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Hot Yogini

Refining my List

By Goal Setting, Health, Mindfulness, Values, Wellness, Yoga No Comments

I just joined a book club and went to my first meeting. We discussed Brene Brown’s latest book Dare to Lead. I’m a huge fan of Brene’s work and Dare to Lead was especially timely for me.

One of the exercises from the book is to examine our values. Our group passed around a list of about 100 values. From the list, we each picked our top ten values and then the top two we thought defined us. This exercise was extremely challenging—all the values listed seemed to apply to me (trust, learning, achievement, financial security, faith, family, personal satisfaction). It was hard to find my top ten, then even harder to pick my top two.

We went around the group and discussed our selections. It didn’t take long before we noticed that I didn’t choose health as a value. How could I overlook health? I’ve dedicated more than 20 years of my life to studying health and working in the industry in various capacities.

I was baffled and honestly somewhat embarrassed.

Since the book club meeting, I’ve been asking myself questions:

  • What is health to me?
  • Is it absence of disease?
  • Is it a number on a scale?
  • Is it a set of laboratory values or how energized I’m feeling?

It’s easy to take health for granted until we get injured or sick. Our own community has experienced so many tragedies this year from cancer and suicide, infection and sepsis, to accidents and overdoses. The Winter Solstice is usually a powerful time for me for introspection and reflection. On the longest night of the year, I was able to reflect on what health means to me and where I can make changes to better support my health.

As we close the month of December and move into 2019, we can journal and contemplate shifts we would like to make in our lives. We can take inventory on exercise, personal and professional relationships, sleep, diet and nutrition, outlook on life, as well as habits, needs, and addictions. As a society, mental health and wellness are often overlooked, but chronic pain, anxiety, and depression can lead to substance abuse and suicidal ideation and they can decrease our immune systems, too. If you value adventure, curiosity, and learning but your partner values financial security, order, and routine, you can see how conflict can occur and how a survey might be an opportunity to create deeper connection. In the workplace, understanding how your core values differ from your co-workers’ may help explain sources of conflict and instill greater respect.

An honest survey of our values is such a beneficial exercise and a great way to kick off the new year. There are lots of online surveys available to take and download. Or dare to read Dare to Lead.

What does 2019 look like for your health?

In light and love,

Sandy

Christie Brinkley, Billy Blanks, and Me

By Health, Mindfulness, Nutrition, Wellness, Yoga No Comments

When I was 13, I received a copy of Christie Brinkley’s Outdoor Beauty and Fitness Book. I was set. In one book, I had the complete guide to everything I needed to know to be just as dazzling and breathtaking as Christie Brinkley. I followed her advice for cutting up bananas and freezing them as a snack to satisfy my sweet tooth. I did her exercises religiously and followed her beauty advice on how to lighten my hair with lemons. What could go wrong? I was totally sure that if I followed Christie’s advice, I would have all the tools I’d need to become a sexy, confident woman.

Fast forward a few years and moves, college and grad school, and I eventually lost track of my beauty bible. It was okay though because I found Billy Blanks and Tae Bo. I could kick and punch my way into total body fitness.

By my 30s, I wasn’t nearly as quick to fall for a quick fix, but I was influenced by yoga teachers, medical mentors, and people who seemed to me to have it all together. I was sure that if I could be more like them, I could be a better mom, wife, and friend. Looking back now, I realize I didn’t trust myself. I wasn’t connected to my physical body or my intuition. Being a mom to two young kids, I was completely focused on their needs, care, and wellbeing. I didn’t have time or energy to listen to and interpret the messages my body was sending me. It was easier to listen to people like Christie and Billy, people who knew the steps to success. I ignored symptoms of allergies, stress, and fatigue—signs my body was using to tell me it was out of balance.

It’s taken nearly a decade of my 40s (my favorite decade, by the way) to connect to myself. What changed? Why do I now listen to my own inner voice? I can’t point to just one thing, but I believe meditation, yoga trainings, health coaching, nutrition training, and not working all night shifts in the emergency department have supported me on this path.

