Life. Yoga. Joy.
Inspiring a life with smiles...™
Recently I was approached by an acquaintance about my lifestyle. “You’re vegan and you do yoga, right” she asked. I confirmed that I eat a whole foods plant based diet and that I’m a yoga instructor. She looked at me, shook her head and said “Gosh it must be so hard to be so healthy…how do you do it?” I smiled and said “It’s easy…let me tell you what I’ve learned….”
Since I have no secrets from you my global peeps, and as we approach the holidays - a time typically associated with excess, I’m sharing with you my Top Five Healthy Living Tips:
1. Eat Mindfully
I went vegan about a 18 months ago and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Tummy issues went away overnight, I lost weight, felt lighter after meals, and had more energy than ever before. However as much as I would love to convert the world to a whole foods plant based diet, I recognize that not everyone will jump on the vegan bandwagon.
My journey to a healthier relationship with my food choices began with me reflecting on how I felt after meals. Animal products gave me tummy aches so cutting those out became an easy choice. Foods high in sugar gave me headaches, so eliminating such items seemed natural. When I ate foods that were minimally processed and closer to their natural state, I noticed a shift in my emotional state and physical sense of well-being.
Taking time to reflect on your food choices is the first step in a healthy lifestyle.
2. Move Daily
As a yoga instructor, my mission is to inspire my students to find joy through breath and movement. Although I would LOVE for everyone to adopt yoga as their go-to fitness option (and the benefits go far beyond physical!) I recognize it may take a while for people to embrace a personal practice.
For me, practicing yoga gave me energy to enjoy even more activities like walking, hiking, running, and dance. The more I move, the more I crave movement - so much so that I wake up at 4:30am during the week to squeeze in a run or elliptical session before heading off to the office. (On those days, my yoga practice is in the evenings.)
A regular fitness practice is also wonderful for social outings. For example, my recent vacation was planned around hiking Yosemite. When I’m not traveling, my friend Megan and I will meet for yoga and then grab a healthy vegan dinner afterwards.
Upping your exercise time doesn’t have to be expensive either. Meeting friends for walks, setting up a dance party night, or renting DVDs from the library for yoga, pilates, and other cardio are all free ways to sneak movement into your day.
Find an activity you love and then get moving!
3. Cultivate Joy
After spending a month with "my tribe" in my Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) program at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, I developed many close, personal relationships. Not only were we in class together, but we ate together, spent our free time in one another’s company, and often talked late into the night. The world would be such an incredible place if we could spend all day doing what we love in the company of our friends!
Unfortunately, in the “real” world, my friends and I are scattered around the globe with busy lives. Keeping connections to those who inspire you to live a life you love is key to a healthy lifestyle. My friends and I make an effort to keep in touch with regular messages on Facebook, texts, phone calls, and Skype/Facetime. We support one another by listening and sending positive messages of love and encouragement on a regular basis.
Cultivating relationships of joy also means disengaging from toxic relationships. Such people are often easy to recognize by their actions: making sarcastic comments about your fitness or eating habits, discouraging you from living your dreams, or negative attitudes/unhealthy behaviors when you’re together. For those people in my life who do not bring me joy in my interactions with them, I’ve chosen to wish them well, love them from afar, send them intentions of health and light, and NOT spend my time and energy with them.
Cultivating relationships with those who appreciate and inspire you to be your best self, is a simple way to bring joy to your life.
4. Create Space
Embarking on a new journey can be scary and exciting. For me, my career path involves leaving time for traveling and teaching yoga. Creating the time and space for such activities means really evaluating what opportunities serve my true purpose.
Recently I was presented with a possibility to make some extra cash during my free time as a consultant for some offices. The earning potential was decent, but I realized the scope of the project would have taken all of my spare time and energy away from my ultimate purpose - my career path in the yoga, health, and wellness world. Part of my personal goal this year was working on balance. So after some reflection I passed on this opportunity...
As soon as I passed on that particular venture, a new opportunity opened up. This one assists with my goals because it offers me a way to increase my personal yoga practice, work with some inspiring teachers, and teach a community class this coming January at a studio whose values align with my own.
Evaluate whether opportunities truly allow you to create the time and space for possibilities to live a life you love.
5. Pause & Reflect
When I was in the YTT program at Kripalu, I woke every morning at 4:30am and crept out of my dorm room to start my day. When someone asked why I woke up this early, I joked that it gave me time to take the longest uninterrupted hot shower! (#truth)
But getting up so early also gave me quiet time before my first sadhana practice to reflect on my life and path. While I’m not suggesting that everyone start the day before dawn (although you do get to see some incredible sunrises), finding time to envision a life you love is critical to a healthy lifestyle.
Set aside a few minutes to meditate, journal, draw, or brainstorm about what a life you love looks like and then honestly ask yourself whether you are living it. If the answer is “no” begin to reflect on why that is, and what steps you can take to get there. Then send your intention out to the universe, announce it to your tribe, and begin to plan the steps to get there.
So often I’ve heard people say that they would love to be doing something other than what they do for a living, but when I’ve asked why they haven’t tried to change, many will respond that they don’t have the time. We make time in our day for work, errands, bill paying, and yet insanely enough, not time to live a life we love! Taking the space to reflect on my life has helped me to pursue my dreams.
Schedule five to fifteen minutes into your day to reflect on how to live a life you love.
Wherever you are in your quest for healthy living, I’d love to hear from you! I hope to see you on the mat, living a life you love, with smiles…
Samantha Eve, a