. Did I miss anything?  Which are your favorites?

1. Drink more water

2. Rest

3. Heat and Ice Therapy

Ice for trauma with in 48 hours

Heat to increase blood circulation

4. Massage

Improves  blood circulation

Stimulates nerve condition

Facilitates lymphatic drainage

Try self-massage – Lessen Neck and Head StressUpper Back Relief or Help for Your Hands, Wrists, and Forearms

5. Essential Oils

Arnica, Calendula, St John’s Wort or Peppermint relaxes tense muscles and improve circulation

6. Arnica

Stimulates white blood cells and disperses trapped, disorganized fluids from bruised joints, tissues, and muscles

7. Vitamin supplementation

Vitamin D reduces inflammation and vitamin E reduces inflammation as well as cleansing the body of free radicals

8. Dry Brushing

Increase circulation

9. Magnesium – Muscle relaxer

Epsom salt baths at temp ~ 80* for 20 minutes

Magnesium oil spray for 20 minutes or on feet before bed

10. Spices and Herbs

Turmeric (works best when used with Black Pepper), Ginger, Cayenne, Rosemary, Cinnamon, Basil, Cardamom, Chives, Cilantro, Cloves, Garlic & Parsley all have strong anti-inflammatory properties

Golden Milk

recipe here (I use flax milk – anti-inflammatory – instead of the suggested coconut milk)

11. Food Choices



Corn syrup, Agave, Fructose, Maltose, Sorghum, Sucrose, Hidden places

Try – stevia, honey, molasses, fruit without added sugar

Common Cooking Oils

Vegetable, Grapeseed, Cottonseed, Sunflower, Safflower, Corn

Try – Macadamia oil, Extra Virgin Olive oil (not at high heats), Coconut oil (my personal favorite)

Trans Fats

Processed foods

Try – foods containing no trans fats, cook


Try – Kefir and unsweetened yogurt in moderation are fine for some. Almond milks, Coconut milk, Flax Milk (my personal favorite) – make sure your milk does not include carrageenan

Feedlot raised meat

Fed grains like soy, beans and corn which are high in inflammatory omega 6 & low in anti-inflammatory omega 3. Also have hormones and antibiotics

Try – organic, free-range meat

Red Meat and Processed Meat

UCSD School of Medicine study – Neu5Gc -> triggers anti-Neu5Gc  antibodies -> chronic inflammation

Try – red meat in moderation but cut out processed meat


Try – anti-inflammatory green tea

Refined Grains

Whites – rice, flour, bread, noodles, pasta, pastries. Often include other inflammatory ingredients – sugar, trans fats, dairy…

Try – minimally processed foods if you can handle gluten. Don’t trust 100% whole on the box – no guidelines

Artificial Food additives

aspartame, msg

Try – again, cooking

Sensitive foods

Everyone has their own foods that just don’t work for them.

Common foods include nightshades, yeast, soy.



Contains fucoidan – anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, and anti-oxidative

but not seaweed snack – lots of salt and veg oil

Wild Caught Salmon – not as easily converted inside the body. Also Anchovy (European, raw), Mackerel (salted), Flax seeds, Walnuts 

EPA, DHA – 2 potent omega-3s that help with anti-inflammation

Shiitake Mushrooms

but not deep fried mushrooms

Green Tea

flavonoids – anti-inflammation

Papaya – pineapple

Papain (protein-digesting enzyme)

Vitamins C & E – reduce inflammation & improve digestion

Blueberry – Blackberry, Cranberry, Strawberry, Raspberry

Antioxidant powerhouse

High in phytonutrients anti-inflammatory protection against disease such as cancer and dementia

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Polyphenols – protects heart and blood vessels from inflammation

Broccoli (other greats – cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts)

Phytonutrients such as sulforaphane – anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer



Sweet Potato

Beta-Carotene, Manganese, Vitamins B6 & C, & Fiber rich -> heal inflammation

but not processed potatoes

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Common Sanskrit Translations

Have you ever wondered what your yoga teacher was saying when she/he spouted those strange sounding words? Have you ever wondered what those pose names mean?

Here are some of the more common Sanskrit words translated. Do the poses make a little more sense now? Knowing a few root words make it much easier to understand your yoga practice.

Adho-mukha — Face downward

Ardha — Half

Asana — Posture – third stage of yoga

Astavakra — Broken boy

Aum — All, conveys concepts of “omniscience”, “omnipresence”, & “omnipotence”

Baddha — Bound, caught, restrained, firm

Baka — Crane

Bandha — Bondage or fetter, a posture where certain organs or parts of the body are contracted and controlled

Bheka — Frog

Bhuja — Arm or shoulder

Bhuja-pida — Pressure on the arm or shoulder

Bhujanga — Serpent or snake

Chandra — Moon

Chataur — 4

Danda — Staff

Dhanu — Bow

Dharana — Concentration or complete attention, sixth stage of Yoga mentioned by Patanjali

Dhyana — Meditation, seventh stage of Yoga mentioned by Patanjali

Dwi — 2, both

Dwi-hasta — 2 hands

Dwi-pada — 2 feet or legs

Eka — 1, single, alone, only

Eka-pada –1 leg

Garbha-pinda — Embryo in the womb

Garuda — Eagle

Go — Cow

Gomukha — Face resembling a cow

Hala — Plough

Hasta — Hand

Janu –Knee

Karma — Action

Karna — Ear

Karna-pida — Pressure around the ear

Kona — Eagle

Krauncha — Bird like a heron

Kriya — Cleaning process

Kukkuta — Cock

Kundalini — Divine cosmic energy

Kurma — Tortoise

Mala — Garland, wreath

Manduka — Frog

Mantra — Sacred thought or prayer

Marichi — Name of one of the sons of Brahma

Matsya — Fish

Mayura — Peacock

Mudra — Seal, sealing posture

Mukha — Face

Mukta — Liberated

Mula — Root, base

Nauli — Process in which the abdominal muscles and organs are made to move vertically and laterally in a surging motion

