Wellness

The Benefits of Yoga

Yoga

As most of you know, I took quite the hiatus from yoga. Despite repeated efforts to get back into the practice regularly, my busy schedule and constant soreness after my weekly kickboxing class left me with little energy for an additional workout.

But over the last couple of weeks, I have pushed myself to give yoga another go. While I might step onto my mat reluctantly after a long day of work, I always feel much better by the time the class concludes.

Here are a few ways yoga has helped me:

It gives me something to look forward to
Let’s face it. Mondays can be hard. But knowing that I am starting the week with an evening yoga class makes getting out of bed when my alarm goes off a little easier. Add to that dinner with a good friend before the class and company during, and I’m not sure my Monday could get better than that.

My muscles thank me
I am always sore after kickboxing—for days. But since I started going to yoga, I’ve noticed that the soreness dissipates faster than it used to.

I’m more flexible
Each week I can do or hold a pose longer. Yoga is a nice complement to my kickboxing class, too. I’ve found that my roundhouse kicks have improved significantly as a result of my increased flexibility.

My mental clarity is sharper
I often say that I have thyroid brain fog…and I do. Since having thyroid cancer, my memory is not as good as it once was. The good thing is that I never have to worry about repeating something I shouldn’t because nine times out of ten, I won’t remember it anyway. But it can be frustrating when I really need to concentrate and am unable to do so. Yoga has given me the ability to clear my mind and focus on a task, which has improved my memory overall.

I feel calmer
The best part about yoga is that I feel a sense of calm long after the class has ended. I love that the class is on a Monday and that I can stretch that feeling well into mid-week.

Monday Mantra: Take Care

Long Island Sunset

The last few weeks have felt endless. Despite being busy at work—my looming thyroid testing next month has been weighing heavily on me. Since my antithyroglobulin levels began rising in November, the last three months of “watchful waiting” have been especially difficult. It has taken all of my energy to prevent my mind from wandering to worst-case scenario situations. But I finally built up the courage to schedule the appointments for the neck ultrasound and blood work. So now I have to endure these next two weeks before learning my fate.

I’ve tried my best to keep my mind occupied with writing and my body active with kickboxing. But I’ve also felt myself craving more down time—to relax, rest, and recharge. I find myself feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day for “me”. By the time I get home from work, eat something, peruse social media, and take a shower, it’s usually about midnight. But those late nights have caught up with me in the form of a nasty caffeine dependency (caffeine withdrawal is no joke, ya’ll) and just overall exhaustion—irrespective of how much I try to catch up on sleep over the weekend.

While I may not know what the future holds for my health, I do know that I need to slow down in the present. That might mean declining offers I would normally say yes to or skipping a workout here and there. But just like we make schedules for the things we need to get done in our lives, we also need to schedule timeouts for our lives.

How do you take time out of your busy week for yourself?

Thyroid Thursday: Fern Olivia’s Daily Rituals To Improve Thyroid Health

I’m always looking for ways to carve out a little “me” time in my busy schedule. When I came across a post that Fern Olivia wrote about her daily rituals, I knew it was something that I needed to read, and also wanted to share with the readers of this blog. I love how Fern makes taking care of her mind and body a priority, and I hope you find her routine and the products she uses as insightful as I did.

And remember, there is only one more installment of Thyroid Thursday after this week (how is it already the end of September?). Leave those questions in the comments section, and I will devote next week’s final Thyroid Thursday to answering them!

Now, here’s Fern!

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{Photo Credit: Fern Olivia}

Beauty is the healing food I nourish myself with, the sensual alchemy that kisses my skin, the gorgeous friends I choose to enjoy time with, the sacred home I have created, and the healing experiences I treat myself lavishly with every day. Beauty is taking care of myself in the most loving and kindhearted way. I have a big purpose on this planet, and I need to feel my best to give my best — I know that I have to keep up!

Here’s how I do it:

A.M. Ritual

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{Nicole Granato/Moon Deck}

My beauty ritual begins the moment I open my eyes and mentally say a prayer of gratitude. Then, I prepare herbal loose leaf from my friend Nicole Granato — she has an organic hibiscus rose petal tea that is just so beautiful. During my recent visit to Aja Malibu Latigo Canyon, I had the gift of receiving an intimate tour of the property’s biodynamic vegetable and medicinal herb gardens with the beautiful founder, Iannya Magick. As I picked and tasted whole herbs fresh from the earth, I felt reconnected to the beauty of life. Returning home, I have made infusing my tea and lemon water with fresh herbs a daily beauty ritual.

