#CalmTip: Know Your Stress Signals

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Stress (and worry and overwhelm and anxiety) manifests itself in different ways in each of us. When you become aware of your signals, you’ll be better able to handle your stressors when they come and be proactive instead of reactive to stressful situations.

Since I’ve begun to notice what my signs of stress are, I’m able to do something to combat the stress before it gets out of control.

Some of the signals are:

  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Feeling really tired/exhaustion
  • Frustration
  • Poor quality sleep
  • Racing mind/difficulty concentrating
  • Reduced productivity
  • Shoulders hunched/tense
  • Clenched jaw

Read more signs here.

To recognize your own signals more easily, regularly check in with yourself, and pay attention to what you’re doing and how you’re feeling — mentally and physically.

“When you release stress, you come home to yourself.” – Donna Eden

Photo Credit: 123rf.com/Michael Simons

How to Stop Beating Yourself Up

Do you constantly beat yourself up because you feel like what you do isn’t enough? It’s time to stop that! Beating yourself up and constantly putting too much pressure on yourself is a recipe for stress, anxiety, and frustration.

Check out my latest YouTube video to see how to stop doing this:

 

#CalmTip: Take Care of You

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

As women with lots of responsibilities, it’s easy to put ourselves on the backburner and forget about what we need. But we have to remember that if we don’t take care of ourselves, we ultimately burn ourselves out, become resentful, and are not be able to do what we need to. When you take care of you, you feel less stress and tension and have more peace and joy.

With that said, here are three ways you can start making sure you’re taken care of:

  1. Exercise. Working out relieves stress, and, of course, keeps your body and mind healthy and strong. You don’t have to do a one or two hour workout at the gym daily (unless that’s your thing). Fifteen to 30 minutes a day is beneficial as well. Just find what works for you, and get moving.
  2. Eat well, and stay hydrated. A couple of ways to improve your diet: 1. Meal plan (Determining what you and/or your family will eat for the week helps you incorporate healthier foods and can save you time); and 2. Gradually increase your fruit and/or veggie intake, and replace what you usually eat. For example, instead of grabbing a bag of chips for your afternoon snack, try veggie chips or carrot sticks. And to up your water intake, try a water tracker app or buy a bottle that lets you know how much you’ve drank. (by the way, you can find out how much you should be drinking here).
  3. Take time for yourself. Whether it’s five or 15 minutes, take time to just be with yourself (by yourself) daily. You can meditate, read, pray, visualize, whatever. I like to do this in the morning to prepare myself for the day ahead and again at night to decompress. Figure out what works best for you, then do that.
  4. Make sure you’re good emotionally and mentally. Regularly check in with how you’re feeling by literally asking yourself, ‘How do I feel right now?’ and checking in with your body, which can let you know if you’re feeling tense (like if your shoulders are hunched or jaw is clenched). You can also journal on a regular basis as a way of releasing any emotions you don’t want and figuring out how you can feel better.

“‘Taking care of yourself’ is not an extra thing to add to your to do list. It is the foundation of life.” – Sarah Yost

How do you make sure you’re taken care of? Share below by leaving a comment. : )

P.S. — Need help with this area of your life? Let’s work together one-on-one!

Yoga Pose of the Month: Downward Facing Dog

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

It’s a new month, and that means it’s time for a new yoga pose: Downward Facing Dog. This pose energizes and rejuventates your entire body; it’s also great for bringing more joy into your life. Practicing downward facing dog might also help you regain some of the lightness and enthusiasm that’s been missing in your life.

Additional benefits include relief from headaches, fatigue, insomnia, and mild depression. The blood flow to the brain also calms the nervous system, improves concentration and memory, and relieves stress. Downward facing dog can be used to transition to other poses or as a full-body stretch by itself.

How to do it:

  1. Start on your hands and knees. Spread your fingers (they should be pointed at the wall in front of you) and make sure your wrists are under your shoulders.
  2. On an inhale, curl your toes, then lift your knees up and your tailbone to the sky. Reach your heels to the ground, but it’s no big deal if they don’t get there. Keep your feet hip distance.
  3. Make sure your fingers are still spread wide, and press into the roots of your fingers and fingertips. Most of your weight should be there, so you avoid any wrist pain/issues.
  4. Continue pushing the mat away so your armpits are long, and rotate your elbows away from you. Allow your head to relax so there’s no tension in your neck.
  5. Without moving your feet, rotate your thighs slightly inward and keep reaching your tailbone to the sky.
  6. Hold for five to 10 breaths.

Modifications + Tips

You can warm up and stretch your hips by bending one knee while the other is straight, then switching sides. Repeat a few times to

If the pose is too much with straightened legs or if your hamstrings are super tight, bend your knees in downward facing dog, coming onto the balls of your feet.

