True Nature Travels Blog

Spring cleaning - spring approaching

Is it really already time to think about spring? I don’t know about you, but the as much as I adore the sunshine and wildflowers that come with the season, I always have a difficult time pulling myself out of the winter doldrums and into the elation of spring. My body is still heavy with soups and cocoa, my eyes still droop from short days and long nights, and my mind is weary from months of hibernation and self-reflection. This transition has been, and probably always will be, a difficult one for me. Which is why I have created a sort of spring cleaning tradition to enact when the poppies start blooming and the tree leaves return. If embracing the high-energy season of spring seems daunting, this routine will help.

Step 1: Clean out your physical space

Spring Cleaning - Physical SPace

Before I can apply the spirit of spring cleaning to my lifestyle or mental space, I have to apply it to my home. I have a Spotify playlist entitled “Dance it Out.” I turn the speakers on high, open all the windows (sorry neighbors), and I dance it out. I dance out the dust bunnies, toothpaste splattered mirrors, and unvacuumed carpets. Then I dig into the desk drawers and back closet space, making “Trash” and “Giveaway” piles larger than expected.

When spring cleaning day (or week, if I am being entirely honest) comes around, I stick with three strict rules. Rule 1: If I haven’t used it over the past season or forgot I had it, I’m getting rid of it. Rule 2: Everything has a place; if it doesn’t and I’m just trying to make room for it (on bookshelves, countertops, or in my dresser), then I’m getting rid of it. Rule 3: If it doesn’t have an obvious and necessary use, and doesn’t bring me some personal or sentimental joy, I’m getting rid of it. Take the edamame growing kit my neighbor gave me; I haven’t used it, I don’t know where to put it, and honestly, I have no interest in growing edamame when it’s like $2 at Trader Joes. So that one goes in the giveaway pile. Soon enough, my apartment starts to look less like a hoarder’s den and more like a home.

Step 2: Give your routine new life

Spring Cleaning - schedule

Once my living quarters have been scrubbed and re-organized, I turn the mop on my lifestyle. I grab a pen and paper (or maybe I have an entire notebook dedicated to this purpose, but that’s beside the point…) and I start sketching out my schedule. I look back on the past three months and jot down what my average routine was. When did I work? When did I exercise? When did I see friends, do art, or go outside?

On the next page, I think about what I think worked for me and what I think I would like to change. This year, for example, I started a workout routine over the winter that brought me to the climbing gym three days a week. I really enjoyed that and would like to keep in up in the spring. I did not, however, write nearly as much as I had intended to. That is something I want to carve more time out for.

So, with all these notes in mind and on paper, I start designing an ideal spring schedule. I know I won’t stick to it every day, so I try not to be too specific, but I set general goals like “write for an hour before work every morning” or “go for a 4+ mile hike at least once a week”. Sometimes the goals are specific, like “meditate for five minutes every day as soon as you wake up.” Other times they are really vague, like “say yes to new things.” Either way, I dedicate some time to giving my schedule and routine the spring cleaning treatment, then do my best to stick with it as the season progresses.

Step 3: Power wash your mental space

Spring cleaning - mental space

Finally, it’s time to brush the cobwebs away and dig into the well-packed boxes shoved into the recesses of my mind. During the winter, I go into full hibernation mode. I pretty much live off of books, baths, and tea from December through February and do my best to stay as covered by blankets as possible throughout the season. When Spring comes, I’m still content with my lethargy and my brain moves with the slow, gentle pace of a sleepy tortoise.

But spring is a time for action. It’s a time for a change and trying new things. Growth, renewal, birth; these are the themes of the season and they don’t pair well with lethargy and melancholy.

Which is why the final step of my spring cleaning routine is to clean out my mind. Not unlike my methods for cleaning my physical space and routine, my mental cleaning process involves a careful consideration of what to keep and what to let go. I usually start static; I sit in meditation or else get a journal out and start contemplating where my mind is at. How do I feel about myself lately? What about how I engage with others, with my goals, with my work, and with my environment? Do I feel happy lately? Sad? Tired? Energetic? I evaluate my mental space with a kind eye, lacking judgment and simply gaining awareness as to what is going on in there.

Spring cleaning - paddleboard

Then I move onto something active. I go for a hike, get out on the paddleboard, or flow through a vigorous yoga practice. I move until my body drips with sweat and my brain finds that sweet, endorphin-filled space of emptiness.

Lastly, I go back to stillness and turn my thoughts to questions like, “what brings me joy?” and “what I love most about myself?” As is my style, I make a list. I plant seeds of dreams, goals, and ambitions. I water them with love and hope. Then I get outside and let that bright spring sunshine help them grow into something beautiful.

 Spring cleaning - blossoms

True Nature Travels Blog

In my family, Valentine’s Day was never a holiday about romantic love. It was a holiday about love in all its beautiful forms. Family love, friendship love, and, most importantly, self-love. Too often we get so focused on the love of others that we forget the importance of cultivating self-love. These simple steps for falling in love with yourself will help you rebuild that vital relationship with YOU.

