Category Archives: Self Care

A New Mirror Ritual

This month’s self-care tip is a response to the body image issues that tend to nag at many of us, especially young women, and especially during the summer months of sundresses and bikinis.   When I wrote this last year, I was in the thick of wedding planning and dress fittings. I struggled to appreciate my body, and how its unruly curves looked in THE dress amidst pressure from the wedding industrial complex to be as perfect and as thin as possible.  I knew however how pointless it was to let these demons ruin this special time in my life.   I drew from the yoga therapy tradition to transform time in front of the mirror.  I hope this ritual will prove transformative and allow you to honor and connect with your body.  To a beautiful, inspired, indulgent summer!

 

Yoga therapy, an emerging profession in holistic health, is based in the concept of samskara, or conditioning that we hold in our bodies.  In his book Yoga for Wellness, Gary Kraftsow, Founder of the American Viniyoga Institute, describes samskara as conditioning that begins in early childhood as a “result of our relationships with our interpersonal and social environments.” The idea is that as we move through our lives, our body literally records our experiences in its very fibers and plays them back like a repeat track.  Muscle memory.

For instance when we encounters moments of stress, fear, or anxiety in our lives, the body has a very real reaction in which it collapses into itself – Shoulders close around the heart space, core loses its stability.  With frequency, these reactions condition awareness at a subconscious level, convincing mind and body that it is in a state of chronic stress.

Next time you stand in the mirror examine your own conditioning and dismantle the manifestations of stress in your body.  For this exercise, I recommend standing in a full length mirror in your skivies or completely nude, and look at yourself fully.  Notice the patterns of  stress that you may carry with you.  Now practice standing tall- with purpose and stability.  Look at your body, and notice how you can unravel stress conditioning and build patterns  self-acceptance simply with the intention to do so.  Notice how when you stand tall and proudly,  you begin to honor your body as the vehicle through which you live a rich, meaningful life. Eventually, the more you stand in the world with this awareness, commerically-driven images of physical perfection begin to lose importance.  Instead, you will have shifted your awareness to reflect that contentment.

Daniel McCarthy on Manifesting Self Worth

This month’s self care tip comes from my colleague and gifted healer at Pekoe Wellness and Acupuncture Daniel McCarthy, a master Reiki practitioner, energy worker, and intuition coach.  When I first received his tip, I personally was in a space where I was not quite ready for it.  After the ephemeral bliss of a long-awaited honeymoon in Thailand, I returned to reality where the struggles and uncertainties of being a young business awaited me.  I retreated into the recesses of my monkey mind and all its dangerous echos and let these challenges define my self worth.  Daniel’s self-care tip is an important piece in forcing me to turn this funk around.  The city in bloom sure helps too :-)  Please enjoy and to your health – from the inside out.

 

 

This year, a lot of my personal research and studies have been in the connection between loving the self and how this impacts our daily life and health. We all know this experience very well in different ways. Think about those mornings where we would just love to be sick so that we can call into work to take a sick day. If we really, really try hard enough, we start to feel off, or even develop cold symptoms! Phrases such as “I worried myself sick!” actually translate into consequences in daily life. There have been countless studies on the correlation between our thoughts and the physical manifestations in our lives. Often, we don’t even realize the thoughts we are thinking! How many times have we made a mistake in our lives and said things like “I’m stupid,” “I can’t believe I did that,” “I can’t even do this simple task,” or a variation on this idea? In reality, we are turning this mistake into a lesson about ourselves, and these thoughts begin to dictate our lives!

My self-care tip is simple and powerful, but may take some time to put into practice. We catch our own reflection many times in the day, whether it be while brushing our teeth in the morning, fixing ourselves in the car, or walking past a glass building. The next time that you see your own reflection, stop for a moment. Look into your own eyes and say, “I love you.” This may seem silly at first, and you may even giggle the first few times, but do it anyway, and do it each time that you see yourself. Challenge yourself to do it for the next week, and notice if you feel any changes. You may even want to keep a journal, and write down any thoughts that come into your head that don’t fit with this idea of loving yourself. Remember: they’re just thoughts! I believe it was Byron Katie who said that once we see and acknowledge our thoughts, they detach from us, but we have to acknowledge that they’re there!

There are some great resources if you are interested in learning more about this idea:

You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay: Louise was really a pioneer in the 1980′s about the correlation between positive thinking and a healthy body, and this book is full of examples, exercises, and stories of clients who transformed their lives through positive thinking.
The Art of Extreme Self-Care by Cheryl Richardson: A great book of monthly challenges to improve self-care.
Loving What Is by Byron Katie: An interesting four-step questioning process for analyzing the thoughts that enter our head and determining their validity.
Feeding Your Demons by Tsultrim Allione: Based off of the ancient Tibetan-Buddhist practice of Chöd, this is another method for looking at our thought patterns and fears by meeting them with understanding.

