Meditation is so many things. It's being present, it's cultivating creativity, it's stillness, it's peace, it's pure and blissful.
Solitude is often freeing, a luxury that many take for granted. There is so much power in silencing the outside world. Focusing inward allows you to find peace and piece of mind. That said, I find myself in the most quiet corners of my home. There, I read, reflect, lift up my prayers and quiet the chatter long enough to reach a place where there are no worries, because there are no thoughts.
In the beginning, when I was just learning how to set my intentions and after (when I do my best brainstorming), I'd find myself distracted searching through YouTube and Spotify. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that guided meditations narrated by some guy speaking in an English accent wouldn't do. I found "soothing soundscapes" comparable to imitation crab: It was just not the same thing. Underwhelmed and unenthused, I compiled a list of my own.
Before retreating into a place of quietude, I like to begin with a calming and relaxing meditative mix and finish with the same mix, a sort of opening and closing routine. This guided playlist, I hope, lifts your spirit effortlessly and helps you to stay present, in the moment and open.
What songs do you use for your meditation mix? Let me know in the comments below!
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Mediation has been used to help reduce stress and introduce moments of solitude and clarity. With so many different techniques across the web, it can be easy to get confused as to what it entails. Whether you're taking up or considering taking up meditation on your own free will or by doctor's orders, these beginner tips from HeyFranHey are an excellent place to start.
On Saturday, May 21st, we’re hosting our inaugural conference about how creativity and technology are changing our daily lives, from our hobbies to our work. Will you be joining us? Tickets here. Use code blavityfam.
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Most of us have heard the term chakra, but many aren't quite sure what they are or what they represent. Chakra is a Sanskrit word that translates to wheel or disk — imagine wheels of energy flowing throughout your body.
This infographic from World Lifestyle will give you a great overview of the seven chakras that start from the base of the spine and up through the crown of the head. Although this is by no means an exhaustive list, it's a great introduction to the chakras’ locations, influences, and what you may experience physically and emotionally when a chakra becomes out of balance.
Are your chakras balanced?
On Saturday, May 21st, we’re hosting our inaugural conference about how creativity and technology are changing our daily lives, from our hobbies to our work. Will you be joining us? Tickets here.
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Parents at Kennesaw elementary school were upset to learn that their children were being taught a simple mindfulness word and hand gesture, “Namaste,” which translates to "the light in me honors and recognizes the light in you."
Watch the video below to get more details and to see what all the commotion was about:
Do you think the parents overreacted? Leave your comments below.
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In this video, Global Mind Body explores the issue of diversity in Western yoga. As yoga continues to grow in popularity, it’s important to stay abreast of emerging trends and news on if and how this issue is being tackled. Instructors and practitioners passionate about the practice share their philosophies and personal experiences as women and people of color.
Yoga is for everyone regardless of race, religion or sex. After all, yoga derives from the Sanskrit word yug, which means to yoke or bind or also interpreted as unite or integrate, according to Yoga Journal.
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Check out this video by Obehi Janice and get into all this great black girl magic. I know I can relate. Cyber high fives all around!
Keep the laughter going by sharing this video on Facebook below.
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For my 28th birthday, I decided to do something special for myself. I enrolled in an eight-month 200-hour yoga teacher training program. As I look back over these past seven months, I can truly say that it was not only a great investment but also a wonderful experience. With only one weekend left of training, I’m filled with an array of emotions — mostly bittersweet.
These past few months have changed me in ways that I didn’t expect. For example, I didn’t expect to connect and have so much in common with many of the other teachers or meet new moms and schedule play dates for all of our minis to get together. I didn’t know that we would all care so much about each other and what was going on beyond our mats.
I just didn’t know what to expect.
Teacher training has not only helped me to focus on my personal practice by trusting myself and knowing I have everything I need within, but by also helping me to find my voice as a teacher. I pushed past my fear of public speaking, and now I’m leading my own yoga classes. If anyone knows me, they know how big of a deal this is for me.
