Thursday, October 30, 2014

CURRENTLY COVETING: MADEWELL x SÉZANE

I am always over the moon about Madewell's seasonal débuts + collaborations, but the recent collaboration with Parisian cult-favourite Sézane just might take the take cake. It's clean, chic, and has the perfect subdued + stripped colour palette for Autumn . . . What are your favourite pieces?



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

FARMACY: GOING OM

I first came across meditation about seven years ago, around the time when I began a regular yoga practise. At the time, I felt meditation was a practise so out of reach with my constantly buzzing and anxious mind. It was also something that I was fearful of because I viewed it as something that I needed to master, which I believed I could never attain.
I quickly was reminded, however, that I can’t let this judgement affect my meditation and the imminent effect it would have on the quality of my life. Meditation was going to reduce my anxiety and I was not going to let the fear I had of beginning it take that possibility away from me.
So I sat down.


I remember my first meditation so vividly—I had felt crushed by the emotions and anxiety that had surfaced. Running around during the day and checking things off my to-do list had almost made me numb to the amount of emotional clutter that I had locked up within me. I knew that this was why I had subconsciously refused to sit down to meditation—I was fearful of facing the emotions, thoughts, and energy I knew I had been avoiding. I knew they were there and I certainly would feel their anxiety day-to-day, but I did not want to face its source in fear that I’d crumble before it.
Yet, I chose to meditate more.
And by more, I don’t mean a meditation practise of an hour or half an hour. I made time and sat for the time that fit my schedule, whether it was twenty or five minutes—I sat down. What I also had initially been scared of was simply sitting there, with my self, for half an hour—how and why would I ever want to face and sit with my self for that amount of time? That’s the question that made me stop and reflect on my thinking—if I can sit with another being for that amount of time and see their beauty even when they’re deep within their pain, I realised that I needed to have that compassion for myself as well.


And this compassion begins with the only rule I have for myself in meditation: to not throw myself into the oncoming traffic of my thoughts. If you imagine the plethora of thoughts that run through your mind as cars, trying to stop thinking about them is like running towards that oncoming traffic—you’re going to get run over . . . by your thoughts . . .
It’s essentially not a pretty picture yet it comes to show how in meditation, you need to be the observer. You need to watch the oncoming traffic from a bench—recognise the cars passing by, waving flags with deadlines or how you need to go feed your cat, and let them go their own way.
This is not an easy practise. Recognising that it takes time to lessen the amount of cars passing is not only palpable but essential if you want to begin a meditation practise.
I feel that One-Minute Meditation does so many wonders for anyone on their meditation journey—at the beginning or those who have been practising meditation for years—on approaching this metaphor. A couple of months ago when I had a meditation workshop on campus—with a longer meditation and this video—many of the students commented on how this video was one of the most helpful parts in helping them approach and continue on their meditation journey. I hope it helps you as well in approaching meditation this week . . .
And in case you didn't get my ingenious title reference . . .

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

SPIRITUAL SMACK: SIT IN YOUR NEGATIVITY



Today’s SPIRITUAL SMACK is a short and precise one. I have always been relentlessly trying to push out negativity from my mind and my life, looking to find ways to shift my energy. I have come to find, however, that this only perpetuates my anger, anxiety, + ensuing negativity; I feel stuck, out of touch with myself, and out of control with my feelings.
What I have recently realised is that I have been neglecting confrontation + presence in facing my negativityIn order to find peace, we need to confront and be able to hold that negativity—sit comfortably in it as we can in positivity. As Pema Chodron expressed, we have much to learn from meditating on this negativity. And once we see its light, we can then choose how to express it and let it go. But if we don’t choose to hold onto it and investigate it in the first place, it’ll take a hold of us and we will become its victim.
So, make it your aim this week to explore your negativity. AWAKEN . . .

Saturday, October 18, 2014

BEAUTY BITES: GLOWING GREENS SMOOTHIE


Although I don't reach for smoothies very often anymore—I prefer warm tonics—I still have some go-to recipes that my body seems to crave from time to time. This beautifying smoothie is one that I often whip up when I not only want a satisfying snack but also want to give my skin a boost of dewy glow. It's packed with ingredients, such as aloe vera + cucumber, that hydrate you from the inside out. The coconut water also provides trace minerals and most importantly potassium to maintain internal fluid + electrolyte balance. This is a beauty tonic that will leave you feeling beautiful, limber, + energised . . .