* It’s important to note that positive thinking is not a substitute for appropriate medical or psychological care. However, when we compound this idea with our own personal care systems (whether it be acupuncture, yoga, energy medicine, Reiki, nutrition, naturopathic or allopathic medical care, etc.), we begin to see our lives flourish even more! If you are thinking, “Oh, well, I am already pretty healthy and confident,” try this tip anyway. We can never have enough self-love. <3 *

Daniel C. McCarthy, a Reiki practitioner in the Usui tradition, provides Reiki treatments to the public, as well as at George Washington University Hospital through the Center for Integrative Medicine. Aside from his work within energy medicine and intuitive coaching, Daniel continues to explore new modalities and research within holistic health care.

Megan Davis on the Art of the Homemade Face Mask

February’s featured self-care tip comes from Megan Davis, known in the local holistic health community as the authority on yoga therapy in the metropolitan area, specializing in post-traumatic healing and injuries.  I usually like BellySatva contributors to surprise me with their offerings.  An admitted face mask junky, imagine my delight when Megan pitched homemade face masks.  The ultimate DIY beauty ritual, face masks are especially important this time of year, offering the skin welcome nourishment and reprieve from the winter doldrums.  Enjoy in good health!

 

 

Before using any mask, you should thoroughly clean and exfoliate your skin.

Here are a couple I really like:

Hydrating Pumpkin Facial Mask
Great for addressing dry skin in the winter months.
1/2 cup pumpkin pulp (fresh is better but canned is okay)
2 eggs
2 t almond milk
1 t honey
optional: 2 t apple cider vinegar if your skin is oily
Mix all ingredients together and leave on for 10-15 minutes

Blueberry Mask
This mask is great for skin that tends to get dry and uneven.
1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 t vitamin E (if you don’t have vitamin E you can add a bit more almond or sesame oil)
1/4 t aloe
1/4 t almond or sesame oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup oats
Blend ingredients in food processor. Leave mask on for up to 30 minutes.

To remove masks use lukewarm water and follow up with your regular moisturizer.

For more information on Megan Davis’s services, visit: http://www.yogaforliberation.com/

Warming Sock Treatment

This month’s featured self-care tip comes from locally acclaimed acupuncturist and fellow healer woman Nicole Mires, founder of the DC-based wellness practice Pekoe Acupuncture.  For those of you who may not already know, I will soon provide BellySatva services in Pekoe’s expanded practice in the New Year!  This week I dropped by the new space in downtown DC, still in its build-out phase, and the energy and the community of health practitioners it will bring together just feels right and full of promise.  Stay tuned!

 

 

This is one of my favorite self care tips for the fall and winter months as our heads get congested, the lack of sun depletes our energy, and stress of the holidays fills our minds. The initial shock of placing cold socks on your feet is quickly replaced by a warm and fuzzy sensation over the whole body, and I always wake up the next morning feeling profoundly grounded and well rested. This information was complied with great help by Dr. Marie Rodriguez, Naturopathic Physician, a colleague and friend. For more information, you can reach Dr. Marie at www.drmarierodriguez.com.

The warming socks treatment is recommended at the first sign of any congestion in the ears, eyes, sinuses, throat, and/or lungs. It is helpful in sore throats, neck pain, ear infections, headaches, migraines, upper respiratory infections, coughs, bronchitis, and sinus infections.

The warming socks also have a grounding effect by helping to draw the body’s energy down, this ensures a deeper more restorative sleep.

Warming socks treatment works best if it is repeated for three nights in a row.

You Will Need:
1 pair white cotton socks
1 pair thick wool socks
Towel
Warm bath or warm foot bath

Directions:
*Warm feet first by soaking in warm water for 5-10 minutes, or by taking a warm bath or shower.
*Wet the cotton socks and wring thoroughly so that they do not drip. Place in freezer for 3-5 minutes.
*Place cold wet socks on feet, cover with thick dry wool socks. Go to bed, keep covered to avoid getting chilled.
*Keep socks on overnight, the wet cotton socks will be dry in the morning

Effects of the Warming Socks Treatment:
This treatment works to reflexively increase the circulation and decrease congestion in the upper respiratory passages, head, and throat. It has a sedating action and many patients report that they slept much better during the treatment. This treatment is also effective for pain relief and increases the healing response during acute infections.

