A New Way to Think about Being Compassionate to Others

Oh, that’s the alarm. Oh, I’m so thirsty. Did I drink enough water last night? Mmm. Water’s so tasty. Time to check my phone. Notifications. Who texted me after 10pm? Oh good, it’s not bad news. Woo hoo! 20 new friends on Instagram! I’ll check Facebook, too. Why do I always have 20 notifications in Facebook when there’s nothing actually new to see? OK, I guess it’s time to get out of bed. Am I going to the gym today or yoga class? I can’t remember. Oh right, it’s the gym today. I really don’t feel like putting on a sports bra…

Those were my thoughts this morning in the first minute I was awake. Imagine how many thoughts I’ve had since then. I’ve thought about whether or not I’m working out hard enough at the gym, I’ve gone to the grocery store and bought items to make a protein powder pancake breakfast and some homemade trail mix. I’ve thought about my business Girl Friday Studio and what new photos I want to post on my Instagram. I’ve taken a shower, I’ve thought about this post, I’ve thought about…You get the point.

So, let’s talk about you. You’ve had 50,000 thoughts today. I’m not even kidding. This is the average amount a human being thinks in just one day.

You’ve had thoughts that have turned into actions. You’ve had thoughts that have turned into emotions or were stemmed from emotions. You’ve had thoughts related to your interactions. You’ve done your part to contribute to your community, family and friends. Let’s say you have been on this Earth for exactly 30 years (happy birthday, by the way). This means you’ve been in existence and contributed to this world for 10,950 days. That is a lot of days, a lot of stories, thoughts and contributes to this world!

You have loved. You have cried and you have laughed. You have been joyful, you have been sad. You’ve had a Mother and a Father, you’ve perhaps been a sister or brother, been a mother or father, a lover or a friend, and you’ve been a teacher (whether you know it or not, it’s true). You have changed the lives of the people around you just by interacting with them.

Do you get how important you are in this world? Do you see how special your time on this Earth has been? If you haven’t thought about it, just take a moment to feel how big you are in this world. How special you are. Because why? Because you have lived. You have had 50,000 thoughts every day and every single one makes you special and have led you to who you are today

So now (yes, right now), I want you to think about the person in your life who is the most important to you (besides yourself, no cheating). For me, I immediately think of my husband (and then I see people in the background like my Mom and Dad, my brother, my friends, all waving their hands like, “Here I am, too!”). In your mind’s eye, think of that one person. And then realize that there are 50,000 thoughts going through his (I say “his” but, you insert whatever gender, if any, this person may be) mind per day. Think about the interactions this person has had just today that you probably don’t even know about. Think about the interactions this person has had in his life. It’s impossible to truly know in detail what this person experiences, but you know his life is special, right? Simply because we just did this exercise for you, and now we know how big you are in this world, and now you realize how big your person is, too.

Now think of your neighbor. I know very little about mine. I know he’s in his mid-40s. I know he has a girlfriend who has a cute dog. I know they like takeaway coffee on Saturday mornings. But that is pretty much all. But then I think about the 50,000 thoughts per day rule and suddenly I’m in awe. He has a life. A gorgeous, amazing life that is full of thoughts and stories. And he is just as big as me, and just as big as my husband.

Now think of a stranger living in the city or town next to you. Same thought process. You don’t even know what this person looks like. But you know they have stories; full of love, laughter, tears and emotion. And they matter. They matter as much as you do.

If you continue down this path of recognition, there is suddenly empathy for the entirety of the human race. Each and every single person is big and has so many stories to tell. So many stories. Each person you pass in the street is living a full and complete life. You may not know their stories (how could you, truly) but you know they have them.

A lot of times this thought process leads many people to feel small. But, this is exactly the opposite of what I want you to think. You are not small in this world. You are big. You have 50,000 thoughts in a day, you have interactions with your community that shift it (whether you recognize it or not), and you matter to this world. You matter to me, you matter to your family, your loved ones, your friends, your community, your work, and your world.

With this new thought process in mind, can you go into your daily life with empathy? Can you love your fellow humans in the recognition that they also have stories behind their eyes? That they are just as big as you (not smaller, not bigger) in this world?

