What it means to chase dreams

 

A poem of sorts.

Call me a dream chaser. For i’ll never stop running towards what I want.

It took me so long to figure out my purpose in the world. I dreamed many dreams about all the possibilities. Too many of them were unrealistic. It was when I was living my life when inspiration dawned upon me.

A joy that appeared from the center of my soul. That is what I felt when I discovered my dream.

But chasing dreams is no easy task.

Once you know, you must dedicate yourself to it. There’s no going back now. Then begins the battle of self doubt. Can you? Will you? Are you able to? What do you have to offer? Can you even be of any service? How will I sustain myself and my family with this dream? Am I really doing the right thing?

You push forward. Because the dream is rooted in your heart. It is all you want. You feel the light within you working its way to the surface. All you want to do is spread that light.

There are victories. Completing task by task that will bring you closer to your goal. Hard work to be done, and boy does it feel amazing to accomplish what you set forth to do.

There are downfalls. Accepting your limitations, believing in yourself, not allowing the opinions of others cloud your dream, and major time limits.

You have to work to make money. This dream doesn’t make money. Not yet. There’s a plan, but I seem so far away from my goal, how will I ever finish?

There are long nights. Moments of panic. Life takes over and you lose focus. A month passes and no tasks have been completed.

But that is ok. Because the dream is still there. The desire still remains. You pick yourself back up, giving yourself that inspiring speech that you can achieve the impossible as long as you keep moving forward.

Step by step you make it a little bit closer. You read, and research, prep, practice, and plan.

And though it is hard, and sometimes it seems you’re never getting any closer, all of it is worth it. You feel happiness simmer below the surface. because you know…

Anything worth having is never easy to get.

And the realization that even if I never fully achieve my dreams, in the end, I will be satisfied that I had never given up.

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How to dispel fear with self care 

It seems that I have been in a constant state of fear. Afraid of fumbling my first workshop. Afraid that I won’t be able to pack my things into the storage unit before vacation. Afraid that I will not have the stamina for my Ashtanga training with Manju. Afraid that I will not be successful once I move to Maui. You can imagine what constant fear does to the body. For me it begins first with my mood. Over a progression of a few days I become less motivated, tired, and overall just plain ol blah. Then I become critical of myself, which therefore turns into unpatience with others. Snapping at minor things. That turns into guilt with more feelings of powerlessness and a quick desention into utter non movement accompanied by the brain dulling television. Then begin the back aches. Headaches. Bellyaches. Boom. Fear has snowballed into an angry entity of emotions and bodily harm. 

So how do we combat fear? 
We move away from fear when we begin to take care of ourselves. Mentally and Physically. Only then will we begin to feel our own personal support, helping ourselves step off the edge of the cliff. This is important because it gives ourselves self empowerment. Elizabeth Gilbert wrote this letter to fear “I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still- your suggestions will NEVER be followed. You’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a VOTE. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allowed to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. DUDE, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, my DEAR old familiar friend, you are absolutely FORBIDDEN to drive.”
Self care steps to release fear 

  1. Get a massage – not only does it help release tension from your poor muscles twisted in your fear, it also gives you the space to separate from the fearful thoughts
  2. Buy some crystals – clear quartz absorbs, stores, releases, and regulates energy, revitalizing emotional, physical and mental planes. 
  3. Take a mindful meditation walk – mindful meditation allows ourselves to be in the present moment, aware of our surroundings. It is a great way to get away from fear and appreciate the beauty of the world. 
  4. Take a yoga class – sometimes working out the fear is a great way to reset yourself. Instead of succumbing to the bed, snacks, and binge watching netflix (although every once in awhile this is therapeutic on its own, especially with delicious healthy snacks). 
  5. Draw a bath with healing herbs – bath salts, essential oils, and dried flowers (roses, lavender, chamomile) make for an especially soothing, healing soak. Adding candles and some relaxing music could soothe away all fears. Just be careful not to fall asleep!
  6. Daily mantra- Mantras are great in helping us refocus our thought patterns. You can make your own or look for inspiration from others. Spirit Junkie Gabrielle Bernstein has two great quotes that you could use as your mantra.
  • “My faith is stronger than my fear” 
  • “The more fear I shed, the more I shine” 

There are a multitude of ways to self care your fears away. Find what works best for you and run with it. Remember,  you are not alone in this life. Together, we will make it through. It’s a crazy roller coaster, this thing called life, but as long as we continue to have faith and trust, we’ll always make it through. Let your inner light shine bright my precious dreamer. 

