It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

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SOLAR PLEXUS / Manipura

The Will to Power

Overview

  • Location: Located around the navel in the area of the solar plexus and up to the breastbone.
  • Colour: Yellow
  • Season: Summer
  • Sense: Sight
  • Element: Fire
  • Body parts: Adrenal glands, stomach, pancreas, liver and skin.


Description

The Solar Plexus (Manipura), which means ‘lustrous gem’ is our home of energy and power. It is a source of personal ambition and governs self-esteem, warrior energy, and the power of transformation. Simply put it is your energy chakra. Your powerhouse where drive, ambition and willpower come from. It’s where you can make your dreams come true and every step you take towards these intentions helps to strengthen your third chakra.

The Manipura chakra also controls metabolism and digestion and gives us the energy we need to go out into the world and strive for the goals and dreams we have for ourselves.

You can recognize the people with an overactive solar plexus as the kind of people who are always complaining about being too busy. They are the over-achievers who are never content with their daily productivity. They write exhaustive lists of daily tasks and beat themselves up for not achieving every item on their list. They always have a huge goals they are working towards and would feel lost if they didn’t have such a goal to strive for. They are prone to burnout and often run on caffeine or other stimulants to keep their energy high.

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Our Personal Wellness Is Reflected In Our World

In the past week I have shared many conversations with people who are seeking advice on how to live life with peace and wellness.  Too many people are experiencing anxiety, chronic illness and general poor health.

A couple days ago I met with one of my clients. Amanda works full time and is married, with two very young children. She unknowingly offered some great advice while sharing a work related issue.   A committee she is on, requires everyone to pitch ideas and have them presented by just one person.  One of her coworkers is afraid Amanda won’t get credit for her individual input.  My client was surprised by this idea.  Amanda  shared that she doesn’t have the time or energy to worry about what people may or may not do.

She nailed it!  None of us has the time or energy to worry about what may or may not happen! That is a very valuable piece of a wellness model. Speaking of a wellness model, we should each have one. The first step requires asking yourself what does personal wellness looks like to you.  Give this some thought. Do you see yourself living a life free of doctors? Do you see yourself taking medicine. Do you see yourself having time for alternative therapies? What  colors, smells, textures bring calm to you.  Do you want animals in your life? What food do you eat. What people are in your life of wellness? Do you want naps and unscheduled time?  Do you need the city or the quiet? Where do you live?  Do you want to travel?  What are your spiritual practices? Where do you feel best?  What inspires you? Answering these questions can provide you a blue print for your wellness model.
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How to Calm Anxiety With Yoga

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues. In fact, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, it affects 80 million adults in the U.S. annually. That's about 18 percent of the population.

Among other debilitating side effects, it keeps individuals from being in the present moment and fearful about the future. Other common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Excessive worry
  • Restlessness
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Muscle tension

But the good news is that yoga helps keep people grounded in the now. If you're feeling tense, worried, down, restless or have trouble concentrating, then you can benefit from starting and maintaining a yoga practice.

Yoga is the 6,000-year-old science of body mind health. Yoga poses (asanas) help release tension and stress from the body by regulating hormones and increasing endorphins.

While a general yoga practice can help easy anxiety symptoms, you can also pick specific poses that address the challenge. But first remember to consult a doctor or mental health professional.

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If Meditation is the New Yoga then Breathwork is the New Meditation.

Twenty-three years ago, I moved to Los Angeles from Boston. I can’t remember if I had ever heard of yoga before I made the move, and even then, there were only a few yoga studios in the Los Angeles area.

Now, yoga studios are like Starbucks – you can find one on almost every street corner in every city across the nation. Lately, the trend seems to be “combining something” with yoga; boxing and yoga is probably my favorite -- absurdity wise. What’s next? Improv and yoga?

Look, I’m not a hater, I’m just (still) a little east coast sarcastic. I’m all for whatever helps people feel better and become the better version of themselves.

Imagine if I told you 20 years ago that there’s this thing call “yoga”, and it’s going to be huge. Well, that’s where meditation is right now. Meditation studios are popping up in LA and NYC, and soon they’ll be found in every city the same way yoga is. An increase in immune function, grey matter, positivity, memory, focus and attention, and a decrease in stress, anxiety, depression and inflammation are just some of the benefits to meditation. It’s a no-brainer, really. And in this high paced, stressed out, cell phone obsessed world…who doesn’t need to take a moment to stop and shut it all down?

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THE SACRAL CHAKRA / Svadhisthana

The Seed of Creation

Overview

  • Location: Above the pubic bone and below the navel.
  • Colour: Orange
  • Season: Winter
  • Sense: Taste
  • Element: Water
  • Body parts: reproductive organs, small intestine, immune system and kidneys.

