jenntarrant
Author Archives: jenntarrant

Terrible Night’s Sleep?

Sadly it happens to all of us. For whatever reason, you didn’t sleep well last night.

This happened to me not long ago.

I found myself at the airport having hardly slept at all. I was on a trip and REALLY needed to sleep well. But no. Hardly a wink. The air conditioning was out in my hotel room and they were booked solid so I couldn’t just switch to another room. The nearest hotel was several miles away and it was already 2:00am when I realized what the issue was. Ugh.

What to do?

Because I travel a lot, I’ve developed a few ways to make it through this situation with as little disruption to my day as possible. I can even function at a pretty normal level! In this short video I share with you my tips for getting through the day when I haven’t had any sleep to speak of.

 

Jenn’s list of things to do when you haven’t had any sleep:

  • Wear your glasses! Your eyes will thank you for it!
  • Get a nourishing breakfast – this is not the day for a sugary danish. Nope. Eat something real!
  • Go ahead and have a creature comfort – for me it’s a yummy latte!
  • Create time in your day for a Yoga Nidra meditation – enjoy the equivalent of an hour’s sleep for every 15 minutes of Nidra!
  • Here’s a link to my favorite meditation app these days

It’s certainly a drag when this happens, but it doesn’t have to ruin your day! Enjoy these simple tips to help you make it through the day when you’ve had your sleep hijacked.

I’d love to hear from you! What are some things you have discovered that help you navigate the day after a night of poor sleep? Please share your tips and tricks in the comments below!

What is “good posture” anyway?

How’s your posture right now? Are you sitting or standing nice a tall? Or slumped over your desk or phone? This is a topic that goes back to the good ol’ days. If you’re like me, your mama said on more than one occasion, “Stand up straight!” And I don’t know about you, but for me, it only lasted as long as she was looking!

It turns out that Mom was right!

Posture does more than make you taller and look more educated. It actually DIRECTLY affects everything from your mood to the inner workings of your body’s deepest systems! And for so many people, poor spinal alignment leads to “garden-variety” low back pain, too. So, figuring out how to “straighten up” can have some IMMEDIATE benefits!

But, do you even know what “good posture” is?

Well, in this short video I teach about the main elements that create a posture that even your Mom would be proud of! Check it out:

 

It’s really not complicated, or even difficult to create a strong and functional alignment. In fact, there are two very simple things you can do RIGHT NOW to create strength and stability in your body!

Start with your feet!

  • point toes straight ahead
  • feet under hip points (about two-fists wide)

Check the hips!

  • are hips tilting forward or backward?
  • find the even place between the two – hips parallel to the floor

 

Did you try it? Let me know in the comments your favorite tip!

#metoo? Yoga may help*

#metoo

#metoo: It’s been all over social media and the news for months now.

You may be among the millions who posted #metoo on your social media page. In fact, it’s very likely that you are. A recent study found that nationwide, 81% of women and 43% of men reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment and/or assault in their lifetime.

So to say sexual harassment and assault are prevalent would be a ridiculous understatement. These experiences are wide-spread and affect many more of us than we ever knew before.

Here’s what I’m most concerned with at this point: Can yoga help? And if so, how?

Throughout my studies for Yoga Therapy, I have learned so much about all kinds of trauma – from childhood experiences to military situations, to natural disasters, to – yes – sexual harassment/assault.

Depending on a whole host of factors, each person experiences trauma differently. Even the SAME trauma. Even a #metoo trauma. One person in an auto accident may go into fight mode and do everything possible to escape an overturned car, while the other person in the same car may freeze and be unresponsive until well after help has arrived.

What’s fascinating to me about the different responses is that we have little to no choice over how we will respond in any given situation that we perceive as potentially life-threatening. Our body, through a truly amazing chemical process, has decided for us the “best” response before our rational mind has even gotten the full download of what’s happening.

Crazy, huh?

So there’s really no benefit in going back over what happened to figure out WHY we didn’t act differently. Because honestly, it’s not really up to us in the first place.

Regardless of what happened exactly, something important to note is that very often in life- or safety-threatening situations, our frontal lobe (or thinking part of our brain) goes off-line while our limbic brain (survival part of our brain) takes charge. This is important because we process trauma in the pre-language part of our brain. This can be true in any type of trauma, even a #metoo trauma.