Setting Intentions for Success Whilst making Herbal Oils

      Recently I have been fighting the funky emotions of procrastination. When I first began this blog I had set the intention of writing once a week, and posting every Thursday. Marie Forleo, life coach and founder of B School, says that consistency is key when communicating with your audience. (Hello? Anyone out there?). The first week it happened innocently enough, I became too ‘busy’ and I put it off for the next day and never got to it. The second week was similar to the first except this time fear had entered and I began to feel that I had nothing of value to say. So I put it off. By the fourth week I had pushed the responsibility of my intention to the farthest part of my brain, that I let go of it completely. By the fifth week I began to feel guilt to the utmost level. My desire is to help as well as motivate others, but how am I able to do that if I cannot even help and motivate myself? So I start at square one. I begin by helping myself: reaffirming with I Am statements (I am good, I am self-accepting, I am worthy), and taking better care of myself by doing more yoga, changing my eating habits, and starting to run. This start begins to help motivate me into the right direction. 
        I read The Staying Power of Intention by Richard Miller, PhD in Yoga Journal Magazine. This article has helped me to reaffirm my intention of writing once a week and posting to my blog every Thursday. He wrote: “Sankalpas, as intentions are known in yoga, are your heartfelt, intuitively sensed attitudes that unfold within you over time. They are powerful internal agreements that you make with yourself and then express through your actions, whether it’s in your relationships, at work, or on your yoga mat or meditation cushion. Sankalpas foster focus, motivation, determination, patience, and perserverance – all qualities that enable you to develop, sustain, and deepen a meditation practice.” Or any practice that we so choose to set out intentions on. I could not have written it any better. Whatever it is that is your heartfelt desire, set your genuine sankalpas (intention) and reaffirm it every morning when you first wake up. 

                                                                  
        My favorite part of my herbal lessons so far are making herbal oils. It is so simple, yet so rewarding. Once complete they could be used on their own as a medicinal oil, massage oil, and bath oils, or made into salves and balms. I’ve deduced from my reading that the favorite oil used amongst herbalists as a base is Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Rosemary Gladstar writes that ‘the olive tree is considered sacred, medicinal, and legendary in many cultures’ and I have used it myself for a few of my healing salves. I have also used, and love, almond oil and grapeseed oil. You can also use apricot kernel oil, and coconut oil.

 It is best to use dried or fresh wilted herbs. I will admit that I have not used fresh wilted yet, but it is on my to-do list. Gladstar reccomends to fresh wilt an herb by placing the freshly picked herb in a warm shaded place for several hours or overnight. Most of the moisture from the plant must be evaporated before it is ready to be used. 

The proportions I use when making my herbal oils is 1 cup of oil to every 1/4 cup herb(s). This is not standard, and other herbalists have said that as long as the oil rises up an inch or two above the herbs than you are good. So far in my experience some herbs tend to float so I would be aware of that and not go overboard on using too much oil just because you are trying to maintain that inch above. 

        There are four methods in making herbal oils.

  1. Solar Infused Oils
  2. Oven Extracted Oils 
  3. Double Boiler Method 
  4. Crock Pot Method

 I have only used the solar method, and will most likely continue to only use that type of method. You have to be careful using the other methods so that you don’t fry your herbs and sizzle the oil! Gladstar writes that the solar infused method is the oldest and most highly regarded method of making herbal oils because it is the way of the ancients. It relies on sun energy and its radiant healing power. 

The solar infused method 

  1. Place the herbs in a jar, 
  2. Cover with oil, 
  3. Secure the lid tightly on, 
  4. Place jar in a warm, sunny spot
  5. Leave for two weeks, giving it a light shake every day to promote the herbs to mix with the oil and give it your love 
  6. Strain
  7. Option: to make the oil stronger you simply add in new herbs and let it sit for another week or two.     