When we as humans recognize that separately we are big, but together we are massive, this world shines with the most compassionate love this Universe has to offer.

How to Achieve the Perfect Yoga and Wine Pairing (Satire)

It’s no secret I love the Yoga-then-Wine lifestyle. So how do you know what varietal of wine to drink after a yoga class?

Vinyasa Flow (Power Yoga)

This type of yoga class is all about the salutation flow, and meant to keep you moving and flowing for the entire length of the class (besides seated postures and savasana). Because of this, you’re going to be hot and sweaty post-workout, and need something refreshing, chilled and light. I recommend a glass of… SAUVIGNON BLANC.And because you worked out so hard and burned about 300 calories / hour, I recommend you pair it with cheese (like a Gruyere or Chevre) and crackers. You deserve it, babe.

Ashtanga Yoga

This is another very active yoga class, and is especially awesome for Type A personalities. It’s actually a set of six series, the first being the most commonly practiced (because it gets f*ing hard) and is a set sequence to follow. It can be taught by an instructor or, self-led with a teacher there for support (Mysore). After class, you’re going to be sweaty, and also excited because you just nailed a new level of a pose you haven’t achieved before (because you’re Type A, hello). Because of this, you will want something refreshingly chilled to the taste, dry and sweet, just like you. Might I suggest a glass of… ROSÉ.

Hatha Yoga

This type of yoga class is all about the basics, and essentially is a slower moving class. Most instructors place attention on being gentle with your body throughout this practice. Expect to leave feeling soft and mellow. You’re going to want something full-bodied to match those feelings, so I recommend a glass of…MERLOT.

Restorative Yoga

The point of this type of yoga class is to relax and restore. It is so incredibly slow in fact, you may only hold 5 poses the entire class. The idea is that in slower holds your body has a chance to tap into your parasympathetic nervous system to truly experience deeper relaxation. Imagine yourself lying across a bolster, blissed out AF. After class you will probably have a sense of grace and delicacy, but at the same time full of energy and love for your body. So, tap into your inner Goddess and try out a glass of… PINOT NOIR.

Bikram Yoga

Taught in a 35–42 °C (95–108 °F) room, with a set of specific postures, this is going to be another class that you sweat in. A LOT. I mean, a lot a lot. So, because of this, I recommend you drink a glass of…WATER.

*Thanks to my good friend, Maureen Mukai, for giving me this awesome idea for a post. 🙂 ​​​

How to Not Let Others Control Your Self-Worth

It’s time to shine, you legends. How many times in your life have you thought you’re too…something?

  • Too loud.
  • Too strong.
  • Not feminine enough.
  • Not masculine enough.
  • Too quiet.
  • Too successful.
  • Too smart.
  • Too dumb.
  • The list goes on…

There is something going on here that is so much deeper. Here’s how: From a young age, we oftentimes equate our self-worth to how others see us, rather than how we see our own self. Ironically, the way you see others is always through your own lens; a reaction from your own life experiences, emotions and cognition. It’s truly never about the other person; it’s how you react to their action that makes it so.

So, jump back to how we let our self-worth be affected by how we assume others see us. You are actually projecting your own lens onto them. Hence, your self-worth is something that is always and fully controlled by you. No other person in this world has the power to make you feel less then. There are people that will try. There are people that have self-worth issues and want you to get on their level of self-doubt. But you don’t have to let them. Your lens (think of it as a camera) in which you see the world is your ability to control what you see: when to let the light in, when to shade it out, when to point your lens at something else, and when to zoom.

What if you were to take one moment today to just be unapologetically YOU. In your mind’s eye, picture that face, or that sea of faces that you always have thought were the culprits. See them? Him? Her? Now re-evaluate if it was ever about them, or if perhaps it is where your lens is currently aiming. Then say to them through your lens, “I am unapologetically ME.” And then turn on the rose-colored filter because life is prettier that way, anyway. ​

Why Turning 30 is Way More Awesome Than You Think

I watched a Friends episode recently (surprise, surprise) and it was called The One Where They All Turn 30. If you haven’t seen the episode, it’s pretty self-explanatory. Rachel is turning 30, and so all of the Friends cast has flashbacks to when they also had turned 30. The general theme is “Why God, why?” and “Can’t I just stay 29?!” 

