Cultivate a Life of Vitality, Pleasure, Passion and Purpose

Leave a comment

Using the Breath to Increase Energy

When I was going through my yoga certification program two years ago, one of the trainers began a lesson by stating, “The breath is my Guru.” I had absolutely NO idea what that meant. None.

Fortunately, the instructor went on to clarify what he meant. He discussed how our breathing tells us a lot about the state of our mind and body – it can tell us when there is ease, dis-ease, tension, anxiety, etc. But the part that fascinated me most was that, as he explained, we can learn to use the breath to affect our state of mind and body. In fact, that’s really the heart of the study of yoga: becoming tuned into our own body so that we can “read” it, determine what it needs, and then use the combination of movement and breath to deliver energy to those areas in need. A well rounded yoga practice is like an energetic tune up for the body. And, if we become adept at understanding the breath – how to “read” it and how to work with it – it can be an invaluable tool in maintaining/improving our health. (It can be our ‘Guru’…now it makes sense, right?)

One of the many ways that we can use the breath is to combat fatigue. Notice that I didn’t say, “to increase energy.” That’s because fatigue is usually not due to a lack of energy in the body, but more to the stagnation of energy. In order to energize the body, yogis believe that we must move energy from the lower chakras, where it tends to stagnate, to the upper chakras (For an in depth explanation of the chakra system, you’ll want to check out this post). This balances and stimulates all of the chakras/energy centers. When more energy is delivered to the upper chakras – the heart, throat and third eye points – we feel stimulated and “energized.”

There is one breath technique, in particular, which is super-effective at doing this. It’s called “Breath of Fire” and, as the name implies, it will fire you up!

Below is a short video, where I explain this technique in detail and model it for you. As stated in the video, you can start with 15-20seconds and work your way up to 1-3 minutes. I do it for one minute each morning (usually after I’ve meditated)  and I’ve found it to be a great way to wake up the body, mind and spirit.




Wellegant™ Mind, Body, Life: Nourish Your Body and Feed Your Soul

It contains my best healthy living tips, recipes and other resources to help you live your most Wellegant life. Enjoy!




Leave a comment

A Good Night’s Rest

Open up any health magazine and you’re likely to find at least one piece extolling the benefits of a good night’s sleep. More and more, research has linked poor sleep habits to everything from obesity and heart disease to depression and diabetes. Clearly, sleeping well is an integral part of our overall wellness. However, for many people, that’s far easier said than done.

As anyone who has trouble sleeping can attest, it is ENDLESSLY frustrating to lie awake in bed, trying desperately to get some rest. Naturally, the harder we try and the more anxious we become, the more sleep eludes us. Add to that, worry over being exhausted and not being able to function the next day. Add to that, the stress of a life challenge that we (or a loved one) may be facing and the “Worst Case Scenario” movie that’s on replay in our mind and…well, a good night’s rest seems like an impossibility!?

While we all have sleepless nights now and then, a consistent pattern of poor quality sleep not only prevents us from functioning at our best, but also presents some serious health risks. Before I share with you my best tips for getting a good night’s rest, let’s look at the benefits of good sleeping habits (there are many!). I have a feeling that these benefits will convince you to invest some time and attention to this area of your life.

The benefits of a good night’s rest include:

  • better thinking, problem solving, attention, memory and creativity
  • A strong heart (during sleep time, the body works on maintaining/restoring the heart and blood vessels)
  • Healthy weight  (sleep decreases cortisol levels)
  • Hormone regulation
  • Strengthening of the immune system
  • Regulation of blood pressure
  • Less depression and anxiety
  • Better sex
  • Lower risk of accidents and injury


But the bigger question is how do we get a good night’s rest, when most of us are hyper-stimulated and trying to pack entirely too much into each 24-hour day? Based on the research available on this topic, here are some strategies for improving the amount and quality of your sleep. I’ve used many of these strategies and they’ve made a noticeable improvement in my sleep and, consequently, my energy level. Even trying just one or two of them is likely to yield a positive result (and number 12 is the absolute game changer!).

