The Refined Collective: Just Breathe

Inhale....exhale...breathe here. Relief stress in life and your workouts by simply breathing.

These are the words I have been hearing every single day in each and every single one of my yoga classes and throughout my Yoga teacher training through Corepower Yoga. As I've mentioned before, I have a love/hate relationship and sometimes still find myself really struggling with my breath. So when one says just breathe, I wonder are they telling me this while I'm in a difficult asana, a different moment in my life, or both? Every notice how they often say in yoga, "What you do on your mat here, take it with you in life.." The greatest lesson I've learned in my short lived yoga practice is how important it is to let go and allow yourself to feel the difficulties and just breathe.

Our minds and bodies are more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. What we can achieve if we give ourselves a chance is simply amazing. But do you ever notice that when you're training and that rep is extra heavy or you're in a challenging pose, the one thing your body seems to do is hold onto your breath. It's a defense mechanism our bodies initiate when we feel we're in danger. We brace our entire bodies, tighten up every fiber inside us, and hold on to our breath as if its the last one we'll take. It's as if we our lives are threatened.

Breathing doesn't just affect our physical state, it also controls our emotions more specifically anger and fear. Your breath can engage the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as your rest and digest system. Breathing deeply into your lower abdomen engages the relaxation response and makes you feel more calm, present, and centered. This has a huge effect on your day because when you feel calm internally, everything going on externally feels much less abrasive. You can handle road bumps, deadlines, and anything else that comes your way with a greater sense of ease, intuition, and presence.

During a workout and in life there are two methods of breathing that can help you relief stress and get you through your movements. 

SOFT BELLY BREATH

Practice in bed in the morning or evening with your knees bent. If sitting in a chair, sit upright so you’re able to support your own spine. Place your hands on your belly, thumbs at the navel and fingertips below. Allow the belly to expand under your fingertips on the inhale and to contract on the exhale.

Envision an ocean wave: The belly expands on the inhale – the wave rises; the navel contracts on the exhale – the wave returns to the ocean. If you aren’t getting any movement, press your fingertips gently into your belly so you know it’s contracting on the exhale. Release the press on the inhale. As the expansion and contraction become more natural, focus on keeping a rhythmic breathing pattern, where the inhale and exhale are equal. Soft belly breathing can reduce tension in the neck and shoulders, massage the heart, and activate the parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for rest and digest) through the phrenic nerve that runs down both sides of the diaphragm.

ECCENTRIC/CONCENTRIC BREATHING

Concentric muscle actions (the muscle shortens under load) and eccentric muscle actions (the muscle lengthens under load).  You think of this as lifting, holding and lowering the weight or the best trick I remembered this motion during yoga anatomy class was concentric was for contracting muscles and eccentric was for elongating. 

The basic breathing during exercise is inhale during the lengthening or eccentric portion of your movement or exercise, and exhale during the concentric or contraction phase. To give an example using a bicep curl as the example, inhale to start when your muscles are lengthened and exhale when you curl the weight into your shoulder and contract your bicep. During a squat form it might be a little confusing because the contraction or shortening might look like its in your body, but think about the muscle you are working, the glutes. Inhale as you lower your body down, exhale as you push your body back into standing position.

It's important to understand breath in every area of your life to bring self awareness in to your day to day actions and into your movement during exercise. 

This Post is curated in conjunction with the ladies of The Refined Collective.  Be sure and read the other articles on "Just Breathe" today by: The Refined Woman,  Jackie V.Tonyha Kae, and Tutti del Monte, Julien Garman, Nikkia Phoenix, Brynn Watkins, Jessica Chow

Also, join us over on instagram today under #therefinedcollective to see what everyone else has to say.

Joanne E

I’m a mother of two beautiful daughters and married to a man who completes me. I started my fitness journey as a way to heal my soul and launched my blog in hopes to continue to inspire and empower women to use fitness as a tool to heal depression and find their self worth. I strongly believe that each woman deserves to be in love with herself just as much as her man does. I have an obsession with reusable water bottles, I enjoy action movies, and I’m in love with burpees.

Does she have what you want?

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Does she have what you want?

Simple ways to escape the comparison trap

We've all said these phrases out loud or a quiet whisper in the back of our minds.

Not pretty enough.
Not cool enough.
Not disciplined enough. 
Not passionate enough. 
Not smart enough. 
Not wealthy enough.
Not worthy enough.
Not accomplished enough. 
Not attractive enough.
Not skinny enough.

Comparing ourselves against others is as a human as it is to breathe. And as much as I want to sit here and tell you I've never felt the jealousy emotion, I'd be lying. Jealousy is rarely spoken about because we're embarrassed to say that we envy someone else. And these days it just seems like there are more and more things to be jealous of one another especially since social media has given us a glimpse in the lives and journey of others. I wish I could tell you that I never get jealous, but let's get real here, we ALL experience it in some way shape or form. Whether its something you're experiencing in this present moment or have been envied, you know what its like to sit in the space of jealousy. 

Here's some simple fixes you can implement right here and right now to escape the comparison trap.

