health

Engineering happiness

Our happiness and health arises out of the choices we make and the actions we take on a daily basis. But where do our actions and choices come from?  

It all stems from your mindset.  

If you have a horror movie playing on your internal projector, you can't expect there to be a rom-com on the screen. If you want to change your life, you need to start with your thoughts.  

I've been playing with this practice lately after listening to a podcast with Tony Robbins. In it he mentioned that he recently made a choice to no longer suffer. In any moment we can choose what to focus on. If I found myself in a funk, I decided to drop into the present, to focus on what was beautiful about the moment, and put my attention there instead. As a result I could change my state in an instant.  

Happiness resides inside of us. The problem is, we often get sucked into thinking it's on the other side of some other person, place or thing. We might believe that when we achieve a certain goal, or when we have more time to focus on our hobbies, when we move to a nicer house, or when we find a perfect partner THEN we'll achieve happiness. If we don't know how to access our internal stores of bliss, we will always think that happiness is found somewhere else.  

The yoga teachings tells us that the truth of our consciousness is bliss.  

So how do you connect to your inner bliss? There are several ways we can shift our state in the moment (I've listed them below), but before we can even have that kind of control over our minds, we need the ability to direct and focus our attention.  

It was not until I started a daily meditation practice that I felt I could influence my thoughts. My morning meditation makes the difference between feeling stressed, overwhelmed and annoyed to feeling calm, patient and at ease. Without daily practices that cultivate our desired state, we're really at the whim of our external circumstances. While we can't always control what happens on the outside, we have so much leverage on our internal experience. So in order to be able to create our desired state – we need habits and routines that lead us there.  

So how do you want to feel? What internal state do you desire? Do you have routines and habits that get you there? The way we experience our lives is a result of our mindset and our actions. To empower ourselves to live with joy and happiness, we need disciplined habits that move us in that direction.  

Below are 5 ways we can engineer our happiness. We can choose not to suffer. We can live with more joy and ease. It all comes down to what we think and what we do.  

  1. At the top of the list is gratitude. There is no better strategy for shifting a negative state. Make it a daily habit and you will steep yourself in appreciation and make it your default setting. 
  2. Let go. I can't improve on this perfect list. What are you holding on to that's keeping you unhappy? 

  3. Be present. Get in your body. Feel the sensations that are present. Notice your environment. Happiness is found in the moment. Until we can learn to drop in, we won't have access to it. Hone this skill with a daily meditation practice. 

  4. Shape shift to state shift. Move your body. Get upside down. What we do with our body has a huge impact on how we feel. Move your body with breath every morning and set yourself up for a beautiful day. 

  5. Find time for joy and relaxation. I have a strict policy that I stop working after 4pm. Gone are the days where I work late into the night. In Ayurveda, the evening hours are governed by the elements of earth and water – the slowest and heaviest of all the elements. It's a time to slow down, have fun and connect with loved ones. If we don't align with this natural pull towards slowing down and relaxing, we're missing out on an opportunity to connect to bliss. 

In my 10 week course Align and Thrive, we cultivate the daily habits that create the conditions for bliss, joy and ease to naturally arise. We look at where we're sabotaging ourselves and creating unnecessary suffering. We learn how to shift our mindset and design a daily routine to create the way we want to feel. Join me and transform your day to change your life!  We start October 3rd and there's only a few spots left!

I would love to talk to you about your goals and desires for your health and happiness. I'm offering free 30 minutes strategy sessions to create an action plan to help you get there.  

The key to setting boundaries

As a child I was incredibly shy and self-conscious. My family was quite "different" from the other conservative families in the mid-upper class neighbourhood in Houston that I grew up in. In grade school my mom had blue hair and hairy armpits. She dressed differently with her unique punk style, she spoke differently with her quasi-English accent and she certainly behaved differently. At the time I wanted nothing more than to fit in with all my school-mates.  

