Peace Comes First

Your guide to creating inner peace through yoga therapy, practical spirituality and the gluten-free lifestyle.


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Visions for the New Year

New Years Resolutions….ah, who keeps tHD-Wallpapers-Happy-New-Year-2015-Free-Download-4hose? A small percent. The rest of us break under the pressure of The Resolution that becomes more of a burden than inspiration. New Years intentions, that’s a little better. But we all know where good intentions can lead us. Alas, a simple vision of what could be. Yes, that is my approach this year. What’s yours?

My Vision of 2015

1. Deleting old emails. Unsubscribe from emails that I never read and that overfill my in-box, and don’t buy into the belief that I’ll regret it. It’s one less distraction I’m eliminating from my day. Bookmark anything I want to check back on – on my time.

2. Stop making excuses for why I don’t stretch every day. I don’t care if I rush out the door and I’m standing in the supermarket – I’ll forward fold over my shopping cart and Triangle my way over to produce. Those longer yoga sessions don’t make up for that one day I allow myself to step into Stiffville.

3. Releasing guilt for getting my needs met. I deserve what I need to be healthy and happy. Self-care makes me a better person. I can’t control how others will react to my decisions, but I can choose to surround myself with people who love me just as I am.

4. Stop procrastinating. Those annoying little things I’ve been putting off for a year – yeah, those – they’re not going anywhere unless I do something about them. There’s no time like the present. Just. Get. It. Done. Already.

5. Accepting things are different this year, and creating the new. Things change every year on some level, and for me recent years have brought whip lashing change. The positive thing about change is it forces you to adapt to new situations and can bring about fresh inspiration. This year, I will continue to work on new projects, and create new opportunities that help me evolve and keep helping people. I pray that everyone finds joy in the purpose they are here to serve. Sometimes that purpose shifts to other, different ways of serving, and that’s okay. Life isn’t always linear. It’s often the windy roads that bring about the most wisdom and adventure.

6. Lastly, my vision this year is to Love it Alleven those really, really hard times because they have brought so much good when I’m willing to embrace the opportunity to learn more about myself, and life.

Welcome to 2015! Wishing you a peaceful and inspiring New Year.


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5 After Work Stretches for a Happy Back

I have lower back pain that’s been at me since the start of last year (when I stopped classroom teaching, and spent a LOT more time sitting down than I had in the past). Obviously, the main solution is to get up and move more, which I’m doing in baby steps, but could you recommend any poses that are specific to the lower back? I’ve found the standing forward bend, and twists are helpful, but any other advice would be much appreciated. -Zee

musclesThanks for your question, Zee! Teachers rock!

Sitting puts 40% more pressure on the spine than standing, no wonder you’re hurting. You’re right, getting up and moving more can help. See if you can make a habit of getting up for a stretch every 30 minutes, an office chair can be a great yoga prop. Walking on lunch breaks when possible can also be helpful.

There are several factors that affect lower back pain from sitting long periods: the hips, glutes and hamstrings get tight, and the pelvis and spine can become misaligned. Standing forward bend is great to lengthen the hamstrings and stretch the back, and twists can alleviate tight erector spinae muscles, both addressing potential contributors to lower back pain. You’re on the right track!

Here are 5 yoga and Pilates exercises that have helped me alleviate low back pain due to sitting by addressing the specific muscle groups that get tight and can spasm. If any of these exercises feel painful, of course don’t do them. I also recommend additional support from a good chiropractor and masseuse.

Spine Stretch Forward for the spine, waist and core

Photo on 2014-12-12 at 13.45How to do it: Sit up tall with your legs straight out in front of you a bit wider than the mat, flex the feet. Extend your arms forward, at shoulder height with the palms facing down. Curl your chin toward your chest and round forward. Round back up. Repeat for 5 breaths.

Alignment tip: Pull the abs back and glide the shoulders down the back. Keep the legs long and active, avoid gripping the hip flexors. Breathe into the stretch, and be mindful of keeping the shoulders away from the ears. If your hamstrings or hips are tight, bend the knees or place a rolled blanket under the knees.