I have also learned that yoga is so much more than the physical. To me, it’s about going inward and focusing on my spiritual side. I’ve actually started focusing less on what my body can’t do and being more grateful for what it can do. As a result, I’ve learned that I can actually do more than I ever imagined or gave myself credit for, and I found strength that I didn’t know I had.
For life off the mat, things I’ve learned in training have helped me to accept constructive criticism. This is an ongoing battle, but I can say that I’ve come a long way and I’m still moving in a positive direction. I’ve also learned to let go of my ego, not in the traditional sense, but by learning that most things are out of my control and, quite frankly, have nothing to do with me at all. This has given me so much more peace in life.
Honestly, these days I just find that I enjoy myself better. I’m happier and more aware of the things that I want. My head is clear and I’m more focused. I’m learning to meditate and I take my personal practice seriously and have made it a priority in my life.
Initially, I decided to take the training to advance my personal practice. In the end, I’ve accomplished that and so much more. I teach now and get to share the beautiful gift of yoga with others.
The training has also taught me more about the history of yoga and how it’s so much more than just about postures and yoga mats. It has ignited a fire within me that I refuse to let extinguish. I’m hungry to learn more and I constantly feed that desire by going to workshops and classes, reading classical texts and learning from others.
As the training comes to an end and I reflect over the past months, I can’t help but feel joy and gratitude for being blessed to have this experience. This ride has been so exciting and I can’t wait to see where I go next, but for now, I’m definitely enjoying the journey. I’m so glad I gave myself that gift.
What was your defining yoga moment? Share your experience in the comments!
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As all of these events began to cross my path, I had to catch my breath and try my hardest to not pass out from sheer excitement. There's so much yoga goodness that I just couldn’t keep it to myself — I had to share. I created a list of some the most anticipated yoga events for yogis of all levels. I’m sure there is an event listed here that makes you want to call up your bestie, pack up your mats and hit the road.
1. BrownBeauty in the City: A Pop-Up Wellness Experience
Hosted by: MyBrownBox
"Celebrate yourself by joining us for a relaxing and therapeutic evening of guided meditation, yoga, music, giveaways, raffles, photo ops, good vibes and more."
Date: March 05, 2016
2. Hungry Hawk Vineyards – Yoga in the Vineyard
Hosted by Women, wine & yoga
"Settle into a relaxing day-getaway in the heart of beautiful San Diego wine country! Surrounded by gorgeous vineyards and untouched nature, you are invited to leave the daily hustle and bustle behind and step into the tranquil and restorative space of Yoga in the Vineyard."
Date: March 12, 2016
3. Wanderlust 108 – The World’s Only Mindful Triathlon
Hosted by: Wanderlust
"Wanderlust 108 is a field day for your mind, body, and soul. Hold the plastic trophy, because we have better prizes: vibrant community, self-awareness, and inner peace. Community instead of competition? You can’t beat that. The day will consist of a 5k run or walk, yoga, and meditation."
Date: April 30, 2016
Cost: starting at $39.00
4. Yoga Retreat for Women of Color – I Love Myself When I Am Laughing
Hosted by: Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health
"Take a remarkable journey that integrates spirit, soulfulness, and sisterhood with yoga, meditation, movement, breath, and play. This Yoga Retreat for Women of Color™ calls upon Zora Neal Hurston, Natalie Diaz, Toni Morrison, Marilyn Chin, Bell Hooks, Maya Angelou, Isabelle Allende, and others to connect and recharge us with their words of wisdom."
Date: June 24-26, 2016
5. Black Yoga Teachers Alliance Conference & Retreat – Revival! Evolution of Spirit
Hosted by: Black Yoga Teachers Alliance
"Experience an amazing and historic event — a revival and evolution of spirit at the first Black Yoga Teachers Alliance conference at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Stockbridge, MA."
Date: August 25-28, 2016
6. The Yoga Expo
"The 2nd annual Yoga Expo in Los Angeles will have BIGGER classes, a BIGGER marketplace, a more EXPANSIVE vegan food selection, and a LARGER variety of yoga styles! The Yoga Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center serves as a platform to empower and strengthen the LA yoga community. Connect with local teachers, bring a friend (or make one,) explore yoga studios in your area, and taste local and sustainable food & beverages."
