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7 Recipes to Jumpstart Your Metabolism

With spring just around the corner, now is the perfect time to revisit our lean resolutions for the new year and awaken our minds and bodies from the lag in energy many of us experience in wintertime. The following recipes focus on key ingredients, namely caffeine and spice, that kickstart your body’s energy-burning process. Capsaicin, the powerful antioxidant found in hot peppers, literally warms us from the inside out, raising body temperature, and releasing endorphins. Accompanying a routine of regular exercise with these small, spice-infused meals and energizing beverages will stoke your metabolism with extra fuel, helping to elevate and sustain your energy level. Experiment with these recipes to ignite your inner fire and give yourself a delicious boost in heat and vitality to weather the few remaining weeks of winter.

Matcha Green Tea Latte

Matcha is a highly potent form of green tea with a vibrant hue and a bold, energizing flavor. With nearly 137 times as many antioxidants as common green tea, this beverage provides a variety of excellent health benefits plus stellar anti-aging properties, as well as a balanced, crash-free caffeine boost to get you going.

Mock Cappuccino with Cinnamon and Nutmeg

The warming spices in this drink add to the stimulating effects of the coffee with a refreshing jolt of flavor.

Spiced Chopped Salad

I like to heat up this nourishing dish by mixing jalapenos and peperoncini into the dressing. If your palate is very sensitive to spice, I recommend scraping out the extra hot white veins and seeds out of the inside of the peppers.

Spicy Hummus Wrap

Cayenne pepper, made by grinding together a variety of dried hot peppers, is full of capsaicin. The fresh veggies, rich hummus, and firey kick of cayenne make for a very tasty and effective jumpstart to the metabolism.

Mocha Smoothie

This delicious low-calorie, low fat smoothie is an excellent lean alternative to its sugary Starbucks counterpart.

Spicy Eggs

Eggs are packed with protein and energy-boosting vitamin B12. Adding jalapenos or your favorite hot pepper-based sauce will give your taste buds and metabolism that extra kick.

Spicy Tomato Soup

This hot and healthy soup will stimulate your system with every bite, not only because of its heat but because of its variety of aromatic herbs.

Stillness in Motion

Our yoga practice brings us an opportunity for stillness so that we can have that moment of peace or stillness. In a YogaFit practice, we are looking for the graceful flow from pose to pose guided by a deep yet easy breath. To flow with effortlessness, the very definition of flow, one needs to be able to engage bandhas with out overly gripping.  One of the wonderful surprises coming from a practice on the NEW YOGAFIT INDO BALANCE BOARD is that recognition of when you are accurately engaging the deep core muscles to stabilize instead of compensating somewhere!

Indo YogaFit Balance Board was inspired by Stand Up Paddle (SUP), a sport that is exploding in popularity. SUP Yoga is practicing yoga on a stand up paddleboard! Practicing yoga on the water is an amazingly peaceful activity that demands constant presence! Since we cant always get to a body of water, Hunter Joslin, creator of the Original INDO Board came up the Indo Balance board for dry land training. Practicing on the balance board is quite fun and requires the same presence (without the risk of getting wet). You learn to ride the “waves of motion”, and you feel your body able to flow the waves rather than fight against the movement. Fighting or resisting the movement results in muscle tension and a restricted ability to flow from pose to pose. The breath also suffers when resistance is present. When our bandhas are engaged and we are in alignment (think SPA), our breath is deep and we move with a strong stillness.

Practice on the YOGAFIT INDO BALANCE BOARD is practice in staying present. Practice on this unstable surface is practice in achieving bandha activation beyond the muscular. When we first begin a yoga practice we are taught about the activation of core musculature (perineum muscles, Transverse ab and more).

In the first part of our learning process it is usually about the physical contraction. As our practice advances we shift to a subtler contraction of the bandhas. This subtle contraction involves deep breath and that gives us the ability to flow with strength, grace and ease. I have found this shift & awareness to happen faster in my practice on the unstable surface both on the water and the Balance board. Practice on the YOGAFIT INDO BALANCE BOARD truly helps you find the stillness in motion and the motion in the stillness in your practice.

