The Phoenix Rising Collective

Inspiring Women. Empowering Change.


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6 Tips to Motivate You to Move and Live a Healthier Lifestyle

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On May 17, 2015, I had the opportunity to do an AWESOME workout session with a well-known trainer, Mindy Mylrea. Mindy is the creator and founder of Tabata Bootcamp. She’s full of energy and excitement and gets her clients motivated to move and live healthier lifestyles. I trained with Mindy two years ago and became certified in Tabata Bootcamp and I use the “camp” with my clients. Tabata Bootcamp is different than any other exercise program I have ever taught or participated in; it is a total body, total mind, and total lifestyle change. The Tabata Bootcamp is different because it can be completed in your home or with a small group of like-minded “campers.” The camp stresses healthy eating, accountability, and simple movements.

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L to R – Megan, Mindy Mylrea, creator and founder of Tabata Bootcamp, and Megan’s aunt (also a Tabata Bootcamp instructor and 56 years old, by the way!).

If you don’t love fitness, exercise, or to run, walk, or bike then it is time to find something you like love! Exercise does not have to be boring or mundane or mentally painful! I know lots of people who LOVE and I mean LOVE Zumba because they are exercising and burning calories while gettin’ down, twerkin’ it, and shaking their booty with a group of like-minded, fun people.

If I told you that you could lose ten pounds a month doing one 30-minute workout and five 6-minute workouts a week, you would think, “No way!” We have all been mentally trained to think that running 45 minutes or spending two hours in the gym is the way to looking like J-Lo. We’re all busy: we may have kids; we may have a spouse; we may have a house; we may have a full-time job; and some of us have “e” –  all of the above and don’t have time to run forty-five minutes, five days a week.

This is why Tabata Bootcamp is so useful and beneficial: Stay in your home, workout in your office, workout while the kids are reading to you, eat healthy, and use efficient movements to boost your body’s metabolism and oxygen consumption.

Here is why and how it works: In my post Take Your Personal Fitness Up A Notch With These Workouts, I described to you the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise:

Anaerobic exercises push your body out of its comfort zone and challenges your heart, lungs, and muscles to do more. While in the anaerobic zone you burn the most calories and do the most good. In contrast to the aerobic zone, you don’t want to or need to stay in the anaerobic zone very long.

When you’re done, your body enters EPOC, where your body continues to burn calories while it repairs and replenishes oxygen. Because anaerobic exercises are so effective, six minutes a day is all you need. Add in a longer workout such as running, biking or booty shaking Zumba, and healthy eating, and you’ll get fabulous results. My clients lose an average of ten pounds a month using the Tabata Bootcamp system!

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Tabata Bootcamp Workout Session – Group Photo in Ravenna, OH

The point to the long-winded explanation about Tabata Bootcamp is that you should…

  1. Do an exercise that is comfortable for you. If you enjoy running, go for it. If you enjoy yoga, weight lifting, cycling, or Zumba, go for those!
  2. Instead of exercising out of necessity, exercise because it is enjoyable. The more you enjoy it, the more likely you are to stay with it. Did you know that 80% of people who buy a gym membership as a New Year’s resolution stop attending by the fifth month!?! This tells me not enough people are doing something they love.
  3. Add a quick 6-minute workout like the one in this video to your morning, lunch break or bedtime routines.
  4. Choose healthy food options. (Try the Take 3 Method from Tabata Bootcamp Nutrition Guide)
  5. Add an accountability partner to create your own personal success story.
  6. Find a Health & Fitness Coach to support you. If you are interested in learning more about joining Tabata Bootcamp, please contact me. There are camps all around the country or you can try an online option. There are Zumba instructors and personal trainers all around the country as well.

Good luck and keep it moving!

In health and fitness,

Megan

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Megan_Lunge_Health_and_Wellness[ThePhoenixRisingCollective]Megan Weidner is a fitness coach and environmentalist in the Akron/Canton, Ohio area. She manages a global sustainability and corporate responsibility program for a large multinational company; her areas include environmental compliance, social equity, community engagement and health and wellness. Megan is also devoted to Rock. It. Fitness., her fitness and natural skincare business. She is committed to making the world a better, more environmentally friendly and healthier place through motivation and education. She is certified through AFAA and Tabata Bootcamp.  She has a B.S. in Soil, Environmental, and Atmospheric Science (University of Missouri), a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management and Policy (University of Denver) and an M.P.A (University of Missouri).  She lives in Green, Ohio with her husband and three kids.