Date: December 17, 2016
This isn’t a comprehensive list, as I’m sure more events will pop up over the summer, but it's an awesome place to get started!
What event are you and your yogi crew attending?
What event are you and your yogi crew attending? If you have any events I've missed, make sure to share them in the comments below!
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As a kid, running around barefoot in the red 'Bama clay was a right of passage. Turns out those good vibes were more than just the carefree freedom of youth. Emerging scientific research suggests that walking barefoot in nature — referred to as earthing or grounding— has numerous benefits. So here's why you should get grounded.
Daily exposure to artificial chemicals, pesticides and pollutants can cause excess buildup of “free radicals” in our system. This can have a chronic effect on our bodies and increase our potential of contracting all sorts of ailments. Direct contact with electrons helps to stabilize these radicals. Because the earth’s surface is overflowing with electrons and the soles of our feet are brimming with nerve endings, walking barefoot through nature is a great way to absorb electrons from the earth to offset toxins and maintain a healthy balance.
Although there is no shortage of faith-based literature that points to the sacred benefits of grounding, it seems apparent that we share this ecosystem with all living things. Our physical connection with the substance of our creation, the earth, spiritually connects us with a universal higher power.
Anyone who has ever taken a barefoot stroll on the beach can attest to it’s tranquil effects. Although this likely has something to do with the fact that you’re walking on the beach and not locked in a cubicle, research has shown that the psychological benefits to earthing include deeper relaxation, better sleep, lowered blood pressure and reduced overall anxiety.
Nature has a beautiful way of caring for its own. Just as sun exposure provides us with nourishing Vitamin D, earthing is a great, low maintenance and totally free way to recharge and stay grounded.
Have you tried grounding? Let us know your experience in the comments below!
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If you are anything like me, your morning starts off waking up tangled in your sheets, phone in one hand scrolling through emails and tweets. The way you start your morning can dictate how to rest of your day will go, so here are a few things you can do to have a tangle-free morning.
Meditate or pray
The world is so fast paced nowadays that it’s hard to be still. However, it’s very important to rest your mind, body and spirit every day. The best way to practice being still is meditating and praying. It is found that doing these practices increases dopamine, the happy chemical.
Set an intention
When you wake up, set an intention for your day. Do you want to be productive? Connect with people? Dedicate this day to self-love? Whatever the case, speaking your purpose helps you set the tone for the day.
Too tired to hit the gym after work? Try working out in the morning instead. Putting exercise first on your to-do list can energize you, boost your metabolism, and help you stay focused throughout the day.
I’ve been journaling since the time I was able to write. Have I been consistent? Nope. But whenever I needed to vent or had an idea, journaling has helped me out. The practice helps relieve physical and mental stress, which in turn can remove mental blockages or decrease the symptoms of arthritis and asthma.
Drink tea or warm lemon-infused water
Sleep can dehydrate you. Wake up your system by pouring a nice cup of tea or warm lemon water. The benefits are endless, such as helping you maintain a healthy weight and boosting your immune system.
Make a green juice or smoothie
Another way to wake your system up is to drink something green! Green juices and smoothies have many benefits, such as boosting energy and promoting healthy hair, skin and nails. Don’t know whether to choose between making a juice or a smoothie? Well, your body absorbs nutrients faster when you drink a green juice, while green smoothies are more filling due to high fiber content. Here’s a dope green juice recipe to get you started.
Listen to motivational videos or audio
Sometimes you need an extra boost of inspiration. Why not listen to your favorite podcast or motivational YouTube while you're getting ready to start the day? My personal favorites right now are The Friends Zone, and Brittspiration by Brittany Josephina.
Do one or all of these practices to have a more purposeful morning.
How do you start your day? Your Blavity fam wants to know in the comments below!
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Who says you can’t meditate while you run? One of the first lessons I learned when I joined my high school cross-country team was how to remain in control of my body and run mindfully. Mindful running and meditation are important because without focusing your energy and maintaining control of your body, running becomes monotonous and miserable.
Here are the running pointers that my coach shared with me that will take your jog from grumpy to glorious!