Photo on 2014-12-12 at 13.46

Photo on 2014-12-12 at 13.46 #3

Bridge Pose for the glutes

BridgeHow to do it: Start lying down on your back, with both knees bent and feet about hip width apart and flexed, heels pressing into the mat. Slowly start lifting your pelvis, then lower back, middle back and then your upper back off the floor, pressing your hips to the ceiling. Squeeze your glutes and see if you can feel the hamstrings working. Take a deep breath at the top, then slowly lower back down.

Alignment tip: Avoid rushing through this pose, but instead roll through each section of your spine and concentrate on pushing your heels into the ground to work your glutes even harder. Avoid overextending. Focus on the muscles you’re working instead of how high you think you should push upward. You can try placing a brick in between your knees and squeezing with your inner thighs to hold it in place.

Dragon Pose for the hip flexors

 Dragon2How to do it: Begin on hands and knees. Step one foot between the hands. Walk the front foot forward until the knee is right above the heel. Slide the back knee backward as far as you can. Keep the hands on either side of the front foot. Try 5 to 10 breaths at first, eventually working up to 3-5 minutes if you want a glorious deep yin stretch!

Alignment tip: Breathe. If your hips are tight, boy will you feel it. Keep breathing and trying to let go of the tension. If the back knee doesn’t feel good in this position, place a blanket under it or tuck the toes under and lift the leg off the floor. You can also use a brick to support your hand.

If you’d like to try deepening the stretch, slowly bring your forearms Dragon 1down to the mat. If your knee feels uncomfortable here, you can try rotating the foot of your bent leg slightly toward the outer mat.

This deep lunge stretches the hips, groin and quads and helps release tight hamstrings.

Puppy Pose for the spine, shoulders and arms

Photo on 2014-12-12 at 13.18Puppy pose is a combination of Downward Dog and Child’s Pose, and can feel great after a long day of sitting.

How to do it: Begin on hands and knees and slowly begin to walk your hands out in front of you, lowering your chest down toward the ground. Try to keep your hips over your knees, and your arms shoulder distance apart. Draw your shoulder blades together and reach your hips up high toward the ceiling. Gently rest your forehead on the ground, and relax your neck. Breathe into your back, lengthening your spine in both directions. Try the pose from 5 to 10 breaths, then gently lift your forehead and walk your palms back toward your body to come back onto all fours.

Alignment tip: Try placing a rolled up blanket or bolster between your legs to engage the leg and hip muscles and support your lower back in this pose. You can also rest your forehead on a stacked blanket or brick for added support.

Mermaid Side Stretch for the obliques

Photo on 2014-12-12 at 14.02 #3How to do it: Sit up on your knees and lower the right hip to the mat. Keep the knees toward the left and the hips stacked. Extend your arms to a T position with the palms facing down. Reach over to the right until the right hand touches the mat. Bend the elbow and put the right forearm onto the mat. Reach your left arm to your ear and stretch over the right side. Try 2-3 breaths, then press into the right hand to push up to a seated position.

Photo on 2014-12-12 at 12.08Take a counter stretch by holding onto your knees with the left hand and reach the right arm up to the ceiling, keeping the arm by the ear, stretch to the left side. Don’t forget to breathe!

Alignment tip: Try not to arch your back, instead lengthen through the top side of the body while lifting through the bottom side. Keep the hips anchored, and the shoulders away from the ears.


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PTSD: The Silent Killer in Police Departments

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Photo credit: policeofficerposters.com

The recent case of Eric Garner brought to light what has long needed healing in the police department, yet no one is talking about it. I’ve heard experts say officers need better training, higher pay and more education to prevent anymore tragedies. Not one person has mentioned PTSD.

I’m not saying PTSD is an excuse for a corrupt officer who engages in irresponsible criminal behavior just because they have a chip on their shoulder or a bad attitude. But to ignore the possibility of how much PTSD is affecting officers is doing a great disservice not only to the first responders but to the communities they serve.