When I was a new yoga teacher, I labeled myself alignment-oriented. I knew exactly how a posture should look and I would cue ad nauseam to get students to create that posture. After almost 10 years and many hours of teaching and observing different bodies with different injuries and stories, I’ve come to see alignment as what works in the body within reason on any given day.

I no longer hold on to rigid ideas that are tethered to the word “should.” I have a running joke with Becky Kuhl about burpees. After doing them for 15 years, burpees don’t feel so good in my body. In fact, I really don’t like them at all. So I modify when I need to and I take pride in that. At this time of year, I make many life modifications. I may go to bed at 8pm. If I’m not teaching a 6am class, I don’t go to yoga at 6am. I make sure my eating, self-care, and exercise are aligned with what supports me, even if someone I respect tells me to do something different.

As we head into late fall and winter, I can’t encourage people enough to listen to their bodies about sleep, food, movement, and even the company you keep and connections you make. It doesn’t matter what your most inspirational yoga teacher, health guru, accomplished outdoor athlete, or business person eats, drinks, or does to their body or puts in their hair for highlights. It’s wonderful to have teachers, mentors, and guides on our personal journeys, but we don’t have to take others’ words as scripture when our true or best selves may be compromised.

“We are always looking outward, listening to our teachers who come in with their own problems and limitations, and we ignore the most supreme teacher within ourselves. The only way to evolve, to progress, to truly practice, is to listen to our inner teacher.” ~ Prashant Iyengar

In light and love,

Sandy

Getting Old, Getting Connected

By Values, Wellness, Yoga No Comments

This week, I turned 49. Do I feel old? No. I feel like I’ve been blessed with one heck of a fun adventure I get to call life, a wild and unscripted road trip I couldn’t have planned if I tried.

As I see so much suffering, uncertainty, and unease around me, I often ask myself: why do I feel blessed when others seem to struggle? With physical health, emotional or spiritual health, or mental health? When I turned 40, I remember thinking how old 40 seemed. Entering my final year of my fourth decade, I truly believe these 10 years are ones of growth and maturation. I finally found my stride and figured out who I am. I followed dreams and made bold moves (like move to Steamboat and open a yoga and wellness studio).

Our lives and the people in them are to be celebrated everyday. I don’t view my daily responsibilities of cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, mucking stalls, and managing behind the scenes tasks at Rakta as chores. Maybe with the exception of after school pick-up at the middle school (truthfully, it gives me angina), they’re parts of my life that fulfill me.

Life is short. I’m almost half a century old already! And with everything I’ve experienced and lived through, all the old clichés make more sense, become obvious. Live every day like it could be your last takes on a different meaning when you’re suddenly faced with an ailing parent, the death of a friend or pet, or the reality of cancer as it spreads through your community. Over this past decade, I’ve learned to be truly grateful for parents, family, good friends to confide in, great food and wine, the joy of cooking, the serenity of a walk with my sweet dog, and the sound of my goats greeting me. All the little things that happen before and after the big events—that’s where the beauty is.

My vision for this year is to create more real and deep connections with others and to tune in to my own innate wisdom about what I need in my body and life at this moment. The yoga studio is a magical space where we can connect with others through intention and breath but also have a truly unique and individual experience. In yoga, being united and together doesn’t diminish the power of individuality. It’s taken me 18 years of yoga practice to own my body’s strengths, injuries, and weaknesses. I’m no longer defined by how long it takes me to skin to the gondola or run a 10K, or how open my hips are in Pigeon or Lizard Lunge Twist. I choose to define myself by how I treat all living creatures on this earth. That’s what it’s about.

Moving into fall and winter—seasons that are darker and colder, I recognize that many people can feel isolated or lonely, disinterested or disconnected. In our social media-driven society, it’s easy to get lost in virtual misinterpretations and unhealthy comparisons to unrealistic ideals or imagined realities.

But Rakta is real, and open, and welcoming! We’re here to provide connections through asana, community, health, and new experiences. There are so many things about yoga that I love, and there are so many benefits to regular practice. Look for Rakta’s next challenge, some social sweats, and happy hours. We’ll coordinate some social ski and skate-ski days in addition to our existing book clubs, teacher trainings, and wellness lectures.