The first time I watched this episode was well before I turned 30. And I remember agreeing with them, and even thinking how old they must feel. Essentially, I agreed with them.

And then I turned 30.

And I discovered the secret.

Turning 30 isn’t terrible at all. In fact, it is downright amazing.

I bet you would agree with me when I say that every age I have been, I had the thought, “I can’t imagine being 10 years older than this.” When I was 6, I thought 16-year-olds were incredibly fascinating and mature. When I turned 16 (far be it much less mature than I thought it would feel), I thought 26 sounded like the age I would have everything figured out. And if you’re older than 26, you probably know that wasn’t the case!

We live our lives skeptical of our future years, and judging others if they are at that older age already. We also always think that we are wise and at the perfect age, until you turn a year older. Sure enough, the years keep coming. It’s easy to want to battle against them, and the age 30 seems like an appropriate age to feel like you’re officially “old”.

But the best part is when you turn 30, the secret is… you don’t feel old! You actually start to feel like your life has just begun. Here’s why:

You actually have money to spend.

No more Peanut Butter and tortilla wraps and Top Ramen, no more questioning if you can afford a $15 glass of wine, and no more flatmates.

Insecurities shift and lessen.

When I was in my 20s, I would say my insecurities were at an all-time high. At least in my teens, I could act out on my insecurities like a hormonal teenager and get away with it (sort of). In my 20s, I had to act like an adult and frankly, try to suppress all of those insecurities that were still in me. When you’re in your 30s, you start to worry less about what others think about you, and more about what you think of you. You are actually aware of those insecurities in yourself, which lessens their power over you.

You have more freedom to live your life.

You feel less bound to your parents, and can focus more than your own growth and exploration.

You’re taken more seriously.

No, seriously. In your career, you’ll notice those that are older than you will actually start to take you seriously in your 30s. In your 20s, you are (sadly) considered a newbie with no experience. In your 30s, it starts to feel like your early wrinkles are playing to your advantage.  Wrinkles, score!

You’re actually happy.

2012 survey conducted in Britain indicated that 70% of people over age 40 didn’t consider themselves to be happy until age 33.

Staying at home doesn’t make you a loser.

It makes you smart. And ready for a beautiful hike or adventure on Sunday mornings (as opposed to a hangover).

Your holidays get even better.

You have more money to spend on your vacations, which means more luxury and awesome places. Byebye, backpack.

You actually have a cool furniture.

OK, maybe it’s still from Ikea. But it’s totally the step up collection away from dorm room status.

You enjoy doing the dishes.

You realize you are actually doing household chores to make you love your space, not because your parents or flatmates asked you to.

You stop worrying about the little things.

You notice that time is speeding up, and each year passes more quickly. So, there’s no point wasting time not being happy.

What did you notice when you turned 30? What stands out as being positive? Or, let’s be honest… negative?

Weight Gain and Road Rage: This is Real Life Yogi Confessions

Confession time.

For years, I was nervous to call myself a “true yogi”. I was afraid if I proclaimed it loudly enough, that the real yogi’s would hear me and the worst thing would happen to me (not that I even fully asked myself what that would entail?). After all, I ate meat, and (gasp) I drank wine, and participated in so many other things that this modern society offers to us that just doesn’t feel “yogi” enough.

And yet, I showed up on my mat almost daily, I practiced mindfulness and kindness, and I studied and spent the time to become a yoga teacher. I started to question why I was so afraid to be me, exactly as I was. That I could practice yoga and still enjoy other activities that make me just as happy, and balanced. So guess what? I started calling myself a yogi. And I started working on being unapologetic for also calling myself a wino. And a Netflix binge-watcher. And a music lover. And a frozen yogurt feen. Because perhaps then, I could start finding my peeps. You know, like those people who love to be healthy and active but also can stuff 4 cookies in their mouth at once? Yeah, those are my people.

Here’s a compilation of 5 yogis who weren’t afraid to share their confessions, either. Each of them sways a little from the yogi tracks and I love them all the more for it. I hope you do, too.

The witty author of this post made me giggle and nod emphatically at the similarities that we so closely share. Like yelling at drivers, and not always listening to her body. I bet you’ll find similarities, as well!

