Yoga

Snow Day

Well, the snow day on Long Island turned out to be a bust for the most part. Our predicted 12-24 inches of snow that had been forecasted, was more like three inches of snow with another inch or two of sleet. But that doesn’t mean it was a great day by any means. The morning brought high winds while the evening offered some light snow showers before the storm continued up the coast. All in all, it was a good day to stay in and cozy up!

Snow Storm Prep

{Preparations for winter storm Stella}

Who What Wear at Target

{Browsing (and buying) the Who What Wear collection at Target—before the storm}

Yoga

{Some mat time}

View from My Office Window

{The snowy view from my office window}

The Calm After the Storm

{The calm after the storm}

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.

Breast Cancer Awareness with Bloomingdale’s

bloomingdales yoga 4

On Saturday I attended a yoga class that Bloomingdale’s hosted for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A friend of mine had seen the event advertised and thought it would be a nice way to spend the morning. Being part of an event for a good cause and getting to meet other people who came to the Saturday morning practice made it a particularly enlightening experience.

bloomingdales yoga 3

Bloomingdale’s deserves praise for their efforts in organizing the event. Every detail was perfect — from the pink Bloomingdale’s yoga mat (which participants got to keep) to the goodie bag, complete with snacks for after the class. The $10 reservation fee went to benefit the Marisa Acocella Marchetto Foundation and The Carey Foundation. Our yoga teacher, Samantha, was a wonderful instructor and I was particularly inspired by her own health battle.

bloomingdales yoga 2

bloomingdales yoga 5

bloomingdales yoga 1

I left the class with a renewed sense of community, peace, and gratitude. A big thank you to Bloomingdale’s and Samantha for providing a restorative practice and for being part of breast cancer awareness!

The October Agenda

Fall

Thank you all so much for your support and kind words on Monday’s post. I truly appreciated the well wishes, and I found myself frequently revisiting your comments when the going got tough during the week. Change is never easy, but having a wonderful community full of encouragement has helped make the transition better.

As much as I love summer (and boy, do I), there is something about October that excites me. While I could live without the chilly weather, the thought of pumpkin and apple picking in the coming weeks makes me giddy.

My October agenda is packed with fall activities, so let’s get started:

See: I’m not much of a movie-goer, but every once in a while there will be a movie that I just have to see in the theater (partly because I’m too impatient to wait until it comes out on DVD). This month, The Girl on the Train is being released, and after reading the suspenseful thriller, I’m eager to put faces on the characters I read about. If the movie is anything like the book, it will be fantastic.

Go: I’ve mentioned before how much I love Long Island this time of year. There are fall festivals going on almost every weekend in different towns. This weekend, the Long Island Fall Festival is happening in Huntington, NY. The three-day festival has plenty of fun for the whole family, with live music, a carnival, and sweet treats.

Do: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Bloomingdale’s has events throughout the month to promote awareness. On October 8th, Bloomingdale’s nationwide will be hosting an in-store donation-based ($10) yoga class. Find a store in your area and reserve your spot to be part of a great cause — and get your Om on.

Visit: What would October be without a trip to an apple orchard? Last year marked my first visit to The Milk Pail in Water Mill, NY, and I want to make it a tradition. The orchard has the largest and juiciest apples I’ve ever seen. And while the prices may be a bit steep for a bushel, the overall experience is well worth it. When all of my apples are picked, I head over to the pumpkin patch to find just the right ones to take home and paint. Of course, no fall trip would be complete without an apple cider donut and candy apple for the ride home!

What’s on your agenda this month?

Montauk Magic Part II

The Surf Lodge

I can’t even begin to tell you how incredible the Montauk Magic Retreat was. First off, a huge thank you to Fern Olivia for having me for the day, Alyson Charles for making an amazing smoothie in the morning and for sharing her wisdom, and to Jacqlyn for ensuring a successful day for the attendees.

If you saw Friday’s post, I mentioned that I would be heading to the east end of Long Island on Saturday for a wellness retreat with Fern Olivia, the founder of Thyroid.Yoga. The day was both a transformative and restorative experience for me.

