The Best Reason to Talk with Yourself

Last week I found out that an online class for which I had registered was being postponed for a few months. I felt the expected gambit of emotions: surprised, disappointed, understanding, wonder for how it would impact my plans, thankful it was still being offered at a later date… you get it. When the time arrived that I would have been in class, the disappointment returned. This time it was carrying a suitcase full of unhelpful self-talk (Sanskrit: svadhyaya.)

“I should be in class right now.”
“I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up.”
“Of course mine would be the class that was postponed.”

Wandering thoughts are part of life; they drift in and try to take residence. Through mindfulness, we learn how to send them back to sea. Here are my 5 go-to mantras for keeping perspective when things don’t go as I thought they would.

  1. Disappointment is part of life. It happens to everyone.
  2. I give myself permission to feel emotions; I’m human.
  3. This is a learning opportunity. What can I learn?
  4. I choose to share what I am learning with others.
  5. “All things work together for my good” is one of my core beliefs. I choose to see the good in this.

That’s it! The real reason we talk to our self is to encourage our self– to meditate on constructive thoughts instead of ruminate on fruitless thoughts. We bring awareness to our intentions. We remind ourselves of the bigger picture. We extend grace. The next time things don’t go according to plan, consider some positive reinforcement– from yourself.

Identify your core beliefs and write some mantras of your own when you register for a Crosswork yoga class.

How to Take a Meaningful Retreat for Self-Reflection

When is the last time you stepped away from the hustle-hustle of everyday life to seek solitude? If you are having difficulty concentrating, taking time to yourself can help you clear your mind. If you are making big decisions, a retreat can help you bring awareness to your intentions and motivations so you can see the entirety of your situation with a fresh perspective. If you are burned out, solitude can help you rest, reconnect with your bigger why, and recalibrate.

The world is moving faster than ever before. But in spite of the frenetic pace around us, we can still prioritize time to look within ourselves. If you have never taken time away for self-reflection, then you may be at a loss for where to start. Good news! Taking time away to rest and reflect may be easier than you think. Here are 3 ways to take a meaningful retreat for self-reflection.

  1. The Stay-cation
    Ahhhh! Home! For many people, there’s no place like home. It is your castle, your fortress, and the place to let your hair down. Just staying home with nothing to do sounds like a dream. But for others, staying home isn’t the most relaxing idea because of all the distractions. Once you unplug from electronics and begin staring at unfinished projects, it can be difficult to resist the temptation to start tackling your to-do list. Whether you’re taking a single hour of solitude or an entire weekend to get some peace and quiet, the first thing you have to consider is freeing your mind from distractions.

    Other helpful things to consider include:
    > shopping for groceries so you don’t have to leave home
    > setting your email to an automatic reply
    > creating a peaceful atmosphere in your home with lighting or sound
    > placing “Please Do Not Disturb” signs on your door(s)
    > letting loved ones know you are safe and practicing solitude (so they are not concerned)

  2. Escape to the Great Outdoors
    Going outside is often a great way to get away from common hindrances to peace. You may choose a local park, a favorite hiking trail, or other outdoor space. But you don’t have to go far away to find sunlight and fresh air. Outdoor spaces that are close to home like your back yard or patio can also be relaxing. Many people tune out noisy distractions by using ear buds to listen to a book, singing bowls, chanting, guided meditation, or (ironically) sounds from nature. Other people prefer the sound of silence. If you are going outside: be safe. Make an informed plan, and let others know your plans. This helpful list is a great place to start.

  3. Find a Yoga or Spa Resort
    Travelling can be relaxing. There is an opportunity to feel truly alone. There is beautiful scenery. There is a rewarding destination at the end. The anticipation of visiting a new place or a familiar hangout can bring a thrill of excitement. “Research shows that the brain releases dopamine in anticipation of a reward.” Planning your time of solitude and anticipating your retreat could be as beneficial as the retreat itself.

