3 Ways to Live Intentionally in 2018

_99O0723 (1)I hope you had a happy new year! In 2018 I’m making it a priority to live more intentionally.

Living intentionally means taking yourself off of auto-pilot and asking yourself why you do what you do. Why have you set a resolution to workout more, or travel? How do you imagine you’re going to feel once achieving those goals? Tuning into the why of our everyday, rather than following the status quo of our community and people around us, creates enormous space for intentional living, clarity, and present moment awareness.

Here are three ways I’ve been practicing intentional living this week, I invite you to do the same for a day, or week, or however long you feel called to.

  • Morning meditation and stretching: Wake up earlier than usual to allow time for a short meditation and/or a gentle stretch to check in with the state of your body and mind. Not only is this a much needed act of self-care, but starting your day with meditation brings clarity to the rest of your day, starts your morning with mindful intention which leads to other mindful decisions (big and small) throughout the day, and a short meditation and gentle yoga practice are a grounding way to keep yourself stress free.
  • Mindful meals: Regular meditation and yoga bring more innate awareness to your body and with it, more awareness of the effects that what you ingest has on your body. The most obvious way we see this is in our body is with food. High-fat “comfort” foods are easy for most people to choose, but cause lethargy and lessen our ability to cope with stress while healthier foods are energizing, stress relieving, nutritious, and boost our immune system. Pay attention to your meals and see if you can cut out one unhealthy food item a day and replace it with a plant-based whole food. Maybe even commit to one plant-based meal a day, a meal with foods derived from plants and little to no animal products.
  • Explore, don’t expect: Most of us have a desire for instant gratification. Expecting something for our actions is the reason why most people break their New Years resolution before the end of January. By approaching resolutions, and life, from a place of exploration and curiosity, rather than anticipation and expectation, we allow ourselves to fully enjoy the process, let go of perceived end goals, and decrease disappointment and self-judgement if you do not get the results you imagined.

How are you living intentionally?

Lessons from Self-Care With Her(b)

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Photo courtesy of PuffPuffPassCo at Self-Care Sunday

Last week I hosted Self-Care With Her(b), a women-centered workshop that served to create a space to share tips about wellness with cannabis. We had a sister session of open conversation while sharing organic herb, learned how to implement a self-love practice through affirmations and hip-opening stretches, and indulged in shoulder rubs using the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties of THC and CBD-infused massage oils. An amazing night of radical self-love blessed by the full moon and so much feminine wonder.

The vibes were high as a room full of Queens of all ages, ethnicities, and individual stories communally smoked rose petal blunts hand-rolled with a mix of indica and CBD cannabis, lavender buds (for increased relaxation), and white sage (to lengthen the duration of the high); taking in Mother Earth’s smokable goodness and shedding layers. If you weren’t able to make it to this session, don’t fret – you may have missed out on this divine feminine experience but you can join my mailing list to be the first to know when the next Self-Care With Her(b) workshop will be happening again! For now, here is a peak into some of the ideas we explored about developing a self-care routine with cannabis.

  1. Understand your personal relationship with cannabis

“Every woman interested in a spiritual friendship with cannabis should have her own pipe and her own small stash of good herb, and she should know how to prepare it and savor it. Also, women should do it alone now and then, silently seeking communion and insight. As wonderful as a couple’s enhanced communication and sensuality can be, solo contemplation is also a marvelous path to follow.”

This quote comes from Cannabis & Spirituality by Stephen Gray, and serves as a reminder that your relationship with cannabis is so deeply personal and should be explored alone every so often to honor this. What are your favorite methods of consumption? How do indicas make you feel? How about sativas? How many mgs do you like to have of an edible? If you smoke joints, do you know how to roll your own? What signs does your body give you when you start to feel too high? What do you do when you get too high? What activities feel the best when you smoke? What thoughts, feelings, and sensations are amplified or diminished with certain strains?

I’ve met so many women who only smoke socially or because of their partner, without any regard for what they’re trying to experience other than being altered or just to be a part, that they have no idea what kind of cannabis they’re smoking or what the effects are supposed to be. When you know how different strains, types, and doses of cannabis effect you, and generally educate yourself about the cannabis you’re consuming (ask your budtender!) and the way it effects you personally (ask your body!), you become empowered to take your experience, healing, and well-being into your own hands, rather than leaving it to someone one else.

2. Find cannabis-friendly products for your health and wellness needs

Cannabis is more than a psychoactive plant, it also has lots of stress and anxiety reducing, anti-inflammatory, and pain relieving properties making it a perfect ally for women’s wellness. Whether it is a cannabis-infused bath bomb, essential oil, body oil, salve, or diet-specific edible, there are infinite ways to take advantage of the healing benefits of cannabis for multiple situations.

Papa and Barkley Releaf Yoga With Minelli Self CAre with Herb
image courtesy of Eaze
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image courtesy of marijuana.com

One of my go-to cannabis products for relieving menstrual cramps and back pain is Papa & Barkley’s 1:3 CBD Releaf Patch, a small patch that radiates warmth and over 30mgs of cannabinoids where the patch is placed and surrounding areas, alleviating discomfort in around 20-minutes. Or, if time allows, I also like to use Whoopi & Maya’s Amer Moon bath soak which has a combination of cannabis, epsom salts, and therapeutic grade essential oils to support and stimulate your body’s natural healing compounds.