Each morning, I also pick a card from my Moon Deck, a beautiful intuitive oracle set created by my friends Aarona Ganesan and Andrea Keh. It is such a lovely way to connect to intuition through the path of self-love and ritual.

Then it’s a run out my front door, through the sand, into the cool Pacific Ocean. Splashing in the waves invigorates me and stimulates my lymphatic system — and as a bonus, cold water plunges are incredible for immune health. I’ve noticed that I feel significantly more energized when I have my ocean plunge first thing in the morning.

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{Photo Credit: Alicia Panetta}

I cleanse my face and body with manuka honey, coconut sugar, and coconut oil. I apply a healing mask depending on what I feel I need, and massage my face with facial crystals from Benshen. Then, I moisturize with Solar Sun Protect, a skin protectant from my own organic beauty apothecary, Ajai Alchemy, made from all organic essential oils in a base of carrot oil and coconut oil to protect my skin. Living in Los Angeles and traveling frequently to sunny destinations such as Sedona, Hawaii, and the Cayman Islands, I made this to give my skin some extra love as I spend my days practicing and teaching yoga on the beach. I apply Radiance Hair Serum to my hair, which keeps my beach curls wild and sexy without the frizz.

Thyroid Yoga

Sadhana, or daily practice, is a must for me, and it’s a pillar that I talk about in my Thyroid Yoga course. It’s a nonnegotiable holy practice that reminds me that I am worthy before I go out into the world — and yes, that means before I turn on my phone and check email or my Instagram feed.

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{Photo Credit: Alexa Gray Photography}

I start every practice by applying Grace Alchemy, another one of my own creations, to my thyroid gland, tracing the infinity sign horizontally and massaging my lymph nodes — it serves as a luxurious reminder that I am a radiant, beautiful woman and that treating myself with love is very important. Once I have applied my alchemy to my neck, I begin my daily sequence, which I go over in the videos during my course. My practice includes chanting, yoga asana, breathwork, and meditation. Depending on what my day looks like, it could range anywhere from 20 minutes to over two hours!

Often I will kick my practice up a notch and join my teachers Guru Jagat and Harmanjot Kaur at Ra Ma Institute in Venice, and when I’m too lazy to leave my Zen den (because yes, sometimes I’ve stayed out too late), then I can catch the classes streaming on Ra Ma TV.

Superfood Smoothie

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{Moon Juice}

I follow a 12-hour intermittent fast from the time of my last meal the night before until the next day after my sadhana, and I like to keep things light in the morning. I’ve found that works best for my body type and energy levels. To make sure I’m getting enough protein, I add Dana James’ Beauti-Fuel into my morning green smoothie. My go-to is matcha, hemp seeds, a few very generous dashes of cinnamon, a tablespoon of coconut butter, half a frozen banana, and schisandra berry and pearl from Moon Juice. Since my friend Amanda Chantal Bacon mentioned these were her beauty secret weapons, I’ve been hooked ever since.

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{Body + Eden}

I also blend in organic raw probiotic from microbiome expert Body + Eden. This is the ultimate beauty food! Why? Beauty begins in the gut — when we’re not digesting our food properly, we feel puffy, bloated, foggy, our skin breaks out, and we get sick. More potent than a capsule, naturally fermented herbs and superfoods allow for easy assimilation and better absorption of minerals and nutrients while helping your body replenish its beneficial gut bacteria.

If I feel like I need a bit more energy for the day ahead, I top my smoothie with a sprinkle of bee pollen, one of my favorite beauty superfoods.

Midday: Meetings & Turmeric Lattes

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{Fern Olivia, Thyroid Yoga Recipe Book: You Nourish You}

Typically I head out in the late morning or early afternoon to work out of a coffee shop or cafe in Venice — you can find me setting up shop at Butcher’s Daughter or Plant Food and Wine on Abbot Kinney, sipping on green juice and turmeric lattes.

Before I go out, I like to apply makeup that gives me a dewy, natural glow. I use only organic products on my face and body. If I wouldn’t consume it, it’s not going on my sacred skin! My favorite beauty products are W3ll People, Vapor, and Kjaer Weiss. I’m obsessed with CAP Beauty, Net-a-Porter, the apothecary at ABC Carpet & Home, The Detox Market, and Goop, too, as sites to buy from.

