A Night Run

It had been weeks since I last ran. It’s surprising how quickly my mind went from “I love running! I can do this!” to, “Can I do this still?” I went from depression to inversion (bad Utah air between snow/rain storms in the winter) to snow and ice on the ground (I know, I have Yak-Trax, but I’d just rather not, you know?). I chose instead to exercise lightly in the comfort and warmth of my home, and to teach yoga.

But last night? Last night was the night. I had felt this vast unknown before me all day, the kind that weighs you down body and soul. It was 43 degrees and had just rained, so I knew there was less ice on the ground than there had been. I put on my fleece jacket, ear warmers, and gloves and off I went.

I ran in the dark streets of my neighborhood. I ran with my feet pounding on the wet streets, dodging lingering piles of snow and ice. I ran where I wanted to run, weaving up and down the streets. I ran with a prayer, and then with the tune of “To Make You Feel My Love” on repeat in my head (the Ane Brun version). I ran to let go.

And when I got home, two miles later, stretched and settled— only then did I realize that I didn’t notice the cold at all when I ran. I noticed everything else.

I can still do this after all.

Letting It Go: Depression

This was originally posted on my Instagram page (@alliebarnesyoga) in two parts back in December. For convenience and easy reference, I’ve decided to publish it here on my blog as well. 

I’ve thought about sharing some difficult things on here lately, and have honestly gone back and forth, but I want to let it go, and sharing seems like the best way to do that. So let’s talk about depression and anxiety.

This is not new for me. Adolescence into adulthood. Eight years ago I began trying to manage it with different medications and supplements. Good times, bad times. It got really bad while serving a mission for my church, to the point that I needed to come home early. A loved one once told me that I should drink more green smoothies to feel better, unaware of the very real dark fog over my entire life, and the self harm I was hiding from every person I knew. I was both afraid to be seen and ached to be seen. I’ve had a couple close people walk out of my life because they “didn’t want to deal with my anxiety.” Those experiences in particular greatly tainted my sense of self worth, particularly in relationships. Gratefully, life is far better now than it was then.

For the most part, I feel great now. (The “how” is a different post for a later time). But the last couple of months have been tough, and a couple weeks ago I found myself in a darkness that I hadn’t seen in years. That fog came back. Some days I didn’t leave the house, and the days that I did leave the house, it was brief. One day I forgot to brush my teeth until 5pm (sorry!) and showers didn’t always happen. I missed my dear friend’s wedding because I just couldn’t do it. I felt alone, I felt anxious, and I just couldn’t show up, even for myself. I’m grateful though that because I’ve done this before, I was able to start climbing out of that fog pretty quickly.

Overall, 2016 has been incredible. I’ve felt immense love and been shown the sweetest kinds of love. I’ve followed my passions and dreamed a little bigger for my life. The last couple months have been a blur though, and those last couple of weeks have been the lowest I intend to go. So here is to letting go—to putting it all out there and letting it go. Here is to light, hope, strength, and joy in the year to come. Intentional, cultivated, created light and joy. Namaste.

photo by gary barnes

Make Your Own Essential Oil Roller Bottles

At my wellness class last week, I invited all of the attendees to make roller bottles for allergy relief (which we will all find super useful when spring begins to roll along, I’m sure!). Roller bottles are great because 1) they make it super easy to apply essential oils, 2) the oils are already diluted so they’re safe for the skin, 3) it helps essential oils last longer because you’re using less at a time, and 4) you know exactly what is in them, especially if you make them yourself.

I should note, if you don’t want to buy the supplies and make these roller bottles yourself, or if you’re worried to get ratios wrong, etc., I love the doTERRA Touch Kit (retail $225.33), also part of the Family Wellness Enrollment Kit (wholesale $275, and gives you wholesale pricing for a year). These oils come pre-diluted in fractionated coconut oil, so you just open the package and start using! No need to buy oils, supplies, mix, and label. It’s all in one kit, and that has been super convenient for me. These Touch oils are always floating around by my bed, in my purse, in my bag if I’m traveling—everywhere. Contact me if you’re interested in getting these!

If you want to make your own, here is the best, most cost-efficient way to do it.

Supplies

doTERRA* Essential Oils

Fractionated Coconut Oil (buy)  

Roller Bottles (buy

How To

1. Roller bottles come in three parts: bottle, roller, and lid. Set aside the roller and lid for now!

2. Determine how many drops of essential oils you want to use in your roller bottle. I usually do between 8-12 drops. This chart by Joleigh Blonde is a great resource if you’re trying to determine how to best dilute oils especially for babies, children, or people with sensitive skin!

3. Carefully add in the appropriate amount of essential oils to the roller bottle.

4. Fill the rest of the roller bottle with fractionated coconut oil.

5. Push the roller into the bottle. Make sure it is sealed! Sometimes you have to push it a bit harder to seal it.

6. Then add a lid! Label your roller bottle. And now you’re done!

Here are some of my favorite, easy, go-to roller bottles to make: Allergy Relief (lavender + peppermint + lemon); Earache Relief (lavender + peppermint + melaleuca); Sleep Aid (lavender + cedarwood); Headache Relief (peppermint).

