Yoga to Feel Good, Not Look Good

Dr. Marisol doing yoga pose

As the call of the crickets chirp away in the dewiness of the morning, I make my way into my yoga studio. The sun isn’t up, no sparkle on the horizon, only a fresh, crisp, cool breeze that hugs and stimulates my body. It makes me feel alive even though my mind and body aren’t totally awake yet.

Why do I wake up at 4:44 in the morning, to do this practice while the world sleeps?

Do I do it because I want to look good? Often people think that I do this to stay in shape, or keep my svelte appearance. 

But the reality is I don’t do it for this at all. At the end of the day, that won’t give me the motivation to wake up when I do, or to feel the way I do. I need stronger, deeper, more authentic motivation. 

Read on to find out why a yoga practice will be one of those health practices that will change your life forever. Just ask those that live and breath by it, like some of my favorite inspirations @findingmorgantyler and @gypsyon__

My First Yoga Experience 

I remember the first time I did a yoga class. It was amazing. But I did it once and didn’t do it again. Why? Mainly because at this time in my life I was only interested in what would keep the weight off. I wanted my body to be toned, ripped and looking good in a bathing suit. And I thought that meant torturing my body with hours of working out and doing things that didn’t feel great, but made a quick gain. 

What I didn’t understand was that looking good means nothing and feeling good is EV-ERY-THING. When you feel good, you look good. 

But what happens when the things you do to look good stress you out? Over-exercising, cardio out the kazoo, hyper-focus on calorie counting, categorizing good food vs. bad food, feeling guilty for f*cking up… 

It can feel like life is not really worth living. You get discouraged and give it all up, then get ‘back on your grind’ a couple weeks later. Your body falls in and out of this yo-yo pattern and your spirit is left with disillusionment and loss of hope.  

Image of yoga mats and feet in a yoga class

But don’t worry – there is a light at the end of the tunnel! You see, when you get into what really makes you happy, you realize that it’s not the size of clothing you wear or what you look like on the outside. The only thing that matters is that you love yourself and understand that all the love you need lives inside of you. 

Not understanding this was like being asleep in my life. I was Sleeping Beauty Aurora, and the Prince Charming that finally woke me up was actually ME, connecting with myself. 

Why Should You Do Yoga?

The reason yoga is my predominant form of exercise is because I do it to feed my soul, rest my mind, connect with my physicality and the inner and outer movements of my temple. 

In yoga, I find my daily balance.

In yoga, I find my daily peace.

In yoga, I find the value in persistence and progress. 

Day by day, practice by practice, yoga has added enormous wealth and richness to my life. 

What I practice each day is an alchemy of the most important aspects of healing.

It’s my morning yoga wake up call, Grateful Dung™ practices before I eat, and peeking after I poo with Eau de Throne™. These practices consistently keep me conscious, present in the here and now, and tuned in during the day. My castor oil pack and Beauty Sleep Eye Kit are the tools I use in my nightly wind-down. These practices are the foundation of what keeps me vibrant, alive, balanced, and shining with my own light. 

Why Hot Yoga?

I always do hot yoga in the mornings, and the heated room really cranks up the benefits for the body. Here are a few reasons why I simply can’t live without it now: 

1. Induces sweating (like a sauna)


Sweating helps to cleanse your body. My practice often leaves my yoga outfit smelling funky, like a vat of chemicals have been dumped on it (chemicals that were stored in my body!). 

2. Calms the mind


I practice a type of yoga which is the same sequence of movements every time. They become automatic. I always know what’s coming next, so my mind can relax completely. You don’t have to do this type of yoga in order to get this benefit, it’s just my personal preference. The more you practice yoga, the more you’ll notice how refreshing it is for your mind.

3. Moves internal organs 


Yoga brings movement and flow to the digestive tract so we can digest, absorb and eliminate well. It massages hormonal organs like the thyroid, liver and adrenal glands.

4. Teaches valuable lessons to live by


Perseverance, commitment, kindness, understanding… yoga has taught me to be gentle with myself and where my body is at. It keeps the body limber, lean and with very few “physical ailments”.

5. Deep breathing


Yoga involves consciously focusing on inhaling all the good, and exhaling/letting go of that which does not serve us. It helps to get oxygen flowing to all the nooks and crannies of your beautiful temple.