But, why is this important?

It’s important because it’s very difficult (or even impossible) to process trauma through talk-based therapy when our language center was checked-out for the event in question. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

So, what to do?

Our limbic brain is all about fight/flight/freeze and the ACTION that needs to be taken to avoid the threat. So, we can address the trauma through – action. Movement-based therapies have been found to be extremely effective in supporting the healing process. What’s super cool is that we can support healing and movement through past traumas (that we haven’t even been able to talk about yet) through movement therapies like yoga.

Trauma-Sensitive yoga can help in a variety of ways*:

(summarized from Yoga and PTSD: A Primer on Symptoms and Potential Mechanisms of Change, Yoga Therapy Today Winter 2018):

  • Less re-experiencing of memories. Through the mindful practice of poses, we can develop the ability to better control the fluctuations of our mind. Basically, we get better at choosing what we think about.
  • Improvement in Psychological Flexibility. This means we improve our ability to stick with it even when we are challenged. We do this in yoga poses, but it helps us to manage our inner sensations when we are in a crowded place or other situation where we may feel anxious.
  • Reduction of irritability. Yogic breathing and meditation help us learn how to soften our internal experiences. Study participants still had emotional/mental triggers come up, but found them to be less troubling and experienced less symptoms.
  • Improved thoughts and mood. Through acceptance of each individual’s experience, participants learn how to accept their own thoughts, emotions, and moods without judgment. This allows participants to feel freely without “holding back.”

All in all, the research and preliminary studies are very positive in showing that yoga can be an excellent support to primary care options*. Trauma-sensitive Yoga Classes are available in many cities. If you think you’d like to try it, check with local studios, gyms, and community centers.

*I am a Yoga Therapist, not a Doctor or Licensed Therapist. The statements made here are my opinions supported by my experiences and research, and are not intended to be prescriptions or medical advice. Yoga Therapy is meant to support the work of Licensed Healthcare Professionals. Please check with your Healthcare Professional to see if yoga therapy is right for you.

Can yoga help?

It’s not the questions that are interesting – it’s the single answer

Yoga students, friends and family ask me yoga questions all the time. And it makes sense. After all, I AM a Yoga Teacher, a Yoga Trainer, and a Yoga Therapist. So it’s not all that strange that people ask questions. What IS really interesting to me is how almost every single question can be answered with the same answer.

It’s true.

Would you like to know what it is? I promise, it’s going to be a little underwhelming. It may even be disappointingly simple. In fact, I would venture to guess that most people would even PREFER for the solution to be something more complicated.

But it’s not.

It’s super simple.

But it’s not easy.

Ok. Here it is: Stand up straight.

Yep. That’s it.

Question: Jenn, I’m having issues with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. What yoga can I do to help?
Answer: How’s your posture? Are you standing and sitting up straight? Especially your neck and shoulders. Especially if you work at a computer a lot. Check on your upper body posture.

Question: Jenn, my low back has been bothering me. Are there any yoga poses I can do to relieve it?
Answer: Yes. There are a few poses to do to alleviate the discomfort. But let’s also get down to the deeper issue. How’s your posture? Do you stand and sit straight? Two areas to consider – your foundation and your abdominal support. Check to see if you stand with your feet hip width and toes pointing forward. Also, gently lift your belly button up and in to create low back support.

Question: Jenn, I’m having lots of neck pain and headaches sometimes. Is there anything I can do that’s yoga-related to help?
Answer: How’s your posture? In particular, do you spend a lot of time at the computer or on your phone with your head pushed forward and looking down? Create ways to sit up tall and put your phone down more often. At the very least, take breaks and do some stretches to get out of that pattern for a little bit every so often.

See?

Three seemingly unrelated issues may all be alleviated, or even completely resolved, by adjusting your posture! It is AMAZING how much pain and discomfort we can relieve when we do something as simple as correct our posture. Here’s a quick video on setting up the foundations.

It IS simple. But it’s not easy.

