5 ways to beat the winter blues.

5 ways to beat the winter blues.

If I had it my way, it would be sunny and 72 degrees every day of year. (Except during October, when it should be 55 and cloudy for Harry Potter watching parties. Oh, and also, it should snow on Christmas. Oh, and temps should hover between 86 and 88 with partly cloudy skies June through July for optimal relax-by-the-pool time.) But we have four full seasons in good ol’ KCMO (how we love you, 64112) including winter.

And I’m one of those poor souls who is extremely, uncannily affected by dreary. I am a plant: the moment the sun shines I fling open my arms with wild abandon and the moment the gloomy weather arrives I shrivel into a grumpy lady and try to shrink into pseudo-hibernation. Every winter I vow: this winter will be different. I will not let Seasonal Affective Disorder disorder my day! I will be happy, gosh darnit.

But the sun still hides and I still snap at my husband and shrink into the couch and say things like: “I just can’t be happy…it’s winter!” At those pivotal moments when all could be lost, or when I could manifest cheery by bolstering neurotransmitters, I sigh (loudly, ardently) and try to cheer myself up with these 5 ways to beat the winter blues.

  1. Drink lemon and raw honey with hot water. Seriously, it works. I add a splash of apple cider vinegar to mine as well. The lemon helps balance your blood alkaline levels and stimulate your senses.  Drinking this throughout the day may also help you decrease your stimulant (coffee and caffeinated tea) intake, while still feeling cozy with a mug of hot drink.
  2. Dance to Justin Timberlake Music Videos. This just in: music videos are specifically made to get you up, moving, and smiling. Research also shows that dancing eases SAD symptoms, stress and anxiety. I’m a fan of VEVO, but the YouTube works, too.
  3. Adopt a new favorite sugar-free baked goodie. In the winter time, all I want is to bake comfort foods. But sugar reeks havoc on your immune system, your intestines where feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine are produced, and your mood.  My favorite sugar-free baked goodie is a flax-pumpkin-muffin in a mug. It takes about 90 seconds to make and is super cozy.  (Recipe below.)
  4. Lend a loan on Kiva. Kiva is an international non-profit that bridges the gap between lender, loan and entrepreneur. On it, you become a lender and help a borrower grow a business, go to school, access clean energy or realize their potential. Loans are usually $25 and have a 97% return rate. Sharing and practicing gratitude for what you have through generosity is an instant mood-lifter. I usually have two loans active at any given time, supporting women entrepreneurs and students make their dreams a reality.
  5. Meditate on light and love. Sometimes our mind can change our mind.  A few moments of blissful guided meditation focused on our own Light and Love absolutely beats the winter blues. Try my Guided Meditation called “Own Your Light.” (Real talk: I even listen to this myself!)

I hope these little tips help you as much as they help me. Let me know which you try (or try all 5 in one day).

Happy Shining, even in the gloom.

-lisa

Flax-pumpkin-muffin in a mug Recipe.

In a microwavable mug combine:

  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp canned pumpkin
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1- 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • Optional honey if you need something super sweet

Stir ingredients well. Then microwave for 50 seconds. Allow the mug cool once removed from microwave. Eat with a tiny spoon so it lasts longer. So easy and nutritious!

mug-muffin

you are made of gold.

I love me a good fire. A real wood-burning, smoke-producing, utterly-charming fire holds me captive for hours. I’m the kind of person who sits too close the fire: my frontside burning, my backside frigid against the chill of the air, but too intoxicated by the heat to move away.  On New Year’s Day sequestered in an Arkansas cabin with my Ironman, I watched solid logs gathered the day before from the rugged hillside turn into powder behind the fireplace grate. In a matter of hours, they transformed completely from substance to ashes. It was beautiful.

January 1, or 2, or 31 is really just another day to the calendar. But we treat every January with unwarranted importance as the one and only time we reflect on the past year and set goals for the upcoming year. This act of reflection on the recent past and looking forward to the near future is, in my eyes, of utmost importance. But it should not be confined to January (even though it’s the perfect way to spend the hours hiding from winter’s unrelenting peril). Instead, transformation, or parinama in Sanskrit, can and should happen every day.

The Yoga Sutras tell us that we are all made of same underlying energy, an indivisible and invisible but powerful energy. A person’s heart is like gold: it can change, re-configure as a new shape, appear in a different form, but its essence remains the same. It endures fire and heat, but it is still gold. Parinama is a process of moving into the fire, confronting the heat of loss, fear, confusion, pain, humility, anger, and injury but retaining your essence of pure, unaltered light. It’s the process of taking a new shape but remaining gold.

arkanas-reflect

According to Social Media, everyone and their mom thought 2016 totally sucked. I thought it was fantastically wild ride—very high highs and very low lows—which sent me headfirst into the heat of transformation (you can read my 2016 round up here.) I definitely got burned a few times.  And I probably did some burning (that smoke detector in my new house works well, I assure you.), but isn’t a wild and slightly uncomfortable ride totally worth taking, if at the end you step off a new and transformed person?