Afternoon: Goddess Time

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{Alyson Charles Rockstar Shaman}

One of the pillars of my healing regime is to luxuriously treat myself with loving care. This means getting a massage weekly, acupuncture, facials, and a spa mani and pedi. If I’m feeling extra artistic, I’ll paint my own nails with The Blessed Power Set, a gorgeous five-free set of nail lacquers blessed by Alyson Charles Rockstar Shaman. Or you’ll find me taking a midday pamper session at Olive + June, a beautiful nail spa in Los Angeles.

P.M. Ritual

I feel extremely lucky to be a five-minute bike ride from Erehwon, a chic grocery market stocked with beautiful aisles of only the cleanest and purest sustainable foods. I recently became a member and I’m obsessed — I’m in there every day picking up superfoods and fresh produce. It’s here where I get my daily fix of Elissa’s Thyroid Juice, a beautiful elixir made with dandelion greens, parsley, ginger, and other potent healing ingredients.

I love cooking and preparing my own foods, so much so that I recently became inspired to write a recipe book after serving up foods as chef on one of my recent retreats. I’ve birthed the Thyroid Yoga Recipe Book: You Nourish You, with gorgeous photography and additional recipes featured by Parsley Health founder Dr. Robin Berzin; expert Ayurvedic practitioner Tina Paymaster; plant-based chef and healer Cassandra Bozdak; and I’m very excited to share it with you. It’s all about intuitive eating and intuitive cooking, topics I am so passionate about teaching.

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{Photo Credit: Eve Bregman Photography}

Living on the beach in Venice, I feel called to catch magic hour with a sunset stroll. An evening meditation is a gift I give myself and a much-needed break from my work. I take my massive rose quartz from Sedona with me to the ocean and charge it up in mamma blue. Bubble baths with organic bath salts set me up for a restful beauty sleep. In my bath, you’ll find Pursoma Après Savasana Soak, plus some rose petals from a bouquet I bought myself just because. I light candles, burn sage and incense, and listen to the special bath playlist I created with soothing beats, earth sounds, and sacred sound currents by the talented Aya and Tyler, White Sun, DTO Music, Aykanna, and Mirabai Ceiba.

After a soothing bath, I massage virgin coconut oil all over my body with a few drops of my Grace serum — I love smelling like love when I go to bed! The scent is an aphrodisiac, sexy and so beautiful. It is such a simple pleasure, and I sleep like a baby. Oh, and I have to sleep naked. It feels incredibly liberating and is one of my body-love beauty rituals. Try it; you’ll never want to wear anything to bed again!

As I sleep, I have a mantra playing softly in the background. I play Antarjamee by Ajeet Kaur on repeat — her voice is angelic! I also love the new White Sun II album — it’s next level healing!

*This post was written by Fern Olivia and originally published on mindbodygreen.

Montauk Magic Part I

Montauk Magic Retreat

What could be better than spending a day out in Montauk at a yoga retreat? That’s exactly where I’ll be tomorrow — at Montauk Magic, a week-long (from Wednesday, July 20th – Monday, July 25th) wellness event complete with morning smoothies, meditation classes, and a holistic guru (check the itinerary, as the events vary daily). To say that I’m beyond excited (or that my mind and body need this program right now), would be an understatement.

When I studied the daily events, I knew they were right for me. Finding out that Fern Olivia (who like me, suffered from Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism, and is the founder of Thyroid.Yoga) was going to be teaching a guided meditation class on Saturday, confirmed that this was the day I wanted to attend. Actually, reading about Fern’s background and approach to self-healing made me think that there was some divine intervention at play here. If you’ve followed my thyroid journey, you know that I often feel tired and sluggish. It seems that no amount of Synthroid can improve these symptoms, which has led me to pursue a more holistic approach. So I was delighted to correspond with Fern, and I am even more elated to meet her in person and learn from her meditation class.

Montauk Magic Retreat

According to the website, the Montauk Magic Retreat has lots to offer — from chakra and aura cleansing to energy and card reading (all of which is new to me). If you’re on Long Island, I highly suggest you check this event out. Fern has graciously offered my Living in Steil readers a special discount code to attend. The secret code MAGIC gives you $30 off day and week passes for the retreat at fernolivia.com. Follow @fernolivia for all of the amazing classes and DIY organic essential oil alchemy bars and thyroid yoga classes she has popping up around Montauk and Amagansett this week!

Montauk Magic Retreat

In addition to the events, Fern will be cheffing the retreat with haute all-organic plant-based cuisine and a specially curated Thyroid Yoga-approved menu.