In my effort to belong I conformed to the norm as best as I could but lost myself in the process. As I get older (I turn 40 this year!) my journey it quite the opposite – I'm trying to discover who I am and what makes me unique. 

I'm learning to be myself fully and respect and honor who that is. This is the goal of my yoga practice – to discover who I am and to be that person fully. However, those deeply embedded tendencies to mold myself into who I think I should be and do what I think I should do still emerge. This shows up as agreeing with others when I feel differently or not standing my ground with what I really want.  

When we're not clear about our values, we end up overstepping our boundaries. We need to know who we are and what we need in order to be clear about where to draw the line.  

When we don’t set good boundaries we end up frustrated, angry, and our self-worth eroded. We are telling ourselves: "my needs don't matter and I'm not worth standing up for myself". And then we end up in a vicious cycle of losing ourselves as we people-please and over-commit.  

So how do we get out of that self-sabotaging pattern and start setting strong boundaries?  

I really believe it starts with radical self-care. With tangible daily practices that reflect self-respect, self-love and self-honoring.  

By taking good care of our bodies, minds and spirits through feeding ourselves nourishing food, giving our body the rest, relaxation and sleep that we need, through movement and exercise that make us feel strong, flexible and powerful – we start to build a deep respect and appreciation for ourselves. In doing so we become less tolerant of that which doesn’t serve us and we naturally start to set stronger boundaries. 

It starts with us taking a stand for ourselves. It starts with the realization that self-care isn't selfish – it's a beautiful display of gratitude for this body, mind and spirit that we're gifted with. It's a radical act of stepping into our worth. Self-care is an embodiment of self-love through daily habits. 

Setting boundaries with others has to start with us. We have to commit to our own practices before we can ask anyone else to respect them. We have to give ourselves what we need before we can ask anyone else to meet our needs.  

If you want to consciously create daily self-care habits to feel nourished from the inside-out – join me for my 6th round of Align and Thrive – yoga health coaching. In 10 weeks we build the 10 foundational habits of thriving health and happiness. If you’ve struggled with creating self-care routines and rituals in the past, I've designed a step-by-step process that guides you through building healthier habits with the accountability of a supportive community. If you want to find out if it's right for you, set up a free 30 min chat with me here

On being and becoming

Last week I did this test to discover my strengths. I highly recommend doing it.Studies show that people who use their strengths are happier, less stressed, more confident, healthier and more creative. One of my top 5 strengths isfuturist: my vision of the future inspires and energizes me. While my propensity for forward thinking can be valuable for goal setting and inspiring for others, my opportunity for growth lies in slowing down and simply being.

In yoga and Ayurveda, we always strive towards balance (see, there I go again – striving!). We seek to find equanimity in the opposites – effort and ease, being and becoming. So my practice has been to appreciate what I already have with my daily gratitude practice.

However, in addition to this daily habit, I have to catch myself when I get caught up in the thought - "when I'm finished with this project, then I'll have more time for fun and play" (this is a BIG growing edge for me). This year has been full and fulfilling as I've launched my biggest project yet – my Empowered Living Course. I've worked 7 days a week for many months. However, because of mynon-negotiable self-care practices, it hasn't been at the cost of my health. It has, however, been in the place of fun and play. Besides my nightly jump on the trampoline with the boys, my monthly girl's night and monthly date night with the hubby – I feel there's more room for pleasure and enjoyment in my life.

So my goal (pun intended), has been to "be" more. Instead of eating my lunch "catching up" on emails, I go outside and sit in the sun (Vitamin D dose + pleasure = 2 birds, 1 stone). I'm going to start taking dance lessons again. This summer I've decided to take 2 months completely off from coaching to go to the beach, hike, camp and who knows what else.

What about you? Are you having enough fun? Are you making time daily for play? According to dina charya, Ayurveda's prescription for daily living, our health depends on spending some time every day doing something purely for pleasure – nothing goal-oriented, just for fun. After all, life is short – we might as well enjoy it as much as possible : )

I recorded this short rant on my phone while driving (yes, I was talking to myself). The quality is shit but it's real and raw and what was on my mind. 