Confessions of a (Temporarily Fat) Yogi

about Trina Hall
Really interesting read (and video!) about this yogi who purposely gained weight after talking with another yoga instructor friend about weight issues. She learns some amazing lessons along the way.

Quirky new Instagram account takes yoga off the mat and into the real world
about Jordan Berger

This guy is actually one of my favorite yoga instructors at my home yoga studio, Power Living! He teaches yoga and also works for an alcohol company; doesn’t get more “balanced” than that! Check out his crazy awesome photos on Instagram of yogis in the real world, doing their thang.

Confessions from a Stiff Yogi

by Ricardia Bramley
What immediately drew me to this article was that she was a gymnast growing up (like myself). Being inflexible is something that deters so many people from trying yoga. But let me ask you this: would you not go to school because you can’t read? Go to yoga and practice your flexibility. Or, just show up to yoga and do what you can, flexibility shmexibility! You’ll be the same as 96% of the people in your class.

5 of the Most Creative and Unusual Yoga Trends
by Elise Moreau

I had to throw this one in here, because I am a huge fan of people who push the boundaries and create something new from an old(er) idea. Like Doga. Yep, Doga!

The Inside Scoop on what it’s like as an American Expat Living in Australia

Three months ago, my husband and I got rid of most of our belongings, packed  our suitcases and moved across the world to Australia. I must have scoured hundreds of websites to figure out what to expect. What should I bring? What should I leave behind?

To preface this, my husband and I are both pretty tech savvy (he’s worked in the tech industry for the past 10 years, and I make a living via an online business). We live a healthy and balanced lifestyle. We both stay active regularly, enjoy eating nutritious food, and love binge-watching Netflix in the evening over a glass of wine. So umm…pretty normal.

If you’re anything like us, this is perhaps what you can expect as an American with plans to move to Australia, or vice versa as an Australian moving to America. This blog post also applies if you are already an American expat living in Australia because frankly, this is a moment where we can bond over our frustrations and excitement living in this beautiful country. Last but not least, you may also love this blog post if you’re just darn curious what the heck it’s like for some person to pack up all of their belongings and move to another country!

THINGS I MISS BEING AN AMERICAN IN AUSTRALIA

The other biscuit

Much to an American’s surprise, a biscuit here is actually a cookie. Think sugar and flour and yumminess. Yep! Much to my dismay, you won’t find (American) biscuits anywhere. What you may find are scones, which are similar to (American) biscuits. However, you will not find biscuits and gravy.

Driving (and walking) on the left side

I was nervous about moving here and having to drive on the left side of the road. But I figured I wouldn’t be driving, so it wouldn’t be too bad. What I didn’t realize is that people also walk on the left side of the sidewalk. Back home, you might not even realize it but, we totally favor the right side of the sidewalk. Therefore, it only makes sense that Australians favor the left side of the sidewalk. And let me tell you, walking in the Sydney CBD (that’s “downtown”) at 5PM on a Friday will make you get it right quick.​ I mean, left quick. 😉

Amazon

Oh, Amazon. How I miss you. It’s not that you can’t get items shipped to you here. But, there is no Prime 1-day or 2-day shipping here. Sometimes you do get lucky and get your package delivered in 1 or 2 days, and it’s always really exciting when that happens.

Starbucks

Guess what? Australians are addicted to coffee. And it’s not Starbucks. When I first moved, I was looking for familiarity (and free wi-fi) and I was shocked that there wasn’t a Starbucks on every corner. Apparently, Starbucks tried to make it happen but, haven’t had much success yet. And on the note of free wi-fi, Starbucks here also have free wi-fi, but you have to type in a PW they give you at the counter and, you are limited on the Gigs you can use before they cut you off, circa 2008.

