Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer!

Many people carry hand sanitizer around with them, but the widely used varieties have some startlingly harmful ingredients.  If you want to use something that kills microbes without the nasty chemicals, give my recipe a try!

Tea Tree (Melaleuca) Oil is one of the most widely used and proven effective essential oils.  It is highly antimicrobial, killing bacteria (including anti-biotic resistant strains like MRSA,) yeast, fungus and even viruses!  Can your hand sanitizer do that??!

Here's what you need:

a 10-15mL amber glass bottle with inset dropper top (I reuse an empty essential oil bottle)
Clear Vodka 80 proof
40-50 drops of Tea Tree Oil

That's it!  And you guessed it, making this sanitizer is as simple as pouring the vodka in the bottle (be sure to leave room for the oil, you can always top it off with more vodka if necessary) and then dropping in the tea tree oil one drop at a time.  Put the dropper top and cap back on, then shake gently to mix.  Done.

To use the sanitizer, shake before each use, then simply allow about 5 drops to fall into your palm and rub it all over your hands.  This sanitizer is very safe and effective for adults and adolescents, but I would take care using it around small children.  Tea Tree Oil is not safe to ingest, so young children who put their hands in their mouths a lot probably shouldn't use it. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Yoga saved my life

Those of you who know me well, know that nutrition and holistic living are what I am most passionate about.  You also know that going to the gym is not my cup of tea and that I prefer a quiet conversation over a cardio butt kicking.  Keeping up with my 7 year old son keeps me moving, but it is just not enough to maintain health with the level of stress that I encounter as a single mother with a professional career. 

I'd always enjoyed doing a yoga class here and there, and loved the times that I was able to make time and money available to learn more Tai Chi, but it wasn't until I found myself suffering daily with pain and overwhelmed with my life that I turned to a daily yoga practice.  You can read more about the struggle I went through over the last few years here, if you are interested. 

I began hesitantly, not sure that I was going to be doing the postures correctly (a common concern among people interested in Yoga) and used a beginners guide with lots of pictures to get me started.  I work with Solar Salutations mostly, but also learned the Warrior pose, Tall Warrior, Tree, Crocodile and Boat poses. 

You can watch a brief video on how to do a Solar Salutation here.

Doing the postures themselves turned out to be less of a challenge than working time into my routine for doing yoga.  I decided to wake up 20-30 minutes earlier than usual, and was surprised to find that most days this wasn't a burden and I actually felt better upon rising earlier than I had when I would sleep until the last possible second. 

My routine goes something like this most days:
I take 5 minutes as soon as I rise to sit for a brief mediation.  I find that the first moments of waking offer a unique opportunity to have a quiet mind without struggling to manage the thoughts of the day.  It is naturally a time of reflection and inward focus, so I take advantage of that time by breathing deeply and allowing myself to feel quiet and serene.  Once I get out of bed, I do 2-4 Solar Salutations (which in reality is doing the series of postures 4-8 times, as a traditional Solar Salutation is moving through the postures twice) during which I breathe in each pose for 4 breaths the first round, and then reduce the number of breaths in half to 2 breaths per pose in the second round, and if I have time to do more I move to one breath for each pose, offering an invigorating way to get started in the morning.  After my Solar Salutations, I take between 5-10 minutes to do the "corpse pose" otherwise known as Savasana.  This is the pose I consider the most important, so I always make sure to make time for this even if it means only doing one Solar Salutation, or sometimes none at all if I sleep late or have an unexpectedly rushed morning.  Traditional yoga practice recommends 20-30 minutes in Savasana, but I've honestly never had the time to do that intense of a practice and do find relief from my pain and tension in less time.  Ideally, when I feel inclined and have a couple of extra minutes, I will sit for another brief meditation and breath awareness practice, sometimes as little as 2 minutes, just to really set my mind in focus for the day ahead. 

I've found that by adding these practices to my daily routine I have improved so many things about my life and health, in just 20-30 extra minutes.  I no longer suffer from daily pain, I feel more grounded and balanced, and my body has maintained its feminine shape and strong muscles, despite not ever doing a rigorous "workout" program.  I seriously can't say enough about how much Yoga has improved my life.  The pain and stress I felt daily before I added this practice were debilitating and made me depressed and overwhelmed, which affected my performance at work, at home and as a mother.  Now that I am free from pain, my mind is more clear and I feel like I am back on top of my game.  I've begun to pursue my interests and passions again, which is something that I haven't done in years and thought at one point I may never have time or energy for again.  Even my parenting has improved since I began doing Yoga daily, as I am now spending more quality time with my son and have been able to teach him some basic principles of breath awareness and yoga that he can use if he feels overexcited or upset. 

It may sound a bit over the top, but I truly feel that yoga has saved my life.  It has brought me closer to myself and my path than any other single change that I have made in my life.  I highly recommend that anyone who feels they could use more balance, peace and vitality in their life to explore yoga and meditation, whether it is in the home or under the supervision of a knowledgeable teacher. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Spring Cleaning! Lift your Spirit Edition

I imagine everyone feels uplifted on the first warm and sunny day of spring.  If you want to keep the feeling going though, try some of these simply ways to rejuvenate and lift your spirit everyday.


Walking is one of the most beneficial exercises that can maintain and improve health.  Try walking mindfully, taking care to focus on your breath and let go of thoughts and chatter in your mind. Observe your environment and perhaps more importantly, observe your own body and breath.  Notice how the sidewalk feels under your feet or the temperature of the air as it enters and leaves your nostrils.  Taking a reflective walk each day is one of the best things you could do for your overall wellbeing, as it tones and strengthens your mind, body and spirit!

Find Joy in Essential Oils

Aromatherapy is used extensively to improve mood, reduce anxiety and enhance spiritual awareness.  Diffusing an essential oil into the air or applying a blend of carrier and essential oils to your skin are both great ways to enjoy the uplifting effects of aromatherapy. 

My first essential oil blend is still my go to for feeling good every day.  Try Joy! Essential Oil Roll On from Dantian Products by clicking here. 

Essential oils that can help you beat depression include lemongrass, bergamot, ylang ylang and lemon.

Essential oils that diminish anxiety are lavender, rosemary, basil and vetiver.


Want to know one of my favorite things about Yoga?  The most beneficial and healing pose is also the most simple and relaxing!  Doesn't matter if you are a Yoga guru or you have never set foot on a mat, doing Savasana (Corpse Pose) everyday is going to enhance your awareness, detoxify your body and lift your spirit in noticeable ways. 

Take 10 minutes to lie on your back, breathing deeply with your legs relaxed apart and your arms at your sides about 45 degrees from your body.  Starting with your forehead, slowly relax all the muscles in your body all the way down to your toes.  If you have trouble letting go of tension in an area, pulse (or tense) the muscles until you are able to completely relax.  Try to keep your mind clear and simply observe any thoughts that do come up but don't focus on them.  Allow yourself to completely relax your mind and body, and feel the release of simply being.

Find out how to do the pose here:

A daily practice of Yoga, Tai Chi, martial arts or even a long mindful walk each day will bring you more peace of mind and strength of spirit than you have ever known. 

Find me on Facebook:

Follow on Twitter:

Check out my other Spring Cleaning posts here:
Spring Cleaning! Clear Your Mind
Spring Cleaning! Home Edition