Posted in Blog Posts, wellness

Three Language Changes to Make in 2020

In 2019, I learned to say, “no.” Everywhere I turned I saw articles, posts, and heard conversations betwixt girlfriends in coffeeshops about saying no and setting boundaries. As a teacher and a naive empath, it’s a word I needed to learn to use and love to maintain a sustainable lifestyle.

In 2020, I’m committing to healing, abundance, and devotion after a tireless year of exhausting work and relationship strife. One way I’ve set myself up to fulfill this intention is by shifting the language I use to be more open, unattached, and free from judgement.

I offer these three simple changes you can make in your daily speech patterns to shift into an abundant and grateful mindset with increased regularity. Pro-tip: try first using these in text messages before practicing in public! Seems goofy, but it will help.

  1. Replace “sorry” with “thank you.” For example, if you arrive late to an outing with friends, instead of apologizing for what you perceive to be a wrong-doing, try thanking them for their patience instead. It will help you avoid the trap of self-punishment, while also cultivating a true appreciation for their flexibility.
  2. Add “yet.”
    I’m not sure how to do that, yet.
    I’m not over them, yet.
    This isn’t easy, yet.
    Simple *yet* powerful.
  3. Remove “should” from your vocabulary. Who are we to judge the moral character of any one person, thing, or action, and why would we want to? Walking around thinking things “should” or “shouldn’t be” one way or another seriously sapped my energy over time. It’s not about the language: it’s about the idea that the world hasn’t offered itself to us in a way that is easy or pleasing. Stating things “should” be a certain way fixes us in a mindset of scarcity. For example, I won’t say that you “should take this language advice,” but I could “offer you advice that may help.” Detach from outcome, embrace abundance, and try to take the word “should” off you plate.

I’d love to hear how these little changes in daily speech patterns affect (or don’t affect) your life! Leave a comment, shoot an email, or slide into our DMs at @itsmorethanmovement.

Happy New Year!

Posted in Blog Posts, wellness, yoga

Nurturing Breath with Nutrition

Undeniably, our breath holds our lifeforce. Every anatomical system depends on oxygenation, and the physical movement of our lungs propels parts of our lymphatic, nervous, and digestive system. In traditional Chinese philosophy and medicine, breath is linked to qi, an essential lifeforce and vital animating energy. In Hindu and Indian philosophy and medicine, including yogic philosophy, we that force is prana, and when we work with it using the breath, pranayama.

In the West, breath symbolizes peace and calm, but also the flow of some vital energy: when a person ceases to breathe they cease to live. When our lungs stop working and a human needs “life support,” a knell has rung. We should care for it as such.

Many of us in Western nations understand basic nutrition for digestive, muscular, skeletal, and cardiovascular health, but know very little about nurturing our lungs, the enablers of vital energy. In addition to obvious lifestyle changes like avoiding cigarettes (and inhalation of most things, including vaping and marijuana smoke), we can nurture our breath through thoughtful nutrition:

How to eat to treat your lungs

  1. Eat whole and organic as much as possible. This advice rings true for most nutritional needs, and if you adopt Michael Pollan’s great-great grandmother rule, the latter suggestions will fall in line. But let’s be real: whole and organic foods aren’t accessible to everyone all the time, and certainly aren’t always what we crave. I invite you to see where you can and find a happy place between a whole food lifestyle (not diet) and serving your social, emotional, financial, spiritual, and physical needs.
  • Increase antioxidants without falling into the processed food trap. Be critical in the grocery store: does it make sense to get antioxidants from the chocolate-covered blueberries that using antioxidants as a marketing tool, or from eating what you know to be full of unaltered nutrients? That’s not to say you can’t buy both: you  do you, boo. But be aware you’ll find better antioxidant content in whole, unaltered foods like dark & red berries, dark green veggies, whole grains, orange vegetables, and unsalted nuts, especially walnuts and Brazil nuts.
  • Avoid additives and preservatives such as aspartame, benzoates, nitrates & nitrites, parabens, and sulfites. Look for these where least expected: we all know Diet Coke has aspartame, but have you checked your meats for nitrites?
  • Reduce mucus & inflammation by drawing awareness to the caffeine and alcohol you ingest. Many of us identify as social drinkers or healthy coffee consumers, but I invite you to track those habits for a week. It may be more than you imagined! 