High-Speed Wifi

Speaking of wi-fi… The Airbnb we stayed in when we first moved to Sydney told us we had 1GB of data we could use per day. Hello, I use that much before my morning tea! And it was so incredibly slow; I couldn’t download a photo while I was streaming a show. It was connected to a phone line; They call it ADSL. When we moved to our new home in Manly Beach, I thought, “No matter what, we are getting high-speed unlimited wi-fi; I don’t care how much it costs.” Well, it turns out it is expensive and actually really hard to obtain. Everyone, and I mean (mostly) everyone, just accepts that ADSL is standard. Circa 2008. But we put our foot down and found the one company that offered cable internet (Telstra), paid an arm and a leg to get it installed, and now I’m thinking about running a side hustle where I offer high-speed wi-fi to anyone who is interested (or desperate) to have legit wi-fi.

Expensive Beer and Liquor

Beer and liquor is so expensive. I am talking about imported and local. If you go out to drink, you will more than likely pay $18-$30 AUD for a cocktail (that’s about $13-$22 USD). There are good deals during the week, so don’t you worry! As for beer, you can’t easily find a decent 6-pack of beer for under $18 AUD (that’s about $13 USD). Luckily, you can usually find deals for beers when you go out to bars and restaurants. And the best news? There is so much good local wine, and totally reasonable.

Opposite Seasons

Although there is something pretty neat about experiencing a warm North-facing view and seeing the water spin counter-clockwise, I have to say watching friends from back home in the States bathing in sunlight on a boat while we deal with our second winter in a row, is sort of well, miserable. Granted, Sydney winter is a ton more mellow than a Seattle winter, but there’s something to be said about enjoying four seasons in a row…Having two winters in a row was just tough. That said, the build-up for summer is AMAZING. I am so friggin’ excited for a Sydney summer at the beach!

Mexican Food

This is a cuisine that is almost unheard of here. Luckily, Mexican restaurants have been popping up slowly (we have a Mexican restaurant within walking distance called Chica Bonita). However, I would say that it just hasn’t tasted the same. Also, you can’t purchase fresh pico de gallo at the grocery store. Argh.

Hot Sauce

Did you know that Sriracha only showed up in Australia a couple years ago? My expat Canadian friend told me this, and I was so thankful we showed up after it arrived! In general, the flavor “spicy” is not a thing here (unless you’re talking Thai food).. You ask for hot sauce at pretty much any restaurant, and they give you a blank stare or a really old questionable bottle of some no-name sauce you’re not sure of. Australians just don’t know spicy like Americans do.

Alaska Air, Southwest, and Virgin America

What I’m getting at is, if you fly domestic in Australia, you have very limited choices. You either have Qantas or Virgin Australia, which are exceptionally expensive. Or, you have a plethora of extremely cheap airlines, such as Jet Star and Tiger Air. Your flight price will look reasonable, but then they charge you for everything. To assign yourself a seat, you have to pay $15. To bring two carry-ons over 7kg (about 15lbs), you also have to pay. To drink their water on board, you have to pay. It’s ridiculous! Alaska Air, where are you? I miss you!

THINGS I LOVE AS AN AMERICAN LIVING IN AUSTRALIA

Tim Tams and Tea

Australians may not have good Mexican food but, they have Tim Tams and Tea (The Tim Tam Slam) and it’s about the best thing I’ve ever eaten. It sounds like Target in the States now has Tim Tams! I’m sure you can also find them at World Market. Make sure you follow the tutorial. The first time I tried it, I had been instructed by an Australian but, she wasn’t with me when I actually did it. I totally bombed the experience. The second time I did it? Nailed it, and Oh. My. God.

Australian Accent

Because I am totally in love with the way Australians talk! You know what’s funny? The American accent stands out to me now. I smile really big when I hear the American accent somewhere around me, because it feels a bit more like home. We also hang out with some British expats and it’s safe to say I love the way they talk just as much as I love the way Australians talk. One funny note is that many Australians have said that when they were younger, they wished they could talk like “the people in the movies and TV shows” talked. But it seems that as they’ve gotten older, they’ve lost interest in having the American accent. Don’t know what that’s about, sheesh.

Free Range Eggs

You know when you pay $12 at a farmer’s market in America so you can get truly free-range eggs that have really fluorescent yellow yolks so you know they’re good and delicious? Yeah, that’s all eggs here. You go to your local grocery store, and you’d be hard-pressed to find an egg short of brilliant yellow.

Biscuits

Because yes, biscuits are cookies here, and I love cookies.