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Where Are the Black Yoginis? (Part 1)

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“Yoga is the Journey of the self, through the self, to the self.” Bhagavad Gita

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Yogini, KaNeesha in Natarajasana – Dancer’s Pose

One, two, three, four, five…I count silently measuring each inhale and exhale by the rise and fall of my contracting abdomen. Pearls of sweat roll from the widow’s peak of my hairline, down the bridge of my nose, glistening on my upper lip, nuzzling with my chin, and eventually finding respite on the damp towel beneath my left foot. My right leg is extended in mid-air behind me. I’m tightly grasping my right foot with my right hand holding for dear life. I pray to the heavens I don’t lose my balance. I feel strong and confident as I’m holding steady in one of my favorite Yoga asanas: Natarajasana a.k.a. Dancer’s Pose.

Six, seven, eight, nine, ten…my counting is interrupted by a baritone voice gently thundering over the Bikram yoga studio sound system, “Kick, kick, kick aaaand release.”  As I mentally prep myself to balance the left side of my body in Natarajasana, I peer around the room and settle my gaze on the 20-something year old crunchy, and the exceedingly hairy white guy in front of me. By the way, crunchy is a term my cousin made up. It describes anyone that falls into the stereotypical “tree-hugger” category: eats granola (hence crunchy), drinks hot tea year-round lovingly clutching their mug with both hands that rock fingerless crocheted gloves, wears Yoga clothes all day (most days of the week), and could easily be mistaken as hippie or any other “crunchy” characteristic across the spectrum. No shade or disrespect. I’m pretty crunchy 50% of the week, but I digress. As I’m attempting to strike an equally fierce Dancer’s Pose with the left side of my body, I sneak a quick glance at the petite white woman standing next to me: not too crunchy but is a beast with the execution of the posture. Then, I’m met with the recurring thought, “DAMN I wish it was some sistahs up in here!” Sistahs, black women, women of color, with mesmerizing hues of sun-kissed bronze and beige skin. Black men, too! Where are the brothas? For this specific class my instructor was a black man (whom for whatever reasons WOULD NOT make eye contact with me, but whatever). Calling out all the brothas, black men, men of color, with cosmic melanin shades ranging from midnight blue to heavenly milky way. As a practitioner of Yoga for the past 10 years (on and off) and a recently certified RYT 200-hour Yoga instructor, I have yet to visit and/or join a studio where minimally 50% of the racial/ethnic demographic looks like me!

I ponder; at what point did Yoga become a sport exclusively practiced by white people, specifically white women? The dominant imagery fed to us by media and marketing sources in the United States is very slim, not-so-crunchy, Lululemonwearing white women. Public Yogic practices that I’ve experienced – including my instructor certification training – has been comprised of predominantly white women and men, and Asian women coming in second majority; with black women, Asian men, and black men closing out an extremely low population of the statistics. Please note: these statistics are based off my own experience and observation. Yet even more intriguing, while conducting research for this, there was nary a source to highlight the racial breakdown of Yoga practitioners in the U.S.

This leads to the title of my article: Where Are the Black Yoginis? Yogini is a term that refers to women that practice yoga extensively. For Part One of this article, I’ll be delving into a brief history of Yoga and how Western practice perpetuates the cultural appropriation of Yoga.

Historical Roots of Modern Western Yoga

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Padma Asana – Lotus Pose

While it is difficult to trace the exact geographical and cultural origins of Yoga, it is said to have been practiced thousands of years ago throughout ancient Egypt a.k.a. Kemet and ancient India. Cultural, religious, and spiritual influences were heavily integrated into the practice of Yoga within both of these areas. This makes the approaches somewhat different. However, prayer and intense study and practice of meditation along with the art of proper breathing are sacred rituals and fundamental components of both. With the exception of certain practitioners (which I’ll discuss in Part Two) many posit the notion that modern day Western Yoga primarily draws lineage from East Indian Vedic spiritual belief system, Hindu culture, Eastern Buddhism, and several other Eastern religious and spiritual practices. Some of the major gurus and yogis of this lineage are Maharishi Patanjali, Paramahansa Yogananda, Swami Vivekananda, T. Krishnamacharya, Swami Sivananda, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, and B.K.S. Iyengar to name a few.

There were a myriad of connections between these gurus and the Western world stemming from collaborative scientific research based in Yoga, Yoga seminars and retreats held in major U.S. cities, establishment of Yoga studios in the U.S., mentoring and teaching individuals that have become well known U.S. yogis, and a multitude of written publications. The spawn of all this work is Western Yoga. Newly decorated yogis within the U.S. began spreading the Sanskrit “word” – the message of yoking the mind and body through meditative practice and choreographed postures into sequences.

