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Archive for the ‘Self Care’ Category

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I haven’t always been the best parent to myself. Bad decisions aside, I used to be my own worst critic, hurling a ridiculous, endless litany of insults and harmful non-truths at myself daily. Accomplishing even the simplest of tasks required a drawn-out inner battle where me and my strong-willed inner child self would grapple for victory.

It went something like this:

 

Me: “Sarah, go brush your teeth.”

 

Strong-willed inner child self: “No! I don’t want to go brush my teeth. I hate brushing my teeth!”

 

Me: “Sarah, it’s time to go to bed. Go brush your teeth.”

Strong-willed inner child self: “No! I hate brushing my teeth!”

Me: “Sarah, this is ridiculous. You are a grown woman. Why do we have to go through this every single night? Go brush your teeth.”

 

Strong-willed inner child self: “No!”

And so on and so forth.

 

Some nights, she’d win and I’d go to bed with dinner rotting on my teeth. Most times though, I’d win and tumble defeated and minty fresh into an exhausted sleep.

This went on every day, at least two times a day, for the majority of my life.

Then, finally, I decided I was sick of it. I was sick of the insults, sick of the relentless battle, sick of feeling bad all the time.

I wasn’t getting anywhere by fighting and guilting myself into each and every task, and I sure wasn’t winning any popularity contests with my inner child by constantly putting her down.

 

Something had to change.

 

Now, I’ve read all the self-help books and all of the insightful information about changing your negative thoughts into positive ones by the sheer power of your will, but for some reason, these positive mantras soon gave way to the old and before long, I was arguing with myself in the bathroom mirror again.

Here’s how I fixed it:

I decided to be a supportive and loving parent to myself. I began to tell myself how proud I was, how much I was loved, how truly awesome I was. I listened to all of my complaints, secrets, worries, fears and dreams with an open and loving heart. I gave myself permission to feel my feelings and bought myself treats to celebrate even the tiniest of accomplishments. I gave myself permission to play and have fun. I told myself I was strong and for some reason, I actually believed it; believed it in a way that was deep and soulful and unbending.

And that is how I do everything now, from resisting the urge to hit the snooze button just one more time to brushing my teeth to overcoming my fears – by telling myself:

“Sarah, you are strong enough to do this.”

And I am.

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Staying healthy this Fall

My allergies are always at their worst during the fall season and the diminished daylight, dampness and cold usually lead to sinus infections and colds, lack of energy and seasonal depression. Over the past few years, I have paid close attention to what triggers these imbalances and what has helped to keep me healthy and productive as I navigate the shift from summer into winter.

While it feels good to get lackadaisical with our routines during the summer, I find that they are much needed in order to maintain stability during the fall. Establishing a regular sleeping, eating, working, resting, and exercise routine is key to staying healthy. As our bodies try to acclimate to the changes of the season, a regular routine assists in establishing a healthy rhythm.

In addition to planning, executing and maintaining a regular schedule, here are some of my tried and true tips for a healthy body, mind and spirit -

Getting more rest -

Going to sleep a little earlier, getting up a little later, or even giving yourself permission to take a nap in the afternoon is a great way to honor the natural slowing down we all feel as the days grow shorter. Additionally, stepping away from your desk to get some fresh air, taking a hot bath, or just curling up with a good book and a warm cup of tea is hugely rejuvenating.

Sinus Cleansing -

Neti Pots offer great relief for people with sinus issues. I use mine daily. A Neti Pot is a small ceramic pot that looks somewhat like Aladdin’s magic lamp. You can usually find one in drug stores, health food stores, or at an online retailer for between $10-$20. The basic gist is that you are pouring a saline solution into your nostril and allowing the fluid to flow out, essentially flushing out your nasal passages. It is a little challenging to get at first, but after a few tries, you will get the hang of it.