One of my favorite ways to begin my practice on the YOGAFIT INDO BALANCE BOARD is to chant Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung for 11 minutes, sometimes along with Snatum Kaur (1st track on the YogaFit CD of the same name).

This is a beautiful healing chant that I also have trainees try at the beginning of the Balance Board training because I thought it would be a good illustration of the call to action of the deep core muscles that is required. Even seated or standing still for this time, one feels the constant strength and motion deep inside the body!

Mind-Body Tools that Fortify & Empower Your Body & Mind

Nearly 20 million people are practicing yoga today in the United States, and it has entered the mainstream as a hip and trendy way to get in shape, sculpt lean muscles and improve overall athletic performance and mental focus. Once you begin to incorporate yoga postures into your training regimen or even devote an entire workout to yoga, you’ll find that it’s the integration of your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual body.

What does that really mean?

Students of yoga will get healthier, and eventually learn to center themselves, be present and aware, and to identify with their highest athletic self.

Physical exercise has a protective effect on the brain and its mental processes, and may even help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Based on exercise and health data from nearly 5,000 men and women over 65 years of age, those who exercised were less likely to lose their mental abilities or develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s.

Furthermore, the five-year study at the Laval University in Sainte-Foy, Quebec, suggests that the more a person exercises, the greater the protective benefits for the brain, particularly in women. In the revolutionary study, inactive individuals were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s, compared to those with the highest levels of activity (exercised vigorously at least three times a week). But even light or moderate exercisers cut their risk significantly for Alzheimer’s.

When you come to your mat and close your eyes (to meditate or to simply slow your thoughts and deepen your breathing, several hormonal and physiological things happen almost instantly:

• As you breathe deeper, more oxygenated blood courses throughout your circulatory system, which helps lower stress hormones which can compromise the immune system. This oxygen-rich blood also conditions and strengthens the lungs and respiratory tract.

• The lymphatic system is strengthened and toxins are swept away during physical practice. You may notice that you get far fewer illnesses when you have a regular yoga practice. Sometimes, students come to class with a sniffly nose, and several postures (and breathing drills) can clean out their cardiorespiratory system enough so that they walk out of class feeling much healthier once the toxins are eliminated.

• Moving into deeper poses slowly and progressively provides freedom from a variety of diseases like migraine, headache, insomnia and even arthritis. It increases the metabolism of the body in a controlled manner and helps you to feel better.

• Yoga boosts mental and emotional strength even as it simultaneously provides proper toning to the body. Joints become stiff with age and also due to a stagnant lifestyle –- but so does the mind! Yoga provides flexibility to all body parts and the mobilization exercises help make the body active so as to undertake a variety of daily chores with greater functionality.

• Yoga cultivates focus and concentration and reduces stress by making you less reactive. It especially opens the spine, the hips and the shoulders, where all stress hides and strengthens the many systems of the body, like the circulatory system, the immune system, and the endocrine system. Yoga calms the mind, steadies emotions and opens the heart to feeling more vibrantly alive, giving you a sense of empowerment. As a result, you become more comfortable in your body.

• When you feel better in your body, you feel better about yourself and act better towards others. That’s the goal… in the midst of a stressful day, yoga provides a reprieve from ringing phones, screaming managers, testy kids, and all the intrusions upon your day or your workout. Yoga restores calmness, balances the emotions, and nourishes your internal body.

• An open and flexible mind energizes and prepares one for change. Some believe that visualization helps in the transformation of thoughts to a new life of hope and success. By visualizing mental pictures of success, one can take measures toward converting dreams into reality. Some believe the best time for visualization is in the morning. Closing the eyes and doing 5 to 10 minutes of your favorite yoga postures provides an opportunity to find inspiration and self-motivation as one imagines how to go about changing life.

The science of how yoga empowers the mind and emotions is so tangible that there’s a new and burgeoning field called “yoga therapy,” where certain practitioners (including psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers) incorporate yoga poses and meditative breathing into their sessions, as well as yoga teachers who want to learn how to address the emotions that bubble up in students during class or in private sessions. The idea is to allow yoga to empower people while priming them to access their deepest emotions.

