#CalmTip: Fill Your Cup First

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

I’m sure you’ve seen or heard some variation of the saying, “You have to fill your cup before you fill anyone else’s.” Or the oxygen mask instructions on an airplane: In an emergency, you put your oxygen mask on before you help anyone else. Because — duh — if you can’t breathe, how can you help anyone?

The same thing applies in life. As women, most of us tend to be nurturers and want to make sure everyone around us is good, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, you can’t take care of your loved ones until you take care of yourself first. What does this mean?

To me, it simply means practicing self-care every. single. day. It means making sure you’re as well-rested as possible, that you’re eating well and staying hydrated; you’re moving your body at least three days a week; you’re doing what you need to to remain centered and maintain inner peace. It means doing things that inspire you and bring you joy, and taking time to relax and just be.

No matter how busy you think you are or how many roles you play, make sure you take time to fill your cup first, and practice self-care and self-love daily. You deserve it! 

“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” – Eleanor Brownn


Starting a yoga and meditation practice is a great way to fill your cup and begin practicing self-care. If you’re interested in beginning a home practice, learn more about and register for my Mind, Body, and Soul Yoga Program. It includes yoga for all levels, inspiring guided meditation, plus more self-care tips. I’d love to have you! : )

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

How to Start a Home Yoga Practice: 5 Things to Do

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

As I shared on my Facebook page last week, one of the best time investments I make weekly is practicing yoga, and yoga at home in particular. The main reason I love practicing at home is I can do it when it’s most convenient for me, and I still get to reap the benefits like less stress, and feeling more centered and connected to myself and Spirit.

If you’ve been wanting to start a home yoga practice, here’s how to get started:

1. Set an intention.

Why do you want to start doing yoga? What do you hope to gain from it? Whether it’s because you want to get physically stronger, lessen your stress, or learn how to be more mindful, write it down on a piece of paper of note card, and put it near your practice space so you’ll remember your intention.

2. Create a space.

It doesn’t have to be an entire room (it can be in your bedroom or living room), and it doesn’t need to be fancy or elaborate. You just need enough to space to lie down, reach your arms out and up, and it should be (relatively) distraction-free.

3. Set a schedule.

Plan your home practice just like you would for a class at the studio or  gym; whatever you use to plan your days (a planner, calendar or an app like Evernote), write “yoga” down; that way, you’ll be more consistent with your practice.

4. Choose a teacher for guidance.

You can practice on your own, by free-styling or finding sequences on sites like Pinterest, or have an instructor/coach guide you through (like *ahem* yours truly) a session.

5 Hold yourself accountable, and reward yourself.

If you reward yourself for being consistent with your practice, you’re more likely to make yoga a habit. According to research, habits are formed “through a cyclical process that, when repeated overtime, becomes automatic. Psychologically, you’re creating new pathways in the brain when you introduce a new activity into your life.”

The cycle’s elements are: trigger, action, and reward. Your space is the trigger; the action is the practice; and the reward (which might be the most important aspect) can be something as simple as placing a star or smiley face on your calendar or checking off “do yoga” on your t0-do list. Having an accountability partner helps you stay accountable, too.

(By the way, with my 1-on-1 coaching sessions, you’ll have me to help you stay on track with your yoga practice).

“Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most full and whole way.” – Cybele Tomlinson


 

#HappyTip: Get Some Girlfriends

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

It’s Social Wellness Month! According to the University of California, Riverside, social wellness refers to one’s ability to interact with those around them and involves using good communication, respecting yourself and others, having meaningful relationships, and creating a support system that includes family and friends. And one great way to improve your social wellness is having awesome girlfriends. According to research, girlfriends make us healthier, happier, less stressed, live longer, and feel more beautiful (how dope is that?!).

Here are a few ideas for experiencing the benefits of girlfriend relationships :

Find new girl friends (if you need to). It can be a little difficult to make new friends after college, especially if you’re an entrepreneur/work from home, or if you’re an introvert/homebody (trust me, I get it). While Facebook often gets a negative rap, I’ve literally found some of my best friends and my tribe there. I say give social media a chance when it comes to finding your tribe and new friends. Join and interact in Facebook groups, or follow women you find cool or interesting on Instagram or Twitter. You never know what amazing relationships will develop.

Keep in touch. Since we’re all grown up now, we’re all so busy with the different roles we play. And because of this, it’s easy to forget to check in with our friends every once in a while. Even if you’re not able to meet up in person regularly, you can always Skype, Facetime, text, chat, or talk on the phone.

Plan a girl’s trip or weekend. This is a great way to create stronger bonds with your girls, plus you’ll get some much needed “me time” and create some amazing memories.

What are your favorite ways to maintain your relationships with your girlfriends? Let us know by leaving a comment! : )

“The best kind of friendships are fierce lady friendships where you aggressively believe in each other, defend each other, and think the other deserves the world.” – via Pinterest

 

How to Stay Mentally Well In Tragic Times

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

With all the tragedy that’s happened in this week alone, it’s so important that we, as Black people, practice self-care and stay mentally well. Here are some ways to do so:

Unplug. While it’s important to be aware of what’s going on, it can be too much to handle with the constant news and opinions and graphic videos and photos on social media. So, if you need to take a break from Facebook, Instagram, or wherever, do that. In fact, even if you don’t feel like you need to, I say take one anyway; at least for a few hours.