There are so many benefits that you don’t get with other types of exercise. Now I know you’re wondering, what does it feel like? 

Let me tell you, you do not need to be Gumby to excel in yoga. You begin, just begin, exactly where you are at.  

What To Expect From A Yoga Class

Let me walk you through a typical yoga class for me. 

We begin by sitting cross legged; breathing, realigning, and setting an intention. 

This simple act reinforces the value of setting a goal. “Begin with the end in mind,” as Stephen Covey says in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  A dream without a map is just a dream, but with a map it can become reality. 

Breathing exercises begin the class. I breathe through my throat, opening up my fifth chakra. This chakra is one most often blocked in women, the one that aligns with the thyroid. The most common reason this chakra becomes blocked is because we often do not speak our mind. 

As I inhale, I fill in my belly as big as Buddha’s. 

I raise my arms over my head, and like the diagnostic needle of a Geiger counter, I swing back and forth, realigning my spine, tuning my body in to its natural rhythms. I give in to its natural ebb and flow, like the ocean. 

The class is usually 1.5 hours, but I do the express, only one hour. I’m busy, and I practice self care in many ways, so I devote a dedicated amount of time to everything daily. Castor oil packs, a sleep routine with my Beauty Sleep Kit, grateful practices and mindset training, everything is penciled in on my daily schedule. This maintains my foundation, my life and my happiness. I grow and glow because of it! 

The first half of the class is standing, helping you ground deeply into Mother Earth. I feel my legs extending down into the ground, like thick deep roots effortlessly making their way through the moist soil. I think of my feet, legs, thighs, and buttocks tightening as I squeeze and push deep into the ground, rooting myself for this practice. 

The imagery in the class makes me happy. Instructions to fold into a smiling Japanese ham sandwich, makes me giggle internally, a great feat when your stomach is smooshed up against your thighs, your head buried in between your shins. 

There are more poses named after animals in this sequence than there are in the jungle! One of the most powerful poses is the eagle. It stretches and aligns the shoulders and hips, the supportive joints of the body holding strong, like the four corners of the world. The point of the pose is to contract certain areas, restricting blood flow for a time, then as you release the pose, your circulation flushes in, nourishing all of the stabilizing joints. I feel powerful as I stand calmly after this pose, serene and focused like an eagle.

As I move into needle, grounding into the floor, I get distracted. My body is leaning forward, one leg stabilizing me, the other in the air. The skin on my belly hangs down, like a sack of potatoes, or better yet, a deflated, wrinkled, leathery balloon. A delightful sight now, but in my past was an utter nightmare to me. Something that I felt belonged only on Elm Street. Something that had me feeling so bad about who I was, as if I was a monstrous murderer, all because I had a little too much skin. 

Yoga taught me acceptance of where I am at right now. 

The Fear of Starting Yoga

When I first started yoga I was well covered up, always wearing a baggy shirt and long pants, in a room that is heated to 40 degrees plus. I felt so intimidated to bear all. So uncomfortable in my own skin, almost alien. 

I learned in yoga to be vulnerable. I learned to accept where I am at. I also learned this from following incredible women and leaders empowering women to step into their skin, no matter what it looks like or where they are at. @thebirdspapaya, @findingmorgantyler, @gypsyon__, @mikzazon, @kenziebrenna and @iamtulin are all women who have influenced my journey of acceptance.

The bottom line is this. On your yoga mat, you are safe. You are home. This is the place for your private inner practice, shared with a community that holds you and lifts you up. We all need community and connection to be happy. Yoga has given me this too. 

It took a long time for me to transition and be able to look at myself exposed in short shorts and sports bra. I just couldn’t in the beginning because I was living in fear of what others would think as I folded over myself and let my skin hang.

Why did I care what others thought? Because that is how we are trained. 

When I prescribe yoga, my patients often tell me, “I can’t do it because I can’t stretch, I’m so stiff!” But with yoga, that is exactly the point. The reality is they are not really worried about this, this is simply an excuse for their true feelings. They think that if they can’t do the poses perfectly that they will feel judged, isolated and alone. But it’s the total opposite in a yoga class!

That’s why it is call it a ‘yoga practice’, and not a ‘yoga perfect’!!!