Parinama: true inner transformation of thoughts, words, actions and habits takes time.  And trust. And a willingness to get burned. Transformation, on and off the yoga mat, begins with discomfort but ends with a stronger sense of respect for both yourself and the life you are leading.

arkansas-cabin

The Yoga Sutras tell us that every time we set foot on the yoga mat or have a seat on our meditation cushion is an opportunity for reflection and transformation. Everything in nature changes from moment to moment, day to day, year to year. Today, and every day of this year, set your intention to refine yourself. Take a moment to sit by a fire—you may already be sitting in one if you are reeling from stress, anger, hurt, or fear—and remember that everything is always changing and true reflection will move you forward into true healing. Set your intention to be open to change but remain gold. 

Happy Burning,

-lisa

 

5 things to try in 2017.

Happy New Year!

Time to make all sorts of New Year’s Resolutions … and work on them for a hot minute before promptly moving on to something else!  Just kidding (hopefully).  I know that “Resolutions” conjures feelings of stealthy anxiety, so I’m not going to suggest you make any brash commitments this year… but I will happily suggest 5 things that make my life happier, healthy, and more whole. Lisa’s tried and true: 5 things to try in 2017.

CalenGoo App

application-calengoo

It’s not free, but the CalenGoo app is worth its weight in gold. This alternative to the ubiquitously incomplete and unhelpful iPhone calendar app is a life saver. It shows you the whole month’s calendar at first glance with a blessed white box for every day filled with your events. You know exactly what’s on your schedule and can toggle between month mode, week mode, day mode, or list mode. My life became infinitely more organized the day I downloaded this app.  Find it on iTunes.

 

Rawxies Smoked Paprika Crunch

rawxies-crunch

Gluten Free, Soy Free, Dairy Free and full of flavor, these awesome Raw snacks are a must!  Smoked to perfection and spicy enough to satisfy by salsa-cravings, these little babies come in handy when I need something to crunch in the afternoon. They are seed based, so not a low-calorie snack, but pack 7 grams a protein per serving and are actually delicious. Plus, creator Callie Edwards is a KC Girl, so you are supporting local entrepreneurs and our growing health-food scene! Find them at grocery stores in KC like Whole Foods and Hy-Vee.

Guided Meditation with Lisa

understanding pic

It’s the most productive and refreshing five-minute break you’ll ever take. On days when the clock is travelling at breakneck speed and your brain is complete mush from laboriously checking off your to-do list, pop on your headphones and listen to a guided meditation. It’s easier to stay focused when you have someone else telling you what to think about, how to breathe, and what to imagine. Listening to an audio file is indiscreet: you can do a guided meditation in your car, at your desk or on a walk around the office. Find them on my website: lisaashyoga.com/guided-meditations and on the Free downloadable App ‘Insight Timer.’

Human Planet Documentary Series

human-plant

These beautiful documentaries are “Planet Earth meets This American Life.” Each episode features humans living in the harshest environments on earth and their struggle to survive in the unpredictable and often dangerous environments.  You’ll follow a young Brazilian boy learning to kill spiders for snacks in the Amazon Rainforest, an Ethiopian farmer protecting his grains from invading monkeys and Polar Bear Police protecting the residents of a Canadian town in arctic conditions. Don’t be surprised if your daily stresses seem like mere annoyances compared to snake fishers in Indonesia and cow herders in Nigeria. The footage is absolutely spell-binding and you’ll want to watch a few episodes at a time, so grab some snacks and take a night in with your family. Find it on Netflix.

Restorative Yoga

restorative-yoga-2016-sched

If you’re “the active Yogi” who considers your yoga class part of your daily Fit Bit movement quota, then I implore you to take a gamble on Restorative Yoga. Restorative Yoga is a gentle, contemplative, relaxing style of yoga that takes all the pressure off you to perform, do, or be the best.  It’s low-to-the-ground and looks a lot like ‘enforced nap-time’ with its myriad of blankets, pillows, straps, and heavy sandbags. You’ll experience more keenly the effects of the breathing techniques in yoga which calm and renew the nervous system.  There is nothing more beneficial for you and your stress level than taking a moment to slow down, enjoy life, and emerge refreshed. Try it at Westport Yoga Wednesdays at 6 pm and Saturdays at noon.

Ok, readers go for it: Happy, Healthy and Wholesome Living for 2017.  Love!