Morning Yoga for inner strength and mindfulness

Being a mom can take a lot of your energy – both mentally and physically. Heck, sometimes just being a fully functioning adult (without a baby) in today’s world can be completely draining. That’s why I turned to yoga back in 2012 at a particularly stressful time in my life, when I was working in a very intense job with long hours. In particular, I turned to morning yoga. I strongly believe the way we start our day sets the precedent for the hours to come. That’s why it is so important to dedicate the time after we wake up to mindful and positive activities and thoughts to guide us through. That includes the first thoughts that come to mind, the breakfast we choose and, of course, the first things you do after waking up.

If you think: “I would love to do yoga, but I just done have the time in the morning”, think again. Your ideal yoga session takes a minimum of 20 minutes and doesn’t have to be longer (unless you really want it to be) to have a positive effect on you, I am sure, that even if you need to head out to work really early, you might be able to find those 20 minutes. You will be highly rewarded, as you will start your day so much more refreshed. I always did my sessions using the DVD, “Rodney Yee’s A.M. yoga” by GAIAM. It includes five different 20 minute yoga workout sessions for each workday of the week. It certainly helped me preserve my stamina and thus enabled me to keep my cool, even on very stressful days. I strongly recommend using a DVD (or YouTube) so you can ensure you get the postures right.

 

This became even handier to me when I got pregnant. This is such a complete game-changer in any person’s life. Being a first-time parent can be terrifying. ‘Will I do everything right?’ ‘Will I be a good mom?’ ‘I’m scared of labor and the birth process’. All those thoughts are perfectly natural. Fundamentally though, this is precisely the time in your life when you SHOULD do yoga, even if you have never done it before and only start with it now. Don’t forget: you are “just” pregnant, not ill. So exercise is important – for your body AND (maybe even more important) for your mind. It helps strengthen your pelvic muscles (which you need for giving birth and a lot of other body functions in general), it supports the stability of your back (which also traverses our pelvic muscles, as they are connected to your back), it enhances your flexibility (and boy do we need that), it helps you focus on the moment and MOST IMPORTANTLY for pregnant women: It is a great resource for getting into a healthy breathing routine. This routine can help you during labor and contractions. For me, yoga was one of my key pillars of inner and outer strength during the pregnancy, besides my partner. Also, it enables you to keep a better posture. As the belly grows (and mine got really huuuuuuge, I looked like a baby elephant), it is more crucial than ever to maintain a good posture. Your back will thank you.

I started getting back into my morning yoga routine after my daughter was three weeks old and ever since then have used this as one of my resources for inner strength, rebuilding my postpartum body and being mindful. Check in with your midwife or doctor and get their okay prior to commencing any exercise regime, getting back into yoga or even starting from scratch. Don’t forget: you are not participating in a race as part of an unofficial fit mom challenge. Take your time to get into a yoga routine that works for you and allow your body to rebuild slowly. If that means that you focus more on the mindfulness aspects, that’s just as fine as going straight back to rebuilding your core strength. Every mom is different, that’s what makes us so wonderful, because we are all unique and powerful in our own right.

For moms who want to get back into yoga, I can whole heartedly recommend Sarah Beth Yoga. Her mama yoga videos are truly wonderful. I restarted with this video of hers, which I did when my baby took her morning nap.

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Love Yourself Fiercely: Detox Body Scrub

Our skin is our largest organ. A fairly smart one as well. If you thought your brain is the natural frontrunner in that department, think again. Our skin is the initial detector for when we feel warm or cold, love or fear; it reacts if we’re stressed and gives us a feeling of relaxation. Hence, I think our skin is the hidden champion of our bodies – hidden in plain sight, one might say. So, we should always act with care and love when it comes to our skin. This includes the products we put on it. While there might be situations in life when it’s prudent to develop an elephant-like thickness of skin, it certainly shouldn’t feel like it. Hence, this detoxifying body scrub helps you achieve that desired smooth glow while using only natural ingredients. The things listed below are biodegradable products, which is good because at the end of the day you wash the scrub down the drain, unlike standard peeling solutions with microbeads.

Ingredients

  • 1 jar or container
  • ½ cup of coconut oil 
  • 1 cup of unrefined sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons of organic ground coffee
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 generous tablespoon of raw honey

Take a medium to large bowl and put in all the ingredients. Use a hand mixer to blend everything for 3-5 minutes until it is well-mixed. Fill the scrub in the jar or container and voilà, you are already done and can start exfoliating and rejuvenating your skin like a pro.

Now why is this detoxifying? First and foremost, by scrubbing off all those dead body cells, you also scrub off a lot of pollution that gets onto and into your skin. The coffee and salt act as exfoliants in the scrub. If used regularly, the caffeine contributes to your skin feeling smoother right away and firmer in the long run. The salt is loaded with magnesium, which can help your body if you are dealing with restlessness or insomnia (which is – unless stress-related – often due to a magnesium deficiency). Besides, the rubbing of the scrub on your skin activates the blood circulation and thus brings your eternal cleansing system up to speed, since our body uses the blood vessels like a highway to transport anything that should be flushed out of our body to the assigned disposal station. Honey is anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal.

Finally, the olive oil is essentially the soothing element of your scrub and thus the counterpart to the coffee and salt. The coconut oil will moisturize your skin and support the storing of moisture in your skin cells.


What’s soap? Easy DIY soap recipes

Our skin is the biggest organ of our body. It reacts to all our emotions and shows whether we are healthy or sick. It is a mirror to our soul. So we should always aim to treat our skin well. This includes the soap we use – as good soap can have a big impact on how our skin feels and thus how we feel.

I know there are soooo many of different ways to make your own soap. I am relying on raw soap as the base ingredient to make mine. Here is a link to a German store where you can purchase this. This is an option on Amazon, if you are residing in the US. I am NOT making the actual soap myself, as I admit that I always found the idea of cooking my own foundation a bit intimidating. But I experiment with scents and herbs.

For one load of soap bars, I always use 500 grams of raw soap. Make sure to cut the raw soap into smaller chunks, if you didn’t get raw soap flakes anyhow. Bring the material to melt in a water bath. Afterwards, drizzle your ingredients of choice into the hot, liquid raw soap. Once everything is well mixed, quickly pour it into a mold. I always use a baking dish of about 25cm x 15 cm in size/10 inches x 6 inches. After the soap has hardened, which will take about 30 minutes, you’ll have produced a big soap block that you can then cut up into smaller pieces.

These are 4 personal favorites:IMG_20161216_194902

Chamomile & Green Tea Soap

  • 3 tablespoons of green tea leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped, dry chamomile

Lavender Thyme Soap

  • 2 tablespoons of lavender oil
  • 1 tablespoon of thyme

Olive Oil, Rosemary & Milk Soap20161216_164531

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of granulated rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon of blue soap coloring

Peeling Soap

  • 3 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons of oat flakes (chopped into smaller pieces)