  1. Stick to a steady sleep schedule – both bedtime and wake time, even on the weekends. This means going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time each day (and NO hitting the snooze alarm – this is counter productive, as the depth and quality of sleep in those 10 minutes is poor).
  2. Watch what you eat and drink at dinner. Have enough food that you won’t go to bed hungry, but not so much that it’s difficult to digest. Also, limit alcohol and caffeine consumption. Both interfere with sleep patterns throughout the night and will, ultimately, result in less restorative sleep.
  3. Keep the temperature in the room on the cool side. It’s harder to get good rest when the body is too warm.
  4. Keep the room very dark. This is important, as we don’t want to interfere with the circadian rhythm of the body. Even things like a nightlight, a bright digital clock or other screen can cause sleep disturbances and interrupt natural sleep cycles. So, it’s a good idea to ditch the lights and, perhaps, even invest in a sleep mask or blackout curtains to maintain a very dark environment.
  5. Make the bedroom a television-free and computer-free zone. The goal is to establish the bedroom strictly as a place for rest and sex. The body will begin to recognize the bedroom this way and will begin to wind down, upon entering.
  6. Get regular exercise. Make sure to get some movement/exercise each day (just 20 minutes will do). Just be sure not to exercise right before bed, as it may give you an adrenaline rush and make it hard for the body to wind down. Gentle yoga might be an exception to this, but all other forms of yoga should be done at least 3 hours before bedtime.
  7. Spend a little time outdoors each day. Whether due to the fresh air we breathe, the sun on our skin or the peaceful quality of nature, it’s well documented that being outdoors promotes better sleep.
  8. Develop a “wind down” routine. This can be a hot bath, some deep breathing exercises, time spent in meditation or prayer, a hot cup of tea, journaling, reading, etc. When done regularly, this routine signals the body to release the day and prepare for sleep.
  9. Invest in a quality mattress, pillow and bed linens. Make sure that your back and neck are well supported and kept in proper alignment while you sleep. In addition, high quality bed linens will be much softer against the skin. All of these things combine to create a more comfortable and restorative sleep.
  10. Experiment with essential oils and aromatherapy. There are lots of options for incorporating scent/essential oils into your sleep experience – essential oil diffusers, pillow/linen spray, even just rubbing a few drops of essential oil between the palms, cupping the hands over the nose and inhaling the scent. Some scents known to relax the nervous system are lavender, vanilla, cedarwood, frankincense and chamomile.
  11. Avoid napping during the day. Some people love the luxury of a good nap but, most people find that it interferes with the body clock and makes falling asleep at night harder. If you’re someone who has trouble falling/staying asleep, you may wish to avoid napping during the day.

And the VERY best piece of advice I can give is this…(drumroll, please)…

  1. Make sure that you have some “me” time scheduled into each day. This doesn’t, at face value, seem like it would benefit sleep, but I believe that the reason most people don’t go to bed earlier is that the time at night, before bed, is the ONLY time that they have to themselves and they are loathe to give it up to sleep. One girlfriend after another has told me that they can’t seem to go to bed earlier because, “If I give that time up, then my entire day belongs to others.” Wow. It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? We are staying up so late because we simply MUST have some time to ourselves each day; it’s so important that we will even sacrifice sleep and energy and, perhaps even our health, to get it. Therefore, if we build a little “me” time into each day, we’ll likely be much more willing to go to bed earlier and get more (and better) rest.

When we make quality sleep a priority and implement just a few changes to our daily routine, the results are quite noticeable (and pretty amazing!). A well-rested body contributes to a well-lived life.

I hope that this information serves you and, if you have tips and tricks that have worked for you, I’d love for you to share them in the Comments below.

Have a beautiful (and restful) weekend,







Image: Source


Wellegant™ Mind, Body, Life: Nourish Your Body and Feed Your Soul

It contains my best healthy living tips, recipes and other resources to help you live your most Wellegant life. Enjoy!


Leave a comment

Yoga to Tone the Core

As summer nears, most of us look forward to donning swimsuits and lighter, more form fitted clothing. For many people, however, that excitement is coupled with a bit of hesitation. After all, winter clothing tends to hide “a multitude of sins” and some may not feel toned and ready to bare all just yet.

Fortunately, toning the core isn’t difficult. And no, you needn’t do hundreds of sit-ups!? In fact, there are many ways to work the muscles of the core and back (they work together to tighten up the mid-section, so it’s most effective to strengthen both the abdominals and the back muscles). Walking/hiking is a great way to strengthen the core. Swimming is a great core workout, as is Pilates. And then there’s my personal favorite, yoga!

Because a key component of yoga is balance, most asanas/postures require that one utilize some degree of core strength. There are, however, a few key postures that will work deeply into the core to tone and tighten. They’re super effective and, in just a short time, you’ll see noticeable results – an increase in strength as well as a firmer mid-section.

Do these exercises a few times a week, along with whatever cardio you like best and you’re likely to be strutting your summer stuff in no time!