At some point (which I’m still investigating for greater clarity) the major distinction between Eastern and Western Yogic practices became a large omission of prayer, intense study and practice of meditation, and the art of proper breathing. Now, I’m not talking about the quick inhale/exhale breathing that happens for 15 seconds at the beginning and end of a Yoga class concluding with Namaste. Or even the fire breath at the end of a Bikram session (which as a newbie to a class several years ago, I wasn’t even instructed on how to do it appropriately). I am talking about chanting mantras that promote balance, praying to evoke our ancestors, maintaining meditative states of consciousness for hours, and pranayama breathing as a method of healing. In Western Yoga, these have been far removed from the source.

However, there are many exceptions to this including my Yoga Instructor Trainer, Lex Gillan, who founded the Yoga Institute in 1974 in Houston, Texas. Lex is one of the few Western Yogis that has immeasurable appreciation, respect, and admiration for many of the specific elements inclusive to the voluminous Eastern Yogic traditions. Thus, it’s provided him with a robust, impressive, and long-standing personal and professional career within the world of Yoga on a global scale. I’ll discuss more of these “exceptions” in Part Two.

Cultural Appropriation or Cultural Appreciation?

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Yoginis – Top Left: Dianne Bondy; Top Right: Queen Afua; Bottom Left: Maya Breuer; Bottom Right: Jana Long

While researching, I was fortunate to uncover a jewel written by Dr. Amy Champ; Race and Yoga: Negotiating Relationships of Power. Dr. Champ is a scholar of feminism, author, speaker, and Yoga instructor. This article summarizes key themes from her dissertation which explores women and Yoga pertaining to race. Dr. Champ references Sociologists and Race Theorists, Howard Winant and Michael Omi’s term racial rearticulation which is used to “describe the acquisition of beliefs and practices of another’s religious tradition and infusing them with new meaning derived from one’s own culture in ways that preserve the prevailing system of racial hegemony.”

I also analyzed numerous sources, their usage and definition of the term Cultural Appropriation. Cultural appropriation is socially defined as, “the adoption of elements of one culture by members of a different cultural group, especially if the adoption is of an oppressed people’s cultural elements by members of the dominant culture.” Oxford Reference suggests that the definition of cultural appropriation includes, “ …Western appropriations of non-western or non-white forms and carries connotations of exploitations and dominance.”

So, considering the history of Western Yoga, the terms and definitions of racial rearticulation and cultural appropriation, it is my summation that Yoga as practiced in the U.S. pervasively demonstrates the acquisition of a singular element from ancient multilayered Eastern religions, spiritual practices, and cultural traditions, and thus has been manipulated to preserve and fortify the dominant racial and socio-cultural hegemonic Western identity. This identity is whiteness. And whiteness being portrayed as the creators and innovators of a way of life that is proven to have existed in different parts of the world B.C.E.

People of color have long suffered from the effects of colonialism, neo-colonialism, imperialism, neo-imperialism, capitalism, all based in racism as unwilling participant-observers whose ethnographies reek of cultural acquisition, demarcation, marginalization, commodification, and exploitation. The constant relegation as other has transcended into marketable products pushed for Western cultural consumption. Thus terms like exotic, aboriginal, African, Asian (as if Africa or Asia is uni-cultural), ethnic-inspired, oriental, tribal, native, etc. have shape-shifted into phantasmasgorias and likenesses wholly detached from the cultures they’ve callously been extracted. Western Yoga is no different.

Generally speaking, Western Yoga is promoted as an exercise and competitive sport with primary focus on executing asanas (postures) with acrobatic and contortionist precision. Accuracy, poise, and form is the crux of what’s taught in many Yoga studios throughout the states, especially the popular ones associated with “celebrity” trainers and practitioners who’ve gained millions in revenue off this one aspect of Yoga. I am of the opinion that this deceptive propaganda postulates a continued blatant disregard for the totality of Yoga.

Minimal consideration is given to various body shapes, weights, sizes, and to how certain modifications may be needed to support reaping the full health benefits of a posture. Or the complete opposite perspective that assumes a fuller body shape, weight, or size is unable to perform certain postures. Again, nary a Yoga magazine, Yoga based website, published article, Yoga clothing ad that features and celebrates women of color, specifically black women. Many black women in the U.S. like Maya Breuer, Dianne Bondy, Jana Long, and Queen Afua to name a few have been long time students, practitioners, instructors, trainers, and Yoga studio owners since the birth of Western Yoga to the present. Drawing from both Kemetic and Eastern traditions, prayer, meditation, and pranayama breathing are integrated into their practices with equal attention given (if not more) to the asanas.