Montauk Magic Retreat

Montauk Magic Retreat

Montauk Magic Retreat

The morning began around 8:30 am with breakfast smoothies at a private home in beautiful Montauk. Alyson, a shaman and the co-host of the retreat, whipped up some delicious berry smoothies with avocado and cacao, while Fern served us a very healthy chia seed pudding. I’m no fan of avocado, but after one sip of the smoothie, I was sold! It may just be my new summer drink of choice. The morning smoothies proved to be a great time to meet the other attendees, all of whom welcomed me with open arms. After some brief conversations and getting acquainted with everyone, it was time for our yoga session at The Surf Lodge, a beachy hotel and restaurant on the water.

The Surf Lodge, Montauk NY

If you ever find yourself in Montauk, The Surf Lodge is well worth a stop for either an overnight stay or, at the very least, lunch at its scenic outdoor dining area. Its funky exterior and coastal interior will give you lots of cool decor ideas while you take a break from the summer heat.

Montauk Magic Retreat

For our yoga class, Fern and Alyson took over the outside patio area. The setting was ideal — the sound of the waves lapping in the background and the steady breeze made the July heat dissipate.

WTRMLN WTR

I’ve been taking a hiatus from my regular yoga practice, so I was thrilled to start the morning in such a rejuvenating way. I managed to secure a small piece of shade on the deck and laid out my colorful yoga mat. No detail was overlooked to ensure that we enjoyed the practice — including having refreshing WTRMLN WTR, a cold-pressed watermelon juice, and Supergoop! sunscreen on hand.

Our yoga practice began with chanting before breaking into a cat-cow sequence, moves that are beneficial for thyroid health. We also did a series of twisting poses, another fabulous way to relieve tension in the throat chakra.

Thyroid Yoga, Fern Olivia

Fern created a beautiful Morning Thyroid Sequence Book, which includes poses that are conducive to stimulating your thyroid, adrenals, and glandular system.

Montauk Magic Retreat

After getting our circulation up, we partnered with whomever was next to us. The exercise was for us to sit facing each other and to study the other person’s left eye — in silence. At first, it felt a bit strange to be staring deeply into a relative stranger’s eye, but after a minute or so, it began to feel tranquil and natural. The woman whom I partnered with, I later learned, also had a thyroid condition and we bonded over our similar treatment plans.

The Surf Lodge, Montauk, NY

The Surf Lodge, Montauk NY

The Surf Lodge, Montauk NY

As if the morning could get any better, after yoga we all sat by the water and took in the sights. The Surf Lodge has this incredible area in back with chaise lounge chairs…and even a swing. I could have sat there all day.

Grace Ajai, Fern Olivia Essential Oils

Fern brought her essential oil, Grace Alchemy, which includes rosehip, geranium, patchouli, and sandalwood, ingredients which are beneficial for overall health and healing. (Click here to watch Fern mix up my very own bottle of Grace Alchemy!) I’ve been using the essential oil in place of my perfume. The scent is calming and perfect for wearing during the day and before bed.

Montauk Magic Retreat, The Surf Lodge

The afternoon activities were just as enlightening as the morning session. Alyson led our group on a guided meditation to find our spirit animal, which is an animal that embodies our traits. I’ve been hearing lots of things about spirit animals lately, and I always wondered what mine would be. Now I know. Alyson did a fantastic job laying the foundation for us to connect with our animal. As she talked first about being in a meadow and then seeing this large tree, which led to a jungle, I began to feel an animal walk alongside me. It was large, powerful, and graceful. The more Alyson talked about the scenes around me, the more I could visualize this creature. It was fast and slender, but tender and gentle. Before long, it revealed itself. It was a cheetah, and it was both playful and shy. My intention for this guided meditation was to be given strength. And in my mind, there is no better animal for me to connect with than a cheetah. These large cats are majestic creatures that not only captivate you with their beauty, but also their speed, agility, and strength.

Montauk Magic Retreat

Our time at The Surf Lodge was ending and we were ready to head back to the house for lunch. But the day didn’t end there. Stay tuned for more about the retreat and what the experience taught me. Part III will come later in the week!

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

Hello, Summer!

Long Island, NY

Today is one of my favorite days (no, it’s not my birthday!). It is the first official day of summer. While I may have been acting like summer started weeks ago, thanks to lots of sunny and warm days, I am looking forward to all that this season brings.

Here are things I hope to tick off my summer checklist:

Stand-Up Paddle Boarding: If you’ve been following along, you know how much I love to go out stand-up paddle boarding. It’s so relaxing to be out on the water and to check out some Long Island towns that are nestled by the sea. It makes me feel like I got in a workout on those days that are just too hot to do much more than sit by the pool!