GLOWING GREENS |raw, vegan
1 cup raw, unpasteurised coconut water
1 Persian cucumber
1 organic green apple
2 oz aloe vera juice
1 lime, juiced
2 inch knob of ginger
A handful of organic baby spinach
A dash of Himalayan Pink Salt

combine the ingredients + blend until smooth, serve immediately . . .

photo courtesy of Foodess

Thursday, October 16, 2014

FARMACY: YOGA FOR A RESTFUL SLEEP


Everybody experiences sleeplessness from time to time, and this past week has been one of those periods for me. I feel extremely tired and sleepy on the way home, but when I do get home, my body somehow taps into this source of endless energy that keeps me awake for longer than I'd like.
So, tired of this pattern of temporary insomnia, I decided to call it a night earlier than I normally would have and started doing some yin yoga poses . . . que in the most peaceful drop into sleep I have had in a while. I always practise yoga earlier in the day, but I’m definitely adding this routine of poses as a nightcap from now on so I can feel like a baby floating on a cloud every time I go to bed. Get into these restorative poses, stay in each for about two minutes, nourish your cells with your breath, let go, and crawl into bed like a baby . . .
URDHVA BADDHA TADASANA
This pose is so highly therapeutic for everything from fatigue to indigestion to backaches, which are conditions many people lose sleep over. When you stand in this pose, feel the ground beneath you as if you are a tree, the roots beneath your feet going down deep into the earth. Pull your shoulders back in and soften the connection to your neck, letting go of the day’s tension. This time to connect to your body and breath is yours. Pay attention to the parts of your body that are still holding onto the day’s tensions—such as the neck, lower back, or shoulder—and move your breath to those places for support. You can also interlace your fingers here for an even more therapeutic pose.
UTANASANA
This pose melts away my headaches, but it has so many other benefits. Your aim here should not be to touch your toes or touch your forehead to your knees; you can bend your knees if you cannot straighten them and simply rag-doll your upper body over your knees. Imagine the clutter in your brain melting into the mat and just drop your brain. Savour the deliciousness of this pose and when you’re ready to get out of it, bend your knees and slowly come up one vertebra at a time—with your chin to your chest—as your chin comes up in alignment the last.


PRASARITA PADOTTANASANA
This has the same therapeutic effects that Uttanasana offers. When you’re getting into this pose, make sure that you grow and stretch your chest at a 90 degree angle before you fold so you don’t pull and fold from your lower back. The magic here is finding your strength and stability from your legs, growing from the ground up. You can add a twist to this as well by placing one hand right below your sternum and reaching your other hand up towards the sky. The twist adds gentle cleansing to the body, opens up your respiratory tracts, + recirculates oxygenated blood to your cells. And as much as this calls attention to alignment—an impression of where your outer body is at—try to balance this attention out by also looking at your inner alignment to let go of what is holding you away from a restful sleep. 
PASCIMOTTANASANA
One of the most beautiful of all yoga poses: the seated forward fold. This pose feels even better when your embrace your body and just smile, giving thanks to the hard work it does each day to keep you ALIVE. Just as it was in Prasarita Padottanasana, make sure you grow tall first and don’t pull out from your lower back. As for reaching your toes, if it’s a problem, gently rest your forearms by your legs and put a blanket below your chest to rest your head upon. If you can reach your toes, make sure you don’t jut your shoulder up to your ears by reaching from your shoulders; the fold should not come from reaching your arms but from folding your body. So, fold your body at the level it is comfortable, close your eyes, and smile.


photos unknown, via Pinterest 

Monday, October 13, 2014

STRIPPED: RESTORATION HAIRCARE №1


SEARCH + STRIP
Considering the frequency at which we wash ourselves, it is crucial to also recognise the  ingredients which we consequently expose ourselves to. When we opt for generic and, yes, often cheaper alternatives, we also opt to wash ourselves with toxins + endocrine disruptors. Repeated exposure to these industrial toxins can lead to build-up and eventual hormonal irregularities and other diseases. Here is a list to identify the main toxic ingredients to help you clean it up . . .