Design your space for healthier habits

When we're trying to make positive change it can often feel like we're pushing a boulder up a mountain. It might feel like we have to muster all our willpower and deny ourselves of all our usual comfort and vices we've clung so tightly to. Yet we WANT to change. We know we have the potential for more. We sense that we can feel better, be healthier, and do more.  

So we make an effort and it just feels So. Damn. Hard. So eventually we resort to our habitual ways and tell ourselves "it's not so bad" and come up with excuses galore why we don't actually NEED to make that change after all.  

Here's the thing...it doesn’t have to be so difficult.  

I've been studying the art of habit change and behavior science for the past several years and I've learned that there's a way to create change that doesn't require as much willpower and motivation. It's called choice architecture.  

Choice architecture can work against us or for us. Grocery stores unfortunately use it to manipulate our choices by putting candy in the check-out aisle. We've made good choices until we go to pay and while we're waiting, we're forced to stare at chocolate bars and we've exhausted our willpower and are more likely give in – especially if we’re hungry and despite our good intentions.  

There was a time in my life where I was eating an entire dark chocolate bar a day. It was conveniently located at eye level in my kitchen (the room I spend the most amount of time in) so I was basically guaranteeing that I would strengthen that addiction. Until I stopped buying it and got it out of my house and out of sight, I couldn’t kick the habit.  

Knowing that we're extremely influenced by our environment, we can consciously design our space to support the person we want to become and the habits we want to have. 

How? 

  • If you want to eat better get rid of the junk – plain and simple. If it's not around you can't eat it! 
  • If you want to go for a run every morning, put your running shoes by your bed so that visual reminder will prompt you when you wake up 
  • If you want to drink more water, get yourself a thermos and carry it around with you 
  • If you want to eat less, eat from a smaller plate (this is a proven weight loss technique) 
  • Lastly, if you want healthier habits, surround yourself with people who have the habits you want to have. (this is probably the most important and effective tip) 

What kind of change do you want to make? How can you set up your environment to enable you to incorporate that habit or trigger the new behavior?  

In any given day we have so many micro decisions to make and so much on our minds. By making our space work for us, we don’t have to work so hard to make changes – it will happen automatically. Life is hard enough : ) 

#1 habit for feeding yourself well

Before I had kids and before I had my own business I was a fly by the seat of my pants kinda gal. With no one to take care of and not many responsibilities, I was free and spontaneous and lived each day as it came. Living in NYC meant most meals were eaten out which also meant that I had a few extra pounds around my waistline that frustrated and annoyed me.  

And then I had my first son Max. No longer was my life my own and eating every meal out was also not as fun and relaxing as it once was. Luckily, living in Hell's Kitchen I had a fishmonger, a butcher, a Mediterranean market and Whole Foods within walking distance. So every day I would lug the stroller down the flight of stairs of our apartment and grocery shop for that day's meals.  

However, once we moved to Kelowna 9 months later, grocery shopping every day became a chore and frankly quite inefficient. I also felt that I wasn't feeling myself as well as I wanted and was committed to losing the baby weight that I had put on from my pregnancy.  

So I began to plan my meals. Over the years I had collected issues of Gourmet and Food and Wine magazine. Every week I would pour over the foods mags and tear out delicious looking recipes and make my weekly meal plan. At the same time I would put together my master grocery list for the week and then do a big grocery shop so I would have what I needed. Over time I refined my recipes that fit the criteria I was looking for: 

  • Delicious 

  • Healthy and plant-centric 

  • Simple, fast and easy to make 

Through my strategic meal planning I've been able to refine my diet so that I'm feeding myself and my family well and I'm saving time in the week. This weekly habit of meal planning has made dinner prep such a more easeful and streamlined experience. I'm not having to figure out what to eat each day and then see if I have all the right ingredients. I'm at the weight I want to be, I feel great in my body and most importantly, I'm eating foods that deeply nourish me.  