Time Magazine reported that since the days of Freud, research into the mind-body relationship has come a long way. Studies show that not only are your mental health and mood dependent in large part on physical factors like exercise, but also unchecked stress, anxiety and depression can affect physical health, increasing blood pressure, heart disease, and even risk of death. So it was perhaps inevitable that patients would start bringing their yoga mats into therapy.

A Calmer Mind, then a Stronger Body

If you’ve ever been around an Olympic-level athlete or competitive triathlete, you’ll always notice something different about them while they are competing. In yoga, I like to refer to this as “being present” but coaches and fitness experts call it any number of other things too. This state of “being present” means chasing out all invading negative thoughts and focusing at the feat at hand, whether that is sinking a basketball, skiing a black diamond mountain, jumping hurdles or simply doing a full, pain free backbend. It takes some training (consistent yoga practice), but anyone who comes to their mat to cross-train can start becoming evermore present and excel at athletic events.

Some of the benefits to athletes and aspiring athletes are:

• Many poses put the body in positions in which normally it wouldn’t be, training the proprioceptors in muscles and tendons to be more reactive. The muscle fibers located around the joints sense and accommodate for weight shifts. With any sport, having a greater awareness of body in space and in motion cannot help but improve overall endurance and performance.

• My own teachers have said that busy or stressed humans only use 10 to 20 percent of their breathing capacity under normal circumstances.  With yoga, you start tapping into your pranayama, or “breath control” which works on pushing out the dead air, to set a slower breathing rate that mimics peak condition in endurance sports, allowing the body to become more efficient in oxygen uptake and performance.

• Practicing the postures even for 10 minutes allows the brain to function and focus on the task at hand and reduces the hormonal “fight or flight” response of the adrenals and give you a better sense of calmness. This calmer sense of purpose, or being present, is very important to transfer to athletic performance on the field or anywhere you compete.

• Most full-on athletes have already been injured in competition; it’s only a matter of time before you are when you sue your body to such lengths, so it’s helpful that yoga can be used for general pain relief.  Studies show that practicing Yoga asanas (postures), meditation or combination of the two, reduced pain for people with conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, auto-immune diseases and hypertension, as well as arthritis, back and neck pan, and other chronic conditions. Yoga helps to improve flexibility and mobility, increasing range of movement and reducing aches and pains.

• In yoga, to help balance and quiet the mind we often focus for long periods on a triste, or eye focus-point to still the thoughts of the mind that may normally cause anxiety. So, yoga helps an athlete become better equipped at dealing with the mental and physical challenges that athletics requires through training and competing – before kicking a soccer ball into a goal net, for instance, or focusing on a point before diving into the water off a high dive.

• Focus on the Present: Yoga helps us focus on the present, to become more aware and to help create mind body health. It opens the way to improved coordination, reaction time and memory.

Most of us know that physical exercise is good for our general health, but now, more than ever, studies show – and doing yoga proves –  that physical exercise is also good for your brain. If you think you’re going to get smarter sitting in front of your computer or watching television, think again! Instead, grab your mat at the end of any workout and do some yoga to empower your body and your mind

Restorative Yoga

Restorative Yoga is focused around the “ahhh” experience in yoga; the space found by breathing, relaxing and letting go of the mind’s internal dialogue.  This gentle approach to practice allows participants to experience the same benefits of traditional practice while exerting little or no effort at all and leaves students feeling nourished, refreshed and well rested.

Prolonged stress, internal conflict, demanding situations, anxiety and anger engage the body’s natural “fight or flight” response which triggers the hypothalamus and initiates a sequence of nerve cell firing that prepares our bodies to react to perceived danger.  Restorative Yoga engages our bodies’ innate ability to renew and restore, balancing and counteracting the effects of prolonged stress.

Restorative Yoga facilitates the four conditions for relaxation: relaxing the muscles with support, quieting the responses caused by stress, quieting the mind and finding a relaxed smooth breath.  Unlike sleep where your mind and body are preoccupied with dreaming and tensing muscles, Restorative Yoga provides an opportunity to achieve all four of these conditions.

The purpose of Restorative Yoga is two-fold.  Restorative Active Poses awaken dull areas in the body to improve circulation and promote healing while Restorative Passive Poses induce deep relaxation and recuperation.

