Benefits of Yoga and Meditation

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Benefits of Yoga and Meditation

The practice of yoga and meditation has many benefits. In simple terms, yoga practice aims to elevate the body, mind, and spirit. It’s an inte­grative practice that is rooted in physical health, mental clarity, unconditional love, and happiness. Yoga practice can be further understood as a form of somatic healing that can help alleviate trauma that is stored in the body and mind. These practices help create a feeling of liberation and expanded awareness in the individual.

Physically, the postures can help you increase flexibility, increase lean body mass, and become stronger. On a mental and emotional level, the practices of deep breathing and meditation have a calm­ing effect on the nervous system and improve your well-being.

Yoga Asana Practice

Yoga Asana is the third limb in the eight limb path of Raja Yoga. With respect to the idea of achieving “a steady, comfortable posture,” it’s important to approach asana practice as a way to create a balanced body and mind.

Yoga Asana is a great way to improve overall health and well-being in the body and mind by developing neuromotor skills, cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength and endurance, and flexibility. The key to a safe and therapeutic practice is to design a balanced sequence that does not overload any one area to the exclusion of another.

A holistic approach to asana, integrates the entire body and mind, so that all systems of the body work in harmony. As you practice asana, bring your awareness to all aspects of your movement, the alignment of your body, and your breathing. Practicing with mindful awareness and a sense of calmness will help you receive the greatest benefits from your asana practice.

Remember, every human body is unique and beautiful, so the postures will look different depending on one’s physical capacity, body proportions, and the anatomical structure of the joints. Approach your asana practice with the understanding that asana is a therapeutic practice informed by modern science and designed to balance the body, mind, and overall energy.

Other benefits include:

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  • Increase in muscle tone
  • Weight loss
  • Injury rehabilitation
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increase in bone density
  • Lower heart rate
  • Lower cortisol levels
  • Improvement in sleep quality
  • Relief from depression and anxiety

Meditation

The purpose of meditation is to decrease mental activity. It is the practice of transitioning from external awareness to an internal, quiet state. Practicing meditation enables you to start to experi­ence pure consciousness or “the space between two thoughts.” We are usually unaware of this space due to our constant mental activity, but by directing our mind towards stillness and quiet, we can slip into this space. This mental state is an expanded state of unlimited potential and connection to our true self. Numerous studies have measured the physical and psychological benefits of meditation which include the enhancement of neuroplasticity: the brain’s ability to form new neural connections.

The Benefits of a Meditation Practice Include:

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  • Lowered stress, blood pressure, and heart rate
  • Increase in serotonin and dopamine
  • Decrease in cortisol and norepinephrine
  • Increased memory, clarity, creativity, compassion, and understanding
  • Emotional regulation: Increase in positive emotions and a decrease in painful emotions
  • Decrease in inflammation
  • Increase in telomerase: Enzyme that slows the aging process by lengthening telomeres
  • Slows down the atrophy of brain tissue associated with aging and preserves gray matter

Energy Centers

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The chakras are wheel-like, spiraling energy centers of the subtle body. The seven major chakras are aligned along the spine. They connect the body and mind to higher awareness and are physically associated with various plexuses of the body and the endocrine system.

chakras, energy centers

Chakra One

  • Muladhara- Root center
  • Color- Red
  • Element- Earth
  • Location- coccygeal/pelvic plexus at the base of the spine, lower back, and the perineum
  • Chakra one relates to self-preservation, survival, grounding, and the action of elimination. It stores the Kundalini.

Chakra Two

  • Svadhisthana- One’s own abode
  • Color- Orange
  • Element- Water
  • Location- hypogastric/sacral plexus of the lower abdomen, genitals, ovaries, testes
  • Chakra two relates to your emotions, self-esteem, sexuality, feelings, and pleasure. It rules fertility, reproduction, and creativity.

Chakra Three

  • Manipura- Lustrous gem city
  • Color- Yellow
  • Element- Fire
  • Location- Navel, abdominal region, the solar plexus, pancreas and adrenals
  • Chakra three relates to your will, ambition, personal power, self-esteem and it rules the action of digestion.

Chakra Four

  • Anahata- Unstruck
  • Color- Green
  • Element- Air
  • Location- Heart, the cardiac plexus, and thymus gland
  • Chakra four is associated with love, gratitude, forgiveness, and your relationship to others and yourself. It rules circulation and respiration.

Chakra Five

  • Vishuddha- Purification
  • Color- Bright blue
  • Element- Ether
  • Location- Throat, pharyngeal plexus, thyroid, and parathyroid.
  • Chakra five relates to your creativity, self-expression, communication, and speech.

Chakra Six

  • Ajna- To know, perceive or command
  • Color- Indigo
  • Element- This chakra is beyond physical elements
  • Location- Center of the head in the space between the brows and the pineal gland
  • Chakra six relates to perception, intuition, and imagination.