Here’s the sequence:

  1. Mountain Pose:

Begin in Mountain Post, feet hip width apart and weight evenly distributed. Pull the navel in and up, long straight spine, shoulder blades back and down. Sweep the arms overhead and inhale. If it’s comfortable, join your hands together, otherwise keep them separated, palms facing each other.

  1. Standing Side Stretch:

On the exhale, reach up and over to the right. If it’s comfortable for your neck, you may turn your head and look under your left arm. Hold here for one full breath. Inhale and bring arms back to center, then exhale and lean towards the left. Hold for one complete breath. Return to center.

  1. Forward Bend:

Swan dive out and over, coming into a forward bend. If your lower back is tight, keep your knees bent.

  1. Plank:

Plant the palms into the mat and step back into a plank pose. Feel as if you’re pushing the floor away from you. Keep the heels reaching back and maintain a straight spine. You should feel as if you are one long line of energy from the heels to the crown of head. Hold this posture for as long as you can (try to work up to a minute or two).

  1. Locust Pose:

Keeping the elbows close to the body, bend at the elbows and lower the body down to the ground. Rest for a moment. Then, reach the arms back, palms facing the sky and lift both the upper body and lower body off of the ground. Be sure to keep the chin slightly tucked so that the neck is in line with the spine. Hold for 30 seconds or as long as you can.

  1. Child’s Pose:

Bring the arms and legs down and push back to Child’s Pose. Rest for a moment.

  1. Staff Pose:

Come up to a seated position with legs extended out in front of you.

  1. Boat Pose:

Keeping the spine long, lean the torso back and lift your legs approximately 45 degrees from the floor and balance on your ‘sitting bones’ (if, like me, you have a sensitive tailbone, you may wish to do this on a blanket or towel). Hold for 30 seconds or so. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, lower the legs and torso a bit. You may repeat the motion of lifting and lowering the legs/torso several times, if you wish. Play around to see what feels best to you.

  1. Forward Fold:

Return to a seated position, arms extended overhead. Then, fold over into a Forward Bend. Hold for 30-60 seconds.

  1. Knees to Chest:

Lie back and pull your knees into your chest. Smile and take a well deserved rest!



Image: Source


Wellegant™ Mind, Body, Life: Nourish Your Body and Feed Your Soul

It contains my best healthy living tips, recipes and other resources to help you live your most Wellegant life. Enjoy!




Leave a comment

Get Your Glow On: Transition Your Skincare from Winter to Spring

After months of harsh winter weather, spring has finally sprung here in the Northeast. Hallelujah! Spring represents the perfect time to clean out and lighten up; the home, the garden, the wardrobe, and even our beauty routines seem to call for a bit of a refresh, as we make the transition from winter to spring.

Just as we must modify our skincare products and treatments when the cold weather hits, we must also make adjustments to our products and routines in springtime, so that the change in temperatures, sun exposure and moisture levels don’t wreak havoc on our skin. This is the perfect time to get your glow on and here are eight ways you can do it:

  1. Get rid of last year’s products. Many people hold onto products from one year to the next, however, the shelf life of most beauty products and cosmetics is only 6 months. Beyond that time, they are (a) not as effective and (b) likely to be contaminated by bacteria, which can prove dangerous. That means that those lotions, potions and palettes from last spring should be discarded and replaced. Consider it part of your spring cleaning!
  2. Commit to good cleansing. Dry skin conditions in winter is likely to result in flaky skin and clogged pores. Continue to use a gentle cleanser, but spring is the perfect time to do more exfoliation to clear away those dead skin cells. Add in a gentle exfoliator 2-3 times per week, preferably something with glycolic acid, lactic acid or citrus extracts.
  3. Transition to a lighter moisturizer, preferably one with vitamin C, which brightens up the complexion.
  4. Add sun protection (at least spf 50) into your skincare routine, either in the form of a moisturizer with spf or a sunscreen layered on top of your moisturizer (Here’s a natural sunscreen product that I like very much).
  5. Don’t forget the décolletage. As you get ready to bare more of the neck and chest area, be sure to moisturize and protect these areas as well.
  6. Possibly reintroduce Retinol products in the springtime. Retinol products can be very drying, so many women opt not to use them in winter. If you want to reintroduce them into your skincare routine, spring is the perfect time to do so. But remember, retinol products are photosensitive and should ONLY be used at night.
  7. Indulge in a facial/skincare treatment, either a salon treatment or an at-home facial.
  8. A good exfoliation, followed by a soothing mask is not only a great way to treat and condition the skin, but it’s a treat for the senses!
  9. Take an omega fish oil supplement (if you’re not already taking one), which will help the body maintain hydration and improve skin tone and elasticity.