Some of the key adjustments to look for include maintaining round and soft lines in the body and avoiding sharp angles, readjusting props strategically to support the body, filling the space between the body and the earth and using enough props to create an even path for energy.   Most of the adjustments in Restorative Yoga involve accommodating and giving support to the body with props.  The basic props for Restorative Yoga are blocks, chairs, straps, bolsters and eye wraps.

Breathing during Restorative Yoga should always be easy and gentle, never forced or strained.  Restorative Yoga encourages students to become aware of the sensations and feelings of breathing and provides a chance to experience breath without muscular effort that brings about opening, healing and a calm state of mind.  Sometimes students will access deep feelings locked in the mind/body and may experience catharsis.

Experience Restorative Yoga’s benefits to the mind and body with this balancing and rejuvenating routine:

Begin on your back with knees bent and the hands on the midsection.

Centering Breath, which consists of two gentle breaths, followed by one deliberately slow and thin inhalation and one deliberately long and full exhalation.

Bridge Flow with Block: Come to bridge pose, with the support of a block underneath the tailbone/lower lumbar spine.  Lift and lower hips, elevating when the lower hips are supported.

Abs with Block or Ball: Placing the block or ball between the thighs, 2-3 inches above the knees, engaging in abdominal work of you choice, which can include crunches or leg lifts, gently applying pressure to the block or ball.

Supported Bridge with Block: Placing a block or bolster beneath the feet and lowering back, relaxing the head down onto a blanket, opening the arms to either side.

Knees to Chest: Lying down on the back, bringing the knees to the chest and holding on to the back of the thighs.

Childs Pose Restorative with Bolster: Beginning on all fours, pushing the buttocks back on to the knees and lowering the upper body down.  Chest rests on a bolster, completely relaxing, resting and breathing.

Cat/Cow with Block or Ball: Beginning on all fours, holding a block or ball between the thighs, 2-3 inches above the knees, for Cat Pose, rounding the back to the sky as the head lowers, and for Cow Pose, arching the back and lifting the chin.

Down Dog with Block: Coming to Down Dog, resting the forehead on a block or holding a block or ball between the thighs.

Crocodile / Plank Pose- Upper Body Warm Ups: For Plank, beginning in Downward Facing Dog and shifting forward until the shoulder are directly above the wrists. Pressing the heels back and reaching through the crown of the head with the back straight and abdominals firm, moving to Crocodile Pose, pushing forward with your tos and hugging your ribcage below the elbows.  Lowering your chest, keeping your abdominals strong and hips stationary. Transitioning from Plank to Crocodile with Child’s Pose in-between.

Side Angle with Block: From a Warrior stance, bending your front knee and placing your forearm on a block on your thigh, reaching the top arm to the sky and alternating sides.

Sunflowers:  Stepping back to face the long edge of your mat, feet spread, turning the heals in and toes out, coming down to a squat while bending the elbows and placing them next to the waist, knees straight out over the toes. On an inhale, moving the arms overhead and on an exhale hinging forward from the hips, reaching the tailbone back while maintaining a neutral spine as you sweep the arms to the floor. Flowing with the breath through repetitions.

For more information about Restorative Yoga, register for YogaFit’s Restorative Yoga training at

From the founder of YogaFit…

It’s time for a ZENtervention. We at YogaFit and YogaLean are here to revitalize society. Physically. Mentally. Spiritually. To empower all people, no matter who you are, to achieve wellness, and in doing so, to transform lives for the better.

It’s as much a personal journey as a far greater one. Because the better we feel – as individuals, communities, and society as a whole – the more we can accomplish. Put simply, we want to bring wellness to the world.

What we offer is a new way of living, based on the philosophy of yoga, to transform yourself inside and out. It’s about creating and sustaining a balanced lifestyle that touches every aspect of how you live – from fitness and food to meditation and giving back – for realizing total mind body vitality. It’s what we call whole life wellness.

We understand that sometimes people need a catalyst to realize a more holistic approach to their overall wellness. We’ve developed YogaLean to do just that – YogaLean is principles for achieving optimum health and well being. YogaLean sets us on a journey to whole life wellness and positive transformation. It’s about taking the first step: thinking differently to live differently. Being more mindful – of your body, your home, and your time – to reach your optimum.