 

Whether you have cramps, PMS, are pre or post-natal, going through menopause, or just want to relieve stress after a long day, soaking in a cannabis-infused bath (while smoking a mellow indica joint) is one of the most luxurious and feel good ways to self-care. You cannot get high from a medicated bath soak.

Taking advantage of and being knowledgeable about all of cannabis’s plant medicine is so powerful. Just as knowing the way you react to the psychoactive effects of cannabis is necessary, it is also important to equip yourself with ways to alleviate symptoms through cannabis while supporting your endocannabinoid system. This empowers us to safely manage some health and wellness needs on our own, using the benefits of natural herbs instead of prescription pills.

3. The importance of affirmations

As women we are often taught to seek love and validation through external sources, but in reality we can only be fulfilled when we love ourselves first. Repeating affirmations is a great way to uplift and empower yourself, practice loving awareness, increase your general well-being and confidence, and reduce negative self-talk. The words we say to ourselves, whether they are voiced or internalized, have very real and palpable effects. When your inner voice in a critic more often than an observer it chips away at your perception of self and situations.

During Self-Care With Her(b) we used journals to write down a simple affirmation starting with I AM. I am strong. I am beautiful. I am love. I am here. Whatever naturally arose. While laying on our backs in supported fish pose, reclined bound angle pose, or corpse pose we held the journal to our chest, repeating the affirmation in our heads with each inhale and exhale. Inhaling love, exhaling love.

Doing this for several minutes creates a ritual for a self-care practice and encourages us to carve out time specifically for this. I love doing this in the mornings, writing affirmations and possibly more as long as it is judgement-free, but you can also do this without writing the words, just remembering them in your mind and repeating. Inhaling and exhaling love.

4. When in doubt, try hip-opening restorative stretches

According to yogic traditions, our hips are the storehouse of subconscious emotional and physical stress so stretching the hips allows us to relieve this area, feel open, and create space to birth new perspectives. Restorative hip openers are also deeply calming, helpful in relieving lower back pain and menstrual cramps, and increase range of motion and circulation.

Perfect for morning, noon, and night, combining an affirmation writing and smoking session with some long-held hip-opening restorative poses like supported child’s pose, supported reclined bound angle pose, saddle pose, happy baby pose, butterfly pose, deer pose, and bringing it to a close with a long savasana or legs-up-the-wall pose is grounding and can be an important time to check in, notice without judgement, and let go of what is not serving you. Becoming still and silent enough to filter out the noise that usually seems so important.

It takes self-observation, patience, curiosity, and education to get the most out of cannabis’s whole plant medicine and be able to use it as a viable part of your self-care routine. You can use these tools and any of the options mentioned above to start to get a taste of what self-care with her(b) looks like for you, but always be gentle with your process and always listen to your body. Let us know in the comments section if you try any of these or have self-care suggestions of your own.

Last week was the first Self-Care With Her(b) workshop that I hope to host quarterly with rotating self-care themes and cannabis-products from women-centered and ethnically diverse businesses, bringing support to all kinds of feminine. Join my mailing list to be the first to know the dates for the next sister session! If you would like to submit suggestions for topics of discussion or share your product, email me at hello@yogawithminelli.com

My Morning Mindfulness Routine | Creating Space for a New Day

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Photo courtesy of Bess Byers

A morning mindfulness routine helps to create space for a new day by guiding us to let go of what happened yesterday, reign in thoughts of what might happen today, and be receptive of what is happening right now – the present moment. My morning routine doesn’t look the same everyday because I wake up at different times for work, which allows for more or less time depending on the day (on days I have to be up at 5:30am my routine gets a lot shorter), but I always make time for gentle observation after waking to notice my breath, how I’m feeling, and what thoughts are stirring around in my mind.

When we begin the day with mindful intention it’s easier to continue making mindful choices throughout the day, whether that means making a healthier food choice for breakfast, pausing before reacting to a situation, or going to sleep earlier so you can take a yoga class the next morning – all of which can have a positive affect on your stress levels and well-being. With a consistent morning mindfulness routine we are also able to build tapas, a Sanskrit word translated as heat, fiery discipline and internal fire; an aspect of our inner wisdom that encourages us to get up and do our practice for the love of it – ‘burning’ away negative thought patterns and habits to build healthier ones.

By training ourselves to create this space in our practice, we learn to let go of expectations, and we learn flexibility. Once we get used to being open and having room to allow anything to happen, we start to welcome the unknown.

Here are a few parts of my routine that I find the most centering:

Get adequate sleep

Everyone’s definition of ‘enough sleep’ is different but I like to get around 8 hours sleep a night. Just like eating, drinking, and breathing, adequate sleep serves a vital role to our health and emotional well-being. Being well rested is an important part of self-care as it helps us feel as if we’re ready to take on the world while inadequate sleep can cause difficulty making decisions, solving problems, controlling emotions and behavior, and coping with change.