Koalas, Kangaroos and Penguins

There’s something so special about finally for the first time in a lifetime meeting these “exotic” animals I never thought I’d meet outside of the zoo.

BYO (Bring Your Own)

OK, this one is sort of funny because it does technically exist in the States. As in, you go to a restaurant and bring a bottle of wine and pay a corkage fee. However, the first time we went to a restaurant here that served BYO, there was something so novelty about it. Most places charge less than $3 PP to bring your own bottle. Our new favorite thing to do is pick up our favorite bottle of $8 McGuigan‘s Red and go out for Thai food.

Public Toilets

You know how in the States, you rarely use a public bathroom? Here it is totally normal and there are actually a ton of them. The ones in the CBD are a bit sketch (after you use them, you close the door, and then it sprays the entire inside with some antibacterial mist) but, if you’re in a pinch, there’s actually options here.

Wine Bottle Screw Tops

Pretty much every (good) bottle of wine in the States has a cork, not a screw. And in fact, I would argue that the belief is that screw top wines aren’t as good. Here in Australia, it’s the exact opposite. We have seen exactly one wine bottle with a cork, and perhaps hundreds (ahem) of wine bottles with a screw top. And I haven’t missed the act of trying to track down a wine opener one bit.

Free Coin Exchange

In the States, you have to use Coinstar to get rid of coins, unless you want to spend hours stacking coins into those round wrappers. Am I right?! Here in Australia, banks have coin counting machines and they are free. This is probably because Australians have a $2 coin, which really adds to how many coins you get when you spend cash. Oh and speaking cash, there are still a ton of places that are Cash Only. WTF.

The Weather

We live in Sydney, so we can really only speak to here. But let me just tell you, Sydney is amazing. We literally live on a whitewashed beach (I believe San Diego would be the closest example in the States, or perhaps Key West), and my husband Jason takes a ferry to the CBD everyday. We have only experienced the Sydney winter and it’s been between 17-25 degrees Celsius everyday (that’s 64-80 degrees Fahrenheit). There have been rainstorms and they only last for minutes at a time. The summer is supposed to be amazing with 25 degrees or higher everyday.

Coffee

I had to include this one as an ode to my husband Jason and pretty much every Australian. I don’t drink caffeine (health reasons), so I’m the odd woman out. Australians love their coffee and are actually very picky about it. You don’t find much automatic coffee machines over here; they love drip. Jason is an avid coffee drinker and his drink of choice is a Long Black.

Here’s some other interesting facts that didn’t make the top 10, but still you might now know about Australia. I only found these out when I moved here!

  • At a restaurant, an appetizer is actually called an “entrée”. You call your entrée a “main” here.
  • Screens on windows and doors are very uncommon here. So are double-paned windows. Ironic for a place full of insects and critters, isn’t it?
  • To convert to Fahrenheit, you multiply the Celsius by two, and then add 30 (ex: 20 degrees Celcius x 2 = 40 + 30 = 70 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s not exact but, it’s close enough.
  • There are wild cockatoos here. They look exactly like your neighbor’s exotic cockatoo. But they’re wild and hang out on your balcony.
  • Cilantro is called Coriander here, and Bell Pepper is called Capsicum here.
  • At a restaurant, you say “Take away” instead of “To go”. They actually look at your funny if you say the latter.
  • Clothes dryers are really uncommon! Clotheslines are like, normal here.

What are some things you have discovered as an expat? Or were surprised by in this post? Comment below and help me expand the Balance + Vine community!

The best 10 Songs for a Sweet and Mellow Yoga Flow

We are thrilled to have our first guest blogger this week, Caitlin Wilker from Caits Cozy Corner! Based out of Atlanta GA in the States, her personal blog is all about fashion, family and traveling. I think you’ll love her as much as I do! Did I mention she loves yoga? Be sure to follow her on Instagram, too. ​ – Balance + Vine

When I first began taking yoga, I not only loved the poses and the movements but the music. It really captures me. I think yoga music is everything. Finding new songs and discovering artists that can add to the variety of playlists for different styles of yoga is key. The right music can really help you dive deeper into your practice and connect with your inner strength. Plus, a well-built playlist provides structure and helps bring the practice of your poses together.