In Part Two of this article, I’ll link cultural appropriation to the mainstream media invisibility of black women in Western Yoga and conclude by highlighting the global movement of Black Yoginis and Yogis.

For now, I’ll leave you with the powerful Oneness; Moola Mantra in Sanskrit:

Om Sat Chit

Ananda Parabrahma

Purushothama Paramatha

Sri Bhagavathi Sametha

Sri Bhagavathe Namaha

OM– We are calling on the highest energy there is

Sat- the formless

Chit– Consciousness of the universe

Ananda- Pure love, bliss and joy

Para brahma- The supreme creator

Purushothama– Who has incarnated into human form to help guide mankind

Paramatma– Who comes to me heart and becomes my inner voice when I ask

Sri Bhagavati– The divine mother the power aspect of creation

Same tha– Together within

Sri Bhagavate– The father of creation which is unchangeable and permanent

Namaha– I thank you and acknowledge this presence in my life and ask for your guidance at all times

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About the Contributing Writer:

FullSizeRender (6)KaNeesha Allen is an educator and Yogini with extensive community outreach and project management experience in education and non-profit sectors.  She is also the mother of two extremely high spirited and intelligent boys – Ausar and Mikah. While often seeking to master the balance between being a highly engaged mother and taking time to BE with herself in the Divine Energy of the universe, KaNeesha finds peace, solace, and regeneration through meditation, Yoga, writing, traveling, and building with her “SiSTARS.” As the Motherhood Empowerment contributor, she welcomes mothers from everywhere to join her on a journey of self-discovery and evolution towards harnessing, embodying, and emoting the Goddess power within.


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Take Your Personal Fitness Goals Up a Notch With These Workouts (Video)

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It is spring, and summer is just around the corner! It is time to get those bodies moving. The benefits of physical activity are boundless and the impact is long-term. If you haven’t exercised in years or even never – this is the time to start! And if you are a veteran, it is always good to change up your activities to keep those muscles guessing.

Exercise controls weight, combats diseases, improves mental mood, boosts energy, improves sex life (YEP!), and it can be fun (seriously!). I have made great friends through fitness groups. Exercise comes in all forms and intensity levels; finding the right fit for you will ensure success.

Interval Training

I use interval training with all of my clients and in my group classes. I prefer this method because twenty seconds looks different for everyone and it is the best way to burn calories, build muscle, improve endurance, and meet your personal fitness goals.

You can turn anything into interval training! For example, during your morning run, for twenty seconds, sprint; rest for ten seconds, and repeat eight times. Or instead of regular pushups, perform pushups for twenty seconds, rest for ten seconds, and repeat six to eight times. Pushing your body out of its comfort zone coupled with the short rest, pushes your body into the anaerobic zone where most of the good results are seen.

The other great thing about interval training is that when you are done, your body enters Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). After all of the intervals, your body is in a state of restlessness but wants to get back to rest. While in EPOC your body is adapting to the previous exercise, restoring oxygen, repairing cells, and continuing to burn calories.

Interval training and EPOC improves your body’s ability to use oxygen, which means better endurance and more energy.

Try a few of these interval training workouts below:

 

In Health, Fitness, and Love!

Megan

For additional fitness coaching, contact Megan HERE.

And, of course, check out Megan’s other health + wellness tips and advice, HERE.

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Megan_Weidner[PRC Health Contributor]Megan Weidner is the Health + Wellness contributor for The Phoenix Rising Collective; she is a fitness coach and environmentalist in the Akron/Canton, Ohio area. She manages a global sustainability and corporate responsibility program for a large multinational company; her areas include environmental compliance, social equity, community engagement and health and wellness. Megan is also devoted to Rock. It. Fitness., her fitness and natural skincare business. She is committed to making the world a better, more environmentally friendly and healthier place through motivation and education. She is certified through AFAA and Tabata Bootcamp.  She has a B.S. in Soil, Environmental, and Atmospheric Science (University of Missouri), a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management and Policy (University of Denver) and an M.P.A (University of Missouri).  She lives in Green, Ohio with her husband and three kids.


