Mindful Monday: Evening Rituals

Evening

Last week I wrote about some rituals I try to practice every morning. I thought I’d also share some things I do to wind down most evenings.

1.  Light Movement: Some people love to work out right before bed and others find that it keeps them awake. I fall somewhere in between. If I do an intense workout like running or something with weights I have too much adrenaline and end up not sleeping well. I do find that a bit of low-intensity exercise helps me wind down. I usually mix it up between going for a walk, restorative yoga, and light cardio.

2. Aloe Water: I drink a glass of water with a table spoon of aloe juice and a few drops of liquid chlorophyll. It’s supposedly good for your skin and I do find that I have had much less insomnia since adopting this practice.

3. Meditate: This was not something that was an easy practice for me to adopt since my mind loves to race but this helps me calm my brain down before bedtime. I started off with guided meditations which I still sometimes do but lately, I’ve taken to choosing mantras that speak to me and saying them to myself using with a Japa Mala.

4. Journal: Unlike morning pages journaling is more personal and I can go back and reflect on passages later on. If I don’t know what to write I draw a zen tangle as my entry instead. Sometimes I write a bit and also include a zen tangle.

5. Audiobooks: Sometimes I’m so tired I know I’ll fall asleep when I hit my pillow but typically that isn’t the case. I’ve found that playing an audio book and setting the sleep time on Audible is great for me. I play a book I’ve finished in the past so that way it’s something familiar that is just providing white noise.

 

Morning Rituals

Meditating Milo

How you start your morning can determine the rest of your day. We all have good days and bad ones, but I’ve found if I try to begin the day with a positive outlook and take a little time for some self-care I tend to be in a better mood than I am on days when I’m rushed and flustered in the AM.

Here are a few things I try to fit into my morning before I head out the door.

1. Sun Salutations: I used to be envious of people I knew that either didn’t work a full-time job or had a large disposable income because they seemed to have the luxury of multiple daily trips to a fancy yoga study. While sixty minutes of daily yoga at my favorite studios isn’t something I can always fit into my schedule or budget I can start off the morning with five or ten minutes of sun salutations.

If you’ve taken a Vinyasa yoga class you’ve probably done this repetitive sequence of positions which are known as sun salutations. I have taken to keeping my yoga mat laid out next to my bed so I can hop out of bed, throw on some gym clothes, and face the window for some morning flow. There are different sun salutation routines out there and sometimes I do follow a video to switch it up. But if I don’t want to spend too much time thinking about what I’m going to do for a sequence my standby is: Mountain Pose, Arms to the Sky, Forward Fold, Lunge, Plank, Downward Facing Dog, Cobra, Upward Facing Dog,  Downward Facing Dog, Plank, Cobra, Opposite Lunge, Foward Fold, Arms to the Sky, Moutain Pose with hands in prayer position to heart.

2. Hot Water: Before coffee and breakfast I have a cup of hot water with apple cider vinegar and lemon juice to aid digestion and open up the esophagus. I don’t mind the taste, but if you want to try this and find it too tart you can add a little sweetener to your cup.

3. Bunny Love: I feed Milo and clean his space before going to work, but I also spend a little time giving him some pets and if he’s in the mood playing with him. If you have a pet I recommend having time to show them a little love before you head out.

4. Morning Pages: This comes from the book The Artist’s Way. The idea is to write three pages of anything and just put it aside. This way you’re not stressing about the words on the page being perfect but it’s a way to open up your creativity.

5. Quick Check In: I do a quick email check after I’ve gone through my other rituals. This way I can respond to anything that needs immediate attention and I can have a good sense of anything I need to be prepared for when I arrive at the office.

What are some of your favorite morning rituals?

Class Pass

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I mentioned that I recently rejoined ClassPass which allows members to take classes at a variety of gyms and studios throughout the city. I had been a member in 2015 and ClassPass was different then. You had access to as many classes as you wanted in a month and could visit any one studio up to three times.  I did it for about six months and left when the prices were going to be raised again. At one point it was $99 for the unlimited plan and I believe it rose to $199 eventually. I left to join a gym that I found through ClassPass. I decided not to renew there because as I mentioned I’m not great about going to the gym just to use the equipment and the classes I was most interested in happened to fall on evenings when I had other commitments or during work hours. 

