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NEWS

Filtering by Tag: warriorflowellness

The Middle Way: The path to long term health & happiness

Jennifer Oechsner

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Within Buddhist philosophy there lies the concept of the middle path or middle way. This refers to living a life away from extremes. Arisotle also favored the virtues of this path and wrote, "every virtue is a mean between two extremes, each of which is a vice.”  

Many of us could benefit from following the middle path but sadly our modern society does not support it. Multi-tasking, extreme workouts, and fad diets are the norm and somehow jam packed schedules seems to be the rule rather than the exception. How often have you had to schedule a time to have a phone conversation with a friend? How many times have you jumped on board with an extreme diet but just gained the weight right back? How many of you have embarked on a fitness regime that called for maximum intensity every time? This energy and attitude for living is not conducive to long term happiness which is why this path of extremes is not sustainable. 

This middle path makes sense to me but it can be hard to walk the talk. Thankfully, progress has been made over the years. When I was younger I was not as conscious of my diet. I largely ate what I craved and used intense exercise and periods of deprivation to combat weight gain. This behavior often left me physically depleted and emotionally depressed. I still enjoy intense exercise and preparing for triathlons and relay runs is a great source of empowerment. However, I temper this intensity with regular yoga and taking time off to recover after events. I have also become better at listening to my body and making adjustments to my training regimen when necessary. ALthough I have to admit that I do need reminders sometimes that its ok to take breaks.

One area II do need to work on is my schedule. I often feel as though I am trying to keep many plates spinning. When I check my messages first thing in the morning, I recognize I lack the discipline to sit in meditation for a few minutes instead. (even though I know I feel so much better for it) I rely on vacations and weekends away to recharge rather than making time for stillness on a daily basis.  Finding MY way to the middle path means (sometimes) saying no to more commitments, meditation over hitting the snooze and turning my phone off when its time to wind down in the evening. What's YOUR edge? What would help you find the middle path? I would love to hear from you!

Aligin with nature this spring

Jennifer Oechsner

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Spring seems to finally be here in Portland. I know some of my friends here and around the country had a tough time with the drawn out cold and wet weather. As I write this the sun is coming up on what is sure to be a gorgeous day. Seeing the sun is even more magical when its been hiding for a little while.

The change of seasons brings an energetic shift. Its easier for me to get up when my alarm goes off (even on those 5am wake-up days), I feel more energized for my workouts and the food I crave is lighter and healthier. I feel myself shifting from the sluggishness of winter and I love it. This leo has missed the warm sun!

I believe that part of being our best selves is aligning with nature. Part of this is eating with the seasons. In Ayurveda (yoga's sister science), there is a strong emphasis on the energetics of food, the impact this has on the constitution and how this impact shifts as the world around us shifts. 

Spring is a time of re-awakening, a time to release the stagnant energy of winter. In the winter months moisture builds up in the body and we need to clear that moisture to help rid the body of toxins and reset our health. In Ayurveda, this means eating food that helps to stimulate your digestive system and avoiding food that cause water retention. Here are a few tips to align your nutrition with the season this spring:

  • Avoid sour and salty foods

  • Use herbs and spices that heat the digestive system like cayenne, garlic, ginger, cumin and black pepper

  • Eat warm and lightly cooked meals. Cooked food is easier to digest than raw

  • Include plenty of high fiber foods such as cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower and (soaked) beans that act as a chimney sweep for your digestive track. 

  • Drink herbal teas that include herbs such as clove, cinnamon, licorice, dandelion, hibiscus and cardamom

  • Avoid heavy and oily foods

Yoga can help connect you to the energy of any season. In spring, I recommend emphasizing twists in your practice to help stimulate the digestive system. Twists compress your mid section and limit blood flow. When you release the twist, it stimulates flow of blood and energy to those areas. A short yoga practice is a great way to start your day. Here's a short sequence you can practice daily to to help bring you into the flow of spring. I recommend holding each static pose for 5-10 breaths per side

Need help with this sequence? Reach out to me at warriorflow@gmail.com and we can arrange at time to walk you through it step by step. Visit my Facebook page for healthy lifestyle tips and recipes.