LATHER + EMULSIFY
avoid | sulfates: sodium laureate sulfate (SLS), ammonium laureate sulfate (ALES), sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), + ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS), polyethylene glycol (PEG)
use | coconut proteins, + yucca root
These are also surfactants used in generic shampoos to produce lather + cleanse. Although they are clinically proven to be not only skin irritators but also hormone and endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, + gene mutagens, they are in over ninety percent of bath + body products on the market. Generic emulsifiers also contain carcinogens, such as 1,4-dioxane that PEG is contaminated with. Studies have linked such chemicals to brain and breast cancers as well as autoimmune disorders.
Alternatives like coco proteins and yucca root provide a luxurious lather without the toxic + stopping effects of surfactants like SLS. They are derived from natural sources—coco proteins from the sugars, proteins, and fatty acids of coconut oil + yucca root from yucca—and nourish your hair.
SCENT
avoid | fragrance + parfum
use | essential oils + extracts
A good scent is an absolute essential for me, and my shampoo is not an exception. Most people have the misconception that switching to a natural shampoo would mean stepping out of the shower with hair wafting with like herbal extracts or nothing at all. Quite the contrary! Essential oils are concentrated extractions of plant matter and are potent scents—their fragrance often lasts longer than the artificial ones found in generic shampoos. They also allow you to avoid the detrimental effects synthetic fragrances have on our bodies. FDA does not require regulations surrounding the components of substances labeled as fragrance, leading many manufacturers to stockpile toxic chemicals. These substances, according to the FDA, can cause a multitude of reactions from skin discolouration to vomiting and even central nervous system issues such as depression or hyperactivity.
STRENGTH
avoid | retinal acetate, wheat + soy proteins
use |  horsetail + oat straw 
Retinyl acetate, a form of Vitamin A, is often an additive to generic strengthening shampoos and conditioners. Although Vitamin A found organically in foods such as dark leafy greens is a powerful way to feed your hair, Retinyl acetate in haircare leads instead to overexposure to this vitamin. Vitamin A overexposure can lead to endocrinological + reproductive issues and even weaker, brittle hair. Wheat + soy proteins are over processed with toxins and can also lead to itchy or dry scalp. Opt instead for oat straw or horsetail, both of which rebuild the hair shaft through compounds like silica and proteins.
MOISTURE
avoid | glycerin
use |  aloe vera, marshmallow, + yucca
Glycerin is another over processed substance that is often bleached + drenched in toxic chemicals. Although it does coat the hair to provide it with moisture, it can lead to a heavy build-up over time and weigh hair down. Ingredients like aloe vera, marshmallow, + yucca are botanicals that, in addition to providing moisture, also promote hair growth, softness + manageability, and strength.


FEED THE FOUNDATION
Your hair cannot be or grow healthy without a healthy scalp. Our scalp has over two-hundred blood vessels, six-hundred-and-fifty sweat glands, a thousand nerve endings, + between ninety to two-hundred thousand hair follicles! Feeding this powerhouse with nourishing and natural ingredients is vital to luscious locks. Many scalp issues arise from other imbalances, however, such as hormonal irregularities, sins deficiency, infections such as candida, or digestive issues. 
DRY + ITCHY
avoid | chlorohexidine
use | rosemary, peppermint, geranium, eucalyptus, + pine essential oils as well as calendula
Chlorohexidine is a perfect example of "if you can't pronounce it, don't buy it" philosophy I approach eery product with. This is an ingredient in many anti-dandruff shampoos and has been linked to low-level burns and even anaphylactic shock. Let's just stay away from it and switch to . . . essential oils! In addition to their fragrant properties, these specific essential oils have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities that keep dandruff at bay while stimulating blood flow to the scalp.
HAIR LOSS + THINNING HAIR
avoid | medications
use | omega supplements such as high-quality fish oils, flax oil, + evening primrose oil
Many doctors are quick to prescribe medications for hair loss, which inhibit the enzyme 5-reductase that synthesizes DHT, the main actor in the cause of hair loss. These medications have dangerous side effects, however, such as sexual dysfunction and breast cancer. Opt instead for testing your DHT + zinc levels, increasing your consumption of zinc through foods such as pumpkin + sesame seeds, and consume evening primrose oil for hormonal regulation. Other vitamins to look out for are iron, vitamin d, biotin, + the whole enchilada complex of b vitamins. If you are unable to source these directly from your food, please ensure that you are getting it from a high-quality source of multivitamin for bio-availability.