        
With Spring here I will share an insect repellent oil. You can use this oil to make a salve (Next week’s post), or rub on a scarf/socks as long as you don’t mind the oil staining your clothes. 
Insect Repellent Herbal Oil: Use equal parts of

  1. Pennyroyal
  2. Bay leaves, 
  3. Eucalyptus, 
  4. Rosemary, 
  5. Thyme (optional)
  6. Cloves (optional)

 Once the oil is complete (in whichever method you choose) add a few drops of lemongrass essential oil, eucalyptus, or geranium to give it a stronger scent to ward off those mosquitos! 
I leave you with this: whatever it is that you desire to accomplish, find time each day to focus on your intentions, believe in yourself, and make a step everyday no matter how small towards that goal. Have fun blending your own herbal oils! And follow me on Instagram @theyogiherbalist for more inspiration. 
Take care beautiful dreamers. I believe in you. 

When is it appropraite to not listen to your yoga teacher? 

The week before I took my first yoga class at a studio I have been meaning to check out for awhile. It was a 60min hot yoga stability that was definitely influenced by the Bikram style. I have only taken one traditional Bikram class in my life, and though not the biggest fan of this style, I did enjoy this class. The teacher was nice, encouraging, walked around the room dolling out adjustments when she felt necessary. There was just one thing that bothered me, at the beginning of class, that has been on my mind ever since. She insisted that we bring out feet together, and have our big toes touch. Now, I am a thick girl. Once my thighs come together… who am I kidding, my thighs are always touching… but once I am at the top of my mat and my thighs are touching, there’s really no room to move inward without it becoming uncomfortable. At the start I listened, the automatic conditioning that my teacher knows best, and I immediately separated my feet once I realized that my body just does not work that way. As a teacher I know that the moment it becomes uncomfortable, doesn’t feel right, and/or begins to feel painful that I need to adjust. I tell my students all the time that not everybody’s body is the same and that if it doesn’t feel right to you then you need pull back, readjust, shorten your stance, lower your arms, or whatever it is that your body needs. I teach them to trust their intuition, because isn’t this part of the point of yoga? To become familiar with ourselves, to build ourselves with time and practice, bridge the gap between our bodies and mind (as well as our soul), so that we may become self accepting, loving and trusting of ourselves. So, I stood there baffled as she continued to insist that we bring our feet together. A few moments later she mentioned again how our big toes should be touching. And I stood there, arms overhead, clasped and squeezing, unmoving. Knowing she was more than likely speaking to me because there continued to be space between my feet. Finally she let go, and we continued on with a beautiful class. I even learned something new, a verbal assist that improved my asana. Please, this is not a post about bashing, this is written with all the love in my heart, and in the hopes that I can pass on some wisdom to you. 
If a posture does not feel right, you have every right to readjust yourself in a pose, and even the right to decline practicing the pose. We, as yoga teachers, are your guides, and I encourage all my students to trust the pings the body gives and to do what is absolute best for themselves and their body. 
After class I met up with the owner of the studio I teach at for a social media marketing meeting, and I asked her opinion about my experience. She explained to me that back in the yoga day that the main majoraty of practitioners were men and the positioning of their hips made it that there was no problems with their feet together. Because of that most of the dialogue passed down is in accordance to this, not taking in the factor that the shape of womens hips have their legs come down in a v fashion rather than straight. Months ago I took private lessons with an Ashtanga teacher who’s teacher is Manju, Pattahbi Jois’s son, and she would tell me that one instruction given to one student did not mean another should take it. The adjustments given were for that person’s specific body. 
So, the moral of my story is to trust yourself, try it even, and pull back once there is pain. 
Wishing you a great week! 

Tea: Infusion Vs. Decoctions 

                          
In my early years I was never much of a tea drinker. Not that I did not enjoy a cup here and there, but when it came to choosing a warm cup of goodness I always picked coffee. I am a HUGE coffee lover. I’ve tried to kick it to the curb on more than one occaision but the smell, the taste, it entices me, and I find myself yearning for just a sip. I have accepted my love for coffee, but I have learned to keep it to one cup in the morning. My first real experience with tea was when I worked a part time second job at a tea shop called Tea Time. It was only two days a week for a handful of hours. I made sandwhiches, washed dishes, took orders, wiped tables, and prepared cups or pots with various loose teas. I enjoyed the job, mainly because it was hardly ever busy, and because I always received a free meal with a pot of tea. For the first time in my life I tried Early Grey, and thrilled at the taste when a little splash of milk was added. One day I tried the childrens tea, gobbling up the semi melted gum ball at the bottom of the cup when all the tea was gone. I found that I really enjoyed peppermint tea, and plain green tea.
Over the years I became more of a tea drinker, something I thoroughly enjoy in the evening, and even in the afternoon accompanied by a good friend. I’ve done the teavana thing, very expensive but very delicious, and my cabinet has collected quite a few boxes of randoms. It was not until I came across Rosemary Gladstar’s book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health that I discovered how truly healing herbal teas can be. I went to my local loose leaf tea shop, and blended my first herbal tea. A tea for insomnia. The act of mixing the required herbs, then brewing the tea before drinking was a beautiful, and fun experience. To say I loved it is an understatement. It revealed a hunger in me to learn all I could, and to continue making healing teas not just for me, but for others! I saw how this simple recipe worked for me, and I wanted to share it so others could benefit. 

