Essential oils

If you followed my previous blog, years ago, you may remember a post about oil cleansing. After using oils to wash my face for two years, I can say without a doubt that it has changed my skin for the better. But oils have had another purpose in my everyday routine. 

I recently ordered essential oil blends from Blue Ridge Hemp Co., out of North Carolina, made specifically for aches, pains, and stress relief. Their formulas utilize the proven power of cannabis oil (CBD), derived from the hemp plant. Now, this isn't weed. This is nature's power in the form of essential oil in a roll-on stick. And it works! I ordered two sticks from Blue Ridge Hemp a few weeks back - one for stress and headaches, another for muscle aches - and can attest to its truth in helping my body feel better.

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I've used the muscle ache essential oil blend stick for my back muscles and the headache essential oil blend stick during tension headaches with great success.

Here is a blurb from their website on CBD and its usage in the U.S.:

Throughout history one of the most widely used and accepted forms of treatment for the symptoms of chronic pain, as well as other conditions, has been the various uses of the Cannabis Hemp plant. In states permitting medical use more and more people are turning to Cannabis to ease their suffering. Scientist have discovered there is one key component of the Cannabis Hemp plant that accounts for most of the plant’s natural health benefits. That component is Cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is classified as a phytocannabinoid, another more familiar phytocannabinoid is THC, the component of Cannabis that causes the “high” commonly associated with the plant. On the contrary, CBD is not psychoactive as well as not habit forming or addictive. CBD can be derived from Industrial Hemp Cannabis plants grown to contain less than 0.3% THC, making it available to all Americans regardless of laws restricting Cannabis in their respective states.
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Furthermore, Blue Ridge Hemp Co. uses ethically and sustainably sourced Terpene rich botanicals to blend with CBD for their essential oil products. According to their website, terpenes are "a large and diverse class of organic molecules that are present in Cannabis and a wide variety of plants." Terpenes are the smells and flavors in essential oils and work together with cannabinoids to produce therapeutic benefits. Common terpenes found in cannabis hemp are also found in pine needles, lavender, black pepper, hops and citrus.

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Before using oils to cleanse with, I probably wouldn't have considered using oils for any purpose other than for cooking. But they are so useful! As someone battling growing anxiety, I am slowly becoming more aware of products that naturally aid in calming and relaxing my mind and body. This is one of those products that I stand by and recommend to anyone seeking natural pain and anxiety relief.

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*This post is not sponsored and contains only my own thoughts and beliefs. I do have an affiliate link for Blue Ridge Hemp products; if you are going to purchase a product, please consider doing so via this link - Thanks!

What yoga means to me

Several weeks ago, someone asked what yoga means to me. Now that is a pretty loaded question. But without hesitation, I responded by saying that it is my way of managing anger. As much as I hate to say it, I can have a temper. I am also an impatient and demanding person to boot. I see it in my marriage, in my work, in my thoughts and words and in my yoga practice.

When I get on my mat and instantly become frustrated that I can't jump into a handstand or slide into splits, I realize how silly it is to expect my stiff body to suddenly perform a task it isn't warmed up for. The funny thing is, if the mind is unyielding, so is the body. No matter how warmed up I am, if my mind isn't in it, my body can't do it. So thanks to yoga, I am forced to face my shortcomings and really work on becoming a more patient, forgiving and compassionate person - with myself first, and then with others. 

At first, yoga showed me how impatient and angry I could be. Now, I turn to yoga to help manage that anger and impatience. 

Since that realization, I tried to give myself more grace. I move more slowly, more deliberately, more intentionally. A few weeks back, I was upset about a work issue and knew I needed to work it out on my mat. Not even five minutes into some sun salutations and heart openers, I became calmer. I realized I was more annoyed than angry (there is a difference!) and even sensed some tension in my shoulders melt away. I was able to go deeper in my backbends too.

There is something special to me about moving my body to help move my mind. Lifting, running and stretching all help me release tension and anger in ways other activities can't. It forces me to focus on the present, something that I find I don't do enough. 