Get out of their lane and get back into yours and write 3 things that you're grateful for.  Gratitude is the simplest and quickest way back into the present moment. It helps bring focus back into the now and into your own life rather than allowing your thoughts to wander into someone else's.

Recognize your differences. Each person has different factors why they are able to do something, have something, or be something you might want. However its important to remember that just because you live a very similar life or have the same exact job as someone else, it doesn't mean you've walked the same exact path.

Avoid your triggers when possible. This one can be a little tricky, but if you're aware of what triggers that comparison trap its easy to shut the door before you let it in. There's a large amount of research out there that's already proving that social media can trigger depression in many people. So if scrolling through your IG feed and seeing everyone's progress photos triggers your green eyes then its time to start curating your feed. This happened to me the moment I decided to stop competing in NPC Bikini Competitions. Seeing other athletes on prep made it hard for me to accept my decision, so I started to unfollow those who were once my #fitspos.

Admit that you're jealous. I get that this may seem a little counter productive, but I've learned that admitting to your faults, feelings, and emotions means you're living your authentic truth. Once you're able to do so, you give yourself the power of choice. You can choose to invest in the emotion of envy or you can take some of these steps I've shared to begin to walk away from it. There's power in saying things out loud and like they say "the truth will set you free."

We're human. Emotions are human and one of them is jealousy. We may never be able to fully rid ourselves from this emotion, but we can definitely learn to cultivate a practice that helps us stay focused on our own progress and journey.

SHOP MY LOOK

Joanne E

I’m a mother of two beautiful daughters and married to a man who completes me. I started my fitness journey as a way to heal my soul and launched my blog in hopes to continue to inspire and empower women to use fitness as a tool to heal depression and find their self worth. I strongly believe that each woman deserves to be in love with herself just as much as her man does. I have an obsession with reusable water bottles, I enjoy action movies, and I’m in love with burpees.

Quick and Easy Chilaquiles Verdes w/Fried Egg, Avocado, and Beans

Coming home from vacation is always bittersweet. While there's no better feeling that to be at home, get back to a normal routine, and hang with the family, when reality hits you sometimes can't help but wish you stayed one more day. Since that was impossible for me, I decided to whip up a quick and easy breakfast that reminded me of the mornings spent walking around Todos Santos through all the shops and enjoying the sun and heat. 

Quick and Easy Chilaquiles Verdes w/ Fried Egg

Ingredients 

  • 1 1/2 cups of tortilla chips (roughly two handfuls, my hands are small) 
  • 1/4 cup of Herdez Chile Verde sauce 
  • 1/4 cup of Bonafide Provisions Chicken bone broth
  • 1/2 cup of shredded chicken
  • 3 whole eggs 
  • 1/4 cup of cotija cheese
  • 1 whole avocado
  • 1/2 cup of Cuban black beans from Better Beans Co, my absolute favorite!
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

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Quick and Easy Chilaquiles Verdes

Directions

  1. Heat verde sauce, chicken broth, and shredded chicken in a cast iron dutch oven over medium heat until simmering. Add chips and turn to coat. Cover and set aside.

  2. Warm Better Beans Co in a small sauce pot for about 3-5 minutes and plate the beans onto your serving plates.

  3. Cook eggs how you prefer them. We love ours sunny side up and a little runny. Season with salt. Set aside onto a plate.

  4. Stir tortilla chips again and season to taste with salt if necessary. Divide between two plates. Top each with a fried egg, sprinkle with cotija cheese, and sliced avocado. 

You're done in about 15 minutes and ready to serve, devour, and get on with your busy day or to just go back to bed, and spend all Sunday cuddling. 

Joanne E

I’m a mother of two beautiful daughters and married to a man who completes me. I started my fitness journey as a way to heal my soul and launched my blog in hopes to continue to inspire and empower women to use fitness as a tool to heal depression and find their self worth. I strongly believe that each woman deserves to be in love with herself just as much as her man does. I have an obsession with reusable water bottles, I enjoy action movies, and I’m in love with burpees.

Top 10 Tips on How to Slow Down

There's no surprise I'm the kind of woman who loves to be on the go. This past week I was in Portland with my barre3 fam and in San Diego to shoot a wedding with the hubs. For some people I know a life thats this busy and chaotic can seem very overwhelming and when people ask me "How do you do it all?" I have to remind them of the very important thing I learned at Institute for Integrative Nutrition which is perception of pressure. 

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TOP 10 TIPS

on how to slow da F&*K down

LIFE IS TOO SHORT

Some people, like myself, thrive in high pressure environments. It's one of my strengths and I utilize that strength often in life. Sometimes too often, and life begins teaching me to slow down through physical injuries, catching a cold, or by experiencing reactions such as breakouts, water retention, and my psoriasis flare ups due to increased levels of cortisol. 

In this digital age we have more tools at our disposal to help us become more productive and help us accomplish our tasks yet it leaves us feeling like our to-do lists are never ending. Life is too short and time flies way too quickly especially in today's world. 

Here are 10 exercises to help you slow down, enjoy life, and focus on the important things.