1. Breathe deeply
Inhale through the nose, exhale through mouth. Inhalations and exhalations should each be about three steps long.
2. Pay attention to your form
Think Baywatch! The torso should be primarily still with the arms pumping back and forth. Watch side-to-side movement of your arms and torso — moving side-to-side uses extra energy that you could devote to running a block farther! Your hands should be relaxed, no fists. If you find yourself balling your fists on your next jog, try making O’s using the index finger and thumb of each hand.
3. Watch your step(s)
When you run, you should feel the full bend of your foot. Distance running utilizes the heel-to-toe step (as opposed to sprints, where people often run on their toes).
4. Walk if you need to
You aren’t racing and you aren’t being judged (and even if you are), bottom line is that you’re out to get some exercise, not to break a record. It’s okay to walk. Take a break and smell the roses, then get back to running when you’re ready.
5. Find your pace
If you’re constantly panting or just can’t seem to catch your breath, you could be running a little faster than your pace. Though it might seem counter-intuitive, because you’re running, you should always be in control of your breath. Try to maintain a slow yet steady speed so you can make it to the end of your run. Using the “three steps in, three steps out” rule can help with maintaining a steady, comfortable pace.
6. Always stretch pre- and post-run
Stretching is extremely important. Keep in mind that a stretch is most effective when you stay in the pose for at least one minute. So when you hit that split, stay there for 10 slow, deep breaths (about a minute long). I use music to time my stretches by holding a pose for one verse and one chorus. You also can throw on a yoga video! There are tons of great choices on YouTube. I like Yoga with Adriene’s cool-down sequence.
Remember that at the end of the day, running isn't about speed; it’s about improving your health! As long as you're out there, who really cares if your run is floppy or formed. You're getting exercise and committing to yourself, and that's what's most important.
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Relaxation techniques are simple activities designed to reduce the mental and physical effects of stress. Left unchecked, chronic stress can wreak havoc on the body, increasing your risk of depression, anxiety, weight gain, digestive problems, memory impairment and sleep issues. Stress reduction is just as essential as healthy eating and exercise, and everyone should strive to incorporate relaxation into their daily lives. If you are unfamiliar with relaxation techniques, try one of these three simple methods to get started:
1. Deep breathing
Deep breathing as a relaxation tool involves more than taking a few deep breaths. Your goal is to focus all your attention and your senses on your breathing. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in through your mouth. Notice what happens to your body. How does your chest feel? Does your abdomen expand? Hold the breath momentarily, then slowly exhale through your mouth. What does your breath sound like? How does your body feel?
You may feel a bit corny at first, but the goal is to concentrate on your breathing rather than all the stressors that worry you all day. If you’re having trouble focusing, follow along with this YouTube video that teaches the 4-7-8 method (breathe in for four seconds, hold it for seven seconds, and breathe out for eight). Even just a few minutes of deep breathing can leave you feeling calmer, clear-headed and ready to tackle what’s ahead.
2. Progressive muscle relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) relieves tension in your muscles. Starting at your toes and working all the way up to your head, slowly tense one muscle group at a time as you inhale, hold it a few seconds, and then release your muscles as you exhale. Try this with your toes, calves, thighs, buttocks, abdomen, hands, forearms, shoulders and face. PMR has the potential to reduce blood pressure and relieve body tension.
3. Physical grounding
Grounding is a way of detaching from emotional pain, and it's an effective way to get people suffering from anxiety or PTSD to focus on the here-and-now rather than their overwhelming feelings. However, anyone can use it as a stress reduction technique.
Physical grounding involves focusing all your intention on something within your current physical space. Pick up a small object near you, and describe it in as many ways as you can. How big is it, what does it feel like, what does it smell like, what color is it, etc. Or wiggle your toes in your shoes. What do you feel? Describe it in as much detail as you can. Focusing your attention on something physical can help you calm down before returning to whatever you were doing beforehand.
There are many ways to relax, and these are just a few that can be done easily at any time, in any place, in just a few minutes. It doesn’t matter what method you choose, as long as it works for you and you incorporate it into your everyday...