But how do you find the right kind of music? It can be pretty personal and sometimes tricky. Sound is a huge factor in setting up your atmosphere for your audience and requires practice to find out what type of music helps you to focus on your body and breathing. You don’t want any music that can distract from feeling zen. Just because you love a certain song to get you in the mood to clean your home, it could actually annoy you while you’re trying to perfect that headstand you’ve been working on for the last few weeks.

I think building a playlist is no joke. You can’t just throw random songs together and expect the class, or your personal yoga, to flow well. It takes thoughtfulness, a keen ear and a vision. So why type of music do I love to listen to while attending a yoga class or even just practicing a few moves in my family room? Here are my top 10!

Love NYE – Badly Drawn Boy

You can hear the love seeping out of every note of this sweet instrumental piece of magic. It’s not for nothing that this is a very popular song for walking down the aisle. Play this and you’ll be flowing through your asana’s with an instant sense of unity and self-love. You’re welcome.​

Ryan Farish – Sunset to Sunrise Mix

This whimsical video really puts me in a relaxed state. His multi-instrumentalist music truly helps me chill out through his fusion of dance, electronica and chill out vibes. In fact, it’s earned him a following that spans the boundaries of genre! I listened to this particular song and it just put me at ease after a few minutes which I knew would be a great warm up for practicing my poses.

Spiritual State – Nujabes

I discovered this beautiful album while browsing a good old-fashioned CD store in Tokyo, Japan. Upon hearing the first notes I was immediately sold. The delightfully surprising combination of soft sounds and piano notes will gently take you away to another plane. It’s my absolute favorite track of all time.

Yoga Meditation and Relaxation Music: Namaste for Wellness and Sound Therapy

I’m not normally a huge fan of this “spa” style music, but this song has an oddly compelling sound. It is as if you are listening to someone else’s dream of a piano being played across a vast distance. I find it incredibly centering.

Kusanagi – Odesza

This track is as good as melancholy gets. It takes me back to a sweet, intangible state of mind that I vaguely seem to remember from childhood with it’s mellow yet profound and powerful vibe. It’s the perfect companion for the closing poses of your practice and will make you blissfully sink into savasana.

Satyam – Bangalore Master 

If you’re looking for more of an Indian vibe without getting too funky, these tunes will definitely do the trick. It’s sophisticated, laid-back and if you light a stick of incense and close your eyes, it won’t be hard to imagine yourself saluting the sun in Rishikesh at dawn.

The Style Council: The Paris Match

Unlike any other Style Council song, this is their tribute to the 40’s piano bar sound. Sexy, sad and soft, it speaks to the sensual undertones of yoga.

Sweet Tides – Thievery Corporation

The name says it all. It’s calming, dreamy, and just purely sweet. I fell in love with this song when I was living in Rome and I used to play it for my cooling down after my early morning runs in Villa Ada park. It brings back magical memories of the calm glistening lake, the sound of my sneakers on the empty gravel paths, the smell of damp oak leafs and the warming rays of the rising sun kissing my skin before the hectic city came alive.

Baleen Morning – Balmorhea 

Another moving, deep and peaceful track. This beautiful piano masterpiece continues to touch me right in the heart every single time. Maybe it’s just my HSP traits, but I love how this song seems to clarify and amplify whatever emotion I am experiencing while I listen to it. Perfect for a deeper, more reflective part of your practice and for accompanying hip openers.

Magic – Coldplay

I think I like the instrumental version of this killer Coldplay song is even better than the one with lyrics. It has everything and more to help you start off your practice of in a focused and easy flow. The steady beat carries a lot of empowerment and when the guitar chimes in you can just feel the energy rushing through your bones.

What types of songs do you enjoy listening to during yoga? Comment below!

How to experience freedom in your own life

“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”  – Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu, Yoga mantra

It is Independence Day in America, and it was Independence Day for Canada just this past weekend. As a recent expat from America now residing in Australia, this is the first time I am deeply aware of my roots. Call it homesickness, I am reflecting upon what it means to be celebrating this day of Independence from literally the other side of the world. And what it means to celebrate freedom.