Oil Pulling -

Oil Pulling is an absolutely safe and simple way to cleanse your body of toxins. In the morning (I do this in the shower to maximize my time in the morning) put a tablespoon of sesame oil into your mouth. BE CAREFUL NOT TO SWALLOW IT! Swish the oil around in your mouth and back and forth between your teeth for about 15 minutes or once your mouth gets full. Then spit it out. Rinse your mouth out with water. And you’re done! Oil pulling has been noted to cure common diseases like allergies, colds and coughs, gum diseases, infections in the mouth, ear, nose, throat, eyes, and pains like headache, migraine, tooth pain, neck pain, back pain etc, allergic sneezing, lip cracking, and fevers. To read more about Oil Pulling go here: http://www.oilpulling.org/oil-pulling/

Eating seasonally -

In many places, farmer’s markets are at their prime. It is a great time to indulge in summer’s bounty by eating more root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, turnips, and sweet potatoes as well as squashes such as pumpkin, butternut, and acorn.

Switch out your morning smoothie for something warm and wholesome like porridge or oatmeal and be sure to eat foods that are warming and nourishing.

Energy Boosters -

Maca powder, raw cocoa nibs, and chia seeds have been my absolute go to for energy boosting during my more sluggish days. All are loaded with antioxidants and super energy boosting properties. In the summer, I add these to my smoothies. In the colder months, I mix them into my oatmeal in the morning.

Restorative Yoga -

It is really easy to get overstimulated in the fall, so when the weather turns cold, I begin doing more restorative and yin yoga.

Acupuncture -

My acupuncturist is a saint. I go for weekly appointments to stay in balance during the cold weather seasons. If you live in New York, I highly recommend him: http://harmonytcm.com/

Sunlight Therapy -

I just purchased a sunlight alarm clock. It is an alarm that wakes you up by getting gradually brighter. Completely key if you have a hard time waking up when it is dark outside. For others suffering from seasonal affective, purchasing a light box that mimics natural outdoor light is extremely helpful.

I will add more as the season continues. Please check back for more updates on staying healthy this season.

Be well,

Sarah

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The cool, crisp autumn air has called us all into action – it seems that everyone is hard at work finishing projects and beginning new ones. The buzz of fall is all around us, ancestrally encouraging us to gather, store and organize in order to prepare for the long, restful season of winter.

The change in weather reminds us that it is time to ease away from the fast forward momentum of summer and to begin to slow down. As the days grow shorter, you’ll begin to notice a need for more rest than usual as your circadian rhythm is shifting along with the rest of the earth.

If you only have time for one pose a day, I suggest Savasana or Corpse Pose – the pose of deep relaxation. It is soothing to your sympathetic nervous system and relieves fatigue and anxiety and restores balance to your whole system.

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Corpse Pose/Savasana -

Lie on your back with your legs stretched out along the floor. Place a blanket under your neck or knees if you wish or cover yourself if you are cold. Place your arms comfortably at your sides with your palms turned upward. Close your eyes and let everything relax. Breathe normally and rest for fifteen minutes (perhaps set a gentle alarm). When you are ready to come out of the pose, bend your knees and roll slowly onto your right side. After a few breaths, gently push yourself up to a comfortable seated position.



As we navigate through this busy, shifting season and ever increasing demands for our time and energy, it is important that you replenish your body by doing absolutely nothing for fifteen minutes every day. Even if you cannot take the time right now to practice other poses, this one is exceptionally key.

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Saturday, April 28th

2-5 pm

at

Jennifer Brilliant Yoga

732 Carroll St.

Park Slope, Brooklyn

 

Thai Massage, or Nuad Bo-Rarn as it is known in Thailand, is an ancient holistic therapy with its roots in Buddhism, yoga, Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine. Thai Massage sees illness as reflecting an imbalance in the body/mind/spirit, and seeks to re-establish harmony by an interactive manipulation of the body using passive stretching and gentle pressure along acupressure points and energy lines (called Sen lines). The effect is uniquely relaxing as well as energizing. Sessions are traditionally performed on a floor mat with the client comfortably dressed in loose clothing. Therapists and clients both feel the positive, meditative effects of the massage.

