The Skinny on Skin Care

Emily Seymour yoga skin care
The warm weather is here! And with that comes the gradual shedding of layers, swapping flip flops for shoes, and increasing our Vitamin D intake. As with any seasonal transition it’s a good idea to give ourselves time to adjust our lifestyle patterns accordingly.

Body care is one of the many aspects of a balanced home practice regimen. Just like you might want to give your car a routine waxing it’s a good idea to give your body “vehicle” a good skin care treatment. Especially if you’re anticipating spending more time in the great outdoors.

While there are some purists who won’t practice yoga in the sunshine, I absolutely LOVE practicing outside. But there’s just nothing fun about sunburns. I’ve gotten my share of “tomato-face” syndrome from practicing during peak hours (10am – 4pm) so my advice is avoid sun exposure during that time.

Twilight is my favorite time to practice outside – the sun isn’t too intense so you don’t really need to use sunblock. But if you’re a die-hard sunblock user I recommend reading What You Need to Know Before You Ever Buy Sunscreen Again.

If you like to play with making your own body care items, I recommend reading Adventures in DIY Products. It was written by my friend Mandy who makes her own sunscreen using aloe and coconut oil. I absolutely love using coconut oil on my skin. Whenever I’m cooking with coconut oil I’ll take a little and rub it into my arms, elbows and hands. Here’s a quick overview of the many benefits of coconut oil:

  • Hydrates and conditions the skin
  • Clears away dirt, grime, and flaking skin cells
  • Has antibacterial properties
  • Soothes bug bites
  • Helps with rashes
  • Softens and shrinks wrinkles
  • Protects against skin damage
  • Prolongs tans
  • Prevents cellular aging
  • Can be used to remove make-up easily
  • Is a great massage oil

In addition to protecting our skin externally we can also nourish our skin by eating certain foods. Dark chocolate contains a high level of antioxidants which protects the skin from sunburn and cancer. The carotenes in apricots, papaya, mango, carrots, sweet potatoes and beets all help to reduce the negative effects of UVB radiation.

Staying hydrated is key. Drinking plenty of room temperature water creates a natural moisture factor which protects the skin. After spending time outside it’s always a good idea to drink plenty of fluids so as to prevent dehydration.

How do you care for your skin during the warmer months? Feel free to leave a comment in the box below:

Never Leave the Park

 

Bike Outdoor Park Yoga Practice

I saw a video today called Never Leave the Playground by Stephen Jepson. I highly recommend it. Jepson is 74 years old and believes that the secret to health and longevity is to “just keep moving” through constant play. He’s designed a series of exercises that focus on movements and games that are like what children play on a playground. It inspired me to share a little snapshot of my outdoor practice session.

I’ve been housebound for the past few rainy days and so I decided to take a trip to the local playground. It was SO nice to be out in the sunshine again. I think that part of my enjoyment comes from knowing that these warm days are numbered…

I really like the Fall in New York. There’s an abundance of warm days before the cold weather hits. I was walking around barefoot today (in October!!) We’re also approaching the time change which is all the more reason to play outside as much as possible.

Around 4:00 I packed up a thermos of strong black tea and strapped my yoga mat to the bike. I hit the road for the local park and playground in Woodstock, NY. It’s a pretty sweet spot for an outdoor yoga practice. The backdrop of the mountains and the open sky are simply beautiful.

The park was almost empty except for a few high school boys. I set up on the opposite end of the basketball court near an apple tree. The boys hung out for a while and I had a chance to overhear some of what goes on in their world.

Practicing outdoors is so much better than practicing inside. It doesn’t cost anything to practice at your local playground. I hope you find some time to practice outside soon.

My home studio for the day:

Yoga mat park

 

Personal Retreat Reflections

Personal Retreat ReflectionsI’m on a personal retreat right now and have been diving into my practice. I’ve wanted to take an inner-teacher sabbatical during the holidays for years. I feel blessed to have an abundance of uninterrupted practice time. It puts me back into alignment with my own rhythms. And my inclination is to find ways to share this bounty with others. So here goes…

Winter is a time for hibernation.

The life-giving source of energy that comes from the sun is in short supply. Winter is also the season when apana, the downward current of energy is most prevalent. Apana is the force of energy that governs elimination in the body (excretion, urination, menstruation). Psychologically, it’s best described as a state of introversion. In nature it’s the force that draws sap down into the tree’s roots.

The holiday season presents an interesting counterbalance, which typically requires a great deal of output – emotionally, socially, financially, and physically. These cultural pressures don’t necessarily align with the laws of nature. Being extroverted can be very challenging when we’re disconnected from our natural rhythms. And with so much emphasis on externalization it’s easy to fall into the mental trap of thinking that we are not enough.

We might try to power through the season like a marathon runner but that’s a great way to make ourselves sick. Eating foods that we don’t typically eat, drinking excess amounts of alcohol and running around in the cold can take a significant toll on our physical health. Over stimulation and stress can make us feel like we’re wearing an invisible suit of armor.

While it is possible to cultivate energy through the holidays, it’s very important that we have enough gas in our tanks. So how to do this? Here are some simple suggestions of ways to practice “refilling your cup.”

  • Stay hydrated – drink plenty of room temperature, filtered water.  Add a little fresh lemon or lime juice if you have them on hand.
  • Eat the most beautiful food.
  • Be mindful of CATS (caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, sugar).
  • Turn off your television.
  • Avoid violent movies and fear-induced media hype.
  • Go outside and spend time in nature.
  • Don’t read the news when you’re eating.
  • Go to bed when you’re tired or take a nap.
  • Slow down.
  • Meditate. Light a candle or sit by a fireplace (the ultimate television).
  • Exercise. Move in ways that your body enjoys.
  • Breathe. A lot.
  • Relax in the sunshine.
  • Play, laugh, love.
  • Drink tea.
  • Sing your songs.

What are some other ways to nourish your spirit during this time of year? Feel free to leave a comment in the box below.