And since this time of year gives us so much to smile about, add your mega-watt grin and you’ll be absolutely radiant!

Happy Spring!


Image: Source


Wellegant™ Mind, Body, Life: Nourish Your Body and Feed Your Soul

It contains my best healthy living tips, recipes and other resources to help you live your most Wellegant life. Enjoy!

Leave a comment

Spring Cleaning the Body: Interview with Wellness Coach Jen Klainberg

Meet Jen Klainberg, Wellness Coach, Chef and Cooking Instructor (and my longtime, foodie friend!):

Jenny Klainberg, Culinary Nutrition Consultant, creatively integrates cooking techniques with healthy habits, teaching people to cook more healthfully, and with delicious results. She’s a chef, caterer, cooking teacher, holistic health coach, event planner, mom, and friend.

Jenny is a self-taught chef and has worked for close to 20 years in professional catering kitchens, learning techniques to hone the skills needed to cook for large groups. Over the years, she’s worked in several different capacities in the catering business – helping to plan weddings and mitzvah celebrations, cooking for dinner parties, working as a personal chef for families, designing table settings – and everything in between.

In this interview, Jen and I dish on cleansing the body in springtime, eating seasonally, learning to cook, staying healthy through the holidays and so much more!

Here’s a sneak peak… Jen’s recipe for Pan Seared Carrots (a perfect holiday side dish!):

Pan Seared Carrots

½ tsp. kosher salt

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

¼ tsp. ground coriander

¼ tsp. ground cumin

¼ tsp. smoked paprika

1 pound extra-large Organic carrots, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise

2 tbsp. Organic coconut oil

2 tbsp. Organic unsalted butter

½ lemon

1 tbsp. flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

sea salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine the salt, pepper, coriander, cumin and paprika in a small bowl. Rub the carrots with the spice mixture, reserving ¾ tsp. in the bowl.
  2. Heat oil in a large ovenproof heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium high heat. Add the carrots cut side down and sear until crisp and browned, about 5-6 minutes. Flip carrots and transfer the pan to the oven. Roast until tender when pierced with a knife and nicely browned on the outside, about 20-25 minutes.
  3. Transfer the skillet back to the stovetop over medium heat. Add the butter and the reserved spice mixture. When the butter is melted, baste the carrots with spiced butter for about 3 minutes.
  4. Transfer the carrots to a serving platter, drizzle with any remaining spiced butter mixture and squeeze the lemon over it. Sprinkle with parsley and sea salt. Serve immediately.

To learn more about Jen and check out her fabulous blog and recipes, go to www.jenuinefoods.com. You may also connect with Jen on social media:

Facebook: Jenuine Foods

Twitter: @jenuinefoods

Instagram: jenuinefoods

I hope that you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed chatting with Jen!




Wellegant™ Mind, Body, Life: Nourish Your Body and Feed Your Soul

It contains my best healthy living tips, recipes and other resources to help you live your most Wellegant life. Enjoy!


Leave a comment

A Journey Through the Chakras

Have you ever experienced a knot in your stomach during a particularly stressful experience? A lump in your throat as you held back from expressing something you wished to say? A “heavy heart”? It’s very likely that, at some point, you’ve heard someone refer to the “chakras” or the “chakra system” in the body, but we often don’t make the connection between physical sensations like the ones described above and our chakra system.

Yoga and Ayurvedic medicine were founded on the principles of managing the energetic body and working with this chakra system. Whether or not you practice yoga or Ayurvedic medicine, however, an understanding of our energetic body and the ability to manage it is a powerful way to support our health and wellbeing.

Now, I know…the concept of an energetic body can be a bit overwhelming and intimidating for some (What? I have another body that I need to care for??). For that reason, I’m going to take you on a brief journey through the chakras in this post and give you some quick and easy tips for understanding,  working with and balancing your own energy system.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Weekly Wellegant Find: Lavender Epsom Salt Bath

I don’t know of too many days which can’t be improved upon with a hot Epsom salt bath. When I’m having a busy or stressful day, a bath is a soothing way to (quite literally!) wash away my troubles and when I’m having a good one, a long soak provides some time to luxuriate and savor it.

Aside from the emotional benefits of an Epsom salt bath, there are well documented physical benefits, as well.

Continue reading