When we practice yoga & meditation together as a community, we have the opportunity to learn how to “hold space” for each other. We are reminded that we all share joy and we all share grief. Perhaps this is why we do it :)

This poem, “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver captures this opportunity beautifully:

“You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–over and over announcing your place in the family of things.”

Chest and Stomach Stretch

Chest and Stomach Stretch
Last week we suggested a simple stretch to help relieve muscle tension in the neck and shoulders that can lead to tension headaches. If you missed it, read more here. This week, we focus on the stomach and chest. If you often feel sluggish and tired, it could be that you hold tension in the stomach and chest, causing you to take short, shallow breaths – which will make anyone feel rundown and exhausted! Try these poses and see if they bring you back to life!! Great way to start your day too :)

Dog/Cat Tilts
Start in Table Pose (knees directly under your hips, palms directly under the shoulders, with a long spine & flat back). As you inhale, let your belly drop and lift your chin & tailbone toward ceiling. Allow lower back to arch as chest opens.
Cat: Return to Table Pose. As you exhale, tuck your chin & tailbone under and round your spine upward, just like a cat.
Repeat these poses several times, moving slowly and rhythmically, coordinating breath & movement.

Natural Allergy Relief

Natural Allergy Relief

Often seasonal allergies are a result of an immune system that is not functioning optimally. When we have a supercharged immune system, we are less prone to seasonal allergies and even seasonal colds. How to get relief? In addition to a healthy diet and adequate rest (Vitamin R), consider supplementing with high quality vitamins, like Vitalizer. The best part about Vitalizer? Feel better in 30 days, or your money back. We can’t live without it! Womens Vitalizer Here. Mens Vitalizer Here. Over 50 Vitalizer Here.

Being Beauty

Being Beauty

Beauty is many things. Beauty is not simply a word we use to describe the external world. Beauty is also how we describe the way in which we live: how we think, speak, act…and ultimately, who we become.  As you walk your path, consider walking the beauty way. How do you do it? Start by paying attention to your words. Ask yourself, “Is what I am about to say going to plant a seed of beauty in your field?” If not, think again. Beauty is a way of being.

Neck Stretch

Neck Stretch

Last week we spoke about the benefits of stretching. If you missed it, read more here. We mentioned that muscle tension held in the neck and shoulders can lead to tension headaches. If you are someone who holds stress and tension in their neck and shoulders, try this simple technique:

Sit or stand with a straight spine, and point your chin towards the sky. Use your fingers to gently tilt your chin as far back as you can, holding your other hand to the base of your throat to pull the muscle taught. This stretch can help relieve tension in the neck & shoulders as well as frontal and tension headaches by simultaneously relaxing the back of the neck & shoulders while stretching the muscles on the front of the neck. And the best part? It can be done anywhere, anytime!

Sometimes I Forget

Sometimes I Forget

Sometimes I forget. Like yesterday… I don’t typically watch the news. It’s just too much for me to handle. Luckily I have 2 reliable new sources, Christine and Peter …both who keep me “relevant” on a need to know basis.

So, yesterday…I was at the gym, doing the elliptical…TV was on…the NEWS. Words flashed, “ALL LIVES HAVE BEEN LOST”, an update to the missing Malaysian plane.

My heart sank. I could feel the pain start to overwhelm me as I looked at the faces of those who lost dear ones on that flight. I started to cry. Tried to hide it…in a public place, a gym after all.

Suddenly, my tears and deep deep compassion turned into sudden ANGER. Thoughts racing about “WHO is responsible for this, THEY will pay”, etc etc. RAGE started making it hard for me to breathe.

Then I remembered. Wait, I am no different from “them”. From any of them, really. I was reminded that it it this type of divisive, separate thinking, that makes us enemies. It starts with thoughts as simple as I don’t like what you said. Then it turns into, I don’t like who you are…. I don’t like what you stand for and now we must fight on some level.