Schedule more “me time” to connect with yourself

A little one-on-one time is a key component in any healthy relationship; including your relationship to yourself. Cut out sometime during the day to just be with yourself. Take a long bath, spend a few minutes journaling, take yourself out to dinner… whatever your activity-of-choice just make sure it’s all about you. No distractions, no other people, just you, yourself, and a whole lot of love.

Learn a new skill or hobby to feel a sense of growth

self-love

Sometimes we can start to feel stagnant and this sensation of being stuck can cause us to feel disappointed in ourselves. One way to counter this feeling and create an environment in which self-love can thrive is to learn something new. I just started to learn how to knit and every time I create a new thing I feel giddy with excitement. “I did that,” I think, and I am immediately flooded with love for who I am and the things I can do.

Do things you are good at to create pride in yourself

If you aren’t in the mood for something new, why not go back to the old? Contemplate your talents and act on them. Are you a good writer? Write a letter to a friend using your best, most flowery language. Are you an athlete? Join a local club sport or find some time to play the sport of your choice. Amazing at cooking? Invite your friends over for a dinner party! Celebrate, embrace, and display your talents. You will feel proud of what you have accomplished, and a sense of self-love will soon follow.

Surround yourself with supporting, loving people

Some days, loving our selves can be hard. It’s only human. That’s what friends are for. Invite your most complimentary friend over for a cup of tea, go to breakfast with your kindest family member, or go on a date with your partner. Find the people who love you and make time for them. Seeing all the reasons they love you will help you remember why you should love you too.

Remind yourself that are beautiful, inside and out

One of the simplest ways to cultivate self-love is to just sit and think about what it is you love about yourself. Make a list of your favorite non-physical qualities, or stand in front of a mirror and admire all your greatest physical qualities. Or better yet, do both! It may be hard at first, but soon enough you will realize there is a whole lot to love about being YOU.

About the Author

Author_Sarah Dittmore

Sarah Dittmore, the Director of Operations at True Nature Travels, is always seeking a new adventure. When she’s not barefoot hiking in the mountains of Peru, kayaking around an island off the coast of Italy, or camping in a rainforest in Costa Rica, Sarah writes about her adventures on her travel blog, Autobiography of an Adventurer. Join her as she travels the world and documents the wild and wonderful things she discovers along the way at www.autobiographyofanadventurer.com.

True Nature Travels Blog

The New Year is here! With the turn of the year comes the time to let go of everything that happened in 2017 (good and bad) and make room for whatever awaits in 2018. Below are some tips to help you say goodbye to 2017 and embrace 2018 with a warm, enthusiastic welcome.

Before you plan, reflect on what has passed 

New Year

The rhetoric around the new year often involved words like “goals,” “resolutions,” and “change”. While I definitely support the focus on growth that the new year brings, I often find people are too quick to jump into the new without taking time to think about the old.

The dawn of the new year isn’t just a time to create goals for the future, but a time to reflect on the past. Take a moment this year to think about everything that happened in 2017. What were the highs? What were the lows? What moments make you feel strong and proud? What moments do you think you could have handled differently? Let 2017 be your teacher and use what you learn from the past year to shape your resolutions for the new year.

 

Fill this year with the things that nourish you 

On January 1st, 2018, we all throw away our old calendars and turn to the first page of our new one. You have 12 months of blank pages to fill. But don’t let the emptiness fool you. We have all learned from experience that if you are not careful, that year will fill up with unimportant and time-consuming obligations in no time.

When planning your new year, be conscious and mindful of every decision. When an opportunity arises, stop to consider. Does it nourish you? Does it make you feel stronger, healthier, or happier? Does it involve the people and things you love? Take care in crafting your 2018 calendar and it might just be the best year yet.

Don’t let your goals block out opportunities 

Again, I’m all for setting resolutions and creating a plan to achieve some new goals in 2018. I think goal-setting is an important and valuable step in growth. But I think it is just as important for growth to be open to things you may not have even thought of yet.

This year, set some solid, achievable goals and create a plan to meet them. At the same time, make an effort to stay open to opportunity. You never know when and in what form it will come to you and you don’t want to be so focused on your goals that you miss the chance to experience whatever wonders await in 2018!

This New Year, make it all about YOU! 

2018 is the year of YOU. Whether it’s making time to soak in the tub every week, joining a local sports club you’ve always been curious about, or going on a life-changing global adventure, let 2018 be all about things that make your body, mind, and soul happier than ever. Above all, that’s what I believe the New Year should be about. During the holidays we spend so much time focusing on the needs of others, so let the New Year be about returning to the self and making a commitment to prioritize your needs again.

About the Author

Author_Sarah Dittmore

Sarah Dittmore is always seeking a new adventure. When she’s not barefoot hiking in the mountains of Peru, kayaking around an island off the coast of Italy, or camping in a rainforest in Costa Rica, Sarah writes about her adventures on her travel blog, Autobiography of an Adventurer. Join her as she travels the world and documents the wild and wonderful things she discovers along the way at www.autobiographyofanadventurer.com.