We’re all better when we’re together, feeling connected to ourselves and each other.

In light and love,

Sandy

Motivation

By Death, Mindfulness, Values, Wellness, Yoga No Comments

Recently I’ve been thinking about the underlying motivation in different areas of my life. As much I hate to admit it, my interest in fitness first started by reading Cosmopolitan and Glamour magazine articles in high school and college. Thankfully, I evolved beyond that and found running and hiking to be great stress relievers for all of the pressures of Physician Assistant school. If I saw a hill, I couldn’t wait to run up it and clear my mind. Rollerblading, another trend of the times, also gave me a feeling of freedom.

With so much running and no time allocated for stretching, I found yoga as a way to relieve my back pain. My first yoga classes were with a wonderful man at Bally’s Total Fitness in Denver. His yoga was a fusion of Tai Chi and gentle yoga, and I felt so much better on a physical and emotional level. Eventually, I found a yoga studio in Cherry Creek and it became my yoga home. I entered what I like to refer to as my “posture collecting phase.” I was obsessed with inversions, arm balances, and backbends to the point that I ultimately sustained injuries (which have changed the way I now practice yoga). When my kids were babies, then toddlers, yoga was my anchor as I navigated my work-mom balance. I didn’t yet know how to apply yoga off my mat, so I needed classes to create space in my mind.

When I turned 40, things changed. My kids were in school, we sold our business, and I was questioning lots of areas of my life. In addition to doing yoga, I started going to a Lagree Pilates studio and kickboxing gym. I was addicted. Both places provided great physical release, and I became more fit than I ever imagined I would. As I started my journey into teaching yoga, pilates, kickboxing, and personal training, my workouts were an escape for me. With exercise, I was shutting out issues in my marriage, frustrations around parenting, and nagging questions about my career satisfaction and my overall identity. On the outside I looked healthy, but psychologically I was obsessed and borderline panicked by the threat of missing a workout.

As I enter the last bit of my 40s, nutrition, meditation, spending time with my kids, and running a business keep me busy. I still have time to be active, but it’s a healthier mix. I no longer feel the need to do certain things just because I can or should.

The passing of Herald Stout last week has been on my mind. He was a gifted yogi, yoga teacher, and father. I keep asking myself why—he lived a healthy lifestyle and yet was taken way too soon. It’s a reminder that nothing in this world is certain. Harold’s passing inspires me to hone in on my motivation. What are my real priorities and passions? A speaker at the Feel Good Summit I attended in June suggested ditching the Bucket List for a F**k it List—for all those things we know we don’t want to do even though somehow we feel like we should. It’s a list of things we can let go of. This can help when we consider fitness. Do we exercise and do yoga to support our health, to exert control over some aspect of our life, to escape, or to connect with what truly serves us?

In light and love,

Sandy

Wellness Challenge, Change & What About my Wine

By Gut Health, Health, Inflammation, Nutrition, Transition, Wellness, Wellness Challenge, Yoga No Comments

I’m so excited about our spring Wellness Challenge focusing on gut health. I like to offer challenges in the spring and fall because these are powerful times for change. In the winter, I’m super busy with parties, out of town guests, holiday feasts, après-ski events, and what seems like a million birthday celebrations. In the summer, I want to play. I’m enjoying the green grass under my feet and the sun on my face. I’m losing myself in the long days and the ripe watermelon. I’m watching my goats be goats. I’m not thinking about nutrition, meditation, journaling, and deep introspection.

The premise of this challenge is to cultivate a healthy microbiome by increasing the good bacteria in our gut. Over the course of a brutal flu season marked by respiratory and secondary infections, many of us have taken antibiotics, Advil, Prilosec, and other medications that deplete our healthy bacteria. Being busy and under the weather can put us into food ruts where we’re choosing foods that don’t serve us best. Putting in long hours at work or taking work home with us can send us to bed reading emails or perseverating about projects, decisions, or discussions with coworkers.

We know that many disease processes begin with low-level inflammation in the body and a leaky gut, or deranged microbiome. Anxiety and depression along with autoimmune, heart, and inflammatory bowel disease all have this origin in common.