I’ll be sharing some behind-the-scenes happenings tomorrow. Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Snapchat (username: livinginsteil) so you don’t miss out on the action!

Meet Fern Olivia:

Fern Olivia

Fern Olivia Langham, founder of Thyroid.Yoga™, is a LA-based instructor and wellness expert renowned for her artful approach to self-healing. Through her own journey recovering from Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism, Fern Olivia combines her extensive knowledge of yoga, meditation, breathwork, mantra, holistic health, and plant-based alchemy into a one-of-a-kind integrative approach. She has helped hundreds of men and women overcome their struggles with thyroid and hormone imbalances and you can learn her practices on her brand new MindBodyGreen video course. Fern Olivia will take you on a journey to empower you to create daily rituals that will support your sustained health and vitality. You’ll learn about the root causes of thyroid symptoms, and how to self-heal using the practices of yoga, meditation, breath work, mantra and holistic lifestyle rituals.

In addition to her MindBodyGreen video course and one-of-a-kind Thyroid.Yoga™ membership-based practice, Fern Olivia leads meditation and yoga retreats and speaks on the topics of conscious communication, self-love, and healing at events around the world. Fern Olivia also combined her passion for plants with her love of organic beauty to birth Ajai Alchemy as a luxury apothecary.

Connect with Fern Olivia on Instagram @fernolivia and Facebook for powerful resources and inspiration, and be the first to know about her upcoming Thyroid.Yoga™ teacher training program in LA and Australia, as well as her life-changing retreats.

Upcoming Events:

Thyroid Yoga Teacher Training for Healers and Wellness Practitioners

This one-of-a-kind experience will be offered live at Ra Ma Institute for Applied Yogic Science and Technology in Venice, California on Friday November 4, Saturday November 5, and Sunday November 6. Fern Olivia will be providing streaming access on Ra Ma TV for those attending virtually. Receive more information here.

We are offering a limited number of scholarships to those who apply by August 1, 2016. Please contact love@thyroid.yoga to inquire about our scholarship program.

*Images courtesy of Montauk Magic Retreat/Fern Olivia

Five Tips to Stay Sane When You’re Home Sick

Tips to Stay Sane When You're Sick

I wish I could say I was feeling much better by now. But I can’t. This cold, which I have dubbed, cold-maggedon, seems to get worse by the minute. And in the interest of full disclosure, trying to use my brain has been quite a challenge. As someone who is chronically fatigued, I thought a week in bed, with no pressing priorities, would be exciting. I could catch up on my shows (thank you Bravo and ABC). I could go through my crowded inbox. Heck, I could just sit and catch up on the news. But when you can’t breathe, sleep, or hold your head up for more than an hour at a time, none of that is possible.

So here’s what’s been keeping me sane while I am stuck on house arrest/bed rest/quarantine:

1. Bravo and ABC Apps for IPad: I no longer feel guilty about missing a show, because I know it will be waiting for me on my iPad thanks to apps from Bravo and ABC. I’ve now caught up with Scandal, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and learned a lot about entrepreneurship from Shark Tank. See, who says watching television can’t be productive?

2. Bolthouse Farms Fruit Smoothies: I may have had to search high-and-low for these babies, but it was worth it. There’s just so much tea and water I can drink before I go mad. These smoothies have 29 grams of sugar (a tad high), but it’s not added sugar, so I’ll make an allowance. They come in tons of favors, including a breakfast smoothie for those of you who like to eat and run, and a fruit and vegetable blend (perfect for people like me who would rather drink their veggies).

3. Old T-shirts: You wouldn’t think being sick would make you take a walk down memory lane. But it has for me. I went through some of my old t-shirts that had long been forgotten. And I stumbled upon a few of my favorites from my college days. I’m currently rocking my “Beware of Female Spies” shirt, which is from my visit to the Spy Museum in Washington, DC. If you’re planning a trip to Washington, you should check it out.

4. Snapchat: Although I dragged my feet at first when it came to joining the platform, it has become a major source of entertainment — especially when I haven’t seen the light of day in a while. Of course, I’m slightly jealous watching people enjoy the nice spring-like weather while I’m stuck in bed. But it makes me hopeful that I will be able to rejoin the living soon.

5. Fresh Air: I haven’t been outside for much more than five minutes at a time. But this beautiful weather makes it even harder to stay cooped up inside. It’s been a welcome relief to take a few short breaths of fresh spring air. Here’s hoping it’s still around by the time I get better.

What keeps you sane when you’re sick? Help a girl out, please!