True Nature Travels Blog

 

This morning, I woke up to the first snow of the season. I wrapped my sweater around me, brewed a warm cup of tea, and watched the snowflakes collect on my window. I have always been a huge fan of winter. It is so peaceful and full of magic. But I am not a fan of the cold. Which is why, over the years, I’ve compiled a list of ways to stay warm no matter what the weather. Today I am sharing with you five ways that you can stay warm this winter so that you can enjoy all the winter spirit without catching a cold.

Stay Warm This Winter Cabin

1. Keep your kitchen stalked with warming spices

Whether it’s ginger to keep your throat soothed, cayenne to clear your sinuses, or turmeric to support your immune system, spices can be a great way to warm yourself from the inside and keep your body protected throughout the season. In Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional medicine of India, spices are used to keep your body in balance throughout the various changes in the season.

2. A mug of tea a day keeps the doctor away

Stay Warm This Winter TeaA cup of tea can warm more than just your throat. The right kind of tea can soothe your soul, calm your body, and keep you warm all winter long. Some people opt for a more health-oriented tea while others might long for a seasonal-themed tea. Whatever your cup of tea, it’s bound to keep you healthy, happy, and warm.

3. Don’t let the winter blues get you down

Keeping warm this winter isn’t just about your body. It is about your mind as well. Help fight the winter blues by filling your days with activities that make you feel warm and fuzzy. For some that might mean a soothing bubble bath, for others a good book. Maybe for you, it is time spent with your loved ones or a drink with a friend you don’t see often enough. If you want to feel warm all the way to the soul this winter, add some self-love to your schedule.Stay Warm This Winter Family

4. Stay warm this winter by staying active

Many of us become lethargic in the winter. The cold weather, grey skies, and rainy days make you want to curl up and stay inside. But it is important to stay active even when the weather cools down. Try taking up a new yoga class or experimenting with a workout routine you’ve always been curious about. At-home yoga and fitness videos can also be a great way to stay active when you don’t want to leave the house. Getting your sweat on will help you stay warm this winter and keep your body in shape all season.

5. Get away from the cold and escape to warmer climates

It may just be that the best way to stay warm this winter is to get away from the cold. Treat yourself to a warm weather vacation (perhaps a yoga retreat in sunny Costa Rica) and soak in those rays of sunshine while you can. Not only will it give you a brief respite from the cold, but it will refuel you and help you make it through the rest of the winter.

Stay Warm This Winter Yoga

About the Author

Author_Sarah Dittmore

Sarah Dittmore is always seeking a new adventure. When she’s not barefoot hiking in the mountains of Peru, kayaking around an island off the coast of Italy, or camping in a rainforest in Costa Rica, Sarah writes about her adventures on her travel blog, Autobiography of an Adventurer. Join her as she travels the world and documents the wild and wonderful things she discovers along the way at www.autobiographyofanadventurer.com.

True Nature Travels Blog

Is it just me, or does it seem like every yoga teacher’s theme for every class in autumn is gratitude? A few weeks ago, I was in a particularly tense pigeon pose. While my hips were begging me to stop, my yoga teacher was prattling on about how we should be grateful for our bodies, even when they felt tense and sore. That we should practice cultivating gratitude even when things are uncomfortable.

be-thankful

“I get it!” I wanted to scream, “it’s Thanksgiving season. Gratitude. Blah blah blah.” I was not feeling very grateful.

Then again, how could I? The past year has felt like a constant battle.

I’d struggled through graduate school–one of the most stress-inducing, exhausting experiences of my life. I’d worked for a company that disrespected and over-worked its employees. I’d lost a loved one to cancer.

And it all culminated in flying back to my parents’ house because I was in excruciating pain and none of the doctors in Edinburgh (where I’d been living at the time) could figure out why.

What did I have to be grateful for?

But the teacher just kept insisting that we should be cultivating gratitude.

gratitude

“Try looking at things from a different perspective,” she suggested as we settled into pigeon on the other side. “Instead of focusing on the pain and tension, focus on the good. Consider what you have to be grateful for.”

At first, I rolled my eyes.

Then I took a deep breath and tried it. I scanned my mind in search of something to be grateful for. I started to look at the past year with a new perspective.

Graduate school had been incredibly difficult and, frankly, I don’t think it was the right fit for me. But I never would have known that if I hadn’t tried. And it gave me the opportunity to live in Edinburgh for a year, which is now my favorite city on Earth. Plus, the people I lived with are now lifelong friends and some of the best friends I’ve ever had.

The company I worked for in Edinburgh was awful. Every one of their employees got injured and sick because of how hard they worked us. If I’d stayed there any longer than I did, I think it would have broken me. But I didn’t. I quit. And I learned a lot about what I need from an employer. Now I’m working a job I love for a company I adore. And sometimes I honestly think my boss worries about my well-being more than I do.