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A 6-Minute Workout: Never Underestimate Yourself and What Your Body Can Do (Video)

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A few weeks ago, I held my first “beginner” class at a studio in Green, Ohio. The participants were shy and nervous, but they ROCKED it! So many of the women in my class had not exercised in years; some had injuries, most were not happy with their current weight, but all were motivated to make a change. Because of that motivation, they ventured out in a particularly cold and snowy northeast Ohio night to let some stranger work them out. The most exciting thing about this whole experience is that these ladies were NOT beginners! My classes are not easy; even when the title of the class says “beginner”, it is a tough workout. Too often, the first step is to believe in ourselves; to know that we simply…can.

My point to all of this? Do not underestimate yourself and what you can do. If you haven’t exercised in months, years, or never in your life – start now! Now is your time. Start slow and find something that you enjoy. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a gym membership or a trainer; most things you can do in the comfort of your home. A trainer or fitness coach is great for motivation and for showing you how to do new exercises, but again, don’t underestimate you.

Below are a couple of example workouts to get you started and for additional motivation!

Consult a physician before engaging in any type of workout. Warm up and cool down adequately.

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Lunge Demonstration – Megan Weidner, The PRC Health + Wellness Contributor

Workout #1 – Lunges

High knees (step or jog) 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds

Side lunges alternating sides 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds

Repeat both

Jumping jacks (step to the side or jump) 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds

Step back lunges alternating legs 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds

Repeat both

Push-ups (from floor or wall; you can drop your knees on the floor and push up) 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds

Plank 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds

Workout #2 – Burpees

Tabata: Burpees – 20 seconds; and 10 second rest (Repeat 8 times)

[Also, click here to learn more about Tabata]

Jump or step side to side 20 seconds, 10 second rest

Squat walk (squat position, take two steps forward and two steps back, repeat) 20 seconds, 10 second rest

Repeat

Here’s How to Do a Burpee:

Start by adding a simple 6-minute workout each day. Most of my clients find that getting the short exercises completed in the morning is best for energy levels and for their schedules.

In health, fitness, and love,

Megan

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Megan_Weidner[PRC Health Contributor]Megan Weidner is the Health + Wellness contributor for The Phoenix Rising Collective; she is a fitness coach and environmentalist in the Akron/Canton, Ohio area. She manages a global sustainability and corporate responsibility program for a large multinational company; her areas include environmental compliance, social equity, community engagement and health and wellness. Megan is also devoted to Rock. It. Fitness., her fitness and natural skincare business. She is committed to making the world a better, more environmentally friendly and healthier place through motivation and education. She is certified through AFAA and Tabata Bootcamp.  She has a B.S. in Soil, Environmental, and Atmospheric Science (University of Missouri), a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management and Policy (University of Denver) and an M.P.A (University of Missouri).  She lives in Green, Ohio with her husband and three kids.


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A Healthy, Fit New You – Every Movement Counts

PhotoGrid_1422966824372 IT’S A NEW YEAR, and here’s to a new you! Let me introduce myself: My name is Megan Weidner; I am 34 years old, a mother of three kids, a wife, an tree-hugger environmentalist by day and a fitness junkie coach by night. I own and operate Rock. It. Fitness  – an energetic, effective, and FUN in-home, online and group fitness bootcamp.

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Megan, Health + Wellness Contributor: “In all seriousness, moving is essential and every movement counts.”

Fitness is much more than dieting and taking a few classes at the gym – it is a lifestyle, and as the health and wellness contributor for The Phoenix Rising Collective, I hope to inspire you to live a healthy, happy, and prosperous life through activity and healthy eating. My disclaimer: All of my exercises are suggestions. I am not a nutritionist but through my own experiences, life choices, fitness training and reading, I believe I have the knowledge, and definitely the passion, to help you create a new you in 2015. So here we go… ACTIVITY TIP:I like to move it, move it…I like to move it, move it…I like to…MOVE” (If you’re a mom, dad, aunt, grandmother, sister, cousin, or teacher you know EXACTLY what movie this is from and you just danced in your chair). In all seriousness, moving is essential and every movement counts: Walking out to the mailbox, walking to the copier at work, playing with children, dancing, and of course, biking, running and lifting. In my classes, I use a method called TABATA; it is awesome, and with an awesome workout you get awesome results. Tabata pushes your body into the anaerobic zone; the zone where the body is forming lactate and promoting strength, speed, power, and muscle-building – basically where all of the good stuff is happening. Tabata is a form of “high intensity interval training”, but please don’t be intimidated by all of those words; you can turn anything into a “tabata”.  A tabata exercise means that you are taking your current level up a notch or two for twenty seconds, back down to normal for ten seconds, then back up for twenty seconds and repeating eight times for a total of four minutes. Try adding this to your walk around the block or on the treadmill: After warming up, increase your speed or jog for twenty seconds, then slow down or walk for ten seconds, and repeat eight times. The up-down, up-down is the basis of interval training and is going to push your body into the anaerobic zone. It will also give you noticeable results when you use it weekly. Your energy levels will increase and your endurance will improve. You’ll start to tone, lose pounds, and gain muscle. And, oh my goodness, I almost forgot to tell you one of the best things about tabata: EPOC or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. This is the period after your tabata workout, up to four hours, marked by an increased rate of oxygen intake when your body is returning to its resting state; however, while it’s returning to that resting state, it is continuing to burn calories and tone! There is SO much to share, but I think starting with a little exercise tip is a good way to begin my journey with you and 2015. Please share your fitness questions in the comments section; I look forward to connecting with you. Learn more about Rock. It. Fitness.  Be well.