Over 17 years ago, Founder Beth Shaw pioneered the practice of teaching yoga. Embracing the physical exercise, then its wider philosophy – this was where the vision of For Better Self began.

Starting out of the trunk of her car with a passion to help people feel better and live life more fulfilled, Beth founded YogaFit, today the largest yoga fitness education school in North America. Beth’s work has helped thousands. Now, she aims to bring that knowledge, education, and best practice to all, making it simple and accessible. So everyone can be their better self.

Sorghum Risotto

I like to make healthy food in quantities that go beyond one meal. This provides my family with healthy options when one of us is hungry and needs food…NOW! Rather than turn to snack food and processed food, we can turn to the real food that is premade in the refrigerator! Leftovers are also great to pack for lunches! Having a nutritious lunch allows my husband and me to have the energy to workout after school…and for me to teach my yoga and fitness classes!

Sorghum Risotto is a great recipe for a YogaLean lifestyle. It is a healthy makeover of a traditional comfort food. The time you spend cooking it once can be saved other times when you warm it up. You will be happy you made a large batch so you have something nutritious to eat when you are hungry!

My VEGETARIAN RISOTTO is a take on the traditional risotto. I substituted a protein, (Bob’s Red Mill) Sorghum, for the Arborio Rice. The great thing about a RISOTTO…it can be customized! It is a great way to use up vegetables left in the refrigerator! Sorghum reminds me of barley in texture and flavor.

Sorghum Risotto

Serves 2

Cook Time: From start to finish if sorghum is pre-made 30 minutes

Pre-cooking sorghum saves 45 minutes


– 4-6 cloves of garlic (depends on size)
– 1 shallot or HALF a red or yellow onion
– 2 stalks of celery
– HALF a red, yellow, and orange bell pepper
– 6 basil leaves or 2 -3 teaspoons of dried basil
– 2 cups of cooked sorghum
– 1 cup of liquid (vegetable broth – low sodium is best)
– Olive oil
– 1 cup of grated Parmesan or Italian cheese blend


– For liquid use water, vegetable broth, chicken broth, or vegetable broth
– Add small cubes of chicken
– Substitute other vegetables for the peppers (onion and asparagus, leeks and broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, beet green stems, chard stems, and sweet potatoes)
– Use non-dairy cheese for real cheese to make vegan

1. Chop garlic, onion, and celery into small pieces and sauté in 3 TBSP olive oil in a large pot
2. As onions or shallot becomes translucent, add the sorghum to coat it with the oil – stir for about 1 minute.
3. Add the broth and bring to a boil.
4. While the liquid is boiling, chop the vegetables and add to the pot.
5. When the liquid is nearly absorbed, add the basil and cheese. Stir until combined and liquid is absorbed.
6. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve or, once cool, put in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Then enjoy with salad and a gluten free roll!


ReneMacVayMy name is Rene’ MacVay and I am an E-RYT 200 (RYT 500 should be done in 2015). During the day I teach high school English, Speech, and AP Art History and in the afternoons and evenings I teach yoga, pilates, and personal train. My hobbies include reading and cooking. I love reading as I either gain knowledge or am transported to another time and place! I love cooking for the artistry and the creativity it allows me to express.

Follow my cooking adventures on my blog,

Why YogaLean Loves Purium

Yoga is a huge step in elevating self improvement, mind-body awareness, and learning to listen to your body. But so is nutrition. Eating right is incredibly important in getting the body healthy and more balanced.

For someone looking to lose weight and get in better shape, nutrition plays an even more crucial role. You can’t just do yoga or cardio while still eating the same high-fat, high-sugar foods and see weight loss results.

Purim-logoClick to order!

So why is YogaLean such a big proponent of Purium products?

With YogaLean, you’re not just fixated on losing weight, you’re more concentrated on getting your body healthy. For me, I felt like the Purium products offered an incredible jumpstart in detoxifying the body, preparing it for a healthier, more holistic way of living.