Finishing Your Yoga Practice

Tortoise pose is the most activating and energizing of all the postures. Ironically, it requires the least amount of energy. To build energy, you must get calm and center yourself. The position is on your knees folded over, with hands in prayer position. 

This pose is like the castor bean. The protein meal that is left over after oil production can kill you, but the oil can heal you. This is the magic alchemy and natural state of all things created by Mother Nature. She calls it as she sees it, there is always a balance between dark and light, light and dark.  

As you end your practice on the floor, lying in dead man’s pose, the effects of what you did start to sink in. An hour of intense focus under harsh circumstances, yet you feel balanced, clean, in tune… you feel BETTER. 

I always lie in dead’s man pose for about 10 minutes after my practice to soak in all the final ‘goodness’. It always make me think; you have choice in life. Choose you, choose your health practices. Get yourself to a studio like mine @midtownyogakw or follow someone that inspires you in your yoga practice – @findingmorgantyler is my favorite. 

It’s your time to actively own your health practice, so you are one step closer to owning your throne!

All the love and light in the world. 

’Tis the Season for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

As the Christmas lights go up in the tree, the snowfall becomes increasingly more frequent, you get the lovely bulky snow tires on your ride for safety, and the holiday frenzies begin in preparation for Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year. 

We are used to these cycles, we look forward to them, we count down to them. But just like we know that Santa Claus is comin’ to town on the 25th of December, and baby Jesus’ birthday is celebrated… we know all too well the cyclical pattern that occurs in the moods of those living more in the Northern Hemisphere, that affects every single cell of their body, mind and soul. 

The darkness descends when the sunlight goes down earlier in the evening. 

The trees feel it too, except the mighty luscious evergreens that never lose their light. The rest all look listless, overburdened, weighed down and frozen like icicles, but yet still shining and  shimmering like diamonds under their frost-bitten coat. 

The crisp cool winds add some speed to your step. And the fifty shades of grey you can see in the sky, hug the horizon and envelop the world like a great big present.  

Even though there is a lot of glad tidings, gratefulness and cheer at this time of the year, simultaneously many of us feel an internal heaviness or gloom, spreading like a dark deep shadow over our soul, a sensation of sadness. Everything can feel gloomier at this time of the year, especially if you suffer or have been diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and it can only get worse as the winter drags on. 

Let’s face it, the warmth of sunshine, the comfortable heat that caresses your body is like a constant hug that you feel during the spring, summer and fall months. Lifting your mood, lightening your step and warming your soul and all those around you that you love. 

Whereas the snowballing of winter, although beautiful, feels cold, numbing and disconnecting to the inner love you have for yourself. 

This is especially difficult for people that are super in touch with their environment and sensitive to changes around them. I’ve noticed that SAD affects mostly those people who are very artistic and expressive. Perhaps they are an artist like Pablo Picasso, or perhaps they dress in a very creative way like Elton John, perhaps they are a thinker or a scientist like Einstein, or a great clothing, hand bag and shoe designer like Kate Spade (who took her life last winter). This time of the year, almost like the hibernation of the bear, can move us deep into a darkness that overwhelms and pushes us into despair. 

Mainly because we notice things slowing down… You feel less energy, you want to stay indoors, even your poops slow down. You may not go as often. To learn about what your poo says about you, download my 50 Shades of Poo and start the journey. 

Your metabolism isn’t optimal, you feel like you gain 10 lbs every winter. Well hey, what do you expect? You’re not outside, not as active, plus you’re hibernating, just like the bear. 

This is all a natural cycle of quiet, rest and preparation for the blossoming springtime. 

The only problem is that it can freeze some of us in its wake. We begin to feel hopeless, unhappy, dark, almost like we have lost our inner sunlight and now the darkness has set in. 

What’s super important at this time of the year is to notice how you are feeling and be open to those light bulb moments, realizing that you possess everything you need to change how you feel, so you can feel better. 

Like Oprah and her favorite things, I’ve found a few of my favorite things that you can do to help your SAD transform to GLAD…. Here are my favorite things to keep the sunshine in your step this season.

FEED ME SUNSHINE!!!!!!

Necessities include adequate levels of vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin), proper exposure to light, and most importantly, minding what you say to your mind! When there is absence of the sun it’s an important time to connect with your soul and come to some amazing realizations about yourself that everything you need is found within and that you are your own best inner sunshine. 