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About the Contributing Writer:

Megan_Weidner[PRC Health Contributor]Megan Weidner is the Health + Wellness contributor for The Phoenix Rising Collective; she is a fitness coach and environmentalist in the Akron/Canton, Ohio area. She manages a global sustainability and corporate responsibility program for a large multinational company; her areas include environmental compliance, social equity, community engagement and health and wellness. Megan is also devoted to Rock. It. Fitness., her fitness and natural skincare business. She is committed to making the world a better, more environmentally friendly and healthier place through motivation and education. She is certified through AFAA and Tabata Bootcamp.  She has a B.S. in Soil, Environmental, and Atmospheric Science (University of Missouri), a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management and Policy (University of Denver) and an M.P.A (University of Missouri).  She lives in Green, Ohio with her husband and three kids.


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Smoothies, Soothe Me! Healthy Green Goodness that Packs a Delicious Punch

green-machine-smootie-mbd108052_vertJust when we thought Oreos could cure our heartache and the empty feeling in our stomachs, we were introduced to green smoothies. Green smoothies? How disgusting, right? Wrong.

Let us tell you that green smoothies are awesome! We decided to start drinking these clean, protein packed Mason jars full of heaven when we realized that although we were cutting out a lot of unhealthy foods, we forgot to add more fruits and veggies to our diets. Green smoothies give you the fruits and veggies you need, and are catalysts to establishing cleaner eating habits. Since we’ve started drinking them, we have a lot more energy, eat less junk food, and rely a lot less on sugary, caffeinated drinks, though we do ‘love us some’ chai and coffee. After drinking a smoothie, we feel happy and full. We get to sip on something that makes us feel good and look good at the same time.

I guess you could say that we make, “Eww, what are you drinking?” look fabulous. Furthermore, smoothies are not only perfect for giving you that fabulous ooh-I’m-health-conscious look, but they also provide your body with protein, making for great pre and post workout meals. Just be sure to add hemp, whey, and/or flax seed powder to give you the extra kick you’ll need to run those 13.1 miles in the spring half marathon!

We have to say that incorporating healthier foods in our diets has not always been easy. And though that pack of Oreos and glass of wine you had the day Microsoft Word did not recover your 25-page seminar paper won’t kill you, neglecting to really take care of yourself may knock some years off your life. We realize how important it is to invest in our bodies in multiple ways. On a typical day, we meditate/pray, throw up our hair in a high ponytail, slide on the spandex, and whip out our cutting boards; however, by the end of the day (or by 3am when we’re retyping that 25-page paper), there’s the realization that it wasn’t our pearls, nerdy glasses, honeycomb hats, or frankincense oil that got us through the day—it was the time we took to invest in ourselves from the inside out.

So, today, that’s all we ask. Invest in yourself from the inside out. Tell yourself that looking and feeling good does not start with that Satin Rebel lipstick; every kiss begins with green—okay, that didn’t work? Anyway, guzzle down a green smoothie, and take care of everything else when you’re done (or while green smoothies are so cool that you can drink them on the go)!

Want to feel better, too? (Because we know you already look good!) Here are some of our favorite recipes:

 

Aisha’s Green Smoothie aka Almost Everything Green Smoothie:

1 ½ cups of coconut milk (or rice, or almond milk)

½ cups kale (or chard – I mix it up)

1 handful of spinach

¾ cup strawberries

½ a kiwi

Half of a cucumber

1 granny smith apple

1 Tablespoon of rice protein

1 Tablespoon of ground flax seed

Aisha prefers to add the ingredients to the blender in this order, blending after each new addition: milk and leafy greens, apples and strawberries, cucumber and kiwi, flax seed and protein.