I’ll be completely honest – I’ve never been the type of person who wants to do a cleanse – for 3 reasons:

1) I don’t want to lose my muscle

2) I like to eat

3) I want to have energy

What I found with Purium was far different than other cleanses I’ve tried in the past. For one, the powders and shakes use ingredients that are all natural and that pack a ton of energy and potency – ingredients that Chinese medicine and shamanic healers have been using for thousands of years. Their protein powders taste amazing, and I never feel like I’m limiting my body of essential minerals and nutrients when I’m taking the cleanse.

You’ll never find artificial ingredients in the Purium products. This includes NO

• Artificial colors

• Artificial sweeteners

• Artificial flavors

• Excipients and fillers

• Excess sugar

• Excess fat

The Founder of Purium and author of The Green Food Bible, David Sandoval is the mastermind behind the 10-Day Transformation Diet.

Purium has mastered the art of phytochemistry (the rejuvenating benefits of plants). By studying the ancient arts of Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, Amazonian herbs, the shamanic healing arts of Native Americans, and other traditional aboriginal practices, they’ve captured the most potent whole food plant extracts from around the globe to repair your body at the cellular level.


These herbs have been revered for thousands of years for their purported ability to support the naturopathic principle that “the human body is capable of creating and supporting perfect health if given the proper tools.” No other company has such a complete holistic approach to food and nutrition.

Green foods are healing foods – they always have been and they always will be. Purim’s line of products contain ingredients such as cracked cell chlorella, red marine algae, organic spirulina, organic barley greens, organic kamut, and many more.

The first 10 days of the YogaLean Coaching Program is actually the 10-Day Purium cleanse. I built it this way, so that people can detox and lose weight quickly; then when they’re adding foods back in it acts as an elimination diet. So you can see what foods cause you gastric distress, what foods upset your stomach, what foods work with your body rather than against it. It’s a great way to jumpstart your weight loss while feeling rejuvenated and healthy.

This is a wonderful option for people who are maybe a little skeptical about doing a cleanse, but who want to feel better from the inside out.

We already know this, but it bears repeating: plants have amazing healing capabilities. Learn more about Purium and what it can do for you, by visiting their website, here.

Purim-logoClick to order!

5 Yoga Poses That You Can Perform During a Busy Workday

Let’s be honest, we are all living extraordinarily busy lives. Between working more than eight hours a day at our job and trying to get all of our errands done, there is very little time left for exercise and relaxation.

Unfortunately there is a misconception that yoga can only be done on a yoga mat or in a gym, but that isn’t the case at all. There are many different types of poses and exercises that can be done literally anywhere, including an office. All you require is a little bit of personal space, a few moments of free time, and coworkers who aren’t judgmental!

By completing these five poses, you will get a solid workout that won’t eat up all of your time during a busy day. Each pose is designed to focus on different parts of your body and should be held for five-10 breaths.

1. Chest Expansion – For your abdominals and upper back

Standing, interlace your fingers behind your back and straighten your arms. Slowly raise your arms, bend your knees, and lower into a forward fold, leading with your chest.

2. Seated Spinal Twist – For your upper back and obliques

From a seated position, extend your legs, bring your right knee up with the sole of your foot on the floor, place your right hand next to you or behind you and sit tall. Beginning at the base of your spine, rotate to the right, bringing your left forearm around to hold your right shin. Use your core strength rather than your arm to deepen the twist.

3. Eagle – For your quads, glutes, and hip adductors

Wrap your top leg around your standing leg. Touch your toes to the mat or hook your foot behind your calf. Sit back with your hips, keeping your spine upright. Wrap your arms to touch your palms (or back of your hands) together. The top leg is on the same side as the bottom arm.

4. Chair Pose – For your quads, lower back, shoulders, abdominals, and calves

Bend your knees and drop your buttocks, as if sitting in a chair. For a challenge, come up onto the balls of your feet and sit a bit lower. Keeping your chest lifted, find a focal point and breathe. Practice lifting just one heel at a time.

5. Lying Down Spinal Twist/Supine Spinal Twist – For hip adductors, lower back, upper back, and obliques

Lie down on the floor and extend your left leg along the floor. Place your right foot on the floor and push to lift, then shift your hips slightly to the right. Use your left hand to gently draw your right knee toward the floor.