Allow yourself to feel what you feel. You might be feeling angry, sad, or any other combination of emotions. And that’s totally normal and okay because sh*t is fvcked up…how could you not feel anything?

Vent. Let your feelings and frustrations out by ranting to a loved one or (my favorite) your journal. It’ll feel so good to let it all out.

Meditation and yoga. Of course, these are my top ways to get re-center myself and get my inner peace back. You don’t have to do it for a long time, either; 10 or 20 minutes can do wonders.

Do something you enjoy. Spend time with loved ones. Read a book. Go on a Netflix binge. Do your nails. Go for a walk. Play with your kids (or somebody else’s). Anything that will bring you joy and a sense of peace.

How do you stay mentally well in times like this? Let us know by leaving a comment.


Are you constantly stressed and always overwhelmed, feeling on edge? What if it was possible for you to feel more inner peace, be happier and centered, and enjoy your life now?

Actually, it is possible! And beginning a yoga practice is a great way to start doing so. Ready to begin yours? Click below to learn more about and sign up for my Mind, Body, and Soul Yoga Program.

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

#CalmTip: Do a Shower Meditation

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Of course, showering is how most of us stay clean, but did you know they can also reduce anxiety, lower the tension in your body, and free up your mind (cold shower)? I saw the idea of a shower meditation on Pinterest and loved it! Here’s how to do it (it’s really easy):

“Every time you take a shower, visualize washing away your stress and anxiety. Concentrate on the feel of the water upon your skin. Envision the power of the shower washing away your negative thoughts! Woosh! Envision fear, regret, and anger soaping off you and swirling down the drain.” – Karen Salmansohn

Yoga Pose of the Month: Warrior 2

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

It’s a new month, and that means it’s time for a new pose/asana. July’s yoga pose of the month is Warrior 2.

Warrior 2 (virabhadrasana II) is a powerful stretch for the chest, groin, and legs. It also increases stamina, helps to relieve backaches, and stimulates healthy digestion. It also:

  • Strengthens the muscles in your thighs and butts.
  • Tones the abdomen, ankles, and arches of feet.
  • Opens the chest and shoulders.
  • Increases your ability to focus; distractions go away, and your energy becomes more powerful and concentrated.

How to do it

  1. Start in mountain pose (stand tall; feet hip distance, toes spread; arms by your side, palms facing out to the wall in front of you). Take five deep breaths here.
  2. Exhale, and take a big step forward with your right foot. Your feet should be about four to five feet apart; make sure your heels are aligned.
  3. Turn your right foot out at 90 degrees, toes pointing to the edge of the mat. Your left foot should be parallel with the short edge of the back of your mat.
  4. Lift through the arches of your feet, and root down through your ankles.
  5. Your right knee should be bent right above your ankle (90 degrees) or slightly behind. Make any adjustments to make this possible. Sink your hips, and be sure your thigh is parallel to the ground.
  6. Press down into the outer edge of your left foot, keeping it straight.
  7. Raise your arms so they’re parallel to the floor; fingers spread, palms facing down, arms strong. Look out over your middle right finger.
  8. Hold five to 10 breaths.
  9. To release and take it to the other side, inhale and press down through your left foot, and straighten your right leg. Lower your arms. Turn to your left, reversing the position of your feet, and repeat for as long as you did on the right.

Tips

  • Get the foot and leg placement first.
  • Be sure your front knee is in line with your ankle or slightly behind.
  • Focus on a single, non-moving point.
  • Connect with your warrior strength.

“Warrior II can be an effective way to build a feeling of inner strength and power. As you practice this pose on a regular basis, you will grow in your ability to face daily battles with ease and grace.” – YogaOutlet.com

#HappyTip: Boost Your Mood Instantly

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

If you’re reading this, you’re probably someone who does your best to stay positive and look on the bright side of things. But, of course, we all have less-than-stellar days when we feel stressed, frustrated, overwhelmed, sad, or any other emotion you might not like to feel.

While I believe it’s important to acknowledge and embrace all of your emotions and feel what you feel, at some point — whether it’s in the next 30 minutes or the next day — you’re going to want (and dare I say, need) to feel better and more positive. With that said, here are a few ways to boost your mood instantly (or relatively quickly):

  1. Deep breathing. (Inhale for four counts, pause at the top, exhale for eight counts).
  2. Yoga/stretching.
  3. Listen to upbeat music — and maybe even dance.
  4. Talk to a friend.
  5. Write about how awesome you are in your journal.
  6. List 10 (or more) things you’re thankful for.
  7. Laugh — watch funny videos on YouTube or listen to a comedy album or podcast.
  8. Take a walk in nature.
  9. Listen to nature sounds like water flowing, rain, or birds chirping (you can find some on YouTube).
  10. Take a nap.
  11. Try aromatherapy (particularly lavender or orange).
  12. Read inspirational quotes.
  13. Visualize your happy place (like the beach, a meadow, or the mountains).
  14. Look at or create a vision board.