Herrell’s Ice Cream: I may have already indulged, but here’s hoping that there are many more post-beach stops at Herrell’s this summer.

Long Island Ducks Baseball Game: I’m not much into sports. But there is something about watching a baseball game on a warm summer night that I just can’t pass up. The company of a good friend and fireworks make it even better. I’ll be rooting for the L.I. Ducks on July 3rd!

A Day Trip to Fire Island: One of my favorite things about living on Long Island is the proximity to beaches. Last summer, my friend Fran and I headed out to Ocean Beach on Fire Island and we had a blast. We are definitely planning a few short trips out there this summer.

A Summer Picnic: In case you can’t tell, I try to spend as much time outdoors in the summer as possible. And what better way to do that than by having a picnic. Any good menu recommendations? A pitcher of sangria is a must!

Beach Yoga: I was hoping to take advantage of the free Summer Solstice classes happening today (if you are, too, check out Athleta to see if there are any free classes going on in your area). But my schedule is pretty packed, and escaping for a yoga class is not in the cards. I’d like to get back to my yoga practice (I say that a lot and it just hasn’t happened), and I’m thinking the beach is the perfect location.

What are you most looking forward to doing this summer?

Glow with the Flow

Glow with the Flow Hosted By Lululemon Huntington

Imagine walking into a dark room. Light is coming from people as they move around. You see flashes of bright colors — lines, dots, a feather. This isn’t the trailer for a new Sci-Fi movie. This is glowga.

On Sunday night, I attended a complimentary glow-in-the-dark yoga class hosted by Lululemon in Huntington Station — and now I may never be able to do yoga in a regular studio again. It was that much fun.

Glow with the Flow Hosted By Lululemon Huntington

What is glowga, you ask? As the name implies, there is some glowing involved, and of course, yoga. Lululemon did an incredible job of converting their retail space in the Walt Whitman Mall into a swanky studio. Black lights and glow sticks filled the room, alongside yogini’s ready to get their glow on. If the idea of practicing yoga in the dark didn’t illuminate you, Lululemon had people there to make sure you got your flow on in style. Yes, glow-in-the-dark body paint was involved.

Glow with the Flow Hosted By Lululemon Huntington

Glow with the Flow Hosted By Lululemon Huntington

Somehow a dark room full of painted strangers, all there to enjoy the Om, felt luminous, bright, and inviting. After everyone had been painted (which was amazing to watch as the creations and fun designs came to light — literally), we were ready to begin our practice.

Glow with the Flow Hosted By Lululemon Huntington

Jen, the store manager, taught the class and provided a great playlist for us as we began to become one with our breath. This 45-minute restorative yoga practice was just what my mind and body needed after being sore from my kickboxing class the day before. The darker setting comprised of black lights and body paint created a mood that is hard to replicate in more traditional yoga classes. I instantly found it easier to relax in the environment and focus on my body and poses.

Glow with the Flow Hosted By Lululemon Huntington

When the class came to an end, it was time for a bit of private shopping at this after-hours event. If you are not familiar with Lululemon’s athletic wear, you can browse it here. Warning: browsing may result in an addiction to athletic clothes, which will require you to purchase every piece that Lululemon makes. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Glow with the Flow Hosted By Lululemon Huntington

Jen was kind enough to give all of us an early Valentine’s Day present — a complimentary piece from Lululemon. Yes, that’s right. Not only did I get my glow on, and was actually glowing with body paint, but I came home with a new piece of athletic wear. I can’t wait to sport it in my kickboxing class and next yoga practice — but it will also be debuting on the blog soon, so stay tuned.

I have a special fondness for Lululemon. After I underwent my thyroidectomy in 2013, I attended the Summer Solstice yoga class, which was hosted by the Huntington store — and was immediately hooked on yoga. It was the first yoga class I had taken in many years, so I credit Lululemon with helping me to appreciate the practice. I know it did wonders for my neck mobility after surgery, too.

Glow with the Flow Hosted By Lululemon Huntington

If you have a Lululemon in your area, be sure to check their site for exciting community events. My local store offers free yoga classes every Sunday, which is a great way to get your practice in and meet new people.

A big thank you to Jen and the entire Lululemon Huntington team! This was an incredible event and you all worked so hard to make it perfect.