With so many demands on my time and energy with 2 kids and a business, eating a healthy diet and not spending too much time and energy on it is such a priority for me. By having a habit around feeding myself well, I'm able to free up so much more mindspace that I can then use on my many ideas and creative pursuits outside of the kitchen.  

Whatever your goal – you need a plan of action to get you there. Whether it's getting better sleep, eating a healthier diet, being more active, enjoying your life more – you need to figure out the steps that will get you there. Then you need to schedule it in. You need to put it on your calendar and stick to the plan. Because without a plan, your goal is simply a wish. 

This isn't rocket science. But a reminder that without a plan, the likelihood of reaching your goal is greatly reduced.

From the my heart to yours thank you. Sunday sadana, chana masla in the crock pot, vegetarian spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove, potatoes baking in the oven, big beautiful salad made, smoothies ready to go, thank you so much, Sunday’s are so much better since starting Align and Thrive in October. The rest of the week flows along, healthier, happier, more organized, not rushed during the week, and occasionally when the wheels fall off, simply begin again.
Totally grateful, thank you so much Dana
The one thing that truly amazes me, learning about Ayurveda, and oneself is great, experiencing the habits and Ayurveda is mind blowing, rock om!
PS, you were so right when you said it’s all spiritual!!
— Lance

Coffee and Tapas

Two months ago I gave up coffee after being a lifelong (well, since adolescence) coffee drinker. When I started studying Ayurveda I learned that coffee might not be the best thing for my fiery nature. In Ayurveda the basic principle is like increases like, and opposites balance. Adding coffee (a stimulant) to my already stimulated life is a recipe for burnout. Not to mention I like my coffee with chocolate almond milk (another stimulant), which meant I basically started the day with sugar which would guarantee I would have cravings throughout the day. So after three years of thinking about quitting, I finally did. So last week my husband showed me this NY Times article about the benefits of coffee and how there's no scientific proof that it's bad for you. But I knew, deep down, that it's not good for ME. But the article was compelling and I entertained the possibility of indulging every once in a while.

A few days later I went to the farmers market and there was the cutest little coffee truck with specialty coffees such as Nitro cold-brewed coffee and other enticing choices. I paused and read the menu, seriously considering this might be a good time for one of those "once-in-a-while" indulgences. But I hesitated. I decided I would make my rounds at the market and circle back a second time and make my choice. So a few minutes later I returned to the truck, a stood in front contemplating my decision. I'm proud to say that this time, I walked away.

Let me be clear that before I go any further I don't always make the best decisions. However, I was very proud of myself for aligning with my highest self  in that particular moment.

There's this cool word in Ayurveda that means "crimes against wisdom". Prajnaparadha is when we do something against our better judgment and do things even when we know they aren't good for us (like eating or drinking things that aren't good for us). According to Ayurveda, going against your intuition and common sense is the root of all disease, sickness and imbalance.

So why do we continue to make bad choices?

Basically there are five reasons (let me know if you can think of any others!):

  1. discipline
  2. commitment
  3. lack of structure or plan of action
  4. motivation
  5. lack of community support.

Tapas (not the Spanish word for small plate kind) is a Sanskrit word that means "fiery discipline". It's the inner motivation that keeps us focused on what is important and the fire that fuels our desire for change. It's our intense determination and burning yearning for transformation.

To tap into tapas, we have to know the "why" behind our desire to change. I gave up coffee because I want to be as healthy as I can and feel as good as possible. Our intention is everything. When we're clear about why we're doing something, we can always come back to it when we're in a crux time (like my moment in front of the coffee truck).

We all want to be happy and healthy. We are want to feel good and on purpose. When we realize that this is dependent on our ability to be disciplined to make the highest choice - in every moment, we might be inspired to cultivate some discipline.

Here's the thing. We have a zillion choices to make each day. It could get quite exhausting to ask ourselves, with every decision: "Does this bring me closer to where I want to go or take me further away? Is this choice in alignment with my highest self, or my patterned, egoic self?".