What do you do when you need to boost your mood? Share your ideas below! : )

 

#CalmTip: Start Your Home Yoga Practice

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Because it’s International Yoga Day, today’s calm tip is to start your home yoga practice. Practicing in a studio is amazing, but doing yoga at home has its benefits as well (and is what I’ve been doing for the past two years). According to researchers at the University of Maryland and the National Institutes of Health, students who practiced at home reported more positive mindfulness, subjective well-being, and better sleep. Here are a few more reasons to consider a home practice:

It’s super convenient. You can fit it into your schedule more easily because you can practice whenever is best for you: morning, afternoon, or night. This is especially helpful if you have children or a tight schedule.

You can more easily focus on certain areas. For instance, if your shoulders and neck are tight, you can focus more on asanas (positions) that concentrate on those body parts.

You can practice for as little or as long as you need to. Most yoga classes in a studio last an hour, which is great if you want to/can dedicate 60 minutes of your time. When doing it at home, you can practice for as little as 5 or 10 minutes.

It’s only about you. If you’re in class, it’s easy to compare yourself to how the next person is doing and be in your head about if you’re doing a pose perfectly. At home, it’s just you, so it’s easier to focus on yourself and doing your best.


Start your home yoga practice with my free yoga workshop! It’s happening Friday at 7PM Eastern; sign up here.

5 Free Ways to Practice Self-Care Daily

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Many times, when people hear the word “self-care,” they think of being whisked away for a weekend getaway or having an entire day of pampering complete with massages, facials, and beauty treatments. And while those things are amazing and have their place, taking care of yourself can be simple, and best of all, free(!) which, to me, is really important because taking care of yourself is something that needs to be done at least a few days a week. It shouldn’t be reserved for when you’ve worked X-amount of hours or have Y-amount of money.

Additionally, it’s important to note that self-care also entails taking care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. With that said, here are five free ways you can practice self-care daily; and if not daily, at least a few days a week — because you deserve it!

1. Meditation and yoga.

Your practice doesn’t have to be long; even 10 or 15 minutes will help. Not only will it bring you more calm and inner peace, it also helps you live in the present moment and brings your mind, body, and spirit in harmony.

Ideas: Try YouTube or this yoga sequence.

2. Exercise. 

Of course, there are the physical benefits, but other benefits of working out include improving your mood and reducing stress, promoting better sleep, and making you feel happier.

Ideas: Go for a walk, or check out Blogilates or Hang Tight With MarC.

 3. Read

This is one of my favorite self-care practices, and I find it works best when reading fiction or inspirational memoirs and autobiographies/biographies. Reading, like the other activities, reduces stress and puts you in a better mood, it improves your focus, and develops your creativity.

Ideas: One of my favorite fiction authors is Christina C. Jones (available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited); and a few of my favorite memoirs/autobiographies: Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, Life in Motion by Misty Copeland, and The Healing by Saeeda Hafiz.

4. Spend some time in nature

According to an article from MedicalDaily.com, taking a walk in nature can reduce depression, improve your mood, and boost your overall well-being and mental health. Being outside can also helps you sleep better and gives you a much-needed break from technology.

Idea: Take a nature walk or have a picnic at the park.

5. Do something that makes you laugh and/or brings you joy.

In the midst of our day-to-day activities, it can be easy to forget to make time for our pleasures. So, figure out what brings you joy, then make time to do at least one of those things daily.

Idea: Listen to funny podcasts, make a list of the things that make you happy, and choose a different one each day; listen to music you enjoy.

BONUS TIP: The best way to make daily self-care a habit is to schedule it. When you’re planning your day or week, actually write down the activity — or activities — you’ll do; that way, you’re more likely to actually follow through with them.

What are some ways you practice self-care? Let us know by leaving a comment! : )


Get 20 more tips for practicing self-care for free in The Black Girl’s Guide to Calm Experience! Click here to learn more.

#HappyTip: Laugh More

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Today’s Calm Tip: Laugh more often. Of course, laughter usually indicates happiness, but did you know there are other benefits to laughter, too? Some of them are:

  • It reduces depression and anxiety and relaxes your whole body.
  • Laughter boosts your problem-solving ability and creativity.
  • It makes you more open-minded.
  • Laughter stimulates the release of endorphins and puts you in a more positive mood.
  • Laughter strengthens your relationships and promotes group bonding.
  • It boosts your immunity and relaxes your muscles.
  • It adds joy and zest to your life.

Need more humor in your life? Some ways to laugh more often are:

  • Listen to 2 Dope Queens podcast (my fave!)
  • Watch a funny movie or TV show
  • Read humor blogs like Awesomely Luvvie
  • Play around with kids
  • Search “humor” or “funny” tags on Instagram or Pinterest
  • Go to a comedy club or show
  • Spend time with fun and playful people

“When you love and laugh abundantly you live a beautifully life.” – curiano.com

Source. Greatist, HelpGuide.org