From March 5th through April 20th, we’ll focus on the following: practicing yoga four days a week; putting away electronics two hours before bed; getting eight hours of sleep each night; getting outside three days a week; meditating; avoiding sugar, processed foods, dairy, wheat, and soy; and cooking at home six days a week. Anyone who has done a challenge with me knows that it’s about exploration and learning, not hard-and-fast rules. Challenges are just like yoga: they vary and change depending on where you are in your life. Sometimes yoga is about more about the breath or learning advanced postures, while other times it’s about creating space for your monkey mind. Challenges can be reflections of our lives and they can inspire revelations, too.

The point of this challenge is not to be perfect. Don’t focus on doing it all. Some people will soak up the dietary information, some will be cultivating meditation for the first time, and some will be new to doing yoga four days a week. Others may not skip a beat and remember just one or two pearls of self-care tips. Even if you’ve done challenges before, something will resonate this time and stick. It’s just like yoga—every day is different and you never know when your crow might fly. Was it the cue? Was it your perspective? Was it the flow? Every breath, class, day, challenge is different.

Creating a healthy life is a journey. It’s not a sprint. It’s not about suffering through seven weeks, proving you can avoid Swiss cheese and a Fat Tire, and returning to “regular life” when it’s over. The challenge is about looking at areas in your life that work really well and shining a light on the dark corners you avoid. I learn so much every time I guide people through challenges, and I truly love these experiences.

If you seek self-improvement and you’re committed to self-care, sign up. If you’re traveling, have a tight work schedule, or not sure you’re ready for all the components, sign up. It’s free and fun to be part of a group working towards better health.

I can’t wait to get started!

In light and love,

Sandy

6 Hours on a 30-Day Ketogenic Diet

By Alcohol, Health, Inflammation, Nutrition, Sugar, Wellness, Yoga No Comments

I had a great holiday season full of friends, dinners, wine(s), and Ghirardelli chocolate squares. Sitting in front of my Christmas lights on New Year’s Eve, I vowed to get back on track. I was feeling depleted and sluggish from repetitive overindulging.

The romance of the holidays ended and the lights got packed away. The holidays were behind me along with my inspiration. So I did something I never do—I jumped on a diet. I believe in the principles and eating plan that guide this ketogenic diet, but I set myself up for failure. I was ignoring my true self—my physical and emotional feelings as well as my knowledge and core beliefs.

As if I needed more proof, I was actually excited about having to wait for my supplements to arrive. I had more time to eat, drink, and be merry before restriction reined me in. As I unpacked my chocolate and vanilla bone broth protein formulas, ketone tablets, meal plans, and shopping lists, I became uneasy. In my heart, I knew this wasn’t what I needed.

I choked down my chocolate bone broth with ghee and trotted off to teach my 6am Fire Series. Denial gave way to survival as I realized once again that, for things that truly matter, you can’t just “pop a pill” and experience immediate results. I also learned that it’s better to wait until after teaching in 105 degrees to put something new, different, or out of the ordinary in your body.

The issue, of course, was not the diet.

It was me.

Over my lifetime, I have come to recognize my pattern of thinking I’m not enough, of not trusting myself. Within six hours, I knew I didn’t need to radically change, add supplements, or pee on a stick to measure my ketones. I needed to go back to what I’ve learned in three years of nutrition and health coach training. I needed to believe in myself. I needed to center, dig in, and get back to my roots. With the trials of my first year as a yoga studio owner on top of my commitment to my crazy, active family, I lost my personal focus.

This incident, or kink in my journey, has inspired me to get back to what I know and to share it with folks at Rakta. February is Heart Health Month. To take care of our hearts, we need to reduce inflammation. In my Wellness Challenge, we’ll start with the two big culprits: SUGAR and ALCOHOL!

Are you still there? Do you need a minute to process? I know, I understand….

During the month of love and wine, chocolate and champagne, we’ll make choices to support our immune systems, break our sugar addictions, and examine our individual patterns around these prevalent inflammation offenders. By boosting our immune systems and reducing inflammation, we’ll create anti-cancer environments and make feeling good (even great!) the new norm. Fight Inflammation February—will you be mine?