Be grateful

Waking after a good night of rest also makes it easier to cultivate feelings of gratitude, rather than misery and aggravation, when you wake up. Feelings of gratitude increase mental strength and empathy so when I wake up I let my first thoughts be centered in gratitude, just being thankful for the day and every unknown moment that it will bring. This definitely didn’t come naturally at first, but after a while tapas and adequate sleep made it a reflex for me to feel thankful first thing.

No phone for the first 20 minutes of waking

My cell phone is a huge causer of stress in the morning since I do a lot of work from it, so other than setting a timer for my meditation I give any energy to my phone for at least 20 minutes after waking. At first 20 minutes seemed like a long time since I used to instinctively wake up and roll towards my phone, but now I easily go longer to extend my quiet time and spend less of my day immersed in emails, social media, texts, or work. Sometimes I’ll turn my phone off overnight or have it on silent and face down just to avoid lights or sudden pings catching my attention.

Hydrate

Hydrating is something I constantly have to remind myself to do so getting a few cups of water in before the day gets busy is vital for me. Drinking warm water as soon as I wake up ensures I get a big glass in as soon as possible and warm water is great for your digestive system – so two birds, one stone!

Stretch

This doesn’t mean yoga as much as it means intuitive movement, like the reflexive way you might reach your arms up and point your toes after waking. I like to make a little time for movement and let my body naturally open into any feel good stretches, gentle cat-cow arches, downward facing dogs, or reclined pigeons. Physical yoga postures are all about creating space, so I keep this in mind as I create space for the day. In a pose we create space physically by stretching our bodies while the next parts of my routine work on creating space in the mind.

Meditate

Depending on my mood and time my meditation can be a 10 minute check-in while in bed or seated on a bolster, to a 30 minute walking meditation listening to a guiding audio. I like to keep my morning meditations simple with no active or intense breath work, just passive observation of my breath and gentle awareness of my body. When thoughts inevitably stir up or I drift into planning what I have to do later I simply acknowledge the thoughts popping up in my mind, let them dissipate, then bring my focus back to the movement, quality, and richness of my breath. If simple passive observation isn’t enough to bring me into the space I remembering the saying,  “we inhale to take in what we need, and exhale to let go of something that once served us but does not anymore” and that serves well for seeing other thoughts as irrelevant in this moment.

Journal

Most times after meditating and stretching I write down thoughts about whatever is swimming around in my mind. Oftentimes I’ll just take note on what arose during my mindfulness practice, my goals or struggles, intentions for the day, or just noticing which movements or meditation methods felt the best. Journaling is a meditative practice in itself because it can be a time to connect with and reflect on yourself through non-judgemental writing, getting thoughts down on paper to clear some of the mental clutter.

Medicate

I mentioned this last, but cannabis consumption is typically sprinkled throughout my morning mindfulness routine (and life!), but of course feel free to omit this if you’re not a regular consumer. A lot of people feel as if smoking makes them feel lazy or unproductive, but that is all to do with the strain, how much you smoke, and the set and setting of the situation as well as your intention. As with every part of my practice I let my body tell me if and when it wants to feel elevated, and sometimes that may mean packing a bowl before stretching or just lighting up as I’m journaling. If you’re present for the experience grinding the flower, packing or rolling it, smoking, and instantly noticing how your body and mind react when they’re both freshly awake can be a time for mindful observation, and cannabis can act as a way to slow down thoughts, fully awaken, and center your mind for your day.

This list may seem like a lot (especially when you’re used to running around in the morning), but for me can range anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour depending on if I have an early work day, whether I feel called to do everything, and how long I choose to spend on each activity. If you feel like you don’t have enough time to do this in the morning, you are exactly who needs to be doing this – waking up 20 minutes earlier (which means sleeping earlier) for self care will make you feel better equipped to deal with the day without feeling drained by the end of it.

I think a genuine desire to build a mindfulness routine while remaining flexible about what that practice looks like is what determines “success” in this. Creating space with a mindfulness routine includes allowing space for that routine to change accordingly with how your mind and body are feeling, while encouraging you to remain an observer of yourself rather than a critic. There’s no timer or person watching over your shoulder so just listen to your body, carry on as it feels good, and eventually your inner teacher will tell you what parts of your routine it resonates with the most and tapas will keep you coming back.

I Am Here

warriortwoyogawithminelli

Namaste loves! I don’t have much to say but thought I’d doll-up my blog posts with an introduction. I’m Minelli, I teach yoga and smoke cannabis – you’ll often find me doing both at the same time. I buy too many books  and create stories of my own. I want to live a life full of people and experiences, not things. When I’m not doing yoga, I’m taking scenic bike rides, hiking, and dreaming of a simple life in a camper van, with my husband and our cat.

I am here to bring awareness to the healing capabilities of cannabis-enhanced yoga. To serve. To explore my passions. To create space. To be part of a community.  I am here to help my fellow humans tune into themselves and find so much happiness.