Self-Care, Wellness, and 20 Yoga Essentials You Need
(Photo via Tom)
YOGA, Wellness, and stress-reduction
Looking back, becoming a writer was always my calling... but making it my career — after going to grad school and becoming a therapist — was part of a necessary lifestyle overhaul for me. When I was 16, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto's thyroiditis (you can read my article about it on Woman's Day), which basically causes my immune system to attack my own body, particularly my thyroid gland.
Luckily, there's an easy-ish solution to managing this illness, and it all comes down to reducing inflammation, the immune response that fuels it.There are many causes of bodily inflammation, brought on by both inner- and outer-stressors. What I mean is, causes of inflammation can be physical (i.e. from an allergen or toxin), but also emotional (i.e. triggered by psychological stress).
We know this now: The mind-body connection is real. If you've ever noticed that stress has delayed your period, caused a breakout, or brought on an inflammatory condition like hives or eczema, then you know what I'm talking about. It's exactly like that — but know that stress and inflammation have deleterious consequences to your health and well-being, even if the results are unseen.
When my health was at its worst, you could see the inflammation from the outside; I looked and felt puffy compared to now. Meanwhile, unseen inflammation, in places like the brain, is even harder to manage but is correlated with negative health outcomes like anxiety and depression.
To give you a sense of just how delicate the human body can be, I have to take plant-sourced, naturally-compounded T3/T4 to treat my underactive thyroid. If my medicine is derived from animal sources (specifically pigs), it triggers the immune response in my body and I get very sick; meanwhile, the synthetic form just doesn't work as well for me. To avoid immune activation in my everyday life, I am supposed to eat a clean, anti-inflammatory diet of organic foods to avoid exposure to chemicals, pesticides, and GMOs.
To get diagnosed with Hashimoto's, you have to be tested for the antibodies. I began working with a Naturopathic doctor named Dr. Gabrielle Francis while living in New York whose dietary recommendations, digestion-easing supplements, and overall stress-reducing lifestyle teachings straight-up changed my life.
I fell in love with this jewelry store while still living in New York and wore a necklace just like this (but gold) almost every day for years.
The Stress-Reduction Solution
If you knew the old me, especially during my 20s, I was basically on the verge of an aneurysm at all times and dealt with chronic insomnia. These days, I find myself taking accidental naps and even got called "The chillest girl ever." (HAHA — I'm not, but it's a goal.) Thanks to the health-minded lifestyle changes I've made, I have never been happier, more fulfilled, or more at peace. It rocks so much that I decided to write about it to encourage people whose doctors have encouraged them to make the effort (or anyone looking to clean up their lifestyle). It's a continual process; it is hard but unbelievably rewarding if you keep working at seeing it through.
a crystal-powered protective spray.
These days, my mantra is something like, "Just stress less." I prioritize things like sleep, relaxation, and my healthy eating, and believe that a stress-reduction activity is always a good idea. The lifestyle changes I have made made my Hashimoto's inactive, but it did come at a cost. I don't eat gluten, dairy, meat, and try to eat all organic. It also takes effort and money to learn and take part in self-care practices for your wellness, like meditation classes, acupuncture, spa treatments (yes, these count!) — and especially yoga.
The bottom line is, I've learned that self-care is necessary for my well-being. I never feel guilty treating myself to something that is health-promoting and have justified everything from supplements and visits to a naturopath, to facials and handbag purchases in the name of self-care and stress-reduction. (And incidentally, when you know that stress-reduction is a crucial part of your wellness, any guilt that treating yo'self once brought on goes away.)
The Ultimate Healer: Yoga
Global Wellness Day was June 9th. My sporadic health actually flared up on that day, preventing me from attending a Kerstin Florian yoga event at the beautiful Montage in Laguna Beach, CA. Because of this, I wanted to create this yoga-themed round-up in gratitude of my favorite self-care practice.
Below, you can shop some of my favorite finds in athleisure of late. I am using affiliate links, so if you buy items from the links below, I'll get a commission at no cost to you. Some of these items, I already use; the rest make up the yogi wish list of my dreams. P.S. I made it a point to include both colorful and minimalist options to suit your mood and sartorial orientation.