In March, we’ll move deeper into gut health and supporting our microbiomes through other dietary changes. March 18th-April 20th is Rakta’s 30 (+2) Day Yoga Challenge with great locals deals to step into spring with new energy, strength, and balance. Look for more information about Fight Inflammation February and our Yoga Challenge at the studio and on Facebook and Instagram.

In light and love,

Sandy

It’s 2018: Are you ready to goal?

By Energy, Goal Setting, Values, Wellness, Yoga No Comments

At the beginning of most yoga classes, we set intentions. Intentions bring awareness to qualities we hope to cultivate on and off the mat. Sometimes intentions are hard to choose and sometimes it feels like intentions choose us. Either way, they’re vehicles for yoga to permeate our everyday lives and help us become the kind of people we want to be.

How often during the day, though, do we reflect back on the intention we set at 6am? Do we catch ourselves being patient, non-judgmental, or receptive—or needing to be? Do we purposefully or indifferently set the same intention every day? What do we do with our intentions and how do we know they matter?

If you set a New Year’s resolution for 2018, you’ve either kept it so far or snubbed it. Maybe you didn’t set one because you typically fail, forget about it, or can’t choose one. Statistically, 25% of people abandon their New Year’s resolution after a week, 60% abandon it within six months, and the average person makes the same ill-fated resolution 10 times.

If intentions are more about cultivating virtues and resolutions seem bound to fizzle, how then do we make change? Research tells us that people who regularly write goals down are 42% more likely to achieve them. Our chances for success increase when we articulate our goals to someone we trust. A study about goal setting at Harvard University offers compelling data about why we should write goals down.

Students were asked if they had set clear, written goals for their futures and if they had made specific plans to convert their goals into realities. The baseline: 3% of students had written goals and plans to accomplish them; 13% had goals in their minds but hadn’t written them down; and 84% had no goals at all. Ten years later, the students were interviewed again. The results? The 13% of students who had goals but didn’t write them down earned twice the income of the 84% who had no goals. The 3% who had written goals were earning an average of 10 times as much as the 97% of the class combined.

The left side of the brain is the literal, analytical, sequential, precise, logical side. The right side of the brain is the figurative, creative, irregular, general, imaginative side. If we just think about what we what to achieve or the kind of person we want to become, we’re only using the right side of the brain. But if we think about our dream and write it down, we’re enacting the power of the left brain as well. Writing our goals down creates a greater level of clarity around them while the left brain helps us become aware of opportunities related to achieving them. If we only think about goals using the right brain, we may not see the logical steps or real-life strategies that lay right in front of us.

Writing goals down helps us sort through our thoughts, think big, and identify what we actually want. Written goals create focus and explicit direction. They’re also useful reminders when we get busy or distracted. While it may be true that energy flows where our focus goes, the act of writing goals down allows us to structure time and allocate resources. When we specify the exact, necessary steps to achieve our goals, it’s easier to recognize when we’re too ambitious or unrealistic. To build the resilience needed for eventual execution, celebrating the milestones we reach is equally important as granting self-compassion and a blank slate when we falter.

Goal setting is deceptively simple. It’s a process that requires discipline. We have to slow down, examine our values, and whittle away at the trivial. We have to make decisions about what we truly want. Goal setting isn’t an end in and of itself; it’s a starting point to live life with intention and direction.

Asteya: Character Before Physicality

By Health, Values, Wellness, Yoga No Comments

Most of us who come to Rakta seek satisfaction from the physical aspects of yoga—the strength, flexibility, workout, and sweat. A lot of us are good at applying the spiritual or psychological teachings we learn in class to our personal lives. We often hear the phrase “on and off your mat,” which affirms that yoga is a tool for how we choose to live our lives.

Unless we’re in a teacher training, we generally don’t have time to talk about the yamas and niyamas. The yamas (the don’ts) and niyamas (the dos) are yoga’s ethical guidelines, a map to navigate our individual journeys. The spiritual teachings of yoga go much deeper than the physical practice does. But how much do we know about and focus on these teachings compared to the physical practice? And how aware are we of their daily application to our lifestyles, actions, habits, and relationships?