 

Foster Global Oneness

Jennifer Oechsner

In these uncertain times it is easy to shut yourself in. It is easy to sit paralyzed with fear, wondering which direction this country will take. It is easy to fall into the trap of anger and resentment. It is difficult to cultivate a sense of hope and togetherness when there are strong lines of division. We are a city, a state, a country and a world that is made up of many different kinds of people. People with different religious beliefs, opinions,  genders and races. Yet we all still want some of the same things. We all want to be happy, to be healthy and free to make our own choices. Just as there are things that divide us, these common desires create a common ground. 

Recognizing these universal truths is part of why I love to travel. It is easy to get caught up in our everyday lives and disconnect ourselves from the world at large. Traveling introduces us to new people, places and ways of living. It stimulates the mind and the senses. But it also can remind us of our similarities. We all laugh, we all cry, we all want the best for ourselves and our loved ones. We all want to love and be loved.

I feel blessed to have traveled to many countries and to have spent several years living abroad. These experiences have shaped the woman I am today and have inspired me to share my love of travel with others by organizing trips to new and interesting places. 

In 2014 I led a group to India, this year me and Kimi Marin led a group to Nepal. In March her and I are taking a group to Ecuador! On these trips we create an experience of togetherness, compassion and adventure.  

We will start our journey in Quito working with street children. Humanitarian work fosters human connection and reminds us of the commonalities between us. While you will undoubtedly be struck by how differently we live, you will also notice that laughter is the same. Love is the same. Compassion is the same.

After we leave Quioto we will travel to the rain forest where we will spend the remainder of the retreat exploring, connecting with locals, meditating in the jungle and practicing yoga. I look forward to sharing each of these experiences with you. Contact me for more information Or visit Kimimarinyoga.com to make your deposit.

Journey to Nepal...a journey within

Jennifer Oechsner

As many of you know, I am co-leading a yoga and meditation retreat to Nepal with Kimi Marin.

This adventure has been in the works for a year and it's a project Kimi and I are so excited to be working together on. Our partner in Nepal, Asahi Treks and Adventures, has been a great pleasure to work with. Thank you, Kumar for all of your help. This trip is another dream come true for me and as I prepare, I find myself filled with butterflies and joy. I encourage you to put your dreams on paper, make a plan and set the wheels in motion. Find what brings you joy and gratification and keep it in sight.

Arranging the volunteer component of Journey to Nepal has also been a moving experience for me, an experience from and of the heart. I am grateful for our guests' enthusiasm for this endeavor and for the many individuals who contributed to the cause. I embrace the opportunity to travel to this enchanting country and practice Karma Yoga, yoga of service.  I am grateful for each individual who is joining us on this journey.

I will be posting messages and photos periodically throughout the trip. Follow me on Facebook for updates on our adventures. 

Each year I will offer a new opportunity to travel with me to an amazing location.  Next year's retreat is already in the works.....Journey to Ecuador! Save the dates, March 23-April 1. It is going to be another amazing adventure with yoga, reiki, meditation, horseback riding in the jungle and more. This trip will also include Karma Yoga. Stay tuned for details. 

 

Step Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Jennifer Oechsner

I heard someone once say, "the magic happens when you step out of your comfort zone". This phrase has really stuck with me and I come back to these words of wisdom when I am fearful of putting myself out there. While I still get stuck in ruts and hide from change, I try to catch myself when I feel this happening.  

Over the years, I have definitely stepped beyond my comfort zone in some big ways. So far I have lived in 2 foreign countries, moved around the world and across the country for 2 career changes, traveled on my own to 8 countries, competed in full contact kickboxing competitions and fell on my face numerous times when trying to master side crow.  In each of these experiences I remember the vibrancy of my nerves, the butterflies in my stomach and the edge of fear. However, each of these situations taught me something new. Some of the lessons were painful, but each experience has made me a better version of myself.