I lost someone I love very much to cancer. And I still get choked up when I think about it. But I also smile whenever I think about her. She is one of the most inspiring, big-hearted people I know. The world may be a little darker without her in it, but my life will always be a little brighter for having known her.cultivating-gratitude

I was not happy about leaving Edinburgh. I huffed and puffed the entire flight back to California. And then I got home. And my doctor diagnosed me with nerve damage the minute he examined me and sent me to a surgeon who had me in, out, and fixed in a matter of hours. The healing process has been relatively fast and I am already, just two months after surgery, almost back to 100 percent. This after being unable to stand up straight for months.

So, while it has been one of the more difficult years of my life, I guess there are still some things to be grateful for.

The stubborn side of me didn’t want to admit it, but my yoga teacher was right. Even when everything feels stressful, painful, and overwhelming… there is still a place for gratitude.

As the endlessly wise Dumbledore once said, “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light”.

turn-on-the-light

I like to think of gratitude as that light. We can wallow in the pain and suffering and leave the lights off. It’s easy enough to do.

What’s much harder is to turn on the light.

In times of darkness, it’s hard to practice cultivating gratitude. But we need to let gratitude act as the light that illuminates the reasons we have for being happy, even when things are darker than ever.

For the past few months, I have been wallowing in that darkness. Which, I believe, is what I needed at the time. There was a lot of pain and anger in me and I needed to feel it before I could come out on the other side.

But I think I’m ready to turn on the light.

This holiday season, I am going to work on cultivating gratitude. After all, it is the season of Thanksgiving!

So, tell me… what are you grateful for?

woman-cultivating-gratitude

About the Author

Author_Sarah Dittmore

Sarah Dittmore is always seeking a new adventure. When she’s not barefoot hiking in the mountains of Peru, kayaking around an island off the coast of Italy, or camping in a rainforest in Costa Rica, Sarah writes about her adventures on her travel blog, Autobiography of an Adventurer. Join her as she travels the world and documents the wild and wonderful things she discovers along the way at www.autobiographyofanadventurer.com.

True Nature Travels Blog

Fall brings beautiful colors, crisp air, and inspiring energies. During this season, we may become more aware of our surroundings, more aware of how alive Mother Earth is, and more aware of what we may take for granted each and every day. Celebrate autumn by following this Sun Salutation of Gratitude and tune into awareness. From this awareness, we can cultivate a sense of gratitude.

Sun Salutation of Gratitude

sun salutation

We’ll begin in mountain pose, hands to prayer tuning into the energies around and within us.

From Mountain Pose, we take a breath in, lift our arms overhead to the sky, palms open, gathering gratitude and bringing it back to heart center. We inhale and raise our arms to the sky again. As we exhale, we swan dive, bowing to the earth, giving respect and gratitude for all she gives us. We breathe into standing forward fold, feet

As we exhale, we swan dive, bowing to the earth, giving respect and gratitude for all she gives us. We breathe into standing forward fold, feet hip-width apart, knees bent as needed. The crown of the head faces the floor and we relax our neck, visualizing the tranquil leaves blowing in the wind.Inhale into

Inhale into half-way lift, bending the knees to straighten the spine, shoulders away from your ears making space to encourage gratitude to seep in. On the next exhale, we step back into high plank, shoulders over the wrists moving back and away from the ears, lower abdomen in and up while pressing your heels back. In plank, we tune into our strength and resilience, and our ability to repair the environment a little every day through our choices and actions.

On your next exhale, moving through Chattaranga or dropping your knees to the floor, focus on hugging the elbows in at your side. Inhale into Cobra or Upward Facing Dog, focusing your eyes on a new detail in your current environment.

As your shoulder blades or wings move towards your spine, we begin thinking about all the birds that migrate throughout the world. We give gratitude for when we are able to witness one of these beautiful creatures in different regions of our Earth.

We exhale back into downward facing dog pressing our hands and heels into the Earth, focusing on creating space between our ears and shoulders and lengthening our spine.

We are grounded, we are resilient, we are full of wisdom and creativity to act how we want to move through this world. May

May the space we create through our lengthened spine in this physical practice of yoga symbolize the space we create for gratitude and for experiences to learn and grow. We walk our feet to our hands, hanging in forward-fold, envisioning all the space we are creating. Perhaps this space allows for the gratitude we bring in through travel, through experiencing other cultures, other ecosystems, and environments, other possible ways of life.sun salutations

We slowly rise up raising our arms once again up to the sky, this time sensing how the energy we’re gathering may have changed through our practice. As we bring our hands to heart center, we breathe, tuning into our energy and radiating our inner light out to all other beings.

As you watch the falling leaves, hear the changing sounds of wildlife, and feel the crisp air and shorter days, I encourage you to focus on appreciating the beauty and details of the diverse ecosystems you routinely pass by.