The five yamas are self-regulating behaviors that govern our interactions with other people and society. They include Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (non-excess), and Aparigraha (non-possessiveness, non-greed).

As we move into the season of giving from the intense and time-crunched month of gratitude (with Thanksgiving and the Self-Care Challenge), Asteya has been at the forefront of my mind. Stealing, when it’s less tangible than purposefully taking material items that don’t belong to us, can creep into our subconscious acts and everyday lives. One reason we constantly remind ourselves to live in the present moment is because when we aren’t fully present, we can fall prey to stealing other people’s time, energy, emotions, and resources.

When we don’t live in the present moment and experience life as it is (whether it’s good or bad), we’re stealing from ourselves and possibly others. To cultivate Asteya, we can act from a place of abundance (there’s enough to go around) instead of scarcity (I’m not good enough). When we remind ourselves that we have all we need, we’re less likely to look to other people, items, and activities to make us happy. Fulfillment comes from within.

So how do we practice Asteya in your everyday lives? We follow the Golden Rule, eliminate distractions, and avoid multitasking. Some other simple ways to practice non-stealing include:

  • Say no. If you don’t have the time or energy for a project, don’t commit to it.
  • Be resourceful. Think before you ask for help. Take personal responsibility to make things happen.
  • Be clear and concise. Make every word matter. Make it easy for people to understand and help you. Don’t steal other people’s time by not being precise, direct, or straightforward.
  • Be on time. Being late takes time, energy, and emotions away from others. Often times, it creates more work or chaos for others.
  • Choose silence. Speak only when your words are more important or powerful than silence.
  • Take only what you need. Let go of what you don’t need to make room for what you do need. Don’t steal from others by taking more than necessary.

For most of us, our goals in yoga have similarities, but truly they’re unique to each of us. Some of us come to class for the benefits to the physical body, some come to find peace or re-alignment, and some come for the community. But behind the asanas are higher teachings. Sometimes we simply feel and understand them, sometimes we can articulate and teach them, and sometimes we struggle just to identify them. The ultimate goals of Asteya are not to rob ourselves of life is it is and to benefit our community at large. Being aware of what we give and take can help us become better versions of who we are, inspire others to do the same, and create harmony through every interaction.

 

Every Breath You Take

By Breathing, Health, Transition, Wellness, Yoga No Comments

In this transition to fall, I’ve gotten sucked in. To being busy, doing too many things at once, running around, multitasking. I’ve been making mistakes, getting sloppy, becoming frustrated, and feeling lost and disconnected. I’ve been holding my breath.

To get it all done, I pressure myself to respond immediately to texts and emails… and I ignore my children. I feed my chickens in a preoccupied, frenzied state… and I forget to lock their coop. I move through cued poses in yoga class… and get agitated when the flow is too slow. Abiding the sequences, I’m thinking in checklists. Wanting to execute and perform (check), I maneuver through life (check), and (paradoxically) end up exactly where I don’t want to be: not present, not belonging, and not me.

By definition, a checklist is a type of informational job aid used to reduce failure. A checklist not only implies judgment (the possibility of failure), but it also legitimizes an external standard. When applied to my daily life, a checklist transforms my passions into tasks. Instead of turning in and tuning in, I turn out and tune out.

Fall is the time of year when I need reminders to return to my breath. We hear it all the time in yoga. Breathe consciously. Breathe deeply. Connect to your breath. One breath, one movement. Breathe and release what no longer serves you. But why is breath so important?

On the most basic level, breath is simply a way of staying alive. Breath brings oxygen into our bodies and excretes toxins that can stagnate in and damage our vital organs. Our autonomic nervous system regulates our breathing. Most of us breathe about 20,000 times a day without even noticing. On average, we use just a third of our total breathing capacity. When our breath becomes short, shallow, quick, or irregular, our minds become anxious and our bodies tense. When our breath is deep, slow, and regular, we’re infused with a sense of calm.