Top 10 Tips to Slow Down

  1. TAKE THE TIME TO PRIORITIZE DAILY OBJECTIVES. By focusing on the most important tasks to get done, we eliminate the stress of trying to accomplish everything at once.
  2. CUT PERSONAL INTERNET USE IN HALF. Technology has become a major element in most of our lives. Social networking, email, and web surfing hinder our ability to focus by throwing hundreds of ideas at us. Reduce your Internet use by 50% and use that time to explore new hobbies, exercise, or meditate.
  3. ENJOY NATURE. Take a 5-10 minute break to step outside and breathe fresh air. Disconnect from the rest of the world and admire the beauty of nature.
  4. EAT SLOWER. A lot of us speed through meals, missing the chance to appreciate our food’s textures and flavors. Start to chew slower and fully experience the smell, taste, and texture of your food.
  5. CONNECT WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS. We all want to spend quality time with close friends and family, but how often do we get to truly listen and connect? Put away the cell phones and steer clear of noisy environments. Connect on a deeper level.
  6. MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF. When did you last spend valuable time with yourself? Take a night to find a new book, watch a favorite movie, try yoga, meditate, or cook a new recipe.
  7. GIVE YOURSELF MORE TIME. Some of us like to stick to a tight schedule and plan all our daily events. Next time you’re jotting down new tasks in your planner, factor in a few extra minutes when estimating how long things will take. This will help you not rush through daily tasks.
  8. TAKE THE SCENIC ROUTE. Next time you’re driving somewhere, take the scenic route. Driving through open fields, mountains, or in view of a city skyline can be very relaxing.
  9. SIT FOR A MOMENT WITH YOUR EYES CLOSED WHEN YOU START YOUR COMPUTER. Even just a few moments of meditation can set the tone for the rest of your day. Try to empty your mind and take deep breaths before jumping into your tasks.
  10. REMEMBER YOUR GOALS AND ASPIRATIONS. Each morning when you wake up, take a few moments to think about your life goals and aspirations. Recall the milestones you’ve already reached in your life, and your drive to achieve new ones. Try doing this for five minutes before getting out of bed to start your day.

When life get's too chaotic, what are the things you do to hit that pause button?

Joanne E

I’m a mother of two beautiful daughters and married to a man who completes me. I started my fitness journey as a way to heal my soul and launched my blog in hopes to continue to inspire and empower women to use fitness as a tool to heal depression and find their self worth. I strongly believe that each woman deserves to be in love with herself just as much as her man does. I have an obsession with reusable water bottles, I enjoy action movies, and I’m in love with burpees.

Traveling Smarter with Biossance

This month I’m headed out to 4 different small trips this month and I’m the queen of overpacking. So one of the biggests areas I’m trying to work on is packing less and curating down what items are coming with me on my trips. One area that always seems to need more curation is my beauty/skincare. I’m a bit of a product junkie and sometimes I need just as many beauty product options on a trip just like I need the amount of shoes for wardrobe changes. I recently discovered Biossance in my quest to find the best skin care products that leave me bare skin (#nomakeup). After using it for 7 days I immediately noticed a difference with me skin and have been loving it during those weeks where I’m feeling very minimal about make up. It’s a definite must try and you can get 2 FREE samples here, no strings attached. These little guys are perfect to stash in your travel bag or gym bag.

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The first thing I did for this trip was actually create a packing list. The funny thing is in my house we have our girls make packing lists so that they can pack their own luggages efficiently, but I’ve always thought to myself “I don’t need one, they’re silly!” After making one the other night it made packing for this trip so easy because I had a game plan for it. I seriously felt like a lightbulb went on in my head which was silly because I’m such list maker in other areas in my life.

Before this trip I ordered some packing cubes after seeing my friend use them. I’ve seen them before but fought the need for them because I thought it was just an unnecessary expense. But after packing for this jet setter type of week, I don’t know why I lived so long without them. I’m using two cubes for my trip and one is packed specifically with everything needed for my workouts and the other has my other wardrobe. These things are so helpful because you can pack a ton of things in them and zip them up tightly.

With regards to packing skincare I’ve started to lean towards brands that offer travel sized options or even samples for several reasons. The most obvious reason: being able to pack less while traveling and the other reason is I hate forgetting my products in hotel rooms or in the AirBnB we’re staying it. I’ve done this several times and I’m always upset over it because I have to order and wait for a new one to come in.

Why I love Biossance?

Biossance is based out in Berkeley, CA and I’m a huge fan of supporting as much local business big or small that I can. They also pride themselves in innovation in biotechnology. GO figure for a Bay Area based brand where tech is on the rise. In addition to the nerdy science the Squalane they use in their products is plant based where traditionally squalane was harvested from sharks. Squalane is often found in luxury end skincare products that also includes a high price point whereas Biossane offers their high quality products at an affordable price.

This post was sponsored by Biossance and I was compensated to write this post, but all the opinions are 100% my own
 

Joanne E

I’m a mother of two beautiful daughters and married to a man who completes me. I started my fitness journey as a way to heal my soul and launched my blog in hopes to continue to inspire and empower women to use fitness as a tool to heal depression and find their self worth. I strongly believe that each woman deserves to be in love with herself just as much as her man does. I have an obsession with reusable water bottles, I enjoy action movies, and I’m in love with burpees.