photos unknown, via Tumblr

Friday, October 10, 2014

STRIPPED: A GUIDE TO A BETTER NIGHT'S SLEEP


It's the start of the holiday weekend and I am ready to sleep in + hoard some zzz's . . . 
Sleep affects more aspects of our lives than we know or would like for it to—it makes our day-to-day either a grind or a stroll, gives us a dewy glow or the sunken weight of sleep to carry around. Here are some tips, tricks, + secrets to stabilise your sleep schedule this weekend. Here's to feed your brain tissues, rev up nocturnal rejuvenation, + tranquilize you into deep sleep . . .

Good night nerves, good night brain, good night worries . . .

PREPARE
There are a multitude of steps that you can take during the day to ensure a good night's sleep. Exercising for at least half an hour—anything from a brisk walk outside to yoga or a two-mile run—oxygenates your cells, stimulates neurotransmitters, and increases mental + blood flow. It pumps your body up with life + shakes off the dust of accumulated stress. It's best to exercise in the morning or afternoon; the more energy you expend during the day, the sleepier you will feel when bedtime rolls around. For a dose of sleepy, stress-easing exercises in the evening, try night-capping yoga postures before bed. Stretching out muscles slows down our often tense + shallow breathing patters that hinder sleep. Some postures I love for a deep slumber are salamba sarvangasana, viparita karani, paschimottana, + uttanasana.

IDENTIFY
There are many reasons why people have a difficult time falling or staying asleep. If you find yourself struggling with this issue more often than not, there are some questions you should ask yourself before you reach for a sleeping aid. 

A crucial factor in your sleep that you can check is the quality of your mattress and pillow—are they too soft, too firm, or uncomfortable? Pillows should be washed every three to six months since they can accumulate dust, allergens, + other toxins that can interfere with your sleep. They should be renewed every other year or so. If you cannot renew your mattress—as most people living in a dorm during college cannot—consider a mattress pad to lend extra support for your spine, easing your body for sleep. A session or two with an Osteopathic physician can also assist in spinal discomfort through manipulative therapy, which some people find to be a life-changing sleep-aid.

AVOID
Try avoiding stimulants such as alcohol, caffeine, + sugar—yes, even natural fruit sugars—close to bedtime. This is a given challenge to the milk + cookie munchers, but eating one to three hours before bedtime will critically decrease the quality + length of your sleep. It also will not allow your organs, cells, + brain to detoxify, rest, + renew themselves as they will be too busy digesting. Try some organic herbal teas such as chamomile, night night valerian, or rooibos for some slumber sips.



UNPLUG
Another thing to avoid too close to bedtime—which may also be the hardest thing to do on the list—is avoiding mentally-stimulating activities such as reading, watching T.V., and using electronic devices. Try to unplug at least thirty minutes before bed + indulge your senses. Take a warm shower. If you can take a bath, soak in some magnesium flakes, which is one of my go-to solutions to unwind my muscles + mind in preparation for sleep. Aromatherapy in the form of essential oils such as roman chamomile or lavender as well as air-purifying organic beeswax candles are such luxurious little treats. Nourish yourself.

ORDER
I sleep so much better and have a much more relaxed morning when I get the next day in order before I crawl into bed. Much like many other people, I find my heart racing alongside worries from time to time as I lay my head onto my pillow. Having the morning's items set the night before allows me to feel like I am already one step ahead for the new day; almost as assuring + peaceful as having your hair pet to sleep . . . 

Those who have lived with me also know my discomfort surrounding going to bed with an unspoken difficult conversation or an unsolved issue. Solving these discords during the day will allow you to drift off to sleep with a calm subconscious + a clear heart.