 

Simone’s Green Smoothie aka Excuse Me While I Make My Green Smoothie Blue-Green Smoothie:

1 ½ cups of coconut water

1 tbs. of spirulina

2 frozen banana

1 tbs. of carob powder

2 tbs. of almond butter

3 tbs. of raw honey

1 granny smith apply

1 tbs. of flax seed oil

¾ cups of strawberries

A pinch of Himalayan pink salt

Simone prefers to add the coconut water first, throw everything else into the blender, and then blend until it’s pretty.

Many sources like Hey Fran Hey, and Simple Green Smoothies offer inspiration and recipes for cleaner eating through drinking green smoothies. A concern a lot of people have with the smoothie life is wasting their fruits and vegetables. A solution for this is to freeze all of the ingredients for your green smoothies in quart size freezer bags with the ingredients in the order they will be added to the blender. Freezing the ingredients saves a lot of prep time, and makes the smoothies cold and delicious. We usually put our shakes in a Blender Bottle or Mason jar, and carry it with us to campus! Since it’s frozen, it stays cold for hours.

Happy (green) eating!  *sips*

 

AISHA_BLOG[PHOTO]Aisha Upton is a first year PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh, studying Sociology and Women’s Studies. Her research interests include Black women in service organizations and violence against Black women. She is passionate about many things including community service, lipstick, baking, thrifting, knitting, and being a proud owner of a Cockapoo, Napoleon. At the intersection of being a diligent student, a fashionista, and an activist – you will find Aisha, attempting to find a balance.

 

Simonepic2Simone Savannah is an English instructor and contributing writer for the Project on the History of Black Writing at the University of Kansas. She is currently pursuing a PhD in English-Creative Writing and Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. Her poetry is based on personal experiences she can’t let go—imagined or otherwise. Simone also enjoys making green smoothies, attending Bikram Yoga classes, and laughing uncontrollably.

 

Be sure to continue following Aisha + Simone’s unique take on Life + Style and the importance of letting who you are shine through when defining your personal style.

 

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© The Phoenix Rising Collective, 2013. Please note that unauthorized use and/or duplication of any material without express and written permission from PHOENIX SHINE’S authors and/or owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the Phoenix Rising Collective and its contributing writers with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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7 Daily Practices to Revitalize the Mind, Body, and Soul

health_and_wellness[BlackWomen]

Peace and blessings, beloved hearts! I am feeling blessed as I put my pen to paper to share my thoughts, ideas, and experiences with you about living a healthy, wealthy life. In my previous post Health is W.E.A.L.T.H.S: Practicing Self-Care, Maintaining Wellness, I discussed the basic keys to wellness with the acronym W.E.A.L.T.H.S. (water, exercise, air, light, thinking happy thoughts, healthy foods, and sleep). Let’s further explore this concept with some holistic health tips that can be incorporated into your daily life to revitalize the mind, body and soul.

 Water Therapy: Break Fast with Water

Start your day off with water.  One to two cups of warm tea or room temperature water upon rising will cleanse the bowels, energize your body, and clear your mind.  Water enhanced with fresh lemon juice is a simple and easy body cleanser that you can drink daily to decrease mucus and stimulate the digestive system.

 exercise_blogpostExercise: Yoga Therapy – Mountain Pose

We will start off with the foundation of all standing yoga poses: The Mountain Pose.  Even though this is a simple pose, many people still lack proper alignment.  In the words of Master Hip hopper KRS-ONE, “stand upright, not uptight.” Do you stand firm through the stormy weathers of life or do you slouch and mope?

The first thing I teach my students in yoga class is how to stand. Begin by holding the intention of Ankh Udja Seneb (life, health, and prosperity). Mountain is the basic pose for alignment. From an energetic perspective, this pose activates both the root and brow chakra.

Stand with the feet hip-width apart. From the crown through the spinal cord are the points of alignment for this pose. Root yourself into the floor by engaging your feet. The four corners of the feet are grounded, use your imagination to root yourself into the earth. The weight should be evenly distributed between both feet. There is a softening at the knee (or a slight flexion of the knee), as well as a lifting of the quadriceps femoris (the thigh muscles) into the pelvis.