Description

Svadhisthana, also known as the creativity and sexual chakra is deeply connected to the relationship we have with ourselves as well as others. The word svadhisthana can be translated as ‘the dwelling place of the self’. The element of the second chakra is water, which equals cohesiveness and an ability to go with the flow. When change occurs in our lives we can find our sacral chakra either resisting or accepting this flow based on how healthy our sacral chakra is.

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ROOT CHAKRA / Muladhara

The Root of Security

Overview

  • Location: Base of the spine
  • Colour: Red
  • Season: Late summer
  • Sense: Smell
  • Element: Earth
  • Body parts: Bone and muscle structure, circulatory system and large intestine.

Description

The root chakra (Muladhara) is responsible for your sense of safety and security on this earthly journey. The word Muladhara breaks down into two Sanskrit words: Mula meaning ‘root’ and Adhara, which means ‘support’ or ‘base.’ Balancing the root chakra creates the solid foundation for opening the chakras above. Imagine that you’re laying the foundation for a house in which you’re going to live for a long time. A solid foundation embedded in firm soil will provide the stability you need to create a home filled with joy for years to come.

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Understanding the 5 Subdoshas of Kapha

According to Ayurvedic wisdom, our body and its functions are governed by a unique blend of the three doshas, or mind-body principles: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.

“Kapha is that quality of our physiology which increases with close contact of water,” says Dinesh Gyawali, PhD, a classically trained Ayurveda Vaidya (Ayurvedic expert) and Assistant Professor at Maharishi University of Management. Generally speaking, Kapha has a binding quality in the body and governs structure, lubrication, and nutrition. It moderates things like weight, growth, lubrication of the lungs, and formation of the seven tissues: blood, fat, muscle, bone, marrow, nutritive fluids, and reproductive tissue. It also has a cooling influence, according to Gyawali. “Ayurveda compares Kapha with the Moon. It keeps our body nourished and cools it down just like the moon.”

Kapha is also associated with earth and water (Vata is associated with air and space, and Pitta is associated with fire and water).

Like the other two doshas, Kapha contains five distinct subdoshas that regulate specific bodily processes and regions. Understanding them will help you gain insights into the subtle nuances of Kapha dosha’s influence on your mind, body, and emotions.

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Come hell or high water: Beating OCD and the fear of being judged

Leonardo di Caprio has it. Often, he feels the urge to walk through doorways multiple times. So does Daniel Radcliffe. It used to take him as long as five minutes or more to turn off a light. Then there’s Charlize Theron who claimed that she would lose sleep thinking about other people’s disorganized cabinets. And of course, there’s Howie Mandel who refuses to shake hands with people he meets. This is what obsessive-compulsive disorder — known simply as OCD — looks like for different people.

You have OCD!,” exclaimed my friend back in college. She was a Psychology major and we were talking about something I don’t even remember. I told her that the first thing I did when I got home from school was wash my hands. I told her that I did this, too, after I’ve read the papers. “What’s wrong with washing your hands?” I replied, “Don’t you know how dirty public transportation is? And how can you not wash your hands after touching a newspaper? Your fingers turn black from the ink!” I didn’t believe her ‘diagnosis’ of my apparent disorder and I could honestly say I didn’t suffer from OCD — until much later.

There are no recent statistics on OCD sufferers but according to a 1997 National Center for Biotechnology Information report, 2% of the global population suffered from it at that time. In the U.S., it affects about 1% of Americans. A Psychology Today article explains that OCD manifests in different ways, among them washing, cleaning, repeating, and orderliness.

Losing control

BeyondOCD.org states, “Although it has been established that OCD has a neurobiological basis, research has been unable to point to any definitive cause or causes of OCD.”

For me, though, I know when things happen out of my control, OCD rears its ugly head. I become a scrubaholic. I want everything to be clean and I get upset when someone messes up my sparkling clean stainless-steel sink and clutter-free kitchen countertop.

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Benefits of Ayurveda and Yoga for Grandparents

Grandparents are like the root of a family. Being the senior most in the family, they are looked upon as mentors and role models for the younger generations. Grandchildren are the ones who usually get all their love, support and companionship. And during times of distress, parents often consult these senior members of the family for the right advice. So, it’s clear that the role of grandparents in a family is much more than we can comprehend.

However, to enjoy their companionship and to let them be the way they are, it is important to take proper care of their health. With old age come various health issues which if not taken care of properly can wreak havoc on their health. Routine visit to the doctor and all is fine but, it is more important to make them stick to some healthy regimen for their overall wellness (both physical and mental). This is where the holistic practice of yoga and Ayurveda comes in handy.

Yoga and Ayurveda are the age-old systems of preventative and curative medicine. A holistic approach to life and health, both the ancient practices have taken the health and fitness industry by storm.