On Valentines day I signed up for Rosemary Gladstar’s homestudy The Science and Art of Herbalism. So far I love the program. In lesson one we begin to cover the basics about determining good quality herbs, how to store your herbs to maintain quality, and where to even buy good quality herbs. When I began reading Rosemary Gladstar’s book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health I learned the difference between infusions and decoctions when it came to preparing your medicinal herbal teas. She covers this, and more, in lesson one. When I first gave someone a tea blend and told them to prepare it as an infusion their face scrunched in confusion. Not a lot of people know what that means, and I forget easily that until recently I didn’t even know what that meant. 

An infusion is when you take the fragile parts of plants and either prepare it by pouring boiling water over it, letting it steep, covered, for ten to fifteen minutes or by placing herbs in cold water, on low heat, slowly simmering, and turning it off right before the water begins to boil. 

A decoction is when you take the more tenacious parts of plants, like roots, bark, and nuts, and prepare it by either placing the herbs in already boiling water and simmering for fifteen or twenty minutes, or placing the herbs in cold water and slowly bring it to a boil for fifteen to twenty minutes. 

So what do you do when you have a premade tea that has both leafy, flowery parts as well as roots and bark? You prepare your tea as a decoction. Then when it is done you throw in a little more tea and let it infuse for ten to fifteen minutes. 
What some do not realize is that tea is the basis for most of herbal medicine. It is the primary way to enjoy herbs, and there are a variety of herbs no one has ever thought of ever drinking that could spice up a bitter, healing tea. Most medicinal herbs just do not taste good, and though you know that it is good for you, it doesn’t make it any easier to drink. Examples that Rosemary gave in lesson one for spicing up medicinal teas are chinese star anise, rosebuds, and stevia. 

Rosemary Gladstar wrote : Teas remind us to remain conscious of the primary role we each play in our personal wellbeing. By taking an active role in the process of the preparation of our medicines and foods, we participate in our wellness. Furthermore, tea is warming and soothing to the soul. 

Perhaps tonight, when you are sipping on your mug of tea, reflect on what it is you are consciously doing to better your overall wellness. Or what new step you can take for your personal wellbeing. 

With light and love I wish you a beautiful week. 

I’m not the acne monster I thought I was 

Since my post last week I have thought a lot about my past experiences and how they all led me to this point in my life in my aspiration to become an herbalist. I did a little digging and I found the two pieces of notepad paper that has all my notes from the various research I did. In my notes I wrote about the herb calendula and made a list of beneficial herbs for acne. Even then I gravitated towards herbalism. 

So let’s talk about my acne. 

     

This was not even the worst of it. It took me awhile before I found the courage to document my acne. During this time I hated going out in public and I avoided it at all costs. It’s hard not to imagine why. Looking in the mirror was torture because I was not very nice to myself. My self-esteem plummetted. 

For awhile I was lost in my own self-pity and despair. It wasn’t until a breakdown in the San Diego Airport bathroom at 2am when I realized that I really needed to take action. I could not continue to live like that, something was seriously wrong. On one of my research papers I made a notation about my progess: 

“Most of the recurring cystic acne has ceased after using liv-tox, milk thistle and dandelion. Now it seems that my primary concern is how to heal my skin from previous damage. My right cheek seems to have residual red like spots and scars from some of the more cystic acne.” 

I wish I kept a journal of my progress and everything I used on my face to help heal it. I know that I would take parts of my aloe plants and smear it on my face. I used tea tree oil as a spot treatment, and frankensence oil to help heal my scars. 