“Let your joy rise to the surface.” – Unknown

7 India.Arie Lyrics to Inspire Your Life

 

india.arie lyrics

India.Arie is, hands-down, my favorite music artist. One of the reasons I love her so much is that her music is inspirational and empowering. Because of this, I wanted to share a few of my favorite lyrics that will hopefully inspire you, too:

1. “If you create the game
Then you create the rules
And if you just be you
There’s no way you can lose.”
– Just Do You

2. “Soulbird rise
Lift your eyes
Spread your wings
Prepare to fly
This is the moment
Of your life
Go ahead and fly.”
– Soulbird Rise

3. “I learned to love myself unconditionally, because I am a queen.”
– Video

4. “I am not my hair
I am not my skin
I am not your expectations, no, no.”
– I Am Not My Hair

5. “It’s the little things
And the joy they bring…”
– Little Things

6. “It’s time to step out on faith, I’ve gotta show my face
It’s been elusive for so long but freedom is mine today
I’ve gotta step out on faith it’s time to show my face
Procrastination had me down but look what I have found, I found
Strength, courage, and wisdom
It’s been inside of me
All along.”
– Strength, Courage, and Wisdom

7. “Child it’s time
To break the shell
Life’s gonna hurt
But it’s meant to be felt
You cannot touch the sky
From inside yourself
You cannot fly
Until you break the shell.”
– Break the Shell

What song lyrics inspire you? Let me know by leaving a comment! : )

Photo Credit: 123rf.com/Eugenio Marongiou

#CalmTip: Sleep

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Sleep. We all need it, but most of us don’t get nearly enough it. I know a lot of people love to post the whole ‘they sleep, we grind’ trope on social media, but let me tell you, I’m not ’bout that life. I love my sleep.

And while I do believe there are days when you have to sacrifice your sleep to get things done, it should not be a regular occurrence. #sorrynotsorry You cannot sustain a successful business/life with no rest!

Getting enough sleep can:

  • Reduce stress and improve your mood
  • Help you think more clearly
  • Keep you from getting sick as much
  • Lower your risk of high blood pressure and diabetes

Trust me, I know how difficult it can be to get more sleep, especially when you have small children. But for what it’s worth, here are a few tips to try:

  1. Take a nap (if possible). Since I work from home — with my daughter here most days — it can be difficult to get everything done that I need to when she’s awake. I often end up working at night, after she goes to sleep, which means I usually don’t get as much as I’d like. So, some days when she takes her nap, I take one, too. It does wonders for my mood and productivity.
  2. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and other chemicals that may hinder sleep for four to six hours before bedtime.
  3. Create a bedtime routine. You can read more on that here.
  4. Keep your internal clock set with a consistent sleep schedule. When you go to bed and wake up the same time daily, you set your body’s “internal clock” to expect sleep at a certain time each night. Also, try to stick as closely as possible to your routine on weekends; that way, you’ll fend off a Monday morning sleep hangover.

Need more tips for sleep? Get them here.

“Sleep is the best meditation.” – The Dalai Lama

Meet Yoga Teacher Sherrell Moore-Tucker

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

As an independent Christian yoga instructor and founder of Faith & Flow Yoga, Sherrell Moore-Tucker provides Christian meditation, yoga classes, and workshops to businesses, churches and various women’s groups and conferences to educate various communities about the divine mind-body connection created by God. The philosophy of Faith & Flow Yoga is to help students connect with themselves and Christ on the mat, allowing physical and spiritual fitness to flow together. 

Learn more about Sherrell and her yoga style in our interview below:

How did you become interested in yoga?
My introduction to yoga actually came through my doctor. Towards the end of my enlistment in the U.S. Army, I started experiencing excruciating pain in my knees and in my lower back. Turns out, it was arthritis. After trying physical therapy and various injections, my doctor simply said, “I don’t know, maybe try yoga.” So I did. I found a yoga class on base, and there, I discovered yoga. I went for a few weeks, and it was okay, but I didn’t stick with it long enough to reap any benefits. It was too slow, and I just didn’t get it.

Looking back at the old me, I can tell you I just wasn’t ready to slow down and do the inner work that yoga requires. My ego was so big, and I felt I was too young to have arthritis anyway, so I lived in denial for the next five years. In 2008, I found myself dealing with the same pain, but now I was out of the military and living in a new city with no family or friends and the stress of transitioning to “civilian life.” So I gave yoga another try, and this time, I was hooked. I had more energy, no more back pain, my posture improved, and I gained more strength and flexibility throughout my entire body. I was finally able to move more freely in my body, and I loved it, but there was still something missing.

Why did you create Faith & Flow Yoga?
While sharing my yoga experience with others, I noticed that there were other Christians who were interested in yoga but had questions and concerns about as to whether it aligned with their faith, and to be honest, I had some concerns, too. So I took a break from yoga, did my own research, and discovered through my traditional and Holy yoga training that yoga in its physical form is not a religion. I also prayed about it, and after much prayer, God gave me the vision for Faith & Flow Yoga to meet the needs of those desiring a Christ-centered yoga practice.