In my twenties, I was in a committed relationship with a police officer in New York. He worked in a poor, high crime neighborhood that was littered with violence. During one of his shifts, he witnessed one of the neighborhood drug dealers get shot. He raced to help the guy, holding the victim’s exposed intestines inside his body, sealing off hemorrhaging with a tourniquet and calling for help. He saved this drug dealer’s life. Weeks later, the dealer was back on the street and when he saw the officer who saved his life he didn’t thank him. He glared at him with hatred. The officer acknowledged it didn’t matter how he tried to help. A criminal will never respect an officer. That is the nature of the toxic relationship of one who enforces laws, and the other who breaks them.

Looking back, this officer I dated had signs of PTSD. He couldn’t listen to rap music because he said it triggered bad memories and stress. He always had his gun on him, strapped to his ankle, which didn’t allow him a true break from his job. Neither did his police radio that was on 24/7 in his house, on call to assist an emergency. He was always on edge, no matter how hard he tried to exhibit a cool and in-control front, underneath it he was always considering the worst that could happen. Who could blame him? He saw the worst that could happen all the time on his job. For him, the bad guys were a chronic threat and he always needed to be prepared. Even though he was a good guy – trustworthy, loyal and spiritual with a big heart – the relationship ended because I wasn’t comfortable being with someone who was so on edge all the time, and who bottled up anger only to explode at little things.

I don’t understand how people think that an officer who sees horrific violence, faced with dangerous threats and death as part of their job description wouldn’t be affected by PTSD any more than the soldier who spends years down range in Afghanistan. Many officers, especially in big cities like New York, Chicago and Seattle, are on the front lines every day. No wonder these cities have the highest officer suicide rates. The stress and threats to safety is constant, sometimes for the duration of their career. These men and woman are human beings, they’re not programmed robots that are immune to trauma. If you had to deal with the absolute worst side of humanity every day, some who abuse you and threaten your life, what kind of attitude would you have? I’m not saying it’s right for an officer to be unprofessional because they’re stressed, but I believe if they want to remain emotionally healthy on their job they must implement a stress management and healing regime to re-boot themselves.

One of my clients is a retired NYPD Emergency Service Unit Detective, an amazing person and family man, who has heroically rescued people in dire circumstances. He recently approached the department about my yoga therapy program that helped soldiers in the Army pre and post-deployments. The New York Police Department wasn’t interested in my idea to provide stress management training and PTSD healing support for any of their officers. I was hoping they would allow me to start at the ground level, and introduce these techniques in the police academy. No such luck, yet. I was told the culture isn’t open to it.

I pray the cultural resistance in police departments is overcome by accepting responsibility for the health and well-being of these civil servants who risk their lives for their job, and the protection of the neighborhoods they patrol. I would like to see police officers learn mandatory yoga therapy-based stress management and PTSD healing techniques. Even if some officers never use them, at least they have the option and awareness of how they can help themselves, and potentially avoid killing another unarmed, non-violent civilian because their trauma was triggered, and the fear factor overrode self-control. We can’t excuse unjust deaths of civilians, but with compassion and confronting the underlying issue of PTSD, we may improve and ultimately save lives. I’d love to be part of the solution when the New York Police Department is ready to implement a new stress management strategy. If it worked for soldiers, it will work for them.

For more information about police and PTSD, visit PolicePTSD.com.

For police officers and departments seeking new wellness strategies, check out Yoga for Heroes.


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Messages for the Soul: Healing Stress

Online_class_Healing_AngelsIf you’ve been feeling stressed for a while, this message is for you. You’re being asked, in the words of Padre Pio, to stop worrying. It’s not solving anything, these negative thoughts are only creating more stress for you.

Instead of worrying, you’re being encouraged to explore options for reducing your stress. Sometimes you may feel it’s not possible. Life may be throwing a lot at you all at once. Maybe you have a lot of responsibilities and don’t feel you have the luxury to do less, stress less. If you’ve been carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders for a while now, consider today is a good day to start to let go. Start to give those bigger worries to God, and focus on what’s in your power right now, and what’s possible.

If you feel guided toward a certain stress management technique like meditation, yoga, biofeedback or therapeutic touch, please trust that inner nudging. Go for it. Life is too short to stay in the cycle of ongoing stress. Make a conscious decision to put your health first right now, take that time out, book an appointment to see that specialist or healer.

