Shake & Shine Retreat Re-Cap!

A Mindful Mantra's Shake & Shine Retreat
After months of planning and dreaming, the Shake & Shine Retreat came to a close this past Sunday. I am honored and blessed to have been able to spend 3 days with such amazing women. We laughed, chatted, cooked, stretched, danced, sweat, and played together. Old friends, new friends, and people who have never met came together for what was one of the most blissful weekends of the summer.

If you’re feeling a bit bummed out that you weren’t able to attend – no worries! Today, I’m bringing you a full re-cap and an insider’s look at the 2015 Shake & Shine Retreat. Let’s go!

Pre-Retreat

The week leading up to the retreat was a bit hectic, stressful, and nerve-wracking for me. Not because I had 101 things to plan and prep, but because I was fully prepared and feeling as though it simply couldn’t be that easy. There must be something I’m forgetting! But, there really wasn’t. The classes were planned, well loosely planned – if you’ve ever taken my classes you know how much I value freedom and spontaneity in class so that we can all do what feels good in the moment. The playlists were created. The meal plan was finished. The agendas had been sent out. The food had been purchased. The gift bags were fully assembled. Even my overnight bag was packed, and that, my friends, rarely happens ahead of time! Everything felt so natural, simple, and full of ease. It was that part that I wasn’t prepared for. As a recovering perfectionist and former anxiety-ridden woman, I began to feel as though there had  to be something else.

Friday – Retreat Day 1

As it turns out, there were a few things that I did forget to pick up until Friday morning – bolsters, blocks, and a few final t-shirts for the gift bags. Though it was solved by a simple 8 am run to the yoga studio and the print shop. Friday morning consisted of loading up the car with yoga props, nearly 10 bags of groceries, and other retreat supplies. Then, I was off to the retreat venue. Continue reading →

5 Simple Steps for Creating a Meditation Practice (Sitting quietly is optional!)

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Intimidating. Boring. Impossible. Not for me. These were all thoughts I had about meditation when I first started practicing yoga. I had heard wonderful things about meditation, but given the debilitating anxiety I was dealing with the last thing I wanted to do was sit quietly with my thoughts. In fact, that was probably one of the most terrifying things I could possibly do. For years I avoided meditation.

I did, however, participate in savasana, final resting posture, at the end of each yoga class in which I participated. I found savasana to be an amazing refuge from the constant, racing, anxious thoughts that consumed my days. There were times when the anxiety did not subside during savasana, but for the most part it was a safe haven. It wasn’t until I participated in my teacher training some six years later that I realized that resting in savasana is in fact one form of meditation. You mean I’ve been meditating this whole time? Why didn’t anyone tell me sooner?!

A few months after this realization, I attended a meditation workshop at my home studio, Yoga Vermont. In this workshop the presenter said, and I’m paraphrasing here, …”I used to sit in seated meditation in group settings and think ‘How is everyone else sitting here without any thoughts? How are their minds not racing? I am never going to be able to do this. Ugh, there’s another thought. Go away. You don’t belong here right now. Stop. Grrr.’ Then I spoke to a more experienced member of the group and asked him, ‘How do you get your thoughts to stop during meditation?’ He very simply replied, ‘I don’t. You don’t have to completely stop thoughts from arising to meditate. You simply have to allow them to flow out just as they came, without judgement, and cherish the space between each thought.'” Continue reading →

Healthy Deviled Eggs (Mayonnaise-Free!)

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There are few things better than a backyard picnic or BBQ on a warm summer day. Food, family and friends, and ice-cold drinks – it is a recipe for a fun-filled relaxing day. Though in the past I’ve left these fun-filled shindigs feeling bloated, nauseous, and uncomfortable from the mountainous, mayonnaise-filled “salads” that always find a place at the buffet table. Noodles with mayo, potatoes with mayo, eggs with mayo….the mayo-filled madness stops here. Today I’m bringing you a delicious, mayonnaise free, healthy Deviled Eggs recipe!

When I think of deviled eggs I am instantly transported to the days of throwing back egg after egg of my Grandma’s famous deviled eggs. We’d gather for picnics and BBQ’s at her house, swim in the pool, play in the yard while the grown-ups watched and chatted. Ahhh, sweet memories. Continue reading →

Spicy Garlic Chicken Wings (No-frying necessary!)

Spicy Garlic Chicken Wings - A Mindful Mantra

A Mindful Mantra confession – I freaking love chicken wings. They are a crispy, juicy, delicious silverware-free finger food. Buffalo, garlic, bbq, jerk…you name it, I’m into it. The thing I’m not into is the deep-fried aspect of chicken wings. My body does not like fried food. Within 30 minutes or so of eating fried food my body feels nauseous, lethargic, bloated, and down-right unhappy. This was the delicious chicken wing dilemma that I faced….that was until I baked these tasty Spicy Garlic Chicken Wings in my oven on what I can only imagine was the hottest day of summer. Despite the overwhelming heat in my kitchen, it was so worth it. I’m officially trading fried chicken wings for baked wings. Are you with me? Continue reading →

Where I’ve Been…Omega Institute Retreat Re-Cap!

Toll House Cookie & Saratoga Water - A Mindful Mantra

You’ve probably noticed that it’s been a bit quiet here on A Mindful Mantra for the last week or so. I have taken some much needed self-care and personal development time. In late spring I was offered a full scholarship to participate in a 5 day Eat Breath Thrive training with Chelsea Roff at the Omega Institute. Free yoga, free food, free camping, free workshops – it didn’t take much to convince me to say, “Yes!”

Eat Breathe Thrive is a nonprofit organization that uses yoga, mindfulness, and other practices to support those struggling with negative body image and disordered eating. I chose to attend this retreat for two reasons – 1) As someone who struggled with disordered eating and negative body image for nearly a decade, I felt ready to re-explore that dark time in my life to reassess where I am at now. 2) As a Yoga Instructor and soon-to-be Health Coach, I am looking to develop programs and workshops for those dealing with these struggles that I know all too well.

The retreat served an amazing purpose for me, other than much needed rest and relaxation. This retreat reaffirmed that I am in fact at such an amazing place with my history of negative body image and disordered eating. Those five days in the woods of New York allowed me to revisit my past and make amends. The confident, strong, radiant Brandy you see today visited the insecure, anxiety-ridden, Brandy of the past. I gave myself permission to fully experience all the joy and bliss in my life at this moment. Continue reading →