What does it mean to be free? And how do we ourselves enjoy the same freedom as America (and other countries) celebrate? Because I don’t know about you, but I often feel chained. Do you feel chained to a job, to a home, or to a lifestyle or habit perhaps? Sometimes I very much feel held back by limitations in this world.Although being held back may feel external, I know that the shackles holding me are actually very much internal. Because what is actually holding us back from our freedom, from our power, from our celebration is what binds us inside. And it’s not the job, it’s not the home, or the lifestyle or habit; what binds us is not necessarily the external factor, but really is our reaction to it.

So how we do rise above the shackles? Dig deep. We first must figure out what we are bound to. Because it more than likely is not the job, the home or the lifestyle or habit. It’s usually something deeper. Ask yourself, are you bound to fear? Are you bound to not feeling good enough? Do you feel shackled to feeling unloved?

Therein lies our freedom. To discover what binds us, become aware of how it plays into our world, and moment by moment, thought by thought, think of ways to overcome it.

One way to overcome it is by projecting into the world what you feels binds you. For instance, in my own life, I feel shackled by never feeling good enough. I fear putting myself out there in a big way, because I greatly fear that I will be criticized and told I’m not good enough to shine. This is a huge realization for me. Perhaps this may awaken a realization in you or, perhaps what binds you (if at all) is something different. But what I recognize is that because I feel not good enough, I’m going to do everything in my power to help others recognize they are good enough. To shine a spotlight on them and let them know how important they are in this world, how good they are in this world. Because perhaps if I see it in others, then I can start to see it in myself.

This works with anything, truly. “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.

​Are you chained to the fear of not having enough money? Perhaps turn it around, and ask yourself, how can I help others feel secure financially? Donate or volunteer your time.

Are you chained to feeling unloved? Ask yourself, how can I love more? How can I project my own love into this world? Call someone up and tell them how much they mean to you. Write a love letter a day for a full year, to every person you know. Even celebrities, family members, friends, even enemies (a-ha!).

Are you scared of being lonely? Then help others feel less alone. Adopt a pet, call a friend you haven’t talked to in some time, or chat it up with a person sitting alone during your lunch break.

Above all else, remember that you internally choose your freedom. Freedom doesn’t choose us. We as individuals have the power to be free within our own minds. We just have to become aware of what truly binds us, and from there we can choose to free ourselves of it.

Shine bright.

How to make your Water Less Boring

Water is life. Literally. You can’t live without it. So what happens when it bores you to tears? There are so many ways to freshen up your water. Here’s some suggestions! The best part? Your health may even benefit from these additions!

Mint

Mint promotes digestion. It also soothes the stomach in case of indigestion or inflammation (source Organic Facts).

Cucumber

Cucumbers are known to be an excellent source of vitamins, including anti-inflammatory vitamin K, infection-fighting vitamin C, and energy-producing pantothenic acid (vitamin B5). Body-beneficial minerals include bone-building manganese, as well as potassium and magnesium, both good for your heart (source Food Facts).

Ginger

Ginger has a long history of use for relieving digestive problems such as nausea, loss of appetite, motion sickness and pain (source Medical News Today).

Lemon

Lemons offer a little Immune System Boost. Lemons contain Vitamin C… not a spectacularly high amount, but 30-50 mg per lemon. They also contain potassium. Drinking lemon water first thing in the morning gives the body a chance to absorb these vitamins effectively and can provide a little immune boost.

Tea

Herbal, fruit, green, white, and red teas all have a ton of effective health benefits and are widely varying. Luckily, tea is available in a wide variety in most places! Check out your local grocer or health market and see for yourself!

Honey

I know, honey water. Whaaat?! But seriously, it’s delicious and it has so many benefits. Honey contains flavonoids, antioxidants which help reduce the risk of some cancers and heart disease. Ancient Olympic athletes ate honey and dried figs to enhance their performance. This has now been verified with modern studies, showing that it is superior in maintaining glycogen levels and improving recovery time than other sweeteners. Honey also helps with coughs, particularly buckwheat honey (source Care 2). If you consume local honey (bee pollen), it can also help with allergies! Try boiling your honey to make a simple honey syrup. This will make the honey more diluted for better mixing.

What are some of your favorite items to add to your water? Comment and like below and help grow the Balance + Vine community!