And there you have it! What are some of your favorite essential oil combos? Tell me in the comments!

* I trust doTERRA above any other essential oil company because I know exactly what is in each bottle. I’ve tried multiple brands and these are pure and potent, and you can tell just by the smell/touch. To show transparency, doTERRA does more testing on each batch of oil than any other company, and they share all of this information at sourcetoyou.com. Simply put in the batch number (found on the bottom of each bottle of oil) and all of their testing on that specific batch of oils is there for you to view. I love this. I trust them. I buy these oils then dilute them myself with fractionated coconut oil or any other pure carrier oil, so I know exactly what I am putting on/in my body. (Or I use the doTERRA Touch oils, which have been pre-diluted, as I shared earlier).

** This post contains affiliate links. If you do want to buy fractionated coconut oil or roller bottles, it would be great if you could do it from these links so I get a bit of change back from the sale! Thanks!

Yoga Is Boring

photo by gary barnes

When I was first starting out practicing yoga, an hour and a half of practicing yoga seemed like a really long time (truth be told, it still does. I still gravitate toward shorter classes, even 75 minute classes). I was that student sneaking out early. Sometimes it would be legitimate—I had to get back for a commitment. But more times than not, I was probably just feeling insecure in my practice, tired, and/or bored. BORED. And yet there were these incredible yogis twisting and bending in insane ways next to me. They were loving it. They were soaking it up.

The thing I realize now, after practicing yoga for about 10 years and training/teaching for about 2, is that I don’t need to twist and bend in insane ways to get the most out of a yoga class—though I could if I wanted to. (And, if I absolutely have to leave a yoga class early for a legitimate reason, I let the instructor know. Otherwise, if I’m not feeling the practice, I take it easy, do my own thing, or just spend more time in child’s pose or corpse pose). The point is, the poses don’t matter. The students next to me don’t matter. The instructor kind of matters (you want to appreciate who you’re listening to for 1-1.5 hours), but still, the instructor isn’t the practice. It is inside of me, and it is inside of you.

Yoga can either be a vacation from the chaos around me, or it can be an excruciating time where I am only with my thoughts (and my tight, stressed body). It really just depends on what I’m focusing on.

Things to focus on:

My breath, focusing on the inhale and exhale, perhaps even thinking the words “in” and “out” with each inhale and exhale.

The tightness in my body, but not in a judgy way, just in a recognizing way. Where is that tightness? How does it react if I consciously relax that part of my body? Or if I relax this other part of my body? What if I focus my breath into that area? Can I go a little deeper?

Lingering. What if I take my time in this transition?

Movement. What if I move my body in a different way in this pose? What if I sway, soften, loosen? How does that change the experience? How does that deepen my practice?

And now my question to you: What do you focus on when you’re practicing yoga (or running, or doing any other solo physical activity)? Tell me in the comments!

Book Review: You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay

I had heard of affirmations. I knew what they were. I knew that these positive statements could help counter negative beliefs or incorrect “truths” that we tell ourselves. I made some affirmations to counter some of those negative beliefs about myself. I had heard of this book but I thought, affirmations are affirmations. How can you write a whole book about them?

Turns out, it is absolutely possible to write a book all about the power of affirmations, and it can be a darn incredible book. (In fact, a friend referred to it as her “second Bible,” which may be what kept this book on my mind long before I finally listened to/read it for myself).

When I finally picked up the audiobook, I soaked it up. Then I bought the physical book to mark up and refer to. This book doesn’t just tell you what affirmations are, it shows you their power. It dives into how you can use affirmations in more ways and in more areas of life than I had ever considered. It talks about both our minds and our bodies, and how they are connected, and how to use affirmations toward the healing of both. And only at the very end does Louise share details about her own turbulent life, and you think, you can heal your life. Affirmations are powerful.

I truly believe that the thoughts and beliefs we have about ourselves and the world around us dramatically impact our day-to-day happiness and our ability to reach our divine potential. I know that not only because the book tells me so, but because I have seen how my thought patterns (and the use of affirmations to counter negative core beliefs) affect my life.

Recently, noticing an area I wanted to grow stronger in, I referenced this book, using it to help me define what I was feeling and to find an affirmation that felt right for me. I took a picture of one of the affirmations at the end of the chapter and set it as the background on my phone. I truly believe having these words become part of my life helped me weather situational and internal storms. I read it often and find myself thinking the words to myself even when I’m not reading the affirmation directly. This affirmation has brought me hope and stillness in my soul. I’m healing my life, one moment, one belief at a time.

If you want an extra little boost, I highly recommend this book. It’s beautiful, uplifting, and informative.

* The physical book is great for marking up and to reference. The audiobook is great if you want to feel the comfort of a grandmother-figure bestowing her wisdom upon you… and also for the entertaining weird space-country-twang instrumentals that are played at the end of chapters when Louise reads the affirmations!