ClassPass has changed and now charges based on how many classes you want to take each month and there are options to add on gym time if you do like to go for some solo workouts. I’m doing the five class a month plan which is great for me. It forces me to take one class a month and I found a particular studio I enjoy that sells a la cart classes so my plan is to take a class there once a week for my cardio and use my ClassPass membership to take some more toning classes and try new workouts. My first dabble with ClassPass is how I got into Yoga which is primarily an at home practice for me now, however, I do occasionally take some classes with instructors I enjoy.

What ClassPass has really done for me is taught me what I like and don’t like in a fitness class. I found that activity wise I enjoy Yoga, Barre, and Dance classes. I don’t really like high-intensity classes or spinning, but I did enjoy water cycling. I also like body positive studios where everyone feels welcome and the instructors are fun and attentive to everyone. I’m including some of the studios I’ve enjoyed the most below so if you live in NYC or are ever visiting and want to take a class this may be helpful. Most of these centers sell one off classes or day passes so you don’t have to be a member to try it out.

Dance 

Blood Sweat and Tease: They offer really fun cardio and burlesque dance classes.

Broadway Bodies: They offer dance classes to songs from Broadway musicals and pop music. I’m obsessed with their Broadway Cardio class and that is the other weekly course I’m currently taking.

Toning

The Lab: Their bounce class shakes pilates up by having a portion of the class take place on trampolines.

Nalini Method: Intense Barre

Yoga 

Abhaya Yoga: Some of their classes feature live music.  Plus you have beautiful views of the city from Brooklyn Bridge Park during your practice.

BeFit NYC: This studio offers dance, yoga, and other classes. I like their late evening classes which are a great way to destress.

Naam Yoga: Most of their classes are Restorative Yoga which is more about releasing stress than sweating. My personal favorite is aromatherapy yoga which is a class where the instructor exposes you to a different essential oil each week.

Upper West Side Yoga: Great Vinyasa classes for all levels. My only complaint is sometimes the classes can be too crowded but the instructors are great. If you’re able to go during an off time when people are typically at work you’ll probably enjoy it more.

West End Health and Fitness: This is a full-service gym but I love their Yoga classes which are Hatha and Vinyasa Flow.

Other  

Aqua Studio: I’m not a fan of spinning classes but I loved this one. The bikes are in the water which sounds weird but is gentle on your joints and you realize when you get out of the pool what I good work out you got from the natural resistance caused by water.

Grassroots Fitness: A mix of toning and cardio in intervals. You rotate stations in a small class. I like their classes because I tend to be turned off by intense classes that last for more than 45 minutes but this30-minuteminute class and it goes by fast.

Row House: This is a great upper body workout using row machines.

 

 

Mindful Monday: Self Care

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Last week was hard for a lot of people. When the term self-care gets thrown around I feel we automatically assume that means taking it easy and not over doing it. That can be part of it for some, but I think self-care is an individual thing. You need to do whatever suits your needs and recharges your batteries.

Here are a few things I did this past week as my needs and mood varied:

Went to a candlelight yoga class

Joined a book club

Binge watched a BBC miniseries

Went to an art gallery

Unplugged from Facebook

Called a friend

Worked on some craft projects

Went for a walk

Made a nice meal

Baked

What do you do when you need a little self-care?

 

Mindful Monday:Unblock Yourself

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Howdy! Sorry for all the silence. I’ve been busy on the personal and professional fronts and to be honest it has caused me some writer’s block so I’ve been neglecting this blog and some other writing projects the past couple of months. At least at this point, I’m trying not to sweat not posting. Don’t get me wrong I love this blog and I love that you read it but this first and foremost is a project I do for myself. I recently read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic and at one point in the book, she makes a similar statement around hoping the reader enjoys and gets something out of the book, but that she really wrote it for herself. I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time doing what others like or at least what I think they would like that doing something for myself is quite a liberating perspective.