Strengthening our postural support muscles takes a fair amount of effort and concentration. Going to the gym or even yoga class a couple times a week isn’t going to cut it. This is something that you have to focus on every single day. Any time you notice that you are slumping forward, standing with one hip kicked over to the side, or spending hours looking down at your phone – pause – make an assessment – and then make an adjustment. It may only last for 1-2 minutes at first. But that’s ok! When you notice that you have gotten into the poor postural pattern again, simply adjust into good posture again! No need to beat yourself up. These things take time. Simply re-adjust any time you notice that you need to adjust.

Now, of course, there are specific yoga poses and sequences that can expedite this process and address your particular concerns. Your local Yoga Teacher or Yoga Therapist can help you with your individual needs.

I’d love to hear from you! Please comment below something you’ve been wondering about. “I wonder if yoga can help with…..?”

When the wheels fall off your day by 7:30am

gratitude even when the wheels fall off

This used to happen to me all the time. I’d be rushing around day after day and before long, the wheels would fall off the whole thing before I’d even left the house. I know you know what I’m talking about!

Have you ever had “wheels off” kind of day? It looks like this:

  1. alarm fails to go off properly – wake up 45 minutes late
  2. skip morning workout and shower
  3. try to look presentable without a shower
  4. grab a coffee on the way out the door
  5. spill coffee on your outfit trying to get in the car
  6. go back inside, change clothes
  7. leave without coffee (or breakfast, for that matter)
  8. get to work late disheveled and hungry, naturally, you hit rush hour traffic
  9. grab terrible office coffee
  10. skip lunch to make up for being late
  11. mid-afternoon grab a candy bar from the vending machine and another bad cup of coffee
  12. sludge through the afternoon, grumpy and on an artificial caffeine/sugar high
  13. bottom out on sugar crash
  14. get home, order pizza
  15. veg in front of the tv for 4 hours
  16. go to bed late and exhausted

Yep. Me too. It feels terrible and if you don’t rescue it somewhere along the way? The same scenario (or something similar) unfolds again the next day.

I used to honestly believe that if the wheels fell off on Monday, then the rest of the week was doomed!

But it’s not!

After PLENTY of my own experience trying to salvage yet another day waking up too late and getting to work late, I began to realize some things. There are some little changes I can make along the way (even on the REALLY bad days) that can consequently turn the whole day around.

Want to know a couple of my secrets?

  1. Purchase a great hair clip that makes it look like you MEANT to wear your hair tied back!
  2. Yes, I’m serious about #1.
  3. Play music that helps reset your mood, or listen to your favorite book or podcast as you drive.
  4. Before you get out of the car, take 3 deep, even breaths.
  5. I mean it! Take 3 deep breaths – it’s amazing how much it can calm you down, and only takes about 30 seconds.
  6. Take the lunch break. You need it. And everyone around you needs you to take it too!
  7. Pull your favorite essential oil or healing crystal out of your desk. Something as simple as a beautiful stone or a soothing aroma is better at getting you through the afternoon than caffeine and sugar.
  8. If cooking isn’t going to happen, at least drop by the grocery and choose something with nutritional value on your way home. Lots of stores have decent hot meals that can be consumed immediately.
  9. Sure, watch some tv if you want. But not 4 hours please! Take a nice evening walk or bath, read a book, have some herbal tea and GO TO BED on time!

Are you ready for the biggest one? This is THE single best way I know to take a wheels-off day and turn it into a dream day! It will literally REVOLUTIONIZE your life.

Drum roll, please….

Gratitude.

Yes, I’m serious about this one too – even more than that hair tie!

If you are serious about recovering after the wheels fall off your day and your entire lifestyle – it’s ALL about gratitude.

  1. Gratitude for waking up in the morning
  2. Gratitude for even have a shower available (even if there’s not time to use it)
  3. Gratitude for hair clips
  4. Gratitude for transportation to work
  5. Gratitude for coffee, even bad coffee
  6. Gratitude for vending machines
  7. Gratitude for making it home safely
  8. Gratitude for the pizza delivery guy (be sure to express that to him with a nice tip, after all, he’s the reason you don’t have to cook tonight!)
  9. Gratitude for television
  10. Gratitude for a bed to sleep in

Do you see how even the yucky day can be SO MUCH BETTER when you add in the gratitude? My experience is, when I start purposefully adding in gratitude even when the day starts off awful, it’s not two hours until the whole thing has turned around!