My goal is to educate others about God’s mind-body design by using biblical principles to illuminate the benefits of the physical postures and the importance of the spiritual practice of Christian meditation that may be used to set the stage for praise, worship, and devotion.

Can you tell me a little about Christ-centered Holy Yoga?
Faith & Flow Yoga specializes in Holy Yoga, which is an intentional practice of connecting our entire being —  body, mind, and spirit — with God: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Faith & Flow Yoga uses the biblical principles of Surrender, Transformation, and Discipline to build our faith, ultimately enhancing our spiritual and physical growth and development through Christ. Faith & Flow Yoga sets God as the intention and yoga as the tool to create a worship experience that serves to connect our entire mind, body, and spirit with God.

What do you hope people take away from your classes?
I hope that people leave having a true encounter with God on the mat! I don’t teach yoga classes, I facilitate a worship experience that is unique to each person that steps foot on the mat. We engage in full body worship, which provides space and time for physical and spiritual healing to take place.

What advice do you have for people who want to get started with yoga?
Like any movement or exercise program, please do your research, get clearance from your doctor if you have any health challenges, and determine what you are looking to gain from the class. Ask friends for referrals, and if no referrals are available, call the studio or gym and ask the owner about the classes offered. Remember, everyone can do yoga, but every yoga class isn’t for everyone.

Is there anything else you want to add or say?
My book, Transparent Faith and my DVD, Surrender: Body, Breath, and Spirit will be available on my website very soon. I may be reached at Sherrell @ faithandflow . com.

Visit Sherrell online at FaithandFlowYoga.com.

#CalmTip: Take the 5-Day Yoga Challenge

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

If you haven’t seen on social media, I’m hosting a five day yoga challenge for beginners. I decided to do this challenge for a couple of reasons: 1. I get a lot of questions about starting a yoga practice and people asking me to help them begin; and 2. I love yoga (and I’m currently doing a training in core strength vinyasa).

Here’s how it will work:

  1. Sign up here.
  2. From February 1st – 5th, you’ll receive an email with a video of the day’s pose and instructions.
  3. You’ll get a free copy of my forthcoming ebook, The Black Girl’s Guide to Yoga (when it comes out in the next few weeks).
  4. That’s it!

Go here to sign up. And if you have any questions, feel free to reach out.

P.S. Click to tweet, and get your followers to join in, too!

3 Types of Yoga to Try

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

 

If you’re new to yoga and start doing research online to learn more, you might become overwhelmed with all the info out there and the different types to choose from. So, to get you started, here are a few types of yoga you can try:

1. Hatha

In its most basic usage, ‘hatha’ simply means yoga. The word describes any kind of yoga in which poses are done. (There are eight limbs of yoga, and asana is the only one dealing with poses).

Hatha can be translated in a couple of ways: 1. “Willful” or “forceful” as in the yoga of activity; and 2. “sun” (ha) and “moon” (tha), the yoga of balance. Hatha practices are designed to align and calm your mind, body, and spirit to prepare for meditation. Nowadays, hatha is most often used to describe gentle, basic yoga classes that have no flow between poses. These classes are a good place to start to learn beginners’ poses, relaxation methods, and to become comfortable with yoga.

2. Kemetic

Kemetic yoga is the ancient Egyptian system of yoga enlightenment based on the practices of physical movements combined with controlled breathing and meditation. It’s a healing and regenerative yoga system defined by a series of geometrically progressive postures that aligns the spinal column and corrects defects in the skeletal muscular system to relieve stress; increase blood circulation, nutrient, and oxygen supply to vital body systems; and allows internal life force energy and cerebral spinal fluid to flow more effectively and abundantly through the body.

Kemetic yoga is both a philosophy and a practice based on the Kemetic (ancient Egyptian) systems of self-development that fueled the creation of Kemetic civilization that brought forth western science, philosophy and religion.

3. Vinyasa

Vinyasa is a yoga practice in which movement is synchronized to the breath. The breath is like an anchor to the movement as you flow from one pose to the next with each inhale or exhale.

The literal translation of vinyasa from Sanskrit is “connection”; this can be described as a connection between movement and breath. Vinyasa classes include a lot of variety and will almost always include sun salutations.

“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.” – The Bhagavad Gita

Sources: yoga.about.com, kemeticyoga.com, yogajournal.com

Photo Credit 123rf.com/Gino Santa Maria

#CalmTip: Mindfulness Meditation

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, renowned mindfulness meditation instructor, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” It can be practiced anywhere, any time, and you can even do it while you’re walking, eating, or cleaning.

To practice mindfulness meditation while sitting is simple:

  1. Focus on your breath, the inhalations and exhalations.
  2. When thoughts come to you, don’t try to force them out; instead, observe them in a friendly, nonjudgmental manner.
  3. Then, return your focus back to your breath.

Benefits of mindfulness/mindfulness meditation include inducing the relaxation response, reducing anxiety, and encouraging positive thought patterns and attitudes.

“In mindfulness one is not only restful and happy, but alert and awake. Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.” – Thich Nhat Hanh