Sometimes travel can help us expand our horizons and experience gratitude from a different angle. And travel incorporating yoga and service… that practice opens up spaces within our emotional and physical body we did not even realize we could access. May you shine your light out to all beings.

Namaste.

We would love for you to join us on one of our many retreats. Please see our calendar here.

 

True Nature Travels Blog

BLACK BEAN CAROB BROWNIES (GF)

I am always looking for new ways to re-invent the naughty favorites.
Based on your feedback, brownies have been re-born.

Carob is a tropical fruit with a delicious, sweet and edible pulp. When dried and minced, it resembles both the textures and flavors of cocoa powder. The difference between carob and cocoa is the caffeine content. Carob has 0 caffeine and can help with those of us who are caffeine sensitive. By all means, if cocoa is your preference, this recipe can easily be cocoa translated by simply replacing the carob with cocoa. Same portions and all are tasty options.

Why would you re-create something so perfect to begin with? I hear it all the time… people will say, “No thanks,” before they ever try a healthier variation because they think it will taste like cardboard, hence it is will be a waste of their palette’s time.  I agree.

I believe food was meant to be an experience. Something that not only smells enriching, but looks, and taste it as well. Not only this, but also enriching for the body’s health. YOU CAN have it all. You don’t have to sacrifice one for the other.

This recipe is sure to fulfill your chocolatey desires while staying true to a low glycemic and gluten free diet.

Give it the ultimate test for yourself. Make these brownies for your friends and family. They are sure to enjoy them just like they would with a traditional recipe!

So, the next time you have a craving, know that you don’t necessarily have to abstain. There are healthy alternatives for every recipe out there.

Black Bean Carob Brownies
Total Time: 15m
Yield: 9-12 brownies
Ingredients
• 1 1/2 cups black beans (1 15-oz can, drained and rinsed very well) (250g after draining)
• 2 tbsp carob powder (If carob is too much of a leap, I understand. Don’t worry, cocoa can be substituted!) (10g)
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1/3 cup pure maple syrup, coconut palm sugar, or agave (or honey, but not for strict vegans.) (75g)
•  3 eggs (or flax seed eggs)
• pinch uncut stevia
• 1/4 cup coconut or ghee
• 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup chocolate chips (115-140g) (Not optional. Omit at your own risk.)
• optional: more chips, for presentation
Instructions
Black Bean Brownies Recipe: Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients except chips in a good food processor, and blend until completely smooth. Stir in the chips, then pour into a greased 8×8 pan. Optional: sprinkle extra chocolate chips over the top. Cook the black bean brownies 15-18 minutes, then let cool at least 10 minutes before trying to cut. If they still look a bit undercooked, you can place them in the fridge overnight and they will magically firm up! Makes 9-12 brownies.

 

BIO : Alana Roach  is a International Yogi currently based out of Annapolis, MD. Formerly adorned by the city lights and the busy streets of America, she was then whisked away by the illustrious path of yoga and took to traveling the world to share it with others. A few years back she started to write about the transformation she undertook by  practicing conscious meditation. Her passions became her career and she now holds RYS Teacher Trainings & International Retreats, Health Coaches, and writes every opportunity she gets. In her spare time she loves cuddling with her daughter, surfing, being in nature, and living amongst her ever growing and global loving and conscious community. She is on Facebook , Instagram, Twitter, and can be reached by email explorationsofself@gmail.com

True Nature Travels Blog

Gingerbread Smoothie

holidaygingerbreadsmoothie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Alana from Self Heal with Alana and Explorations of Self

Namaste True Nature Tribe!

Tis the season’ to be… healthy! We can still nourish our body amidst the holiday parties & oh so appetizing treats that seem to be thrown at you from ever corner shop. I am not saying to say NO to that awesome chocolate chip cookie, but I am asking you to say YES to more healthy options for the majority of your day because that, my friends, is self love!

A lot of my nutrition clients hit a wall around their health in November. They want to make the most out of the last couple of months until their New Year’s resolution. They are then upset with themselves and out of steam in a major way by New Years. They tell me stories of trying to get back on their health kick for a new resolution! They resolve by crash dieting and exercising only to hurt themselves and do the whole dance all over again. This, my friends, is a very common occurrence in our culture. Dieting is not something to be done. It IS whatever we chose to eat and consume on a day to day basis in our mind, body, and spirit. It is a way of life! We have thousands of cells that rely on us to choose LOVE in every possible way in every possible moment.image2-3

I love the 80/20 rule of thumb. If you chose to eat an awesomely delicious whole foods and ethical diet 80 percent of the time, allow yourself to have those treats 20 percent of the time! Sometimes I will have my clients do a 28 day sugar, dairy, and gluten detox before trying this. That way their bodies and minds are free from toxins, and it is a clear vessel to determine from there on forward!

This sweet and spicy gingerbread smoothie is such a treat for a post workout holiday rendition of a protein smoothie! Stacked with all sorts of gingerbread flavor, you’ll be sure to feel the season’s cozy feel while maintaining your energy!