    Resort spas that center around yoga and solitude can be a great fit for people who feel stressed by (or don’t have time to) plan a trip. All inclusive spas shoulder all or most of the decision making. They often have access to amazing foods that are in season, or they host renown yoga teachers. Some resorts offer other therapeutic amenities like horseback riding, wraps and facials, or massage.

    Here are a few things to consider when planning a trip:
    > Do some research. Make sure the place you visit has a reputation for safety and ethical practices.
    > Resist the urge to over-pack.
    > Having a clean, organized space can contribute to a peaceful mood.
    > Whether riding in your personal car or opting for mass transit, your travel time to a resort can also be a great time to notice your natural breathing.

How to Relax When You Take a Day Off

I regularly see people on social media asking for help with the same dilemma. It usually reads like this:

“I am on vacation, and I still can’t stop checking my phone for work. I’m afraid that if I turn off my phone, I’ll miss something big, lose an account, get overlooked on a project, lose my job, etc. How do I take time off from work without feeling guilty or stressed about missing something?”

Here’s a good place to start: what are you repeating in your mind?

“I’m just going to answer this one call; I have to.”
“Checking my email will only take one minute.”
“AH! It’s Chris! I should take this.”

Mindfulness habits can help you switch gears between work and rest. When you’re at work, you have a to-do list (whether physical or mental.) You are conditioned to operate in this mode; it’s your current habit. Rather than trying to completely re-wire yourself on your day(s) off, piggyback on your existing habit and give yourself a task for today. Maybe it’s rest. REST. Today, rest is as important as selling your product, closing a deal, stitching a wound, or teaching fractions– whatever your usual tasks are.

Write your task on a sticky note, and stick it where you can see it as a constant reminder of your goal. When fear of missing out kicks in on your day off, look to your mantra.

REST.
I value rest. I need rest. I can rest.
If I do not rest, I will burn out or get sick.
My capable team has got things covered.
I will return stronger because I refilled my tank.”


If rest is too abstract, make a list of restful pursuits.
Walk my dog in the park
Practice yoga
Play a board game with a loved one
Knit
Play golf

In a healthy relationship,
absence makes the heart grow fonder.
It’s okay if you are missed for a short time;
it indicates that you are a valuable member!

  • If everything falls apart because 1 team member is absent for a day, or someone is made to feel guilty for taking reasonable time to refuel, it is a sign that the relationship with others is unbalanced.
  • If we personally feel guilty for taking time to take care of ourselves, it is a sign that the internal relationship we have with our self is unbalanced.

The sticky-note habit helps us keep our mind’s eye fixed on our core values (or the yamas) and minimizes fear of missing out. Taking time to rest and study yourself (svadhyaya) can help you turn an abstract goal (like rest) into something tangible you can measure. It can give you the courage to speak candid truth (satya) like:

  • I understand that things are not the same when a team member is away. I did a great job delegating my usual responsibilities before I left, and I always help others when they are away. Prioritizing my health makes me a better team member.
  • This project sounds like a great opportunity, but I am going to have to pass. Have you considered asking Julio?
  • This project sounds like a great opportunity, and I am in a great place to help you with it. Let’s get started!

    Many industries move at a rapid pace, and competition is fierce. It’s true. Healthy teams are comprised of healthy individuals. Healthy relationships at work are open and honest [in the kindest, most professional, and most respectable way] about boundaries, skills, limitations, and expectations. A healthy relationship with your self requires nothing less. Support others when they need a break, and don’t feel guilty when it’s your time to recharge.

    Hope that helps!

I am ready to help your team with mindfulness and yoga in the office.
Let’s schedule a lunch & learn. Email me to get started!

Get Ready for the 5-Day Gut & Butt Challenge!

Join me July 26 – 30

For the FIRST time ever,
we want to invite YOU to take part in our all-new
FASTer Way 5-Day Gut and Butt Challenge!

This is a handcrafted 5-day workout and meal plan
that puts the focus on what matters most (booty and abs!)

At only $20, this is a no brainer!