Some of my best memories that involved me leaving my comfort zone have been found on the road. When I stepped off the plane on my first trip to India I was excited, nervous and a little apprehensive about whether I made the right decision to travel there on my own. That 5 week adventure had its ups and downs as any trip will, but overall it was amazing. To have a positive experience traveling in India one must be willing to embrace the unfamiliar. Amidst the chaos, the crowds, constant sensory stimulation and heat, I found peace. I found joy, I found presence, I found kinship, and I found a connection to this amazing and spiritual place. My time in the Himalayas was a big part of each of these treasures.

The Sherpa people of Northern Nepal have named Mt. Everest (the Himalayas and the world's tallest peak) Chomolungma or "Mother of the World". This speaks to the deep reverence people of that region have for these mountains. The Himalayas exude power, majesty and command respect. Next year I will again be traveling to the mighty Himalayas, this time by way of Nepal. And this time I will have the great pleasure of traveling with a dear friend and anyone who is inspired to join us on this grand adventure. 

Along with Kimi Marin, I am hosting "Journey to Nepal". We will hike together, practice yoga, explore the treasures of this fascinating country, and take our yoga off the mat by volunteering in a small village hard hit by the recent earthquakes. This is an adventure you don't want to miss. And you have just 3 more weeks to get in on the special early bird pricing. Contact me today at warriorflow@gmail.com for more information on this once on a lifetime adventure. Step away from a traditional vacation and wander from the comforts of home. Who knows, it just might change your life!

Allergy Relief at Arm's Reach

Jennifer Oechsner

"Food is thy medicine and medicine is thy food."-Hippocrates

We all have heard about how to eat when you are sick. Many families have their own traditions of what to eat when we are under the weather; eat oranges to get plenty of vitamin C, fiil up on home made chicken soup, get plenty of liquids. But did you know that the right nutrition can also help you if you suffer from seasonal allergies? Does the sight of this field filled with pollen make your eyes start to itch?  I have some tips for you that can help keep you comfortable during allergy season. 

For some of us, pollen from various types of plants triggers an allergic response in the body. Exposure to these elements causes a histamine response, triggering runny nose, itchy throat and itchy watery eyes. For those of you who dont suffer from this, count your blessings! For some it is a minor annoyance but for others it means staying indoors until the pollen storm passes. No matter what your degree of suffering, there are steps you can take to minimize this histamine response in the body. Here are my top 10:

  • Use a Nettie pot daily. Rinsing the nasal passages with clean water helps to rinse allergens from the sinuses and with regular use, can provide relief for even the worst symptoms.
  • Eat organic produce. Pesticides on fruits and vegetables can worsen histamine response.
  • Eat wild salmon. Due to its Omega-3 content, wild salmon is a great anti-inflammatory food
  • Enjoy nettle tea or tincture. Nettle is a natural anti-histamine that can be taken throughout the day for allergy relief.
  • Try celery juice for an acute reaction. If you are having an acute allergic reaction juice some fresh celery (enough for about 6 oz of juice). Its flavor is strong but so are its medicinal properties. 
  • Avoid inflammatory foods. Dairy, gluten, corn, soy and processed sugar all fall into this category. Avoiding these foods during allergy season can help alleviate your symptoms.
  • Eat local honey. Bees that make honey from local plants provide the body with a sort of vaccination against allergens. For best results, start consuming honey several weeks before allergy season begins. 
  • Avoid wine during allergy season. Wine contains sulfites, which has been shown to increase histamine response in allergy sufferers.
  • Eat Indian curry. Dishes such as Indian curry that include ginger, garlic, onions, as well as tumeric and black pepper are great anti-inflammatory dishes.
  • Take probiotics daily. 80% of the immune system resides in the gut and ensuring healthy gut bacteria is an effective way to strengthen the immune system.


All of these recommendations will support overall health and wellness too. Sticking with these practices all year round will help the body fight whatever comes its way. Good nutrition truly is nature's best medicine.