During the colder months, be sure to listen to your body, slow down, rest, and give yourself extra time in the morning to ease into the day. By having a deep, restful sleep, the body can properly detox and regenerate during the night leaving you clear and energized by the morning.

Power of Finding your Own Tune

With all of the cold, dry air this time of year, you can find sinus relief in a very unexpected remedy – humming.  Studies have found that humming daily can increase airflow between nasal cavities and prevent the inflammation that creates sinus infections.

As a yogini and enthusiastic “ohmer”, I have find the vibrational effects of chanting ohm or other mantras have always helped to clear the sinuses, relieve pressure, and open up spaces throughout the body.   Scientists are beginning to confirm the many health benefits of a chanting practice, specifically in creating the the space for a quiet mind and awakened spiritual energy.

But even if it’s not a chanting practice, say even singing a favorite Otis Redding tune, provide the opportunity to uplift and transcend constraining narratives of the mind.  When finding your own tune, whether that is humming, singing, or chanting- you can know that like many things that lift your spirits and are good for the soul, it it good for you.

Vanessa King on Cast-Iron Goodness

November’s featured self-care tip comes from the locally renowned teacher and nutrition muse Vanessa King.  All hail the cast-iron skillet, the home cook’s tool to make every dish a comfort meal.

 

In the fall, I take my cue from nature and shed my excess outer layer and settle into self-nurturing activities like cuddling and cooking in cast-iron pots. Heavy, earthy, steady, metallic, cast-iron pots are grounding and warm. Plus, cast iron cooking has 3 health benefits that makes the weight workout worth it:

1) Cast-iron pans release iron into foods, meaning that foods cooked in cast-iron have higher iron content
*Note that the enamel-covered cast-iron pans, i.e. the pretty colored one, will not have this iron-enriching benefit
2) A seasoned cast iron dish is naturally non-stick, without the use of chemicals
3) You can cook with less oil

In the fall, as energy moves downward and inward, quiets and darkens, it’s fun to spend time in the kitchen, making life-affirming deliciousness for yourself and company.

Vanessa King is a nutrition specialist and AcroYoga teacher living in Washington DC. For more info and additional benefits of cast-iron visit http://MakeYoga.org/about

Seeking BellySatva

I have always had the goofy facsination of a five year old when it comes to bodily functions.  I have never tired of reading What’s Your Poo Telling You? and still can’t hold back the giggles for a good potty joke. Perhaps it was growing up with two older brothers and sharing their sense of humor.  Mostly however it was that I had struggled with digestive issues for as long as I could remember.  My digestion functioned at a snail’s pace, which led me to chronically feeling weighed down and irritable.

Digestive health is often an awkward and uncomfortable topic, but as my colleague Nicole Mires of Pekoe Acupunture notes in her recent newsletter, nearly 95 million Americans suffer from issues like constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn, and so on.  Often most people will turn to prescription drugs, laxatives, and other quick fixes without addressing the roots causes for these symptoms.  When the underlying issues around digestive dysfunction go untreated, they continue to deplete our sense of vitality.

After many short-term fixes lead to dead ends, I decided to be empowered in my approach to healing.  I saw my digestive health as a mirror that reflects when I am energetically or emotionally off-balance and unsettled.  I made some serious shifts in my diet, lifestyle, and emotional wellness and got rhythm so to speak, creating the space to enjoy a larger sense of vitality and wellbeing.

I created the concept of BellySatva from this experience.  BellySatva is tapping into the higher intiuition of the body, particularly the power of the core, and seeking natural remedies to heal.  It is understanding that our emotional wellbeing (or lack thereof) manifests throughout the body.  It is knowing that food is our most powerful medicine.  BellySatva is the wisdom that each client comes with her own unique needs, and that true transformation comes from tapping into what her body saying.  What I have learned has forever empowered my approach to wellness, and I want to share the secrets to increased energy, sustainable weightloss, and that glow that can only come from inner health and beauty.

Please enjoy the contents of this month’s newsletter, inculding exciting workshops in the coming weeks at The Nest in Harrisonburg, VA, old-timey immunity boosting fire cider from herbalist Amani El Sawah, and seared brussel sprouts.

Be well and much love.

-dahlia

A New Mirror Ritual

When I first started wedding planning, I would watch a lot of bridal TV. More than I am proud to admit. I would watch women try on wedding dresses and be stunning. Many would then turn to the mirror and, ashamed at the way they looked, let their body images issues ruin the experience of shopping for THE dress.