This Gingerbread Smoothie is gluten free, vegan, and refined sugar FREE! How awesome is that? I LOVE discovering healthy options during the holiday season. Let’s face it, this time of year can be stressful. I don’t want to stress my body or mind out by emotionally eating my woes away. In fact, by choosing healthier options on a more consistent basis throughout these wintery months, my mood is MUCH better and way more capable of  handling any stress that may come my way.

Gingerbread Smoothie

Nutrition Information

•Serves: 3 cups

•Serving size: 1½ cups (2 servings)

photo by: Aaron Burden
photo by: Aaron Burden

Prep time:  5 mins

Total time:  5 mins

A creamy, smooth, healthy, vegan, gluten-free smoothie made with coconut milk, bananas and spices combined together to taste just like gingerbread cookies.

Ingredients

•1½ cups almond milk from carton or milk of choice

*1 scoop Vegan vanilla protein mix

•1 small banana, frozen

•¼ tsp. nutmeg

•½ tsp. cinnamon

•½ tsp. ginger, ground

•⅛ tsp. cloves, ground

•1tsp. vanilla extract

•1 tbsp. molasses

•¼ tsp. stevia or coconut sugar to taste

•1 cup ice

*option to garnish with GF Gingerbread Man (I love this recipe from Minimalist Baker)

Instructions

1Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

Notes

Calorie per 1½ cups: 117, Fat: 3.9, Cholesterol: 0, Sodium: 15, Potassium: 330, Carbs: 20, Fiber: 1.3, Sugar: 12, Protein: 1.3

Be sure to also check out this Gluten Guide from Fitness Goat!

joeprenatalAbout the author: Alana Roach  is a International Yogi and IIN certified Integrative Nutrition Coach currently based out of Annapolis, MD. Formerly adorned by the city lights and the busy streets of America, she was then whisked away by the illustrious path of yoga and took to traveling the world to share it with others. A few years back she started to write about the transformation she undertook by  practicing conscious meditation. Her passions became her career and she now holds RYS Teacher Trainings & International Retreats, Health Coaches, and writes every opportunity she gets. In her spare time she loves cuddling with her daughter,  surfing, being in nature, and living amongst her ever growing and global loving and conscious community. She is on Facebook , Instagram, Twitter, and can be reached by email explorationsofself@gmail.com

True Nature Travels Blog

Make a Difference Around the Globe
[Cameron Gray art]
There is a great need for global service projects in this world right now and our mission, as human beings is to pull together to make a difference. This action, known as, “Good karma,” in the yoga world, is meant to send out a positive rippling affect from one person, to the next, to the animals, to the plants, waters, skies, world, Universe.

My path in yoga has encouraged awareness. An awareness of how my actions effect others. An awareness of the,”Other,” not being an other at all, but of being one with everything, including me. According to Albert Einstein’s Quantum Theory, everything in existence breaks down into subatomic particles and is derived from the same light. So from light to the cosmos, we are all made of the same stuff, intermingling, co-existing, co-creating, all from the same source, at the same time.

Think about how this has the infinite power to create a positive and negative effect. Now think about pollution. Think about the oceans and how, for instance, the Pacific Garbage Vortex off of the North Pacific is contributing to the ecosystem at this point. For those of you who haven’t heard of this, it is an island of non-biodegradable plastics and other debris that accumulate in a swirling trash island that is about the size of Texas at this point. What you can’t spot from a plane overhead are the micro plastics that discolor the ocean, creating murky waters. What is not on the surface, sinks to the bottom.

Sea Life

An article from National Geographic states,

            “About 80% of the debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch comes from land-based     activities in North America and Asia. Trash from the coast of North America takes about six years to reach the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, while trash from Japan and other Asian countries takes about a year.

 

The remaining 20% of debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch comes from boaters, offshore oil rigs, and large cargo ships that dump or lose debris directly into the water. The majority of this debris—about 705,000 tons—is fishing nets. More unusual items, such as computer monitors and LEGOs, come from dropped shipping containers.”

This is creating a negative rippling effect across the world by way of cause and effect. The se
a life has been eating the trash, mistaking it for living organisms, the birds and larger marine life eat them,
chemicals consumed by them are then passed along in the food chain and we, the planet earth, are harmed. This is just one example of how what we do, matters.

I would like to invite you, as a brother, sister, mother, father, friend, and ultimately as the I in you and the you in I, to join me in an active roll to create a positive change in this world. Initiatives have already begun, and it is up to our generation and the generations to follow to continue this work. We must evolved. We all depend on it.