Slightly lift from the crown of the head, aligning it with the torso. The rib cage is knitted, or slightly drawn towards the spine, deepening respiration. The shoulder blades are relaxed after breathing up, back, and down toward the earth. The chin is parallel to the earth. The sacrum is released down. The pelvic floor is lifted and aligned with the torso and head.  The vertebral column is in its naturally curved position.  The body is now in perfect balance. Bring the hands to your heart-center and allow yourself to relax and receive the medicine from this simple pose.

breathe_blogpostAir: Breath Awareness

Bring your awareness to your breath as air flows into your body.  Breathing is your most precious possession; it is powerful and magical because it connects you to your mind and body – the conscious and unconscious.

Proper breathing nourishes your body, reduces stress (which induces relaxation), and opens the way for healing.

Place the hands gently over the naval area.  As you breathe in, allow your belly to expand, and while breathing in, the belly goes in. Feel the movement of your hands as you breathe in and out, slow and deep, expanding and contracting. As you breathe correctly, notice the stillness of your thoughts and the awareness of the life force energy that flows through you completely.

Continue inhaling and exhaling, deep and slow, and with calm and ease – no pressure or control, just awareness.  Allow each breath to bring you to the present moment.  Fill your belly and lungs with your healing breath. Imagine the breath flowing in and out of your body as a shimmery electronic healing presence. Consciously send breath to those parts of you that may be in need of healing.

light_blogpostLight: Vitamin D

The best form of light besides lightness of the heart is soaking in rays from our shining star, the Sun. According to the Vegetarian Cooking School Cookbook by Danny & Charise Vierra, “Every living thing in our world is dependent on sunlight. Without sunlight nothing would live.”

The following discoveries show the benefits derived from the sun:

  1. It lowers blood sugar and blood pressure.
  2. It lowers cholesterol by converting it to vitamin D.
  3. It utilizes calcium and phosphorus.
  4. It increases red and white blood cells.
  5. It strengthens the immune system.
  6. It calms the nerves and increases adrenaline.
  7. It destroys germs on the skin and reverses jaundice.
  8. It increases circulation.
  9. It helps eliminate pesticides and other chemicals from the system.

 

Sunlight is by far the best form of Vitamin D you can receive. Any opportunity that you get to bask in the sun, please do. Small amounts of vitamin D are said to be in dandelion greens, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, vegetable oils, and herbs such as alfalfa, horsetail, nettle, and parsley.

For those of you who may be concerned about sunburn, take a look at this recipe for natural sunscreen.

Ingredients:

 Thinking Happy Thoughts

Negative thinking leads to negative living. We’ve heard this many times, but repetition is the best teacher, so I will say it again, “Thoughts are power.” How you decide to wield this power is up to you. There is a stream of well being that flows, and positive thinking puts you in alignment with this stream, so focus your attention on what brings joy and you will experience more joy.

Affirmation: Consistent adherence to the laws of health are absolutely necessary for spiritual development and success in life. Every cell in my body knows how to be well.

healthy_foods_blogpostHealthy Food: Immune Builders

A few of the best foods to consume to prevent colds and to nourish and protect the body during the harsh winter months are: spirulina, blackstrap molasses, ginger, apples, lemon and other citrus fruits, apples, raw greens (kale, spinach, baby greens), steel cut oatmeal, cayenne, onions, garlic, quinoa. Prepave your way to a healthier lifestyle with high quality organic or sustainably grown fruits & vegetables. Check out Circle 77 for more details on my non-profit organization’s food buying club.

Sleep

Many people are suffering from lack of sleep. Sleep is the greatest rejuvenator! It restores strength to your muscles, nerves, and brain. During sleep the body repairs, re-energizes, and prepares for renewed activity. One hour of sleep before midnight is equal to two hours of sleep after midnight, so make an effort to go to bed before 10 o’clock.

Peaks in melatonin, the body’s natural healing hormone, take place between hours nine and 12PM. If you suffer from insomnia, a soothing salt bath, relaxing stretches, and prayer or meditation can help you. Lastly, eat before sunset so that your body will have time for food digestion, and to prevent interference with your sleep.  Sweet Dreams!

systar_roni_ausetSystar Roni Auset is a licensed yoga instructor, healthy living practitioner, holistic educator, and master joyologist! Her aim is to improve her community’s quality of life by promoting a healthy lifestyle. By offering educational workshops, health oriented events, youth productions, and training programs, Systar Roni teaches and encourages holistic health as a way to empower people to make choices that will positively impact their own health and that of their peers, families, and communities. Using the latest information about nutrition and natural living, as well as sharing knowledge about the benefits of physical activity and meditation, she intends to be a strong source of vitality within the community. If  you would like to schedule a workshop/yoga class, participate in the Circle 77 buying club, or support her work with youth,  please visit The Children Shall Lead Them Productions.