Meditation/Mindfulness with Eating

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Meditation vs. Mindfulness

Photo by Alex Adams

Photo by Alex Adams

There's a distinction between meditation and mindfulness.

I'd qualify mindfulness as the act of being present with whatever task is at hand. Indeed meditation is an acute form of mindfulness but usually constitutes a more rigorous form of concentration or awareness. Regular meditation practice causes us to live in a very mindful way, doing regular kinds of things with more presence. Things like eating.


Presence Through Senses

Many meditation traditions and philosophies argue that our identity relies solely upon our ability to be present. If we are not present, we really don't exist. Surely there's a lot to chew on there, but the essence of that idea is that our True Nature relies upon being here and now, no matter what you're doing.

Our senses are an excellent way of practicing presence because they are constantly giving us real time information about what is happening right in the moment. One of the particularly delightful ways of practicing mindfulness is through what we do hopefully at least a few times a day: eating.


Not only does eating involve all of our sense, it is perhaps the most intimate thing we do on a regular basis besides making love. Why not make love to your food? And like any good lover will tell you, it's no good unless you're present.

I think food is fascinating. In fact, one of my favorite classes in college was called A Feast of Food Ways and was an entire semester exploring the folklore around food. We explored what food means culturally, spiritually, and globally. Not only was that semester a feast of information, but we literally treated ourselves to tantalizing delights in every class. That class made food such a sensual subject that I don't think I'll ever look at the ritual of eating food ever again.


Food Ritual

6-Week Online Yoga Nidra Series

Starts Jan. 20, 0219

So, why not make eating a ritual? A ritual is a physical action that evokes a spiritual significance. If eating is the sustaining of our very being, how can eating NOT be a ritual? How could we ever absentmindedly shove Cheerios into the largest hole in our face while not tasting a thing and checking our Facebook profile? With presence, even a bowl of Cheerios could be a feast.

One of my friends said that the best meal he ever ate was a granola bar on mile 20 of an ultra- marathon. It's all about presence and context, right?

So why not make your next meal and every meal, a seance of seduction, a ritual of resplendence? All it takes is a little bit of mindfulness.


How To Eat Mindfully


  • Unplug. Put away your phone and turn it on silent. No reading, computer work, or television during meals.

  • Sit. Put with your feet on the floor. This grounds you and helps to put you into the moment.

  • Pause. Take a big breath and give yourself a moment of gratitude before plunging into your meal. Notice the smells, textures, and colors. Perhaps even contemplate the hands and energy it took to arrive at your table, including the miracle of Mother Earth growing it for you.

  • Taste. As you put it into your mouth, close your eyes for a moment and taste it the way a sommelier would taste it: notice its signature of the earth, the subtleties and varieties of favors. Can you name all the different ingredients? Feel the textures and temperatures.

  • Slow down. Chew your food and wait until you've swallowed before putting another small bite into your mouth.

  • Notice when you begin to feel sated and stop eating before you start to regret shoving that last bite into your pie whole.

  • If you have a moment after your meal, take a slow stroll. My Ayruvedic teacher taught me to take a 1000-step stroll after each meal. She also told me to eat until only 2/3 full and to eat what my body feels like it wants and craves rather that what I "should" eat (look up Ayruvedic diet information for eating tips for your constitution. My friend Sunny is an Ayruvedic practitioner and expert at such stuff. Contact her for a consult). Notice your level of satisfaction after each meal. A meal of candy bars feels terrible.

    I'd love to hear about your food rituals and what your experience is with mindful eating. Please leave a comment below.

Meditation Is Good for Your Health!

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Meditation

I know, I know. “Who has time for meditation? It takes time, and when I’m busy all I think about when I try to meditate is all the stuff I have to do, making me stress out even worse. What’s the point?”

But when we look at the data, who has time NOT to meditate? Studies show that regular meditators are more calm, less stressed, and when groups meditate the crime rates go down. Meditators are more productive, more creative, learn faster, and are generally more content with their life than those who don’t. People who meditate in a group are more likely to stick with it and have a higher sense of purpose and satisfaction than those who meditate alone.