Global Service Work

Here are 5 ways you can contribute to Global Service Work

  1. Organize a nature walk to pick up trash. When I was living in Costa Rica, we would walk up and down the beaches and rainforests together, picking up trash. I was astronished to find strollers, tired, and endless plastic bottles, cans, wrappers, you name it, strewn across the lands. This is a place that has huge nature preserve initiatives, but through tourism, the lands are being disrespected. We can make a difference around the globe. Mother Earth needs us, just as much as we need her. Join the cause. http://www.pickupamerica.org/about/press/volunteers-picking-trash-across-america2
  2. Recycle. During my travels to the Western United States, I was pleasantly surprised at the sustainability act to recycle and compost. You can start small. When I first moved back to the States, I moved into a home that had the recycling bins to use, but never used them. I talked to my room mates about how important recycling is for the environment and I pulled out the recycling bins. They have now been recycling for a year and while I am about to move, I encourage them to continue this sustaining habit. http://inhabitat.com/top-6-recycling-and-reuse-initiatives-from-around-the-globe/
  3. Fight poverty. Whether I am in New Dheli, India or Baltimore, MD, USA, I try to raise awareness of oneness through service work to others. The homeless need help. A dear friend and sister of mine made this initiative her life. She helps out at a local shelter in Baltimore and carries around cards and food in her car to pass out to the homeless whenever she sees them. She lives in the heart of the city to be amongst them. She is the true spirit of Mother Theresa and I honor her courageousness and selflessness in her efforts. While this is the extreme, we can all get involved by paying attention to our brothers and sisters across the globe who have less than we do. You can carry granola bars to pass out and if you want to get involved on a bigger scale, you can. http://www.takepart.com/article/2009/02/17/top-10-non-profits-fighting-poverty
  4. Build another’s value. Kiva. I love this organization so much and I contribute every change that I get. Kiva is a non-profit organization that holds a beautiful space for charitable contributions towards underprivileged people to, “hold the power to create opportunity for themselves and others.” You provide a loan as low as $25 to mircofinance someone in Nepal for instance to buy a cow for their dairy farm, and as they make more money in their business, they pay it back. You then regift the loan to the next person in need. It is the gift that keeps on giving. Recycled money put towards a beautiful purpose. Get involved. https://www.kiva.org/about
  5. Educate the next generation about global service. In this day and age, we are a culture consumed by the digital dance. Children are given glowing devices from infancy forward to educate, distract, and entertain. First, let’s use this force for the good. Show your children videos and articles on how they can make difference. The internet has been a beautiful tool for decentralization. We have the ability to reach large audiences in a matter of seconds and have access to endless amounts of information and like minded communities. Show them how to share this knowledge with others. Bring them on service trips. Get them traveling from a young age. Get them outside and in engaged in the world. Have them open a book that doesn’t glow. It is up to us to educate our children on global change. https://www.youtube.com/user/youthservice

 

Alana 2015About the author: Alana Roach  is a International Yogi currently based out of Annapolis, MD. Formerly adorned by the city lights and the busy streets of America, she was then whisked away by the illustrious path of yoga and took to traveling the world to share it with others. A few years back she started to write about the transformation she undertook by  practicing conscious meditation. She practices and teaches varied styles of yoga at Ruahstudio.com, leads international retreats, loves surfing, being in nature, and enjoys a good belly laugh. She is on Facebook , Instagram, Twitter, and can be reached by email alanaroachyoga@gmail.com

 

 

Sources: http://education.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/great-pacific-garbage-patch/

True Nature Travels Blog

10 proven direct health benefits of meditation

 

health benefits of meditation

 

Meditation has been a saving grace for me. I am so happy to see that the health benefits of meditation are now being studied scientifically so that we have proof that it works for those who are skeptical. When I started meditating, it was out of sheer desperation to live and experience life differently. I had struggled with bouts of depression and anxiety all of my life and was told to give meditation a try. What began as a trial, quickly turned into a daily practice that revolutionized the way that I perceived everything. Meditation and mindfulness has taken me and continues to guide me on a path of self-discovery. It is the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning every day, as I know it plugs me into something that is far greater than my own finite conceptions of life.

I would like to draw you into this life enhancing practice.

Here are 10 proven direct health benefits of meditation.

       1. Ability to focus is enhanced. “Researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, found that college students who were trained in mindfulness performed better on the verbal reasoning section of the GRE, and also experienced improvements in their working memory.”  This demonstrates the powerful influence that meditation has over cognitive functioning and follows suit with my own experience. I started meditation while I was in college and experienced drastic changes in my ability to focus in class and an improvement on test scores.

      2. Music sounds better. In a study found in the journal, Psychology of Music, meditation improves our ability to really engage with the music we are listening to. I have found that I became so engaged with what I was listening to that the quality of music I listen to on a daily basis shifted dramatically. I started choosing music that made me feel good rather than music that darkened my mood or just played in the background as a distraction. “In research by Ferguson and Sheldon (2013), participants who listened to upbeat classical compositions by Aaron Copland, while actively trying to feel happier, felt their moods lift more than those who passively listened to the music. This suggests that engaging with music, rather than allowing it to wash over us, gives the experience extra emotional power.”