Most of all, when I go to sleep with gratitude on my mind, I’m much more likely to wake up well and ready for my day! Why? Because, it’s a choice. When I choose gratitude at night, I am choosing to end my day the way I want tomorrow to go. Therefore, choose gratitude!

So what do you say? Will you choose gratitude today?

I LOVE to hear from you! Comment below and let me know what YOU are grateful for!

Shake it Off? Wisdom from Taylor

shake it off

Shake it Off?

Ah, Taylor Swift! You are a sage of this age. Your peppy tunes and thoughtful lyrics speak to our culture. And not just the kids. I’ve seen many an adult know every – single – word to your catchy songs. It’s possible that I may be among those who know all the words to entire albums. One song in particular caught my attention the very first day it released. Which one, you may ask? Shake It Off! I love simplicity behind taking all the things people say and just “shaking them off.” I find myself wondering though – can it be that easy?

I actually think it can.

This may seem like a HUGE switch in train-of-thought, but stick with me.

For the past few years I have been exploring how Yoga Therapists are using yoga to heal. Not just things like stress and anxiety, even though these are two very powerful things to overcome, but also deeper things. Much deeper things. Things like trauma (physical and emotional) and PTSD and serious injuries and even chronic illness.

Well, one of the techniques used to help people move through these deeply-held traumas is to, quite literally, shake it off.

Let me explain.

We hold some of our deepest emotions, especially those related to traumatic events in the muscles of our bodies. Most specifically, the psoas, or hip flexors. Without getting too deeply into anatomy – these muscle resides deep in our body – starting on either side of our low back, running straight through our mid-section, crossing over the front of each hip, and attaching to our femurs in our inner thigh.

Whew. That got technical in a hurry!

Here’s where Tay-Tay comes into the picture. When, with the guidance of a Yoga Therapist, we purposely and systematically fatigue the psoas, we are then able to put our bodies into postures that cause the psoas to shake. And I mean SHAKE! The tremors exude throughout your body and can feel intense and funny and liberating and so much more. After experiencing this practice, many people find that old triggers don’t set them off as intensely as before, or that deeply-held fears of the past seem softer. Over time and practice, the intense anxiety or sleepless nights start to subside. Our body literally takes those old traumas and “shakes them off!”

Here’s the magic…

When we move through this practice with our Yoga Therapist, we are able to let our body process things that our mind may not remember or understand or be able to process in other methods of therapy. Therapy through movement is showing itself to be a powerful way to move through some difficult experiences that haven’t been very responsive to other treatments.

If this sort of work sounds interesting or appealing to you, please contact me. We can explore if this is a good fit for your specific concerns.

Now, I know you can’t get that song out of your head – so go ahead – listen to it!

Spring into Balance! Tips to feel your best.

While it was quite chilly when I woke up this Spring morning (30-something!), it has gotten quite beautiful this afternoon. We’ve had fair amounts of rain over the last weeks, and the flowers are blooming and the grass is growing. Believe it or not, even the cacti look “fluffy” from all the rain!

While it’s officially still a couple weeks away, when Spring really gets going, we often notice changes in our bodies as well. You may feel energized to clean out the garage, or start up your favorite outdoor activities. Or, you may feel the onset of dreaded allergies and congestion. Have you noticed yourself clearing your throat a lot lately? And if that’s the case, oh for some relief!

Ayurveda.

Wait.

What?

Ayur-what-uh?

Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga, has lots to say about Spring (and all the seasons) and how to structure your day and diet to feel our best. And that is great news! I’ve found that when I establish and follow my daily routines and best nutrition practices, I feel SO MUCH BETTER!

If you’re looking to make some changes so that you can really enjoy Spring, I highly recommend trying just one or two to start off. After you have successfully implemented those, try adding one or two more. Taking things a step or two at a time is more likely to stick than trying to do 10-15 at a time!

