Friday, June 15, 2012

Fifty Second Friday: Breathe

Inhale. Exhale. I feel like those are words so regularly repeated while teaching my classes. But actually taking those words to heart and applying them to my own life, comes with a little more difficulty. I often forget to breathe. Moreover, yoga instructors regularly encourage students to listen to their bodies and not push beyond their limits. Yet, it is another thing to embody that in our own practice and daily life. These past five weeks or so have really driven home this realization

It has been over a week since I checked in, and I apologize. But it has been one of those weeks. Normally, I would turn to yoga as an outlet for pent-up frustration, to quiet my mind through concentration on challenging poses, and hear the calming voices of some of my favorite instructors. But, that type of yoga practice is still not available to me, as my stress-fractured foot continues its healing process. Reining my usual levels of activity, pacing myself in this healing process, has been not only fraught with ups and downs, but also a new appreciation of the human body's resilience and limitations.  

Particularly during the past few very busy weeks, it has been increasingly important to find ways to de-stress. Swimming has become a conduit for not only releasing energy pent-up from working at a desk all day and not being able to run. But it also has served a similar role as yoga - focusing attention on breath and moving into an almost meditative state. Constant awareness of the breath is critical while swimming, and the repetitive motions and solitary nature of the exercise provide ample time for reflection, and clearing of the mind.

It is also tart cherry season. This fruit, while high in antioxidants like others in the berry family, has also been found to ease pain and act as an anti-inflammatory. And while it may not move you into a state of pure calm and relaxation, mixing it with a bit of chocolate will definitely increase your sense of satisfaction and perhaps provide a cheerier outlook even on a bleak day.
Tart Cherry Chocolate Smoothie
1/2 cup pitted tart cherries
1/4 cup strawberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup almond milk, unsweetened
1/2 banana (optional, could also sub 1/4 cup soaked nuts or yogurt for thicker texture)
1 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
1 square semi-sweet/dark chocolate
1/4 cup spinach
5 drops stevia

1. Blend until smooth. Serve!

This is also posted on Wellness Weekend! For your own state of mental well-being, try to seek out that space to breathe.

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