Sometimes we can get so caught up in the daily habits of living, we don’t even realize we’re stressed. We don’t realize we’re holding our breath, or maybe our heart is beating a little faster than it ideally should, or that our nervous system is jittery from constant movement and racing thoughts. So many of us physically live in a state of high stress and become so used to this way of being, that it becomes our normal. If someone suggests a massage, we may laugh off their advice saying, “Where’s the time or the money to do that?” This kind of attitude only perpetuates a belief in martyrdom and squashes inner power, ignores higher guidance and can lead to chronic health problems, and exacerbate current ones.

Where there is a will, there is a way. Stress management experts and free stress management instruction is available online, just a few clicks and you may find your ahhh or ah-ha moment. Daily stretching alone can reduce stress and tension that leads to pain and injury. Such a simple concept – to stretch the body – yet how many of us prioritize something in the material world over a basic physical need first thing in the morning? Let’s try to change that.

IMG_8607Healing Affirmation from Chakra Healing with Archangels: Joy resides in me.

Download this affirmation on iTunes!


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Gluten-Free Salmon Pad Thai

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This dish has a hint of spicy citrus with tangy capers, a yummy Pad Thai variation for gluten-free salmon lovers. It’s easy to make, and doesn’t take long to cook. I made mine in a pasta pot, ideally it would be great in a wok. Hint, hint, to my husband for Christmas.

I recommend using only wild caught salmon if you want to avoid vaccines, antibiotics and other nasties that come with farm-raised fish. I used Blue Horizon. I was able to find the organic veggies and red pepper at the local natural store. They’re also available on Amazon. I’ll share links below.

Ingredients:

Directions:

First, bake salmon burgers in oven at 350 degrees, as instructed on the package. You can mash them before you bake them or cut into strips.

Then cook the noodles according to the package. After you’ve boiled them, place them in a strainer and rinse with cold water.

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Softening the onions over medium heat.

While the burgers are cooking and the noodles are in the strainer, pour olive oil and melt butter in the large pot you boiled the noodles in. Add the chopped red onion, capers, lemon juice, splash of white wine and fish sauce. Cover and simmer over medium heat until onions are soft. Add a sprinkle of garlic powder and red pepper, mix some more. The sauce will become thick and according to your taste, you may want to add more when you mix the noodles in.

Add the salmon and use a masher to grind them, mixing the salmon thoroughly with the onions and sauce. Simmer over low heat.

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Mixing everything together so the flavors are blended.

Add the cooked noodles and mix everything together thoroughly. If you’d like more sauce, add a splash more of lemon juice, wine and fish sauce. You can also add a bit more butter or olive oil. Keep mixing until the ingredients are blended well.

-2Add chopped dill, cilantro and chives on top. Serve warm.

 

©2014 Lauralyn Kearney


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Grain-Free Organic Cosmopolitan Recipe

Cosmo

Photo credit: Alison Kermode

Do you enjoy a cocktail now and then but don’t like the toxic side effects? Try this grain-free recipe made with all-natural and organic ingredients for a gentler drink to celebrate those special occasions, holidays or girls nights in. This recipe serves at least 4 people and is intended for a dinner party. Just mix together, chill and serve when your guests are ready.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup gluten-free vodka like Ciroc (vodka made from French grapes)
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free natural triple sec like Combier or Leopold Bros American Orange Liqueur (that use natural ingredients versus artificial flavorings)
  • 1/2 cup organic cranberry juice
  • 4 tablespoons fresh organic lime juice
  • 1 slice organic lime for garnish

Instructions:

Add vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice and lime juice to a pitcher then stir. Refrigerate. When ready to serve, pour into four martini glasses and garnish with a lime wedge. Toast to health, cheers!

Health Tip:

Alcohol feeds bad bacteria and is dehydrating. For every cocktail you drink, try also drinking equal amounts purified water and take a probiotic before bedtime. Went over your limit? There’s natural support to help your body feel better like Source Naturals Hangover formula, Drink-Ease homeopathic tablets and the Detox Party Spray.