Compared to automatic breathing, conscious breathing cultivates different effects on our physical, mental, and emotional beings. Conscious breathing is the essence of yoga, helping us connect with various, subtle, divergent energies inside us. Conscious breathing is meditation, a method for being present, and it allows us to move from one state of being to another. Breath is a tool, a choice, and a way of living—not just a way of staying alive.

Breathing is living in the present. We inhale the future and exhale the past. Breathing aligns the mind and the body. When we slow down our breath, body, and mind, we can notice, focus, feel, perceive, and understand. We may not always like our observations or sensations, but we’re aware of what’s inside and around us.

Take the hours that are available in your day. Breathe consciously and deeply so that you’re present, connected, mindful, alive, tuned in, turned on, and totally you.

In light and love,

Sandy

Transition Time, Pitta Energy, and Nachos

By Ayurveda, Energy, Health, Seasons, Transition, Wellness, Yoga No Comments

We are in a time of tangible transition. We’re on the other side of the first total solar eclipse since 1918, lively Leo is morphing into earthy Virgo, and kids are heading back to school and off to college. The calendar says August and summertime heat warms the day, but mornings are crisp and early light is reluctant.

I’ve felt this change over the past few weeks. My body naturally follows seasonal eating patterns. I’m ecstatic when berries grow in spring. I crave watermelon and fennel in summer. I think about kitchari, soups, and cinnamon apples in fall. But during this time of one foot in summer and one foot in fall, I eat nachos.

Yes, I said nachos. Why nachos? And why would I publicly admit this? Nachos aren’t the best choice, but in their defense, they’re tasty and easy. And with black beans and avocado, their nutritional value skyrockets.

I’m in transition. I’m not craving peaches like I did in July, but the days are still warm and I’m not ready for rice and lentils. Feeling unsettled, I easily revert to comfort food. My yoga has been scattered and I’ve struggled with inconsistency in my workouts and other areas of my life. Transitions can be messy: one look at my kids’ impressive display of back to school items—binders, dividers, color coded folders, and protractors—confirms the chaos. Anyone who has moved from one house to another knows what starts with beautifully packed and labeled boxes often ends with miscellaneous items strewn indiscriminately about and an adamant vow of eternal minimalism.

I’ve heard from several people recently who say they don’t have the same energy they had a month ago. They feel off and sluggish. There could be many possible causes for subdued vibrancy. One that rises to the top in Steamboat tends to be too much pitta or heat in the body—Steamboat is teeming with pitta energy. Summer and all its activities can leave us feeling depleted. We work hard and we play hard. We ride up mountains and trek long trails. We like to feel powerful and strong, pushing ourselves to achieve more and better. Sometimes, though, we need to soften a bit rather than going all out all the time. Even yoga can be presented and interpreted in this go for it manner instead of an invitation to soften and listen to your wise inner voice about what your body, mind, and spirit need.

The more awareness we have for these times of transition helps us do our work. Knowing we might feel anxious or unsettled, crave atypical foods, or experience low energy is the first step. We can mindfully return to the basics of self-care. Summer’s seductive long days tend to throw us off schedule and leave us short on sleep. For me, sleep deprivation means immediate carb cravings. Play with backing off an intense workout or two, or soften a bit on your yoga mat. Allow your body to rest between long or extreme activities. There are plenty of warm sunny days ahead to get outside and play.

We’ll be returning to our wellness focus this fall with a Back-to-School, Back-to-You September special offering. Jen Meister, Certified Holistic Health Counselor and founder of Simple Clean and Whole, will be giving a few talks before offering her 21 Day Challenge. Becky Obray, Licensed Health Care Professional and owner of Sole Balance Ayurveda, will guide us into a better understanding of Ayurveda before offering an Ayurvedic cleanse in October. In the meantime, enjoy these beautifully dynamic and unpredictable days. Meditate, play, and acknowledge the occasional nachos.

The seeds we plant in fall and tend to throughout winter bring beautiful flowers in spring. It’s a great time to evaluate your goals, begin to ground down, and lay your foundation for the future. What seeds will you plant this fall?

In light and love,

Sandy