At my first dress appointment, I could only fixate on how big my belly looked with white fabrics pulled against it. Here I was falling into cliches of brides-to-be-as-seen-on-TV. I had succumb to the wedding industrial complex’s messages to be perfect for my perfect wedding (and spend more money chasing that perfection) and was freaking out because my s*** isn’t perfect. Certainly I did not want to be a cliche.

Full disclosure, I was pretty chubby growing up, and thanks to my Egyptian ancestors, even after slimming out with high school cross country, I always had a full, womanly belly. It was the source of discomfort I felt about the way I looked. In retrospect, I beileve this insecurity caused me to subconsciously stand in a way where I was hiding my belly, collapsing around it and slumping without stability, a pattern I am still working to unravel. This is in part why I named my business BellySatva, to honor the healing power of this energy center in its totality.

At my third appointment with my childhood best friend, I made a vow beforehand not to let my body image issues ruin this happy time in my life. Instead, I would focus on keeping healthy and if I lost extra weight around my digestive organs, great. If not, I would be happy with my body on my wedding day. I was determined to turn off any residual image issues and instead, just find a way to stand tall- with purpose and stability – belly fully exposed, shoulders back.

This experience informs my self-care tip of the month: Reconstructed Mirror Time. Just in time for summertime fun of sunshine, water, and patios. I hope you are well, and enjoying this sultry kick-off to summer. As always would love to hear from you.

Be well and much love.

The Thing About Resolutions

I’ve had many resolutions – New Year’s or otherwise – in my lifetime.  Over the past few years, I have vowed to:
Read more
Wake up earlier
Practice yoga daily
Start running again? (can my hips still take it?)
Those last 5 pounds…..
Eliminate ALL processed foods from my diet
Befriend and utilize new media
Get my “stuff” together
Keep apartment clean
All of these start from a place where usually after reading a good book or an article, getting up early and doing my daily practice, and so forth that I was able to articulate that these were things that I consistently wanted for myself.
When I wasn’t able to integrate these intentions as often as I would have liked, I ended up getting disappointed and just walking away from it all together. I’d find myself just waiting for the point in my life when I had my “stuff” together. Perfect job, perfect body, perfect relationships with those I love.  Ultimately that perfection was never there. Especially the more I compared myself to others and measured their successes against mine.
This year I didn’t make any one resolution to a particular good habit or goal.  I’m committing to a new perspective -to see perfection where there already is and  to move slowly and deliberately towards larger goals.  Fine, I have not yet eliminated all processed foods, or consistently met deadlines, or stayed on top of laundry.  Just because I fall back into old habits here and there, does not mean that I deserve these things any less.
For instance, I recently got engaged over the holidays. And it is truly a wonderful time where it seems my excitement over planning our wedding and starting this new phase in our relationship tends to consume my thoughts.  Can it serve as a distraction in checking off items on the ever-growing to-do list? Certainly. But so what? Why shouldn’t I enjoy my engagement without feeling guilty about other tasks that are not getting met at the moment? After all, I know that intentions I have committed to years ago – studying healing and nutrition, having my own practice, getting married to my best friend – are taking shape, even through all the rough starts and detours. Why can’t I find perfection in what’s here and now?
I hope this year proves fruitful  for you in not only integrating your own resolutions into your life, but finding abundance and perfection in what already is.
Much love,
-dahlia

Finding Ground before the Holidays

Hello everyone and Happy Holidays!

This is truly such a special time of year – from the foliage and crisp fall air, to harvests of juicy apples, root vegetables, and fat ground-dwelling squash, to the times reserved for reconnecting with family.  It’s a time to settle in a more grounded space.

It seems however that some unsettling planetary forces were at play this past couple of weeks.  So many people I know have been experiencing major shifts in their lives or have had strange encounters of fate. The kind of moments that remind you that you do in fact belong to the world and are subject to its swirling forces of madness. Recently, I felt parts of my life get uprooted under cosmic tremors – and just in time for the holidays too when I’d have to go back to my family not in my best shape.

Writing down my thoughts allowed me in many ways to transform whatever was going on and create meaning.  I found myself writing “I can be at peace with this.  I can be at peace.  I am at peace.”  And slowly that became more and more of a reality.

As things shifted beneath me, I rediscovered ground as I integrated more self care in my life again – returning to a home yoga practice, soulful home cooking, soothing hot water bottles, and alone time walking with my dog through Rock Creek Park.  After all, it’s so easy to be present and compassionate for others, but it’s the self care that is often the hardest thing to prioritize.

Please check out my Holiday Rejuvenation Special, the perfect gift of self care your yourself or loved one, and the November recipe of the month- Sweet Potato Gratin… Yum!