5 Tips for Tuning In to a New Frequency

Much of our daily life is spent living in our heads, focused on what we are thinking versus what we are feeling. With the demands of work and home we are often required to mentally stay one step ahead just to get through our day. But if we navigate life led by our thoughts alone, we miss out on a world of information available to us through our bodies and spirits. If we don’t quiet our minds they make us unhealthy and want to over eat or drink. Meditation can truly help us lose weight as it provides a feeling of being full that no cake will ever top.

The ancient practice of meditation is as integral to yoga as the poses, with the same intention: not to tune out, but to tune in to a frequency long forgotten, or perhaps undiscovered. Meditation is about becoming acutely aware of what is going on within you, as well as learning to tame your mind so you can focus all your energy and awareness on the task at hand. The practice of meditation helps you stay centered regardless of your circumstances. It doesn’t teach you to avoid pain or discomfort, but to experience and accept it so you can move through any situation with profound clarity and a sense of inner peace and calm. Meditation is a wonderful way to tap into your internal “knowingness” and get into touch with your eternal essence.

Just like learning yoga breathing techniques and poses, meditation is at first awkward and unfamiliar. It’s eye opening to discover that we are controlled by incessant thoughts, and it’s frustrating to realize that many of them are unnecessary and perhaps even untrue! Sitting in silence we also realize how many common distractions compete for our attention, such as doubt, sleepiness and restlessness. Rather than using up even more energy fighting these hindrances, we eventually realize it’s far easier to acknowledge them and release them. Distractions will never let up, but you can teach yourself to let them go. In fact, this awareness of your life and distractions is the first step in developing a successful meditation practice that will improve your physical and mental wellbeing. Here are 5 tips for helping you get into, or improve on your meditation practice:

1. Take time away for meditation! It’s important that we don’t rush our meditation practice, so always set aside time for meditation, when you can. Setting aside the time shows that you have respect for the practice, and you’ll go into it with that same state of mind. When we prioritize something like meditation it can help everything else fall into line.

2. Meditate in a place you feel comfortable. Begin your practice somewhere calm and quiet that you feel comfortable in. You can meditate anywhere, just make sure it’s free of outside distractions (as much as possible) and in a place that makes you feel calm and present.

3. Take time to notice how you feel before and after you meditate.Monitor the changes in your heart rate, breathing and stress level. Often times we forget to note that we may be feeling unhappy or stressed before meditation, forgetting to acknowledge these feelings hinders their release. Additionally, noticing the improvement in ones mood or stress level often helps to reinforce meditation as a daily habit.

4. Focus on YOU! Try not to meditate on work, or family stress. Meditation time is you time! Consider what emotions you are feeling and explore them within yourself, taking time to note where each feeling is coming from. Allow yourself to explore deep inside feelings and emotions. Distractions will definitely come, but it is important to feel them so that we can also release them, don’t get frustrated when or if you become distracted by outside forces, work through them and release them with each exhale.

5. Keep breathing! Breathing is a critical part of meditation. We can use our breathing rhythmically to get us into a meditative state and to focus in the present moment. Breathing helps to calm us and focus us on the task at hand. Your breathing helps guide your brain and body through the process of meditation. Once you are able to calm and regulate your breath, meditation comes easier. Focus on taking deep, even, cleansing breaths, breathing in positivity and exhaling negativity and distraction.

Once you refine your ability to slip into a state of awareness and being, you can bring this focus into other areas of your life. No matter what is happening in your immediate environment, you can step back and respond, versus react. Whether it’s an athletic competition, work, a difficult conversation, or even play, not only will you enjoy what you are doing that much more, you will do it that much better.

So give yourself permission to be a beginner, and know that with practice your ability to concentrate will improve. Eventually, you will find that during your meditation practice you will have the experience of slipping between thoughts, or find yourself unaware of any specific thoughts at all. In this place, you not only lose track of what you hear going on around you, you often discover you’ve lost all sense of time itself. With enough practice, you’ll find that you could meditate in a noisy airport or on a busy street corner without becoming distracted whatsoever.