Hmmmm. How to reconcile? Exhausted, I Surrender, remembering we are all ONE. Your pain and my pain, your joy and my joy are the same. With this I realize I can do nothing less than “BE the change”, no matter what, whether I “like” it or not. My anger unravels to reveal fear which melts to compassion and ultimately to love. Love for all.hearts

Orange Cherry No Flour Bread

Orange Cherry No Flour Breadorange cranberry bread

Put on your seat belts for this one! The original recipe was passed along to me from a yahoo post and I decided to change it, for my taste. After a few months of “testing” variations, the favorite recipe has emerged.

This bread is packed with nutrients to keep you energized and satisfied. It contains enough fiber to keep your digestive system working with ease. And guess what? It contains no flour. I know– hard to imagine, yet true. Enjoy on its own or with a dash of nut butter and a drizzle of honey. Great for a snack or accompanying a meal.


1 cup sunflower seeds (raw, unsalted)

1/2 cup flax seeds

1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped

1 1/2 cup rolled raw oats

1/2 cup dried bing cherries, chopped (or use cranberries)

1/2 cup coconut, unsweetened shredded

2 Tbsp chia seeds

3 Tbsp psyllium husk powder

1 tsp fine grain salt

3 Tbsp Blood Orange Infused Olive Oil (if you don’t want orange flavor use coconut oil)

1 Tbsp Maple Syrup

1 1/2 cups water

Butter or Ghee for greasing pan

In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients, mixing well. Whisk oil, maple syrup and water in another bowl. Add wet mixture to dry one and combine until everything is soaked. Lightly grease 9″ loaf pan. Add mixture to loaf pan, smooth top with spoon.  Let sit for at least 2 hours (or overnight) at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake bread for 25 minutes in loaf pan. Remove from oven and remove bread (carefully with spatula) from loaf pan. Place bread upside down on wire rack and cook on the wire rack for another 30-35 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing.

Store in airtight container for up to 5 days.


Benefits of Stretching

Benefits of Stretching

Yoga is a marriage of strength & stretch. Yes, we all want our muscles to be strong, but suppleness is equally important! It keeps our joints, muscles, and connective tissues healthy. It allows us to move freely and without pain.

Stretching is the antidote to muscle tension. Most of us unconsciously keep our muscles in a constant state of mild contraction, especially when we’re stressed. When this tension is held in the belly & chest, it leads to shortness of breath & fatigue. When held in the neck & shoulders, it constricts blood flow to the brain & leads to tension headaches. And when held in the back, it pulls our vertebrae out of alignment & leads to muscle spasms & pinched nerves.

Muscle tension is also a major cause of insomnia. The deep stretching, held for several breaths, that yoga calls for results in both short-term & long-term relief from these ailments. Stretching sends signals to the brain for the body to let go of these automatic contractions. Accumulated muscle tension releases, and the result is true relaxation & rest.

New to yoga? Consider a gentle class or a private session with Stephanie. If yoga is not your “thing”, try a sports massage or restorative stretching session here at the Sanctuary.

Simple Meditation

Simple Meditation

During meditation, or even throughout the day, simply focusing on breath can bring us into the present moment. Adding a mantra to that – breathing in a word or phrase and breathing out another – can have a profound effect on our ability to relax, to detach from whatever is gripping our thoughts, and ground ourselves into the present. The mantra itself can be any sound, word, or phrase that works for you. One of the oldest and, many believe, most powerful Sanskrit Mantras is the “So Ham” mantra, also known as the Hamsa Meditation. Hamsa means “white swan” in Sanskrit, the symbol for spiritual grace and purity. So Ham means “I Am That I Am.” Repeating this mantra is thought to balance inner feminine and masculine qualities and bring about sense of wholeness and Oneness. 

To practice this meditation, simply breathe in Sooooo…the sound of inhalation, and remember it in the mind along with that inhalation.  Hummmm…is the sound of exhalation, and is remembered in the mind along with that exhalation. As you breathe, keep your attention on your breath and the internal sound of the mantra. Notice the space between the mantra. Repeat this for at least 2 minutes, as many times as needed, throughout the day.