Chakra Seven

  • Sahasrara- Thousand Petaled Lotus
  • Color- Violet
  • Element- This chakra is beyond physical elements
  • Location- The cerebral cortex, crown of the head, and pituitary gland.
  • Chakra seven deepens our connection to our higher self and higher frequencies of consciousness.

Plant Based Nutrition

Plant based Nutrition

As a professional dancer and actress, being conscious of the food I put into my body is an important part of my job. Early on, I discovered a whole food plant based diet works best for me. Subsequently, I went on to study nutrition with Dr. T. Colin Campbell and earned a certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from his school, The Center for Nutrition Studies.

Over the years, I shared my nutrition tips with many of the dancers and artists I worked with. I truly want to help people end their struggle with their weight.

It’s about turning up the volume on body positivity and making healthy choices that raise your vibration!

I truly want you to know, “Eating more whole plant based foods can set you free from trendy diets and endless calorie counting!”

You may be thinking, do plant based diets have all the required nutrients?

Yes!

Whole food plant based nutrition is nutrient dense, low in fat, high in vitamins & minerals, high in antioxidants, high fiber, and supports overall health. In addition, whole plant foods do not contain cholesterol or high levels of saturated fats which are linked to disease and obesity. Current research conducted by T. Colin Campbell, Dr. John McDougall, and Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., supports that consuming a diet rich in whole plant foods has been shown to lower your risk of disease and is endorsed by the American Dietetic Association. Learn more about the American Dietetic Association’s stand on Vegan diets here.

Can I lose weight on a plant based diet?

Absolutely!

As mentioned above, plant based diets are low in fat and provide your body with optimal energy derived from complex carbohydrates. You will lose weight safely and naturally, while consuming delicious, healthy foods. Overtime, you may notice that you no longer are driven by unhealthy food cravings.

How does it work?

As you begin to detox your body from unhealthy food, you will begin to notice you have more energy and your digestion improves. As a result of the weight loss, your body will feel lighter. Your physical endurance will improve and your workouts will be more effective. Additionally, many people who have blood sugar issues find that plant based diets help stabilize blood sugar and aid in establishing a healthy metabolism. Also, you may notice that once you stop consuming meat and dairy your skin clears up and has a healthy glow.

Why buy Organic Foods?

When shopping for whole plant foods, try to buy organic when possible to avoid pesticides which have been linked to disease. The list below names the fruits and vegetables that contain the highest pesticides, therefore try to buy these foods organic.

Buy organic to avoid pesticides in the following foods: Apples, Celery, Cherry Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Grapes, Hot Peppers, Nectarines, Peaches, Spinach, Strawberries, Sweet Bell Peppers, Kale/Collard Greens, and Summer Squash.

Transitioning to a Plant Based Diet. – An article we wrote for Natural Awakenings

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Clean Beauty Tips

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Clean beauty tips

Many conventional personal care products contain chemicals that may be harmful to your health, cause allergic reactions or respiratory issues. While many of us think about detoxing our bodies from unhealthy food and substances, we may not think about what we are putting on our skin each day. To help get you started on cleaning up your skincare routine, I listed ingredients to avoid in my free eBook, Grace Spirit Beauty.

You may download it here Download my Clean Beauty Book

A few chemicals to avoid are:

  • Aluminum
  • Formaldehyde
  • Hydroquinone
  • Parabens
  • Talc
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Animal based ingredients

Once you toss your old products out, you will probably need to purchase new, clean beauty essentials.  Below is a short list of skincare and makeup basics.

Skincare:

  • Makeup Remover
  • Facial Cleanser
  • Exfoliator
  • Eye cream
  • Facial moisturizer
  • Serum

Makeup:

  • Foundation
  • Concealer
  • Blush
  • Powder/Bronzer/Highlighter
  • Eyeliner
  • Eye Shadow
  • Mascara
  • Brow Pencil/Gel
  • Lipstick
  • Lip Gloss

For a lovely selection of clean beauty products, visit credobeauty.com!

 Makeup Expiration Dates

Your makeup and skincare does not last forever! To keep your skin healthy and vibrant, pay attention to expiration dates and throw away your expired makeup and skincare.

Below are the standard expiration dates:

  • Foundation: 1 Year
  • Concealer: 1 Year
  • Cream Blush: 1 Year
  • Powder Blush and Pressed Powder: 1 Year
  • Gel Eye Liner: 3 Months
  • Liquid Eyeliner: 3 Months
  • Pencil Eyeliner: 2 Years
  • Eye Shadow: 1Year
  • Mascara: 3-6 Months
  • Lip Gloss: 1 Year
  • Lipstick: 1-2 Years
  • Nail Polish: 1 Year