Nava — Boat

Pada — Foot or leg

Padangustha — Big toe

Padma — Lotus

Parivartana — Turning around, revolved

Parivrtta — Turned around, revolved

Parivrttaika-pada — With one leg turned around

Parsva — Side, flank, lateral

Parsvaika-pada — With one leg turned sideways

Paschima — West, the back side of the body

Paschimottana  — Intense stretch of the back side of the body from the nape to the heels

Patanjali — Propounder of Yoga philosophy, author of the Yoga Sturas

Pida — Pain, suffering, pressure

Pincha — Chin, feather

Pinda — Fetus or embryo, the body

Prana — Breath, respiration, life, vitality, wind, energy, strength, also connotes the soul

Prasarita — Spread out, stretched out

Pratyahara — Withdrawl and emancipation of the mind from the domination of the senses and sensual objects, fifth stage of yoga

Purva — East, front of the body

Purvottana — Intense stretch of the front side of the body

Raja — King, ruler

Raja-kapota — King pigeon

Salabha — Locust

Salamba — With support

Sama — Same, equal, even, upright

Sama-sthiti — Standing still and straight

Sarva — All, whole

Sarvanga — Whole body

Sava — Corpse, dead body

Setu — Bridge

Setu-bandha — Construction of a bridge

Sirsa — Head

Supta — Sleeping

Surya — Sun

Sva — One’s own, innate, vial force, soul, self

Svana — Dog

Tada — Mountain

Tap — Burn, blaze, shine, suffer pain, be consumed by heat

Tapas — Burning effort which involves purification, self-discipline and austerity

Tittibha — Firefly

Tola — Balance

Tri — 3

Trianga — 3 limbs

Trikona – Triangle

Uddiyana — Fetter or bondage, diaphragm is lifted high up the thorax and the abdominal organs are pulled back towards the spine

Ujjayi — Type of pranayama in which the lungs are fully expanded and the chest is puffed out

Upavistha — Seated

Urdhva — Raised, elevated, tending upwards

Urdhva-mukha — Face upwards

Ustra — Camel

Utkata — Powerful, fierce

Uttana — Intense stretch

Utthita — Raised up, extended, stretched

Vakra — Crooked

Viparita — Inverted, reversed

Vira — Hero, brave

Virabhadra — Powerful hero

Vrksa — Tree

Vrschika — Scorpion

Yoga — Union, communion, union of our will to the will of the Supreme Spirit

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Help for Your Hands

Are your hands/wrists aching from being on the computer or texting too much?  Is plank or your vinyasa yoga practice leaving you in pain? Do you suffer from “claw hand”? This rolling technique gives immediate relief and is perfect for the office. If you don’t have any massage balls, get some tennis balls and toss them in a sock. It won’t be as good but something is better than nothing!

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My Go-To Pose for Stress Relief – Psoas Stretch

Attaching to the spine at the 12th thoracic vertebrae (T12) and to each of the 5 lumbar vertebrae, the Psoas muscles flow through the pelvis and insert into the lesser trocantor (inside) of the femur (leg) bone. A large muscle located one on each side of the spine, they connect the trunk and the legs. The Psoas muscles are the only muscles to attach the spine to the leg allowing for free swing during walking. They impact your hips, pelvis, knees, spine, ribs, shoulder blades, and shoulders so it’s important to take good care of them.

The Psoas muscles relationship to the diaphragm affect the breath and the fear reflex. They impact our sense of emotional well-being.  According to Liz Koch, author of Core Awareness, the Psoas muscles are considered the “fight or flight” muscles.  She says, “the Psoas is the primal messenger of the central nervous system.” When these muscles are tight, the body naturally curls in towards a fetal position keeping you in a feeling of stress. Consequently, when you feel stress, the psoas tighten. It causes a vicious cycle. Relax your psoas muscles and the angsty feelings starts to dissolve.

This Psoas stretch is my current favorite pose! It makes everything better. It relieves stress, allows my body (and mind and spirit) to unwind, and preps it for yoga. I’m amazed at the difference in my body during yoga class after I practice this pose.

Every day for this psoas stretch! Before switching sides, notice the difference. We often don’t realize how much stress we carry. It becomes second nature to us but when you can feel the difference after releasing one side, well, why wouldn’t you want that for both sides all the time?!

Enjoy this, my stressed yogis. Hugs to you all ~

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Words of Love

Louise Hay has always been an integral part of my life. Whether it was her little blue book or her affirmations, her words have deep meaning to me. There is one affirmation in particular that I used to say. I memorized it. I repeated it often when times were difficult. Now I repeat it when times are good. Here’s part of it.

I hope it brings you as much love, kindness, and healing as it does for me.

Do you have any special words, quotes, mantras?


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Roll & Release – Shoulder Blades / Upper Back

Stress tries to make a home in our upper backs. Grab your massage balls and roll those achey knots right out of there! Give stress the boot!


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Shoulder Stretch and Reset for Anyone & Anywhere

Tight shoulders getting you down. Take a few breaths in this easy stretch to counteract slouchasana! It’s incredibly easy to practice anywhere. Your coworkers won’t even realize that you’re a super yogi in disguise! 😉

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