       3.  Boosts creativity. In a study done by Leiden University, Netherlands, it was      found that meditation improves our ability to create. “Certain meditation techniques can promote creative thinking, even if you have never meditated before. The study is a clear indication that you don’t need to be an experienced meditator to profit more from meditation. The findings support the belief that meditation can have a long-lasting influence on human cognition, including how we conceive new ideas.” This isn’t surprising to me at all. Before I sit down to play music, sing, write, teach a class, or paint, I always at least close my eyes and take a few grounding breaths. If I want to really center in, I will take a longer amount of time to practice mindfulness pre-creation time. I find that when I do this, I become more calm, focuses, and ultimately a greater channel for the creative energy to flow through me.

       4. Helps with weight loss. In a study done by the Department of Medicine at the University of CA in San Francisco, CA, it was found that mindfulness meditation helped participants with emotional eating and ultimately reduced cortisol and abdominal fat over time. “To our knowledge, this is the first study to explore effects of a novel mindful eating and stress reduction program on abdominal adiposity and fat distribution. The intervention was successful in increasing mindfulness and responsiveness to bodily sensations, reducing anxiety and eating in response to external food cues, and tended to reduce eating in response to emotions.” When I started meditating, I immediately became more relaxed and ultimately more mindful of what I was putting into my body on an emotional, physical, and spiritual level. I started to recognize how I would pick up a sugary food when I felt stressed and then began to choose better ways to cope with the stress. I noticed how different foods made me feel after eating them. I started to eat slower, without distractions (No TV for instance.) I started to lose weight that first month and I have had a beautiful, conscious relationship with my body ever since.

     5. Improves your sex life. Findings by the EOC Institute demonstrate the many ways the meditation can improve your libido. “Did you know that meditation, with so many benefits, can also lead to feelings of sexual arousal? Among the many reasons are increased endorphins, more focus, better self image, more DHEA, and better blood flow.” I used to feel so shamed and afraid of my body and sexuality, but through mindfulness practices have fallen deeply in love with my body and the more I fall in love with my body the better choices I make for conscious sexuality.

    6. Improves sleep. “Mindfulness meditation practices resulted in improved sleep quality for older adults with moderate sleep disturbance in a clinical trial comparing meditation to a more structured program focusing on changing poor sleep habits and establishing a bedtime routine, according to an article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.” As a result of my daily meditation practice, I am a very sound sleeper. Even if I do wake up, I can more easily fall back into slumber where as I used to lay awake for hours at a time some evenings.

    7. Enhances mood. “A review study last year at Johns Hopkins looked at the relationship between mindfulness meditation and its ability to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and pain. Researcher Madhav Goyal and his team found that the effect size of meditation was moderate, at 0.3. If this sounds low, keep in mind that the effect size for antidepressants is also 0.3, which makes the effect of meditation sound pretty good.” This was a key factor in me returning to my meditation practice every day. Beginning my day with mindfulness creates a positive foundation for the remainder of my day to be built upon.

   8.  Helps with addiction. For those of you who don’t know my story, I was an dual diagnosis addict, and through mindfulness meditation, I have been sober for nearly 7 years now. I can not express how grateful I am for this simple gift that we are given to be able to simply sit, be still, and breathe.. we do hardly anything at all and we are given the world in return. To demonstrate this, a Forbes article writes, “One study, for example, pitted mindfulness training against the American Lung Association’s freedom from smoking (FFS) program, and found that people who learned mindfulness were many times more likely to have quit smoking by the end of the training, and at 17 weeks follow-up, than those in the conventional treatment.”

   9. Awakens compassion. In a society where violence in the media is common and most of this generation’s kids are sitting in front of video games that further cultivate desensitization towards violence, meditation comes in like a white knight. We must work at remaining open to standing in the face of suffering, with a compassionate heart. See here for a study that shows changes in neural responses to suffering.

  10. Improves memory. When I first got sober, my memory was a disaster. After practicing mindfulness, my memory improved more and more as the years went by and now I feel very comfortable. See here for a study that shows astounding results on how meditation improves m
memory!

 

Alana 2015

Alana Roach  is a International Yogi currently based out of Annapolis, MD. Formerly adorned by the city lights and the busy streets of America, she was then whisked away by the illustrious path of yoga and took to traveling the world to share it with others. A few years back she started to write about the transformation she undertook by  practicing conscious meditation. She practices
and teaches varied styles of yoga at Ruahstudio.com, leads international retreats with Truenatureyogawellness.com, loves surfing, being in nature, and enjoys a good belly laugh. She is on Facebook , InstagramTwitter, and can be reached by email alanaroachyoga@gmail.com

 

 

 

Sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/08/mindfulness-meditation-benefits-health_n_3016045.html

http://www.spring.org.uk/2013/09/10-magical-effects-music-has-on-the-mind.php

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141028082355.html

http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jobe/2011/651936/

http://eocinstitute.org/meditation/increase-your-libido-through-meditation_455/

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150216131115.htm

http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/02/09/7-ways-meditation-can-actually-change-the-brain/#782bfb3a7023

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053810010000681