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From Loathing to Loving: A New Relationship With Your Body

As we transition to warmer months, you’ve probably started to notice that bodies and skin are showing up everywhere. If you tune into daytime TV talk shows, you’ll start to see bikini fashion shows. On the bestseller list, diet books are on the rise. Gyms are full as people keep their beach bodies in shape. And dietitians are offering discounts to reach your summer body.

It’s no surprise that this time of year can stir up a lot of shadows — the emotions, beliefs, habits, and patterns stored deep inside the psyche that dictate our relationships with our bodies. It’s prevalent in every program and workshop I do. Person after person shares the depths to which they have struggled with body issues and the years they have hated their bodies and thus themselves.

Personally, I’ve struggled with my weight and body image from a young age. The quality of my day used to be determined by the number on the scale. I would only feel worthy of being loved by myself or others if I looked a certain way. I had grown up with the belief that it was not okay to eat so in my book, food was the enemy. I made my body my enemy!

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Ditching Dairy? The Lowdown on Non-Dairy Milk — Plus a Look at 10 Popular Plant Milks

Non-dairy milk comes from plants — like soy, nuts, seeds, or grains like oats or rice — instead of cows. And with dairy in decline, the popularity of milk alternatives is at an all-time high.

One of the first American advocates for soy milk was Henry Ford, who opened a soy milk plant in his Michigan research center in 1934.

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How Yoga Helps To Control Bad Habits

It is said, bad habits are hard to break. But we’re the ones who can undo it making space for other good habits and train our mind to bring the necessary change. Know how to use yoga to control and break bad habits with a holistic approach.

The secret to permanently breaking any bad habit is to love something greater than the habit.”
- Bryant McGill


Got a bad habit that you can’t just break? Fret not; apply the holistic approach to hack them away.

When we leave our mind to itself, it follows certain habits like a groove. This can be amazing only if the habits are not hampering the body’s balance. In the process of devising certain habits, we often ignore both the emotional and physical need. Certain habits or bad behavior are hard to change. Even after many efforts, most of the old habits are relentless.

Enter Yoga! That makes us aware of our ability to change our mind in order to turn down the habits.

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5 Reasons to Do an Ayurvedic Spring Cleanse

As ice drips off the branches and tender buds start to peek through the remaining patches of snow, nature reminds us that spring is (finally) upon us. It’s Kapha season and that means it’s time to shed all the things that may have been weighing us down since winter. We recently talked with integrative neurologist and author of The Prime, Kulreet Chaudhary, MD, about why she recommends an Ayurvedic spring cleanse.

1. It’s the perfect time of year to shed toxins, according to your body’s internal clock.

We’re all familiar with spring cleaning, the annual ritual of tidying up our living space when winter subsides, but did you know that your body naturally wants to detox during this time of year, too? “One of the things that we are finding out more and more in science is how important it is to be in sync with natural cycles,” says Dr. Chaudhary. “As the snow is melting from winter going into spring, that’s an analogy to how toxins melt in our own system from winter to spring. We’re basically just aligning ourselves with the cycles of nature so that we get the most support in our detox.” Therefore, spring—the season of “regeneration, rejuvenation, and rebirth,” according to Dr. Chaudhary—is the ideal time to shed any impurities that may have built up in your physiology.

2. An Ayurvedic cleanse goes deep but can be done simply.

While most cleanses will remove superficial toxins, explains Dr. Chaudhary, Ayurvedic cleanses “release the kind of toxic buildup that has been there for years” by igniting agni, your body’s digestive fire. Without rekindling that fire, she says, you will just accumulate toxins once again.

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5 Nighttime Routines to Improve Your Mental Health

When you have a newborn, one of the best pieces of advice you will hear is to set a bedtime routine and to set it early. Whatever you choose, stick to it, be consistent and you will have better luck getting your baby to sleep every night. By setting a routine early, children know it is time to go to sleep and their bodies will become conditioned to it.


So why as adults have we gotten out of the habit of a nighttime routine? How many of us try to go to bed by a certain time, only to be distracted? These distractions often lead to difficulty falling asleep, a restless sleep and exhaustion felt in the morning and throughout the next day. This, of course, influences our mood and mental health.


Why not fall back into the nighttime routine that we set for our children, and see some of the benefits? Here’s how:

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Does a Good Sweetener Exist? A Review of 14 Popular Sugar Substitutes

Sugar is heavily ingrained in our food system today, but what can be even more overwhelming is the number of sugar substitutes you can choose from. Should you use sugar alternatives? Are they better than sugar? And how do you pick the best one(s) for you?


If there was an award for the most overused food ingredient with the least nutritional value, sugar would likely win in a cakewalk.

I’m not talking about sugars naturally found in fruits and vegetables. I’m talking about added sugars — mainly plain ‘ol white sugar and its troublesome twin, high-fructose corn syrup.

There’s really nothing beneficial about sugar — besides the temporary appeasement of your taste buds — but most of us eat way more of it than we should.