I don't know about you, but wherever I can streamline my life so I can free up brain space is incredibly valuable for me. The solution - create healthier habits. When we automatically eat better food, do our daily mindfulness practices, exercise and take care of our bodies, we are not only healthier - but we don't have to consciously make those kind of decisions - we just do them.

Now creating healthier habits - that's a whole other ballgame. The conundrum - starting a habit takes some tapas. The upside - keeping the fire of tapas burning once it's started requires much less effort.

Habit change is now the focus of my work (both personal and professional). If you want to talk to me about how to create healthier habits, I would love to hear about your highest aspirations for health and wellbeing. Set up a free 30 minute strategy phone session with me here.

Spring Salads for Dinner

As we move into spring I've been craving more salads. These spring season salads are perfect for a lighter dinner. Roast Cauliflower and Grape Salad

Heat oven to 500. Roast a cut up cauliflower for 20-25 minutes.

Dressing: whisk 3 T olive oil, 1 T sherry wine vinegar, 1 T honey.

Toss dressing with 2 T capers, 1/4 c toasted pine nuts, 1/4 c grapes sliced in half, 2 T chopped parsley and roasted cauliflower

Three Pea Salad from The Forest Feast

1 c snow peas, 1 c peas, 1 c pea shoots, 1 T lemon zest, 1/4 c chopped pistachios, 1/4 golden raisins. Dress with olive oil, lemon juice and honey

forest_feast_05
forest_feast_05

Fennel, Arugula, Apple and Smoked-Trout Salad with Horseradish Dressing

Ingredients

1 1/2 tablespoons sour cream or plain yogurt

3 teaspoons olive oil, divided

2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh dill

1 1/4 teaspoons white wine vinegar, divided

2 cups arugula

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced fennel bulb

1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion

2/3 cup smoked trout or smoked whitefish, coarsely flaked

1 red apple thinly sliced

Preparation

Whisk sour cream, 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, horseradish, dill, and 3/4 teaspoon white wine vinegar in small bowl. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Place arugula, fennel, and onion in medium bowl. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide salad between 2 plates. Top with smoked fish. Drizzle horseradish dressing over and serve.

Brussel Sprout Quinoa Pear and Chorizo Salad from Small Bites Sweet Treats

1 lb brussel sprouts

½ c quinoa

2 Bosc or Anjou pears

3 oz chorizo (optional)

½ c arugula

Preheat oven to 400

1. Boil 1 c water and add quinoa and ¼ tsp salt for 20-25 min

2. Toss brussel sprouts w/ 3 tbs EVOO and ¼ tsp salt and bake for 20 min

3. Sauté chorizo in 1 tbs EVOO for 3 min

4. Toss quinoa, brussel sprouts, chorizo, pear and juice of ½ lemon with arugula

Girls Gone Wild

My other title is: Why YOU Should Eat Your "Weedies"

Several years ago I was introduced to the idea of eating my weeds, or put more politely “invasive species” by my Ayurvedic teacher Cate Stillman. I was intrigued but didn’t know where to start. Three years ago after having accrued my very first garden, I was a raw beginner and didn’t know an invasive species from a cultivated one. But I was curious and the desire was there to learn more and integrate these superfoods into my diet (more specifically my green smoothies). Over the past few years, foraging has become more widespread and is picking up speed - and for good reason! Below are a few of my reasons for eating my “weedies”:

It’s free. My husband calls me “depression-era Dana”. I hate wasting. I squeeze my toothpaste tubes to death. Organic produce is expensive! You have an abundance of chlorophyll-packed greens right in your backyard!

It’s environmentally responsible. Take eating “green” to a whole new level. Wild-crafting is local, sustainable, seasonal and organic (provided you don’t spray your yard) AND your carbon footprint is non-existent.

It’s healthier. Farmed veggies have less phytonutrients than their wild ancestors and weeds that haven't been subjected to thousands of years of selective breeding.