Spring Morning Routine

Starting the morning off right is a fantastic way to set up your day. Try one of these morning routine options:

  • Get up before 6:00am! This is especially important in the Spring. You want to get up before 6:00am so that you don’t wake up feeling all sluggish and tired. Here’s a little video on the topic.
  • Meditate. Ayurveda says that meditation is the simplest was to find balance for all body types in all seasons. Even 5-10 minutes can truly alter the projection of your day. Try this meditation.
  • Use a tongue scraper. You can find these easily on Amazon. I use this one. First thing (before eating or drinking anything), scrape your tongue a few times. That filmy coating that comes off is called ama, or toxins. Eww. Get that stuff off of there! And then brush.
  • Sun Salutations, or any type of moving exercise. Get your body going within the first hour of being awake. You will ultimately feel energized, even if it seems like the last thing you want to do.
  • Drink warm water with lemon. Maybe add some honey. Maybe some fresh sliced ginger. Maybe some cracked black pepper. Soooo good for your digestion! Here’s how I make mine.

During the day, work with your body’s natural rhythms

  • Work your task list from 6:00a – 10:00a. This is the time to set your mind to the task and just do it! If allergies are making you crazy try 1-2 drops each of Lavender, Lemon and Peppermint in a diffuser. It works wonders!
  • Do the big projects from 10:00a – 2:00p. The middle of the day is best for the projects that take the most energy and effort. Also, this is the best time for a large meal. Eat up!
  • Let your creativity flow from 2:00p – 6:00p. Mid-late afternoon is when our creativity is the highest. Make the most of it by setting aside an hour or two to brainstorm or write, or whatever type of creativity moves you. This is also a nice time for a workout if that fits your schedule.
  • Slow it down from 6:00p – 10:00p. Eat a dinner that is lighter than lunch if at all possible. Take a walk after dinner. Relax. Enjoy time with family or friends. Plan time to get ready for bed. And plan to turn out the lights by 10:00p so you are well-rested for tomorrow.

Spring Evening Routine

  • Be sure to turn off all screens at least an hour before bed. This will allow your eyes to rest and brain to relax from the strain of screen-time.
  • Give yourself a foot massage. Include your favorite essential oil. Try Lavender or Balance Blend.
  • Meditate. You don’t have to meditate twice a day, but you can if you enjoy it! I find meditation is a wonderful bridge from day to night and night to day, so I like to spend a few minutes in meditation in the morning and the evening. This one is good for nighttime.
  • Turn off the lights by 10:00p. The hours of sleep before midnight are considered to be the most restful, so make the most of it!

Many of these routines are great all year long, so establishing your patterns now will set you up for season after season of feeling great!

Tell me, which of these resonates the most with you? Which one(s) will you implement?

Give yourself the gift of a bedtime

Do you have a bedtime? Like a time when you know you will actually turn out the lights (and not have the tv on in the background)?

Last week I was talking with my son and he was feeling under the weather and asking what he could do boost his immune system. Like most college kids, he burns the candle at both ends – going to classes all day, working through the afternoon and evening and then staying up studying (or playing video games, or whatever) really late into the night. Anyway, as we talked about how important rest is I said, “give yourself the gift of a bedtime.” To which he promptly rolled his eyes at me. “The gift of a bedtime? Seriously, mom?”

Ok. I admit it. It was a cheesy thing to say. Especially to my 18 year old son. But it IS true. One of the best things we can do for ourselves is to establish a bedtime and wake-up routine. When our bodies got to sleep and get up at the same time everyday, everything works better. And not only that, it makes a difference HOW we go to bed. For example, there’s a big difference between tumbling into bed with our clothes still on and teeth feeling all furry OR taking care of our personal hygiene and changing into pjs before we turn out the lights. Right?

How we prepare ourselves for bed really does matter. We are creatures of habit. Those habits can help us improve our lives when we choose them wisely! When we work all day and fill our evenings with activities, it can be hard to rest well. We need a bridge between the busy-ness of the day and the restfulness of the night.

Introducing: The Bedtime Routine!

Ok. So it doesn’t sound fancy or even exciting. But if you haven’t tried a bedtime routine, I highly encourage you to give it a go for a couple weeks and see what you think. You may be pleasantly surprised! It can be whatever you like. Not everyone will enjoy the same routine.  And that’s ok!