The American Heart Association recommends no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day for women and nine per day for men. But the average American consumes 94 grams every day or over 350 pounds a year.

So, what about alternative sweeteners or sugar substitutes?

Approximately 145 million people in the United States are estimated to have used sugar substitutes in 2018. Sugar substitutes attract consumers because they’re labeled as being naturally derived, or calorie-free, or simply because they’re not sugar.

But what are sugar substitutes made of? And how do they rank in nutritional value? Are certain sugar substitutes better for you than others?

Before I get into all of that, let’s examine why sugar is not a health food.

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Coming out of the dark: A spiritual journey through depression

Anyone who has gone through depression—whether their own or someone they know or care about—would know it is such a dark place in which to find yourself to be. Many people suffer from emotional “dips” from time to time and others go through temporary episodes like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or post-partum depression but there are those who have been suffering from it for most of their lives. But whatever is the case, not only is the experience the very description of internal hell, its social stigma as a “mental illness” makes it even worse for those going through it. Being classified as mentally ill is terribly isolating as you are made to think that you are not “normal” and that the only way to sanity-land is by way of medication. My experience tells me different.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression, making it the leading cause of disability worldwide. Time magazine reports that revenue for antidepressants globally is projected to grow to nearly $17 billion by 2020. Briefly, I was part of that 300 million depressed population but I am happy to say that I’ve stopped contributing to that growing anti-depressant revenue.

Twenty years ago, I went through major changes in my life. My marriage fell apart, which took me away from my only child. Needless to say, it was one of the most tumultuous times in my life. Sometime after, a new relationship led me to an entirely different destination than I had originally planned, to a country whose language I didn’t speak.

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Aromatherapy for Perfect Balance in Every Season

Although single-aroma incense and floral waters are not uncommon in ayurveda, it is more typical to see blends or combinations of several different aromas. The benefits? Synergy and balance.

A synergistic blend of healing substances, according to ayurveda, delivers a holistic benefit that is greater than the sum of its parts. And careful balancing of ingredients is reported to counteract possible side effects from a single healing substance.

Ayurveda talks about restoring balance to mind, body and spirit in every season. The three ayurvedic operators — Vata, Pitta and Kapha — that control all the functions of the mind and body have seasons associated with them as well. Fall and winter are associated with Vata, spring with Kapha and summer with Pitta. There are traditional aroma blends that are particularly useful for restoring overall balance in each of these three seasons. Vata, Pitta and Kapha aroma blends are also useful for personal balance. If you need to pacify one of these doshas, these aroma blends are a convenient and very pleasant way to balance your environment.

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Everything You Need to Know About Avocados

Avocados are popular and loved by many. In fact, consumption in the U.S. has risen more than fourfold in the last 20 years. But how much do you know about the creamy green fruit (yes, it’s a fruit!)? Are there avocado health benefits you should know about? Where do they come from? And are they sustainable? Keep reading to find out!

You can find avocados almost everywhere — from grocery stores and farmers markets to chocolate pudding recipes.

Once considered a delicacy, this green tree fruit is now a common addition to tables and menus all over the world.

People’s love affair with avocados has gained traction in recent years. The growth in sales outpaces that of any other fruit. And in 2015, The Washington Post dubbed avocados “America’s new favorite fruit.”

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Thank Your Habit

Anne Davin is an incredible woman! She spent several years living on a Native American reservation in New Mexico, and her later work with Southeast Asian Indo-Chinese refugees inspired her exploration of the intersection of psyche, culture, and the marginalized voice of the feminine. She is a licensed psychotherapist and the cofounder of the Imagin-NATION Academy, offering a pathway to wisdom and healing using the ancient tools and practices of earth-based indigenous cultures.

Anne taught me an exercise that worked for her when she quit smoking. It’s a way to get into agreement with any addiction—social media, drugs, alcohol, complaining…anything—ultimately accepting that you’re not in control.

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The Incredible Power of Diet in Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease + 15 Heart Healthy Foods

We now know the importance of lifestyle factors like diet in the prevention and reversal of heart disease. What are the best heart healthy foods? And what other factors contribute to heart disease? Read on to find out!

Do you know anyone, perhaps a friend or family member (or maybe even yourself), who has had a heart attack?

Chances are you do. According to the American Heart Association’s 2018 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics, about 92 million American adults are living with cardiovascular disease.

And every 40 seconds, a heart attack occurs in the U.S. alone.

Heart disease has become a global epidemic. It’s the #1 cause of death on the planet.

It’s affected my family, too. I never even got to know my great-uncle, Burt Baskin, because he died of a heart attack six years before I was born.

How Heart Disease Affected My Family


You see, my great-uncle Burt was one half of the ice-cream company, Baskin-Robbins. And the other half was my grandpa, Irvine Robbins.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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