It’s detoxifying. Green = clean. Leafy greens are bitter and many have pungent and astringent tastes which, according to Ayurveda, help clean the blood and detoxify the bodily tissues.

It’s stress-relieving. A stroll in nature is one of the best ways to ground and calm yourself.

It’s retro. Channel your hunter-gatherer ancestors. It’s the real-deal Paleo diet!

It’s life-affirming. Foraging connects you to the abundant nature of the universe and cultivates gratitude and appreciation for earth’s many gifts. It fosters trust in the fact that you are supported by life.

Are you ready to take a walk on the wild side?

lamb's quarters
lamb's quarters

Mild, entry level weeds include: lamb’s quarters (contains more protein, calcium, and vitamins B1 and B2 than cabbage or spinach) 

Purslane (has the highest amount of absorbable heart-healthy omega-3 fats of any edible plant AND scientists also report that this herb has 10 to 20 times more melatonin—an antioxidant that may inhibit cancer growth—than any other fruit or vegetable tested)

purslane
purslane

and chickweed (high in protein, liver decongestant, dissolves cysts, appetite suppressant)

chickweed
chickweed

For the more daring: dandelion (excellent liver and kidney detoxifier, ranks in the top 4 green vegetables in overall nutritional value):

Dandelion-emoedgars-sxc.jpg2_
Dandelion-emoedgars-sxc.jpg2_

thistle (liver detoxifier) and nettle (great for spring allergy prevention) **use gloves and blend or sauté lightly.

How to eat them: Blend them into a green smoothie, add to salad or sautéed greens, make superfood “greens” powder (see below) or bittersweet treats (see below).

WILD GREEN SUPERFOOD POWDER FOR WINTER (DRY IN SUMMER OR FALL) byCate Stillman

De-Stem  & Dehydrate at 110 degrees (or spread on your trampoline in the heat of summer), until crisp:

1 lb dandelion leaves

1 lb lambs quarter

1 lb thistle

1 lb nettles

1 lb chickweed, or whatever else you have too much of!

Once the leaves are dry you may choose to put them in a coffee grinder or vitamix to make a powder. Store in a dark glass jar in a cool cupboard.

Add teaspoon of this powder in your smoothies in the winter.

BITTERSWEET TREATS a brilliant idea from Celeste Davidson: Dried cherries (or other dried berries or raisins) wrapped in dandelion leaves

This beautiful book is an excellent guide and cookbook to inspire you to go wild : )

feasting-and-foraging-1
feasting-and-foraging-1

Immunity Boost - How to Build Your Ojas

Stress is an immunity-sucker. When we’re stressed we often don’t take good care of ourselves and are more likely to get sick. Also the busyness of this time of year can cause some of us to burn the candle at both ends and deplete our inner resources of energy – also known as ojas. Ojas is the Sanskrit word for “vigor”. It is the life-sustaining vitality that promotes immunity in the body. It is the fuel that sustains your physical body, brings clarity to the mind and balances the emotions. According to Ayurveda, ojas makes you healthy, well rested, light in body, clear in mind, energized, enthusiastic and centered. Building ojas is like filling up your gas tank and creating insulation from sickness and the holiday madness. Top tips for building ojas:

  • Eat pure, unprocessed, fresh, and seasonally and avoid heavy and difficult to digest foods
  • ojas
  • Daily exercise. Move your body for at least 20 minutes upon waking to clear the channels. It will also help with the next point:
  • Optimize digestion. Eat 2-3 meals a day and try not to snack in between. When you space your meals your body can completely digest your food and fully build up your digestive fire for your next meal. Fast on warm water between meals. When you eat, do so slowly, undistracted and while sitting in a calm setting. Include all 6 tastes. Here are my favorite winter salad recipes.
  • Daily meditation. Just as space is essential for food digestion, we also need space to digest mentally. Take time daily to sit in silence and connect to being-ness and learn how to not be sucked into the drama of your too-busy life. Start with one minute a day. Choose a point of focus such as your breath or a mantra. I recorded an intro to meditation here.
  • Self-massage for self-love. Abhyanga is the Ayurvedic practice of self-massage with oil. Oil is likened to love in Ayurveda. This nurturing practice insulates your nerves and is deeply grounding. Use the best quality sesame, sunflower, almond or coconut oil you can find.
  • Get enough sleep. How to here.
  • Go outside. I’m quite fair-weathered but I can’t deny that time in nature always nourishes and refreshes me – no matter what the temperature. I’m thankful for my daily walk to pick up my son from school – I probably wouldn't spend too much time outdoors if it wasn't for that. Find a way to spend some time in fresh air every day.
  • Love, laugh, play, serve others. Tis the season to connect, celebrate and give. Snuggle with your loved ones, reconnect with old friends and distant family, put on some Christmas music that doesn't suck and have an impromptu dance party or immerse yourself in a warm bath with candles. Take time daily to relax and enjoy this precious life.

Sweet dreams are made of this...

I love sleep. I've always been a good sleeper. On the other hand, when I don't get my 8 hours, I'm no fun. I know the first few years of my boys' lives were so challenging mostly because of the lack of adequate sleep. Besides being a miserable %*$@# - the negative effects of sleep deprivation are vast and include weakened immune system (increase in autoimmune issues), a decline in mental and physical performance, weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and depression. Getting enough sleep is one of the best things you can do for your overall health and wellness. What enough? Generally speaking, experts agree that 95 percent of adults need to sleep 7 to 9 hours each night to function optimally. And the best time to get that sleep is between the hours of 9pm and 6am. The hours before midnight count twice as much as the hours after.

Over the past few years of studying Ayurveda, I've come to understand more about sleep, how to set up the right conditions for restful sleep and the best times to get it. Below is your recipe for a good night's rest:

Avoid caffeine. If you must have your morning coffee, stick to one cup and don’t have any caffeine after noon. I recently gave up my nightly chocolate and noticed that I was tired much earlier than when I was having my after dinner sweet.  My new bedtime is 9pm and I LOVE IT.

Your bedroom should only be used for sleeping and sex. Make your bedroom dark, cool, quiet and relaxing. Remove any traces of work (phones included).

Power down an hour or two before bed. The light from computer screens, televisions, and phones can hinder the production of melatonin, which means your body isn't preparing the hormones it needs to enter the sleep phase. Don’t try to catch up on work at night as it can be too stimulating and increase your stress levels.

Eat an earlier, lighter dinner. Our bodies aren't equipped to digest large, heavy amounts of food late at night. Try to eat your biggest meal in the middle of the day when bile production is high (plan ahead to make this happen-this is a great recipe to ensure you have healthy, hearty lunches for the week), and try not to eat dinner or drink alcohol after 7pm.

Relax before bed. Lately I’ve been doing yoga nidra before bed and I sleep like a baby. Below is a 9 minute audio I made for you. I also give myself a foot massage every night once I get into bed. If you feel physically tense, try this 13 minute shoulder opening practice. A hot bath with some relaxing tunes or dip in the hot tub also does wonders for restful sleep.

Ayurvedic warm spiced milk. Try this natural sleep aid before bed: warm a cup of your favorite milk. Add a pinch of the following spices – cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and turmeric. Here’s another one. Savor…

Bed by 10. If you stay up past 10 you move into pitta time (element of fire and energy of digestion) and will get your “second wind” and most likely start to get hungry and partake in late night snacking – NOT GOOD! Also, if you're in bed by 10 you can get up by 6am. When you wake up after 6am you move into Kapha time, which is slow and heavy and you’ll have a much harder time getting out of bed. I've also found that if I get up early (recently 5:15), I’m not rushed and stressed in the morning and I have enough time to get everything done – including my morning yoga practice and daily meditation. And I'm much more fun to be around : )

Sweet dreams