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I recently began using the hashtag #yogaforhealing on Instagram because that is what yoga is for me personally. Not the gymnastics, not the chakras or enlightenment, but a process of healing my body (and ultimately my mind). Here is what my practice looks like based on what I am feeling that day:

DRILLS

Drills are necessary to further any practice, but I find them to be the most valuable when I am very angry or too unbalanced to flow. Drills force my mind and body to be repetitive, to train all my energy in completing another rep, and another and another and another. This is why weight lifting is also great for anger management! Not only do I get a great workout, but I find peace in repetition and consistency. I recommend just googling "yoga drills" and looking specifically for core and strength-building exercises.

BREATHING

When I'm sad or upset, I really enjoy either laying on my mat in corpse pose or sitting cross-legged or in lotus pose, with one hand on my stomach and the other on my heart, to just breathe. I actually find myself praying the most in this position. Something about feeling my heart beat and my lungs fill with air brings me out of my sadness. Taking those moments to breathe deeply allow a pause in my physical and mental state as well. I can do a quick mental check of my body to see what is hurting, what is tight, etc. Its just a simple reminder that I am alive and well.

FLOWS

Yoga flows can be difficult if I can only get into a handful of poses on the first try. But they don't have to be fancy - a yoga flow can be as simple as moving through a vinyasa sequence or working on balance and slow, gentle movements. I find my body is best equipped to practice yoga flows when I am happy. This is my go-to on good days. Plus, after all those drills and breathing sessions, my flows are getting progressively better!

INVERSIONS & BALANCE

I cannot hold a straight handstand for more than a handful of seconds. And that's ok! Paul-the-Wall, as he is called by some, is my expert teacher in all things upside down :D I was once scared of handstands and didn't have the upper body strength to even practice inversions and arm balances. Now that I do (its those drills yall!) I take full advantage of practicing inversions when I'm tired and when I'm feeling a little down and vulnerable. Inversions create a sense of empowerment and change my perspective (literally and figuratively). My confidence grows as my handstands get better - and when I'm confident, inversions are much easier. 

 

Quarter of a century

Today is my 25th birthday - a quarter of a century!

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My short time on earth has already been filled with adventure and love as well as pain and sadness. I used to struggle greatly with fear, though I can now say that is no longer the case.

I've told myself in the past to be strong and courageous. It's tattooed on my foot so whenever I look down - in fear, shame, shyness - I am reminded to hold my chin up. 

I spent the last seven years telling myself to be strong and courageous, and I've been just that. I've taken chances, make huge decisions, suffered consequences and enjoyed rewards. I didn't know before how strong I was. But now I do.

I don't need to remind myself to be strong and courageous anymore. I've proven that to myself.

But I've realized some other things about myself. This year, I need to remind myself to be present. To be humble. To be sustaining and sustained. I know how to be strong in a narrow sense - the hard, definitive sense of the word. There is usually a bit of anger and coldness used to make those tough moves throughout life. So my goal, this year, is to work on the softer, more fluid sense of the word. The one who sustains. Not meek, not arrogant, but humble. The one who is here in the moment and fully understanding the gravity and grace and beauty of each passing second of this life. 

I want to touch on something I posted on Instagram yesterday - the definition of what a woman is to man. "Ezer kenegdo" are the words used to describe what women were created to be, which, as it turns out, also describes God as a warrior and sustainer for Israel. And, as I later found out, "military strategist." We, as women, were created to be warriors! Furthermore, we were the very last creation on this earth - the CRESCENDO of God's creation. 

I cannot tell you how inspiring and mind blowing that is for me. And this realization comes at a time when I need it most. My husband, as strong and faithful as he is, cannot do life on his own. He NEEDS me. I am his support, his preservation, his confirmation, his encourager, his strength, his heart. I know how to be strong and fierce, but now I need to learn how to be a sustainer.

So, in my 25th year, may I live in a way that is both pleasing and steadfast - another year of mindfulness towards a life well lived.