 
Here is a little video I put together to show the progress over time. Now at this point in my life I definitely am not acne free. It seems that this battle for me is constant, but I continue to listen to my body and find solutions. 

In Rosemary Gladstar’s book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health she writes: ‘When we experience menstrual irregularities, PMS, menopausal problems, fibrocystic conditions, and even erratic mood swings, special attention should be directed to the health of the liver.The liver produces the constituents needed for hormone production, and regulates hormone activity. Most Hormonal imbalances respond to a diet that support the healthy function of the liver.’ I found a great site that gives you a little Hormone 101 instead of me typing everything in, I know just about as much as you do on the subject. https://womeninbalance.org/about-hormone-imbalance/hormones-101/

Herb of the week: Vitex angus-castus or the Chaste tree berry 

This berry stimulates the pituitary gland, which regulates the menstrual cycle, and is used to balance hormone production. It is a uterine tonic (herbs that tone and strengthen the entire female reproductive system), an herbal emmenagogues (herbs that stimulate and promote normal menstrual flow), and a hormonal balancer and regulator which normalize the functions of the endocrine glands, thereby aiding the proper functioning of the reproductive system. It can be made into a tincture, or added to an herbal tea blend. I’ve even read a recipe where the dried berries are crushed into powder and mixed with other hormone supporting herbs to create a daily pill. 

I have a tincture form of vitex for personal use, and am just waiting patiently until Rose Mountain Herbs carry it in stock once more. Once I get my berries I will be adding it to my acne tea, a blend I have been using for over a week now. 

Thanks for reading. Over time I will get better at the blogging business so that I may provide for you the best of the best. 

Have a great week beautiful Dreamers. 

Who is The Yogi Herbalist? 

Hello everyone! 

My name is Sarah, and I am aspiring to become an herbalist. I was inspired to seek this path because I have been struggling with adult acne for years. As I transitioned from a teenager to a young adult it was not as noticable because I was on birth control, and it kept my hormones in control. In December 2012, at age 26, I took myself off of birth control in pursuit of living as holistically as possible. Within two months my face erupted in cystic acne. It was awful, and quickly began to tear down my self esteem. I saw a dermatologist who prescribed medication that did nothing more than make my entire body feel on fire and make me dizzy all the time. I tried different over the counter facial washes, creams, and medications but found that they either made no difference or enflamed my face further. By this point I was frustrated, and hated to go out in public because I felt like an ‘acne monster’. After reminding myself that the whole point of this was to find a holistic approach to taking care of myself, I turned to the internet to find answers. Amongst the many blogs and articles I read, I found a few solutions that began to help. One woman suggested to stop using store bought facial cleansers all together, and to make an oil face wash. An article I read explained that some adult acne in women is a sign of a hormonal imbalance, so I began to take vitex in capsule form. My post next week will explain what vitex is and how it helps female hormones. During the few months when I lived in Maui I discovered the healing properties of tea tree oil to help ease my sunburns. Over time I began to dilute tea tree oil with a small amount of coconut oil, and dabbed it on the worst parts of my erupted face. It definitely helped bring down the cystic acne. This was just the start. I kept researching, kept experimenting, and over time my face improved. The worst part of the acne began to scar parts of my face and I kept researching, kept experimenting, and over time that too improved. I have to say that I love lavender and frankinsence essential oils. 

Last year I was cruising one of the more holistic shops in downtown Fredericksburg when I came across a book that opened my world, and my heart, to a new way of living. It was Rosemary Gladstar’s  book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health. At first I read it just to help me find more solutions to my unending struggle. I put together a few teas, and something in me just blossomed. It wasn’t until I shared a tea with my Momma, one to help with insomnia, when it clicked in me. I wanted to share health and happiness with as many people as I could. That feeling has always been my desire, the reason why I teach yoga, but this was the way I could truly help innovate the inner workings of the human body. Help support the internal while teaching the external to move. I never felt that teaching yoga was enough, like a part of my path was missing, and learning about what an herbalist is completed that feeling. This is what I am meant to do with my life. 

So begins this wonderous journey into learning all that I can be to become an herbalist, and provide holistic solutions to every day ailments or concerns. Combining that with my established (and growing) knowledge in yoga, I present myself to you as The yogi herbalist. Welcome to the exciting start of making my dream job reality. 

Have a happy, and blessed week beautiful dreamers.