This class is a fun way to learn some Thai stretching and massage techniques that can easily be done on friends and family.

 

Who Should Attend:
No massage experience needed! This class is for couples, friends, parents and teenagers, yoga teachers/students, physical therapists, massage therapists, personal trainers, and anyone else with an interest in learning and experiencing the gifts of Thai Yoga Massage.

Class Time is fun and interactive. After an explanation of the techniques and demonstration of the movements, students are led through the series.

 

What to Bring:
Work is done fully clothed, so wear loose, comfortable, modest clothing, long pants preferred (no short shorts or skirts or jeans); bring layers in case if you get cool or warm; have finger and toe nails trimmed short; bring clean socks; any cuts or wounds treated and covered, do not eat a heavy meal before class.

 

 

Early Bird Sign Up (before April 26th): $65 per person or $115 per couple

After April 27th: $75 per person or $130 per couple

 

 

Email Jennifer Brilliant to Sign Up

Jennifer@JenniferBrilliant.com

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The woman who taught me Thai Yoga Massage is about 9 inches shorter and 40 pounds lighter than I am and yet, I once watched her lift and balance a heavy, muscle-bound guy who was three times her size on her knees, as if it was the easiest thing in the world.

This display of super human strength is what drew me to Thai Massage in the first place.

That and the massages.

But my gluttonous love of massage aside, the idea that I could move, lift and bend people into yoga stretches that they normally couldn’t deepen into on their own appealed to me. For years, I’ve been engaging in a form of dance called Contact Improvisation, one of the aspects of which involves using momentum and the body’s structure to lift and be lifted by another person somewhat effortlessly. It’s a wonderful partnership built on listening, compassion, and surrender. The idea that there was a body therapy that combined this with yoga and massage seemed too good to be true.

Thai Yoga Massage is very much like a partner dance between practitioner and client. The practitioner uses their hands, feet, arms, legs, and body weight, leverage and momentum to gently guide the client into various passive stretches that often resemble yoga postures. A rhythmic, rocking motion is used to fluidly position the client and increase the amount of stretch. The more attuned the practitioner and the more relaxed the client, the more harmonious, healing and beneficial the dance becomes.

My teacher once asked us which we preferred, giving or receiving Thai Massage. None of us had a direct response one way or the other. Both were equally enjoyable, albeit for different reasons. As a practitioner, you create sacred space of all that is within the boundaries of the Thai Massage mat, yourself and your client included. The movements are swift and slow, like Thai Chi. The gentle rocking and sway of your body is akin to floating in a calm ocean. It creates a meditative peace that washes over both you and the client.

The meditative buzz for both the practitioner and client makes sense when you consider that Thai massage was developed by The Buddha’s personal physician, Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha, more than 2,500 years ago. From India, the practice traveled to Thailand, where the Ayurvedic techniques implicit in Thai Massage gradually became influenced by traditional Chinese medicine. Drawing from both influences, the philosophy behind Thai Massage is to view physical illness or discomfort as a result of an imbalance in the body, mind, and/or spirit. The practice then is to re-establish harmony through guided manipulation of the body using passive stretching and gentle pressure along Acupressure points and energy lines called Sen lines. There are said to be 72,000 of these lines, however, there are 10 main lines that are sufficient to treat the whole body and its internal organs.

When energy flow is blocked or restricted, the result is physically felt, whether in the form of fatigue, muscle aches, sickness or disease. Thai Massage works to clear these blockages and return stasis to the flow of energy. The result is a seemingly paradoxical sensation of feeling both relaxed and energized at the same time. Added benefits of Thai Massage include reduction in stress, improved flexibility and circulation, and mental clarity. The effects are felt and visible immediately. Recipient and practitioner leave sessions with a glow of peaceful calm.

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