Here are some ideas to try:

  • set an alarm for 1 hour before your bedtime so that you know when it’s time to start winding down whatever you have going on
  • play some relaxing music
  • light candles
  • do a foot massage
  • meditate
  • read something light and enjoyable for a few minutes
  • have a nice conversation with a family member or friend
  • have a warm drink – herbal tea or warm milk
  • turn off the screens for an hour before bed

I’d love to hear from you. What are some of your favorite bedtime routines? What helps you get ready for a restful night’s sleep? Let me know in the comments below!

I may or may not have rolled my eyes at her

I may or may not have rolled my eyes at her

A few weeks ago I went to a YogaFit Mind, Body, Fitness Conference and took another Ayurevda* training. Oh how I love learning in general, and about Ayurvedic routines and recipes more specifically!

*In case this is new to you, Ayurveda is the 5000 year old sister-science to yoga. It’s all about choosing routines and recipes that take your specific body type into consideration, along with the seasons. It’s pretty cool, I have to say.

Anyway, one of the recommendations that the trainer mentioned was to get up earlier. Like BEFORE 6am.

Crazy woman.

I don’t like to get up early. I get grumpy when I have to be up early. I will set my alarm for the last possible moment so I can stay in the cozy covers.

Can I get a witness?

Well, she could see the resistance on my face, and said (oh-so-kindly), “Just TRY it. Set your alarm for 5:55am tomorrow.”

I may or may not have rolled my eyes at her (sorry Tracy!).

 

Begrudgingly, I did it. 5:55am. Ugh.

HOWEVER, would you believe it? Instead of feeling MORE tired getting up 30 minutes earlier, I felt more AWAKE! How did THAT happen???

Well, it turns out Ayurveda knows what it’s talking about! When we get up before 6:00am (even if it’s just 5 minutes), we wake up during the time of day when we are most able to get going for the day. We have more energy and are able to jump into the day with enthusiasm instead of drudgery.

Seriously!

I felt so much better when I got up that extra few minutes early, I have been doing it every day since (well minus a couple sleep-in days). It’s truly changed how I feel about getting up in the morning. Since I am choosing to get up early, I don’t hate it! I get up, smile at my choice, and start my morning routine. And I even get all the things done I want to get done because I’m not hitting the snooze button two or three times.

Here’s my new morning routine timeline:

5:55am – wake up!
6:00am – tongue scraping, brushing teeth (and you know, going to the bathroom)
6:10am – meditation time
6:30am – Sun Salutations
6:40am – start getting ready for the day

 

I’d love to hear from you.

What new choices are you making to feel your best and improve your life? Please tell me in the comments!

 

Resolution Advice: Get your yoga pants on and go to class!

It’s January, people!

You know what that means. Yep, lots of people are making New Year’s Resolutions. Resolutions range from productivity goals, to weight loss goals, to new-and-improved bedtimes. Other people are wholeheartedly against the whole Resolution business.

And honestly, I don’t feel too strongly about it one way or another.

Here’s what I do think about it all though. Any time we feel the trigger to make changes that affect us in a positive way, good things can happen! It doesn’t matter to me if you make these changes and commitments to yourself because it’s January, or because your doctor said so, or for the simple reason that you got a super-cute pair of yoga pants as a gift and you simply MUST find a class so you can wear them! What matters is that you are doing something for yourself.

So, get your yoga pants on and go to class!

Or whatever the equivalent is for you. Maybe your new Resolution or goal is something more like:

  • Setting your alarm 20 minutes earlier so you can start the day in meditation
  • Choosing veggies over desserts
  • Finding a good task list or planning calendar
  • Creating a couple hours a week for rest and relaxation
  • Downloading one of those apps that locks you out of social media during times you want to focus on work

Most of the time our biggest hurdles are in our head. If that rings true for you, put your new goal in your calendar and treat it as important as a meeting with your boss. Then, when the time comes, get your yoga pants on (or whatever is appropriate), and make it happen!

And, just in case you really do want to go to yoga class, check out this little video I made with some nice things to know before you walk into your first class.

Let’s make this actionable! Tell me what you are working to implement right now in the comments below. Why are you excited to do it? What’s the hardest (or scariest) thing about getting started?