At Heirloom Finds, we believe that wearing beautiful things on the outside can help you feel great inside. But all of the fabulous jewelry in the world can’t bring you contentment and joy if you aren’t taking time to restore your spirit.
Considering the demands our careers and families place on our lives, it’s all too easy for our well-intended New Year’s resolutions to simply evaporate. But what if, instead of shooting for an unrealistic fad diet or unattainable exercise regimen, we kept our goals simple, accessible, and nourishing?
We asked two experts—lifelong yoga instructor Carolina Alvarez and a massage therapist Allison Griffith, L.M.T.—to offer advice on small, meaningful changes to make in our daily lives that will get your year off to a balanced and motivating start.
Carolina Alvarez began taking after-school yoga classes at age four, when her family lived in Germany. Since then, she’s taught over 10,000 Hatha yoga classes, and she currently teaches classes in Ohio and West Virginia. Here are her suggestions:
The first step toward making yoga a regular practice does not need to be a giant one. “Even if it’s just 20 minutes of quiet time, light a candle, turn off your phone. And just sit. Even if it’s just for one minute. The hardest part is starting.” By allowing that start to be a small commitment that’s easily worked into your routine, you’re setting yourself up for success, because the scope of your own investment is not daunting.
Having a regular yoga practice does not have to mean going to class every day.
The ultimate point of yoga is “to create and enjoy a blissful, relaxed state of well-being,” Alvarez says. And you don’t always have to go to a class to achieve that. If you’ve done yoga in the past, make it easy to start up again. “A lot of people come to me saying, ‘It’s hard for me to get to class,’” says Alvarez. So bring your yoga practice into your own home. “Get a yoga mat, don’t worry about props—simplify. I don’t recommend watching yoga DVDs unless you’ve been to a few classes in person, in order to avoid injuries. But if you have been to classes recently, go ahead and use a DVD. If you can’t do a full hour, do 15 minutes.” For the month of January, Alvarez suggests investigating Yoga International’s 30 for 30 Challenge; by registering, you’ll get a 30-minute yoga class emailed to you for free for 30 days.
Meditation and times dedicated to reflection help us tap into our creative selves.
Theater is Alvarez’ other professional background—she acted and directed in New York City—and as a theater artist, she cites meditative activities as a useful tool to “get rid of mental clutter. You are clearing the slate, the mental static. Reflective time is a tool to become calm and open to new ideas.” That’s beneficial not only from a theater standpoint, but in creating new approaches to run-of-the-mill dilemmas we encounter in our everyday lives.
Massage therapist Allison Griffith works in Vienna, West Virginia, and her clients include Heirloom Finds’ co-founder Jeanne Peters. She’s been in massage for 13 years. “I guess it was something I was meant to do,” Griffith says. “I love it. I can’t imagine doing anything else. I like working one-on-one with people.” Here are her tips.
Self-care is vital to personal success.
Because of the intensely physical nature of their work, massage therapists can injure their own bodies if they aren’t aware of their limitations. “It’s really hard for me to do deep massage if I’m not at the top of my game,” Griffith says. Since she can’t be there for her clients if she doesn’t take good care of herself, she knows firsthand that the importance of maintaining her own inner and outer health can’t be underestimated.
Incorporate more healthful foods in your diet.
“I think that the most important thing to get yourself on track is to watch what you eat. When you eat better, you feel better.” Griffith suggests keeping tabs on a list of fruits and vegetables called the Dirty Dozen, which have more residual pesticides than other conventionally grown produce. “At least buy those organic if you can’t buy everything organic. Incorporate some organic foods. Just start small. You’ll notice a difference in the flavor of things when you buy organic and cook for yourself.”
Pay attention to your breathing.
We breathe every moment, not just in yoga class or during deep meditation. “I remind my clients to be aware of their breath in everyday situations,” Griffith says. “People are generally shallow breathers. It’s an easy way meditate. You can do it anywhere, for a short period of time. Even while waiting at the checkout at the grocery store.”
Often, when our do-do lists run away from us, the first things we compromise on are activities that we can dismiss as indulgent or luxurious—a massage, a quiet walk alone on a clear day, or even just sitting still and doing nothing for a few moments. But the ripples of these small things extend beyond the actual times they occur, moving forward to put a positive spin on our interactions with everyone around us. As Alvarez put it, “You’re worth it. You’re worth finding your peaceful center and taking time for yourself.”
by Sara Bir