To help you come to this realization faster, more promptly, say this to yourself:

“I am the sunshine that grows my dreams, I walk in faith with grace and light, no matter the darkness that surrounds me. I am my own sunshine! “

Write yourself love letters saying this. You can put it in your calendar, send yourself texts, say this to yourself out loud while you look into the mirror. Physically send it by mail. Yes, by mail! Say a prayer before bed and include this command.  

Over time, this will sink into your subconscious, and even though you don’t initially feel like you are much of a ray of sunshine, over time you WILL begin to believe it and when you do, you will feel better and be sunny, just like a ray of sunshine. 

You truly are all the sunshine you need, it is all within you and moves through you! For real, you just need to learn how to turn it on, just like a lightbulb, and this is the recipe. It’s super easy, but you need to have faith and do the action in order for this to sink in and your sun light to start beaming, warming you, hugging you and brightening up the 50 shades of grey we see in the sky at this time of the year. 

Practice Your Health Practice – SLEEP 

Sleep is the most important health practice. This keep your rhythms in sunshine mode. Sleep sets the tone, it heals us, keeps our body clean, and resets everything, especially your sunshine!!! 

Here’s what I do to make my sleep solid! 

I have a kick a** routine that includes my Queen of the Thrones™ castor oil pack, because it helps me sleep better but also benefits me through the day to poop better, cleanse better, bloat less and stress less so I look and feel better! 

The castor oil pack also stimulates the production of oxytocin, the love and connection molecule that calms our stress and literally feels like great big hug! So when you’re missing the hug of the heat from the sun… there is always a way to make it happen! 

Wearing a sleep mask to bed naturally increases your melatonin. Because of the change in daylight in the northern hemisphere, it can have an effect on our natural melatonin production. 

An eye mask helps you to naturally increase melatonin before you go to bed. When the sun goes down at 5 o’clock, you start to produce melatonin, but by the time you actually go to bed at night, your stores are depleted. Wear the mask to stimulate production and my Queen of the Thrones™ Beauty Sleep Eye Kit will also help to improve eyelash and eyebrow growth, and naturally boost the gentle area around the eyes, reducing the visible signs of aging like darkness under the eyes.  

Now whenever we are weighed down by a health concern, or simply don’t feel good, don’t forget to get checked out by your doctor just in case!

Make sure to get checked out for anemia (low iron), vitamin D levels, B12 and folate (especially if you’re a vegetarian), food sensitivities and your hormones. These can all affect how you are feeling. 

So there you have it, it’s your time to shine, don’t you think? Living your life in hibernation mode is over, you are meant to shine your big bright light in our world and be sunny like the sunshine to all those that you come in contact with. Because you matter, your gifts matter to the world and all you need to learn is how to nurture your inner light. 

Shine baby, shine, like a super nova…. 

No one can do it like you and no one can do it better! xoxo 

Love, left sided hugs and all the sunshine—- Dr. Marisol xoxo 

This blog was inspired by my patients that suffer from seasonal affective disorder and one of my fave instagrammers, @thebirdspapaya, sharing her beautiful creative artistic daughter’s struggles with seasonal affective disorder, and Oprah… because she loves her favorite things… and these are mine for seasonal affective disorder. 

How to Protect Yourself from EMFs

When I was younger, I suffered severely with anxiety. In fact, what dictated a lot of the damage done to me in my youth was an actual misdiagnosis of asthma instead of anxiety. This put me on a trajectory of being drugged up with prednisone, supremely overweight, constipated and losing faith in my body’s ability to heal, or do what I was supposed to do in this world. 

I look back on those times, grateful, because they moved and motivated me to where I am now; educating and empowering others in their health. That feels good, I’m so happy to be of service – and it’s all because of those painful situations when I was younger. 

We didn’t know it was anxiety until years later. I was frustrated with never feeling better, especially when I was taking all of these medicines that were supposed to fix me. My mother decided to take me off of everything. So we did, and we learned to sit in a corner in our home and relax. It was the first form of cognitive behavioural therapy that I got, a well known method of dealing with anxiety. 

Patterns in Anxiety

As I got older, still struggling with anxiety, mood swings and the sequelae of an irritable bowel, I noticed that the severity of the anxiety was really based on certain locations where I was at. 