With the 5-Day Gut and Butt Challenge, you’ll receive:

  • Cutting edge nutrition strategies like Intermittent Fasting
  • Daily 30-minute workouts for all fitness levels (minimal equipment needed!) PLUS, EXCLUSIVE booty-burning, ab-shredding bonus workouts.
  • Exclusive trainings from our pro trainers, health coaches and registered dietitians
  • Daily support and accountability from a community committed to seeing you thrive
  • FREE resistance band for your gym or at-home workouts

Three Things to Know About Yoga & Cancer Prevention

Disclaimer: There is a lot of information about yoga and cancer, and that leaves many people wondering which information is trustworthy. I’ll go ahead and remind you that I am not a doctor or a nurse. I don’t pretend to be. I cannot tell you anything diagnostic, and I won’t be recommending anything like courses of treatment. My hope for this series is to shine light on timely information from reputable sources so that you can have meaningful conversations with your licensed healthcare providers. I also hope that talking about cancer experiences will help us tell others about cancer support that they may not know exists, like my oncology yoga classes.

We will look at three things we can learn about yoga and cancer prevention, so let’s begin by defining yoga. Yoga is too old, too rich, too deep, and too multi-faceted to be reduced to a single lineage. You will notice that yoga vocabulary comes from the Sanskrit language, which is the root of many Indian languages. In the same way that many anatomical names like cardio (καρδιο), hypo and hyper, are derived from Greek or Latin, yogic terms come from Sanskrit because yoga originates in the Indian sub-continent.

Yoga, or ashtanga, is literally an eight-fold path that includes:

  1. Asana, or a posture like Warrior 2 and Tree. While the poses themselves are beneficial, the practice of concentration between postures and devotion to regular practice are equally beneficial components of the asanas.
  2. Yama, which is your governing ethics. The 5 Yamas are ahimsa (non-violence) aparigraha (not lusting or coveting) asteya (not stealing) brahmacharya (caring for your soul) and satya (truth).
  3. Niyama, or your self-discipline toward regular practices like meditating, praying, reading scriptures, fasting, or retreating. The 5 Niyamas are isvara pranidhana (trusting surrender to God), santosha (contentment), saucha (cleanliness), svadhyaya (studying yourself), and tapas (heat, or the inner flame inside yourself).
  4. Pranayama, or breathing. You can practice pranayama on its own or incorporate it into your asana.
  5. Pratyahara, or detachment. This concept includes stepping away from your attachments in order to objectively look at yourself.
  6. Dharana, or concentration on a single point, idea, or concept. It is actively tuning out distractions to be single-minded.
  7. Dhyana, or meditation. This perfect stillness is often the goal of dharana.
  8. Samadhi, or peace that passes understanding. It is a type of transcendent joy and hope that come from being deeply rooted in and devoted to your core beliefs.

It is important to define yoga in detail because we must step outside the idea that yoga is just a series of poses. The power of yoga is beyond the physical poses; the power of yoga is beyond the physical. Yoga includes breath work, spiritual inspection, a search for truth, learning to still your mind, and many other tenets that are not always covered in an article or a yoga class.

Second, let’s look at what cancer prevention means. For the sake of this article, prevention means “the act of preventing cancer.” When considering your source of information, you may want to look at credentials. Are they licensed physicians? What type of research has been done to support their claims? How broad is their data? This may be of importance to you. As you read studies, look at the scope and sequence of their research. Which types of cancer were treated, what types of yoga were used, and the frequency and duration of the practice may be of interest to you. Always discuss things with your own physicians to see if yoga or a new healthcare practice is right for you. Some licensed healthcare providers, especially those in the field of integrative medicine, are Registered Yoga Teachers in addition to being medical doctors. This may be of interest to you when you are selecting your cancer care provider.

Last, let’s look at some data. Brilliant researchers make advances in the field of oncology every day, and that is good news! Below are some articles I hope you will appreciate.