In short, a combination of intuitive and informed eating can keep our lungs thriving from healthy nutrition. In addition to nurturing with nutrition, try one of these breathing exercises to fully harness your life force!

Or, book an appointment with Lauren to learn the breath and body work that works best for you (from the drop-down menu, select private yoga instruction).

A fellow educator from Austin, TX demonstrates a square breathing exercise, which can be easy to deploy in situations when you don’t have much time or space.
Adriene Mischler, another Austinite and former educator, introduces a variety of breathing exercises in this pranayama video playlist.
Buteyko Breathing is commonly used to relieve asthma and other respiratory dilemmas.

Thank you for taking care of yourself. See you out there!

Posted in Blog Posts

What Meaningful Support Looks Like

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When you’re surrounded by negativity, healing and wellness can be hard. I think of times I have tried to heal when phantoms like guilt, bad friends, alcohol, and poor nutrition plagued me. Healing took longer and hurt more, and in the end I had other problems to solve. It took me ages to identify what a strong support network looks like, so I eventually developed a  habit of relying exclusively on myself. Like ridding illness without a doctor, rolling solo through grief, loss, or any other lower qualities simply exacerbates problems in the long term. Building a strong and reliable support network around yourself is crucial for celebrating meaningfully through the good and healing healthily through the bad.

1. Escape the echo chamber. While talking to others who have been through similar hardships can be incredibly helpful, be mindful of why you seek their support. Do you seek healthy affirmation and a helpful ear, or are you looking for an echo chamber to revel in? Wallowing in a problem will hurt more than it helps. When thinking of people and places that are truly supportive, escape situations that feel like an echo chamber.

2. Your network is not your therapist. We all experience symptoms of dysfunction or instability, whether it’s growing pains or atypical neurobiology. Thus, everyone absolutely needs a therapist. Unfortunately, very few can meet this need and attend counseling regularly or even at all. Whether that need can be met or not, your friends cannot be replacements for a therapist. Counselors have graduate-level degrees for a reason: it’s a profession that requires thousands of hours of study and practice! Our friends have other beautiful gifts, but are not apt fits for the professional-level counseling we need. In addition, therapy offers a completely safe space for the exploration of your thoughts that we cannot experience even with our closest friends. Friendships should have boundaries! Especially when we experience turmoil, we cannot strain and abuse friendships by constantly seeking free therapy from them.

3. Support at work is crucial. When I had my first manic episode, I emailed my supervisor at 4:00 in the morning saying I needed to take off and find supervised help. I had already taken 3 personal days that month, which is quite a few for a middle school teacher. However, I definitely needed that day: going to work manic with two sleepless nights under my belt, while suffering a major breakup and family loss was not smart. My supervisor’s response was gracious and supportive. He thanked me for finding help, gave me his cell phone number, prayed for me, and let me know everything would be handled at work. My coworkers pitched in to help my substitute and checked in with me in the days that followed. Coming to work and receiving love, hugs, and check-ins saved me. It gave me 8 stable hours a day where I knew everything would be great. Their response showed me my health and safety is a priority because I am valued by my peers.

Previously, I worked in many positions unlike this where supervisors expected the job to come first. That drove me deeper into depression and exhaustion. I gained weight, I stopped exercising, I didn’t relax, I worked 6-7 days a week. Failing myself meant failing at my job as well. Support at work is crucial, and we aren’t always taught that our jobs should be safe spaces. Make sure you check in with yourself and find a work environment that supports you as much as you support them.

4. True support means open compassion. Find people who understand you and your situation. There is a difference between love and understanding, though in your support network, many folks will do both. Where a therapist may understand you, a friend may love and understand you. Your supporters must also understand your situation, however, and exhibit this open compassion towards the problems that give you grief. Will negative yammering from a friend about your ex ultimately make you feel better? Probably not. You made the decision to be with that person; you don’t want to hear how bad of a choice that was. Seek supporters who exhibit open compassion, and give you mindful understanding with no expectation of gifts in return. You however, could bring compassion to the table as well, and engage in open (not forced) transactions of loving energy.

5. You are a critical link in the support network. Your network can’t heal you alone. Together, however, you will get the job done. What you bring to the table in a supportive relationship equals what you receive. Be sure to bring forth the energy and kindness you ask of others. Whether that’s with a friend, in therapy, or in a group exercise class, be mindful that you serve your full self and gratitude towards them.