Visit their Facebook page for more photos from the evening!

Monday Mantra: Worry Less, Live More

Sunset

It seems like there is always something to worry about in life, right? Just thinking about the days, weeks, and months ahead can stress us out. Will I get stuck in traffic tomorrow and be late to a meeting with my boss? What if I don’t get a good performance review in six months and am passed up for that promotion? Will I be healthy next year? These are all questions that we can’t possibly have the answer to right now. But they can consume our waking hours — if we let them.

I’ve long struggled to keep my anxiety at bay. It is tough. Anxiety tends to make you worry about things that are out of your control. I’ve worked hard in recent years to make sure that I controlled my anxiety and that it didn’t control me. But there are those moments when I find my mind wandering to all kinds of crazy scenarios.

Back when I had a 9-to-5 job I would welcome the “Sunday scaries” as each weekend commenced. Once the sun went down on Sunday, my mind would race and my chest would start to feel tight. All of the anxiety — the “what-if” scenarios — things that may or may not happen in the upcoming week would flood my mind. Rather than learn to live like that, I thought how could I change my mindset?

Here are a few ways I’ve learned to worry less and live more:

Embrace the “it is what it is” mantra: This line used to irritate me years back. What the heck does it mean? It tells me nothing. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to understand and appreciate it more. Whatever you are feeling in whichever situation you should find yourself in — acknowledge that it is temporary. Then take a step back and examine how to fix, remedy, or negate the situation based on what the best possible outcome would be. Coming to terms with the fact that the situation is or has occurred — and you cannot change that — can help you begin to approach a solution.

Practice mindfulness (and yoga): I can vouch for the restorative benefits of yoga. When I find my mind wandering before bed (because that always happens), I lie in corpse pose and focus on my breathing — nothing else. At that moment, breathing is the most important (and only) thing on my mind. As you focus on your breath and your chest rising and falling, your body and mind begin to quiet. I practiced yoga with a teacher who offered the most soothing meditation at the end of class. Her voice alone could put me in an almost trance-like sleep. I took so many classes with her that I memorized the meditation she used to do with us. Now, when I have difficulty falling asleep, I replay that meditation in my head until I feel calm and relaxed.

Talk to friends and family: Talking about what’s on your mind is a great way to get something off your chest, feel better, and get an outside opinion about a situation. I’ve been fortunate to have a few older and wiser advice gurus in my life. They’re the ones I go to when I need a sounding board, someone who knows more than I do, or just someone to listen to me and hear my fears.

Utilize the power of exercise to your advantage: When you’re really stressed out about something you will feel better after a workout. Exercising releases endorphins that can have a positive effect on your mood and outlook. So the next time you feel overwhelmed, anxious, or stressed, hit the gym, go for a run, or take a fitness class. Kickboxing does wonders for me!

Although worrying is a part of life, worrying less is something that we all should strive for. The next time you feel like your worrying ways are getting the better of you, ask yourself the following:

– Can you do anything about it?
– Will worrying change it?

If the answer to these questions is ‘no,’ then focus more on yourself and what you can do in the present moment to prevent yourself from worrying.

How do you calm your mind? I’d love to hear your tips!

Practice in Steil: Yoga Edition

Practice in Steil: Yoga Edition

In case you didn’t know, September is also National Yoga Month. Unfortunately for me, my yoga practice has come to a screeching halt, despite my best intentions of getting back to the mat.

Lately, all of my yoga clothes have been pulling double-duty in kickboxing, and they have taken a beating. There are so many options when it comes to finding the right yoga gear, and while I’ve found some awesome pieces for great prices at Target, I simply love Athleta. Athleta’s workout clothes are high quality and come in an array of colors, patterns, and styles, but my favorite part is their wearability. Now that I work from home (read: wear yoga clothes all the time) I appreciate that I can throw on some of my clothing from Athleta, head out the door for a quick errand, and not look like I belong at the gym. Their pieces are ideal for going from downward-facing dog to daytime duty, while still looking stylish. They may cost a bit more, but the durability of the fabric and the comfort factor are worth the investment.

Since it’s fall and I’m loving cozy pieces, I couldn’t help but swoon over the poncho, the sweater vest, and the sport dress seen above. Of course, joggers are totally in style this season and are one piece that you will definitely wear beyond the mat!

What’s your go-to when it comes to workout wear?