UTILISE
Set the tone for sleep in your bedroom by turning off all lights + drawing down the blinds to ensure it is as dark as possible. I used to somehow be oddly uncomfortable about pitch black rooms at night, but it is now a must for me. Other things that help are using earplugs and/or an eye mask. I love this silk + linen handmade one from none other than Etsy. These two are life-savers for light-sleepers such as myself

AID
There are some great natural sleep-aids that are sure to replace the toxic + dependance-forming generics out on the market. Most people do tout melatonin supplements, but melatonin is a hormone and, over time, can cause unwanted irregularities in some people. Some safe herbs that I take instead are valerian, skullcap, schisandra, passionflower, + my current favourite, rhodiola.





photo courtesy of Sleepy Jones

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

FARMACY: BEAUTIFYING TEAS + TONICS



It's that most wonderful time of the year . . . when that caffeine, conveniency of to-go foods, and late-nights are beginning to take a toll on our largest organ: our skin. When many of us already have an overflowing cup of coffee—oh, the burn of graduation and job search—a pimple is one of the very last things we want to worry about. 

So, let me introduce you to a plethora of beautifying, cleansing, + detoxifying herbal teas that will hydrate and fortify your skin and cell membranes from the inside out, expanding your beauty by calming your nerves, + toning and firming your tissues. 
                                                                                  
Pinkies out for sipping pretty . . . 


SWIFT TRANSITION | Rishi Tea, Jamaica Rooibos caffeine-free blend
If you are not quite ready to give up the coffee for herbs, twigs, and twine, here is a way to swap the dehydrating effects with beautifying ingredients like rooibos, schizandra, and rose hips that taste more like dessert than a cup of roots.

HYDRATE | Kosia Natural, Hydrate Tea 
This is a blend for those who absolutely cannot give up caffeine. An antioxidant (and caffeine)-rich blend of green and oolong tea, it fortifies skin, hair, and nails while hydrating the body with trace minerals + vitamins from ingredients like goji berries. 

CALM | The Republic of Tea, Get Relaxed 
This probably is one of my favourite teas of all time. The blend of rooibos and lavender buds put an immediate smile to my face—instant face lift.


DETOX |Kusmi Tea, BB Detox
Another anti-oxidant powerhouse + boosted with caffeine, this maté and green tea blend flushes excess fluids + removes toxins. It has an uplifting grapefruit essence but is balanced by the earthy Dandelion Root, which provides intense detoxification for the kidney, liver, + skin. These are the organs that suffer the most from daily, toxic stress according to Chinese Medicine. This tea is also perfect for combatting the effects of late nights out.

GLOW |R. L. Linden & Co., Ms. Tilly Rosalie's Beauty Tea 
This utterly beautiful floral tisane is a beauty multi-tasker—it can be sipped as a tea, used as a facial steam, can de-puff eyes as a compress, or used as a beautifying bath soak . . . or used all together at once! 

REGENERATE |Republic of Tea, Get Gorgeous
Get Gorgeous is packed with regenerating and anti-ageing properties from ingredients like Vitamin C powerhouse hibiscus and the burdock, a member of the dandelion family. Burdock root is a potent herb for skin conditions ranging from eczema to acne, working to purify the blood and skin.

SUSTAIN | Bellocq, No. 28 Mulberry Leaf Tea
Mulberry leaf tea is a delightfully rich single-herb infusion that provides a multitude of benefits, ranging from strengthening vitamins like calcium to the flavanoids that giht against oxidative effects of stress. It also maintains healthy blood sugar levels, alleviating stress on the skin by sustaining the body's energy throughout the day.

photo courtesy of Redstamp and Jean Shrimpton +  Tumblr

Saturday, October 4, 2014

DESTINATION: LE BOOT CAFÉ


    Those familiar with the Parisian coffee scene know that it's not an easy endeavor to find to-go places for coffee, other than Starbucks of course. Garance Doré recently located the little gem Le Boot Café when she spotted the utterly chic Laura Stoloff. I had to share these beautiful images and pass along the treasure. I would definitely recommend stopping by if you are ever around, but in the meantime or in the midst of its dreams, here are some beautiful shots (no pun intended) to look at . . .
19 rue du Pont-aux-Choux, 75003 Paris




photos courtesy of Garance Doré