Does Sugar Feed Cancer?
Society for Integrative Oncology, Continue Reading Article

Intake of Fiber and Nuts During Adolescence and Incidence of Proliferative Benign Breast Disease
NIH PubMed, Continue Reading Article

“Early diagnosis is important, but can you go one better? Can you reduce your risk of getting cancer in the first place? It sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. Scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health estimate that up to 75% of American cancer deaths can be prevented. The 10 commandments of cancer prevention are…”
Harvard Health Publishing Continue Reading Article

Like any illness or disease, cancer can occur without warning. Many factors that increase your cancer risk are beyond your control, such as your family history and your genes. Others, such as whether you smoke or get regular cancer screenings, are within your control. Changing certain habits can give you a powerful tool to help prevent cancer. It all starts with your lifestyle.
Medline Plus, Continue Reading Article

“How much do daily habits like diet and exercise affect your risk for cancer? More than you might think. Research has shown that poor diet and not being active are key factors that can increase a person’s cancer risk. The good news is that you can do something about this.”
American Cancer Society, Continue Reading Article

“Nerve growth factor (NGF), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), and interleukin-6 (IL-6) are among the early experimental cellular biomarkers that may be used to probe the modulation of oral cancer, obesity, and neurodegenerative disorders. Yoga has been reported to influence these molecules in healthy individuals but whether their expression can be altered in patients of oral cancer by yoga intervention is the subject of this research being discussed in this review article.
– Europe PubMed Central Continue Reading Article

“Want to Try and Prevent Cancer? Then Don’t Fall for These 7 Common Myths About the Disease
Johnson & Johnson Continue Reading Article

“Given the fact that many cancers can be averted, what would it take to make the dream of prevention a reality?”
Madeline Drexler, Editor of Harvard Public Health Continue Reading Article

— Namaste

Sarah does not provide medical advice or promote any product, organization, or service. The contents on this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek advice from a licensed, qualified physician or health care professional about any medical concern. Do not disregard professional medical advice because of anything you may read on this web site. Sarah is not responsible for errors or omissions in information provided on this site or any actions resulting from the use of such information.

New Blog Series: Yoga & Cancer

I’m devoting some of my blog posts to bringing mindful awareness to cancer. How we think about cancer is a lot more important than most of us probably realize, and it’s time we started talking about it. Here’s why.

I have found that most people don’t really want to talk about cancer at all unless [or until] they have to. But at the same time, when people are diagnosed with cancer, they often wonder how it happened, why it happened to them, if it was just a genetic predisposition, or if they could have done more to prevent it. Given the option between burying our heads in the sand or being proactive, we stand to gain a lot more by being educated, intentional, and mindful in our fight. So let’s talk.

I’ll go ahead and remind you that I am not a doctor or a nurse. I don’t pretend to be. I cannot tell you anything diagnostic, and I won’t be recommending anything like courses of treatment. But I hope that as we become more comfortable talking about cancer, it will take away some of the taboo that frightens us from seeking important health care screenings that could save our life. I also hope it helps us tell others about cancer support that they may not know exists, like my oncology yoga classes.

Here’s what I will be covering:

  • Data on Yoga & Cancer Prevention
  • Integrative Health Care for Cancer Patients
  • Yoga for Those in Remission from Cancer
  • How Cancer Affects Caregivers & Communities

I hope you’ll join me!

Summer is a Great Time to Eat the Rainbow

Eating according to the rainbow is a fun way to get your daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. If you have been reaching for the same foods for a while, summer is a great time to change it up. Try shopping at a market you have never been to before, especially specialty food markets that focus on cuisine native to places outside North America. While you’re shopping, if you don’t know what something is or how to prepare it, don’t be afraid to ask someone!

Red – Harissa, gochujang, or kimchi bring incredible flavor to your dish.
Orange – Horned melon, persimmons & kumquats have delicate notes of bitter and sweet.
Yellow – Star fruit is juicy, and Buddha’s hand is in the citrus family.
Green – Edible seaweeds like nori and wakame are naturally salty.
Blue – Blue corn shells are a fun twist for taco Tuesday.
Indigo – Find indigo carrots with root vegetables and mangosteen with fruits.
Purple – Akebi and jabutikaba (or Brazilian grapes) may be found in specialty markets.