While I’ve been blocked on this and some other writing projects that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been writing at all. I’ve been making notes, scribbles, and journal entries. Most of these I’ll never publish and that’s okay. These writings were about unblocking myself and finding hidden nuggets of interest.

Whether you’re a writer, an artist, a tax attorney, or have some other profession most of us suffer from some sort of block in our professional and/or personal lives at one point or another. Here’s what I’ve been up to during the past few months to get over this feeling of being stymied:

Read: If you’re stuck it can often be helpful to read or watch something inspiring. Since I’m a writer I’ve been reading several books recently on creativity and on finding one’s true passion. I mentioned Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic which is a wonderful book on the creative process and living life as a creator. I highly recommend it. I have also recently enjoyed Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass and Martha Beck’s Finding Your North Star. I also reread Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost. If you ignore the rest of my suggestions that’s fine but please do yourself a favor and read everything Ms. Solnit has ever written.

Get Moving: I run and do yoga which I still love. You don’t need to be a gym rat…because lord knows I’m not to get moving. I find taking a walk in the park or even just around the block when I’m strapped for time helps lift my mood and clear my head. I also recently took a Feldenkrais class. It wasn’t really about breaking a sweat. It is much less intense than yoga or pilates but it is great for learning more about your flexibility and equilibrium.

Meditate: Meditation is less about visualizations for me and more about getting my mind to quiet down. I’m lucky enough to work in an office with a weekly meditation group and one of my yoga instructors does a Yoga Nidrameditationn after her class which is a wonderful way to wind down on a weekday evening. I also listen to some guided meditations at home particularly around sleep because I’m a hyperactive sleeper and have found this to be a great tool for helping me get more shut eye. There are a lot of different apps out there on mindfulness and meditating. I personally have been using Insight Timer on iOS. It has recorded guided meditations and a timer if you’re practicing a different meditation on your own.

Journal: You don’t have to be an elegant writer to keep a journal. You actually don’t have to write period. Aside from keeping a traditional diary I also keep a visual journal. I cut out quotes and images from magazines that inspire or spark something in me and paste them into a blank book that I go back and flip through when I’m feeling stuck.

What do you do to get past blockers in your life?

 

Yoga Journal

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I’m a bit of a journal junkie. I will find any excuse to buy a new notebook. Journaling and notetaking are great practices for both creativity and reflection. Everyone has their own system that works for them. I know a lot of people who keep one notebook for everything.  Everyone has their own system that works for them. I know a lot of people who keep one notebook for everything.  I personally keep several notebooks for different purposes and that works well for me. I also keep these books in their own locations. It helps me to concentrate on one particular thing at a time. I keep a personal journal by my reading chair, a notebook for work ideas to brainstorm at the office, I keep a notepad on my nightstand to write down random ideas that wake me up a night (otherwise I can’t fall back asleep), and I keep a mini notebook in my

Everyone has their own system that works for them. I know a lot of people who keep one notebook for everything.  I personally keep several notebooks for different purposes and that works well for me. I also keep these books in their own locations. It helps me to concentrate on one particular thing at a time. I keep a personal journal by my reading chair, a notebook for work ideas to brainstorm at the office, I keep a notepad on my nightstand to write down random ideas that wake me up a night (otherwise I can’t fall back asleep), and I keep a mini notebook in my purse for article ideas and other thoughts that come to me on the go. I realize how obsessive and crazy this sounds, but it’s my way of compartmentalizing different areas of my life.

I now have yet another journal to add to my list. I started keeping a notebook to reflect on my yoga practice. I log my workouts, reflect on how I felt during each class, and keep notes on poses I want to improve on, yoga books I want to read, etc. I purchased Chronical Books’ Yoga Journal because I loved the layout, but anyone could do a similar practice with a blank notebook. I store it by my meditation area in my apartment so I can get into the practice of ending meditation time with this reflection on days I do yoga.

Do you keep a journal(s)? Please share any creative practices you have.