The Process Of Passion

Jennifer Oechsner

As many of you know, I have been a student of  martial arts since I was 24 years old. Under the guidance of my amazing teacher Sahnya Thom in Milwaukee, WI, I was exposed to a wide range of styles and techniques within kickboxing, Taekwondo, and Jeetkundo (a blended martial arts style pioneered by Bruce Lee). I left Wisconsin in 2015 to start a new career in Portland and my physical practice of martial arts was pushed to the back burner. The practice was crowded out by my yoga practice and the challenges of starting a new career. That being said, I never lost that feeling of passion for martial arts. I knew I deeply missed it but was always making excuses. I told myself I didn't have time, I couldn't afford it, I didn't know a good school to go to. This winter I finally committed to a regular practice again and decided to try a new art form at Portland Shaolin Center. Here I found my passion again. 

Getting back to my first passion has really lit a fire in me. It feels amazing to reconnect to that inner warrior that has carried me through so much in my life. I am reminded of my power, my talents and my desire to live with passion and courage. 

Walking into the Shaolin Center on that first day was daunting. I wondered if my ego could handle going back to white belt. I wondered if I would still be good at it. I wondered whether it would be a good fit. I felt the fear of being new. Then it came back. The belt didn't matter, the movements came, and the fear dissipated. Connecting to this passion has filtered into other areas of my life. My yoga practice has become more focused, I am meditating more, and I have been commuting by bike most days. Most importantly, my self-confidence has been given a boost. How can your passion, whatever it might be, facilitate change in your life? How can you change your life practices to shift your consciousness? This practice might be yoga or another physical endeavor. It might be a creative art.

Whatever it is, connecting to your passion can have a powerful effect on all aspects of your life, if you tune in. 

Take time to investigate what stirs passion in you. What can you let go of to get you out of a rut. My negative patterns are to make excuses to avoid what is hard; to hide behind my fear of failure. What patterns can you let go of to allow for a shift of consciousness.  What can you renunciate to make space to grow and transform? What steps can you take to renunciate fear, move into courage, and live fiercely?

Backing Into Spring

Jennifer Oechsner

These glorious sunny days and warmer temperatures bring with them a sense of opening. All around us we see signs of spring; longer days, shade trees with tiny green buds and stunning cherry blossoms blooming throughout our beautiful city.  With the coming of spring my yoga practice is evolving as well. When I come to my mat I too want to open and find myself regularly practicing back bends. They feel natural and welcome in my body and I have a sense of tuning into the natural world around me. In honor of spring and this interconnection, we will be exploring back bends in my yoga classes for the month of March.  Each week we will focus on a different back bending pose to play with. We will explore how to safely prepare and execute these back bends for any level of practitioner

Back bends can present challenges for anyone. You come to a class and you see someone floating up into wheel (urdhva dhanurasana) with ease or playfully reaching  for king pigeon (eka pada rajakapotanasana) and it can be difficult not to fall into the trap of self judgement and comparison. Each time you come to your mat it is important respect where you are in your practice and work safely to progress to the next level. Regardless of your level,  even the stiffest among us can find some joy in back bends.  

For many of us, our daily activities make back bends even more challenging. We spend our days hunched over smart phones, computer screens and bicycle handlebars. We spend our weekends hiking, skiing, running, and lets face it, with more sitting.  All of these activities tighten the chest, hips, legs and back. We tighten the front of the body and in the process limit the flexibility of the back body. We spend very little time bending backward, a movement our spines were designed to make. This limitation can cause of variety of issues including low back pain, hip pain, rotator cuff issues and limited mobility of the spine.

For many of us, back bends also tap into something deeper, fear. The fear of falling back is very real.  We are afraid of what will happen if we move our body in that way. We are afraid of the opening and the sense of vulnerability  we have in these poses. Regular practice of back bends helps this fear dissipate. Not only are these poses great for the body, but they offer a deeper life training as well. Sometimes we are presented with obstacles we must overcome. Sometimes life takes us out of our comfort zone. Coming to your mat to explore postures that test your boundaries is one of the ways yoga is such an amazing training ground for life. 


Join me this month for an exploration of opening your heart, reviving your body, and stepping into the unknown.