And for dessert? Check out cherimoya (a.k.a ice cream fruit) or black sapote, also known as chocolate pudding fruit. If you’re in the mood to bake, get my recipe for almond-butter cookies. They’re alkaline, gluten free, packed with protein, and sweetened with a touch of honey.

The Reason Morning Routines are Helpful

Developing a morning routine is often seen as a Type A personality trait or a tool people use to increase productivity. If we examine routines more closely, we find that even basic routines are pretty useful to almost everyone. In fact, for better or worse, you probably already have a few.

  • Forgetting your gym clothes
  • Wondering if you unplugged the iron
  • Leaving your coffee on the kitchen counter
  • Yelling at your loved ones to get in the car because you’re late

Those habits don’t really comprise an ideal morning. What are more preferable habits?

  • Walking or playing with your dog
  • Reading
  • Making a healthy lunch

Morning routines are really just intentionally healthy habits. A routine means that you have found the flow that works for you, and you are trying to do basically the same thing each morning so you can give your brain a break from decision-making, save time, curb forgetfulness, or foster positive interpersonal communication. Maybe you have other reasons!

Currently, my morning routine includes:

  • Brushing my teeth
  • Putting up my hair
  • Gardening in my greenhouse
  • Yoga
  • Reading and meditating

The rest of the day, my plans are usually pretty loose. I try to go with the flow and not let others’ plans throw a wrench in our day. Some days are easier than others. The reason morning routines are helpful is that they can bring us closer to balance. They may offer a familiar assurance. The stability of a morning routine contributes to filling my well of inner peace. Then I can draw from that peace if things around me seem frustrating, chaotic, or uncertain.

Download your free Crosswork Mindful Morning guide.

What to Expect in a Yoga Class for Cancer

I’m not sure I can do those crazy yoga poses.
Class is on Tuesday? I don’t know how I’ll feel that day.
I’m just not up for seeing people.

If you have cancer, or have had cancer, you may wonder if a yoga class is a good fit for you. Some oncologists recommend yoga as a complimentary practice in patients’ wellness plans. After all, yoga has been shown to be beneficial to some individuals who are receiving cancer care and others who are in remission from cancer. But all yoga classes are not the same. Look for classes that use words like adaptive, restorative, and gentle. Whether they meet online or in person, they are usually slower paced and focus more on the experience than what the poses (or asanas) look like.

You may also find yoga classes specifically for cancer. In a yoga class for those affected by cancer, you can expect to find a non-judgmental environment that includes breathing, gentle stretching, or greater relaxation. You are free to participate as much or as little as you prefer, including joining others in the physical asanas or in spirit. There is freedom to simply sit and learn to be with your body. In a yoga for oncology class, accommodations are easily made for ports, pumps, central lines, and other considerations.

You can also feel open about asking instructors if they are Registered Yoga Teachers or if they have experience or training in teaching yoga with those affected by cancer. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to receive Yoga for Cancer Teacher Training at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. I am honored and encouraged to bring yoga to the oncology community, including those facing cancer, their caregivers, and oncology healthcare providers.

I am here for you. Reach out or complete the form below to get started.

Free Yoga Class for NC State Day of Giving

Whether it’s by making a gift or spreading the word, we can all help support the Wolfpack on the NC State Day of Giving. In lieu of paying for your Crosswork yoga class on March 24th, please consider giving to NC State University https://dayofgiving.ncsu.edu/ 

Our Crosswork Yoga Class for the Pack will be loads of fun and feature:

  • an invigorating, 30-minute yoga asana to start your day
  • access to the spring issue of Crosswork magazine
  • a desk reference .pdf of seated yoga that you can do at your desk
  • 20% off of your next Crosswork yoga class

Wear RED and join us in giving back on the NC State Day of Giving so the Pack can continue to prepare future leaders to tackle the world’s biggest problems.

This sign-up has expired.