You can also check out these articles of mine if you'd like more yogi vibes: Top 5 Yoga Postures for Hips From Yogi Alex Roberts (one of my favorite teachers from my old studio, Purple Yoga!); Top 5 Health Benefits of Practicing Yoga; Top 5 Ways Hot Yoga Can De-Stress (And Warm You Up). I'm also working on a stress-themed beauty article for Brit + Co. this week, so I'm extra amped about keeping things chill. (And yes, I am aware of the irony.)
20 Yoga Essentials of My Dreams
(1)Raquel Allegra Homage Top ($168)
Sometimes when you're in yoga, you go upside down and your shirt falls up to your chin. Believe me when I say that no one is watching. This is great for me because I love me some crop-tops! Sometimes I go topless (in a bra). I'd wear these cute tops in or out of the studio.
(2) Alo Yoga Namaste Cropped Tee ($54)
(3) Alo Yoga High-Waist Moto Legging ($118)
I rarely stray from wearing black leggings — I just love them! Most of mine are from Athleta, but I have been wanting to try a pair of high-waisted leggings from Alo Yoga. Another line of super comfortable athleisure I have had my eye on is Lunya, a luxury line that specializes in making ultra-comfortable, high end garments (and sleep-enhancing loungewear). The draped joggers below were sold out when I first spotted them but are now back in stock.
(4) Lunya Siro Draped Jogger ($118)
(5) Nisolo Camilla Slide Sandal ($88)
In case I'm running late, I like to be able to slip my shoes on and off quickly, which is the main reason I don't wear my Nike Free's everyday! I have had my eye on a pair of strappy, ethically-made slides by Nisolo for months now. For a more colorful option, I spotted these floral pool slides by Rag & Bone while working on a Brit + Co. summer sandal post. Just this morning, I noticed they're on sale for $62.50 on Net-a-Porter at the link below.
(6) Rag & Bone Embossed Rubber Slides ($75)
(7) Alo Yoga Warrior Mat ($100)
Thick, luxury, no-slip mats are worth the hefty price tag because they make your practice so comfortable! They can be a pain to carry, though, because they're heavy. My boyfriend, Tom, got me a cute, lilac-hued one from Lulu Lemon ages ago and I use it almost everyday. I am also a major supporter of Stella McCartney and her eco-friendly, animal-friendly designs, which is why I would also love to own the pink mat and strap below from her collaboration with Adidas.
I love drinking Alkaline water during yoga and recently discovered a new brand called Flow. Alkaline diets are associated with amazing health outcomes including reduced blood-sugar, whereas highly acidic bio-environments have been linked with health problems as serious as cancer. I love doing yoga while drinking water that helps to balance the body's pH to its optimum level.
A Mat Towel
(13) Yoga Zeal Moon Phases Yoga Towel ($50)
A machine washable yoga mat towel is an essential. If you sweat, it'll absorb it — and sweating is good, so let it out! I usually alternate between two. You can also spray it with water at the beginning of class to help prevent slipping.
(14) Lulu Lemon Fly Away Tamer Headband II ($11)
(15) Dr. Angela's Thyroid Solution ($20)
You aren't technically supposed to bring fragrances to class, but sometimes I'll apply this essential oil blend onto my neck in the thyroid area. I also put a little but under my nose.
(16) Spry Natural Spearmint Xylitol Gum ($9 for 100 pieces)
If you ever have nightmares about your teeth falling out, I read that it means you're stressed. I am paranoid about my teeth even during waking hours, which is why I freaking love chewing this tooth health-promoting gum. I chew it on the way to yoga and sometimes during yoga (sneakily).
(17) Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum ($27)
I usually put this pocket book-friendly vitamin C on under my sunscreen, wear a black baseball hat with white writing that I got from a Joanna Vargas event, sunglasses, and throw my keys into a (18) Madewell Reusable Canvas Tote ($5) that says "Bien Fait" on it.
(19) Species by the Thousands Yoga High Mat Spray ($22)
Keeping your mat clean is one thing, but keeping your aura clean is a different struggle. Tend to it spritz by spritz.
What helps you get your OM on? Tell me on Instagram!