The home I grew up in was a place of major anxiety for me. I thought it was just because I was part of a Spanish family, full of piss and vinegar and passion. 

But at the beach or in South America at my extended family’s homes, I would be in complete balance. Feeling better than ever, uber creative and in the zone, my vibe. So it couldn’t be the family dynamics? It had to be the house I was living in. 

The condo I was living in while I was going to school in Toronto also caused me to be severely overwhelmed by anxiety, but only in the last two years I was there. 

Location Based Anxiety

I put two and two together and realized that the places where I felt the worst, for example my condo in Toronto, had a common denominator. You see, in my third year of school, a cell phone tower was added to the top of my condo building. Years later I realized that the home of my youth where I grew up, actually had an electricity farm in our backyard that powered the mines of Northern Ontario. 

I realized I always felt much better by the beach, it was actually my safe haven where I felt so wonderful. Years late I learned that the sand and salt actually neutralizes EMFs – A.K.A. electromagnetic frequencies. 

EMF Anxiety

So what are the EMFs that had me in an anxiety frenzy?

In the simplest of words, they are the frequencies of electricity and energy. They follow what is known as a sine wave pattern. Energy is all around us, wherever there is electricity or wires, cells phones or cell phone towers. 

In fact, I was so in the know about how these affect me that when I found the location for my clinic, I made sure, I actually physically mapped out where all the nearest energy towers and cell phone towers were and tried to stay between 1-3 km away. I was successful, and it’s one of the reasons that my clinical space is such a sanctuary. It’s got good vibes that aren’t corrupted by dirty electricity. 

Even though the wires are insulated, energy still escapes and radiates around it. They call this energy ‘dirty electricity’. The stuff that doesn’t stay in the insulated areas. The closer that you are to the power towers, wires, or cellphone towers etc, the more you may notice an impact on your body – if you’re sensitive (not everyone is). But if you are, you notice it greatly. 

We are energetic beings, we have a frequency, a vibration. Everything does, because at the root of it all we are made up of atoms, electrons and protons, and they all have a vibration. So imagine it like this; if the ground is vibrating underneath you, like in an earthquake, heavens to Betsey you are going to vibrate too! It knocks you off your rocker, so to say. 

Therefore anxiety, and other such symptoms can become the result. 

The tools that helped me overcome were these: 

1. Staying away from locations with EMFs

Obviously I couldn’t do this every time, but I try my best! I also have my wifi router set on a timer to shut off every night to limit the amount of time it’s on. 

2. Castor oil packs

Because they set the foundation for better health, you are more resilient with what comes at you, including EMFs! Get your’s here.

3. Wearing a sleep mask to bed

This helped me to naturally increase my melatonin[1] which is one way that you can get better sleep and have more resistance against dirty electricity. Get your’s here.

Since I couldn’t wear my castor oil pack or my eye mask all day, I found this amazing tool that has been shown to reduce the impact of the EMFs. 

4. Wearing my Harmoni Pendant

My great friend and detox expert Wendy Myers has a beautiful chain, that looks much better than anything else that is available on the market to protect from EMFs! It is easy to put on every day and helps you feel better!! 

The Harmoni Pendant was designed to harmonize the body’s natural electrical frequencies and energetic pathways. It works so well that it’s worn by many professional athletes (and yours truly!). The pendant’s unique properties also convert harmful manmade EMFs that come into the body’s field into gentler and more harmonious frequencies. 

By wearing an EMF protector on your body, you are not only protecting yourself from the EMFs emitted from by your own devices, but also all of the harmful EMFs around you. 

Get your’s here!

Also – fun fact, the jewelry designer of the Harmoni Pendant is the same designer who made jewelry for the Game of Thrones cast for the TV show. So cool! They are stunning. 

Personal Triggers

So you see there are many roads that lead to Rome, the important part is to find out what are your personal triggers, what irritates and bothers your natural predisposition and to get educated and empowered to do something about it. 

I hope you take action here and enjoy these wonderful tools for your health! Plus they make great presents for those you love. xoxo. 

References:

 Rong-fang HuXiao-ying JiangYi-ming ZengXiao-yang ChenYou-hua Zhang. Effects of earplugs and eye masks on nocturnal sleep, melatonin and cortisol in a simulated intensive care unit environment. Published online 2010 Apr 18. doi: 10.1186/cc8965