Regular meditation has even been shown to dramatically improve physical health. Scientific studies have shown that coronary disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes, and high blood pressure have lessened or otherwise depleted with the help of meditation. Get this: health insurance stats show that people who meditate regularly have a reduced likelihood of being hospitalized for coronary disease by 87 percent, and the possibility of getting cancer by 55 percent. And people who meditate are psychologically 12–15 years younger. That’s nuts! (read the full article here)

If prayer is a form of meditation, Martin Luther, the historic religious reformer, certainly went against the grain when he asserted, “I have so much I need to do today, I need to pray for an extra hour.”

photo: https://www.danspapers.com/2018/12/paul-mccartney-ends-2018-tour-dates-video/

photo: https://www.danspapers.com/2018/12/paul-mccartney-ends-2018-tour-dates-video/

meditation

Paul McCartney has crooned some immutable truths but never has he said it better than when he shared, “In moments of madness, meditation has helped me find moments of serenity—and I would like to think that it would help provide young people a quiet haven in a not-so-quiet world.” Drop the mic.

So maybe you’re saying, “Ok, ok, I know regular meditation would help me but I need some basic instruction on what to do . . . and a little encouragement to get going.”

That’s where I come in.

There’s no time like the beginning of the year to start something new. That’s why I’m hosting my 31-Day Meditation Challenge starting TOMORROW. I’ll lead you through how to transform your life with a regular meditation practice. The challenge is to meditate every day for 31 days using whatever style of meditation you like for 15 minutes a day. That’s it!

One of the thrilling things about this challenge is that you’ll be doing this with a large group of people from all over the world. This will help increase your accountability and fun. You’ll be able to connect to each other for support and encouragement on our forum. We want you to be a part of our meditation community!

Not only will I and our community be helping you every step of the way, but if you call your mom and your best friends and let them know that you’re going to do the 31-Day Meditation Challenge and ask to be accountable to them, you’ll stick with it. Hell, invite them along and build a meditation posse, your sit crew. I know that whenever I want to make some positive changes in my life—I want to eat more healthy, get more fit, save money—if I am accountable to other people I stick with the program. If I’ve promised my wife that I’m not eating sugar, I’ll walk by that incredible bakery that sells the best pain au chocolat and not even give it a second look. So tell your nearest and dearest that you’re doing this and invite them along.

I’ll also be helping you by providing regular instruction, support, encouragement. I’ll give you some transformational and relaxing guided meditations to use if you want. Plus, I’ll lead you through a powerful visualization of 2019 that you can revisit regularly to blast yourself into an unstoppable year through the power of your own awesomeness.

The 31-Day Meditation challenge only costs $31 and as an incentive, if you complete all 31 days of meditating for 15 minutes a day, you can opt to get your tuition back. This is easy and fun and you’ll see some beautiful and transformational changes occur in your life.

Do this with me. Invite your friends to join us and together let’s have an incredible 2019!

 
Source: meditationisgoodforyourhealth

Valuing Perplexity

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Yoga Nidra Training

We all have problems. We all grapple with the unknown, about the big things like the origin of the Universe, sure, but more specifically about our own complicated life. We all want to solve our problems as quickly and painlessly as possible.


But sometimes it is only by questioning or struggling that we are driven to earnestly understand an otherwise hidden part of ourselves. Sometimes it is working through our struggles that we truly come to understand our full potential. Our questions fuel us to open our hearts, to seek for inspiration, to perform the necessary work, and more profoundly, to abandon our will to the grander wisdom of the Divine, whatever your concept of that is.

We must at once be willing to seek and do. What's most difficult is that we must also be willing to sit comfortably and simply be with what we don't know or understand. And sometimes to get real answers we must be willing to sit in our own darkness for a while.

This human tendency for control occurs regularly in our yoga practice as many of us strive to either know everything there is to know about yoga or try to perfect our poses.

Instead, let us practice this week the yoga principle of Santosha, or contentment, by learning to sit with and even value perplexity, to sit in the not knowing. There is a practice of allowing things to be just the way they are, perfect with our problems, as unseen forces that are working in mysterious ways to evolve your body, mind, and heart. 

The following poem by David Whyte seems to speak directly to learning from the not knowing and leaning into the darkness rather than running from it.

 

Sweet Darkness
by David Whyte
 

20-Hr. Yoga Nidra Training

Virtual or in-Person

September 28–30 2018

When your eyes are tired

the world is tired also.

 

When your vision has gone

no part of the world can find you.

 

Time to go into the dark

where the night has eyes

Meditation for Sleep

to recognize its own.

 

There you can be sure

you are not beyond love.

 

The dark will be your womb 

tonight.

 

The night will give you a horizon

further than you can see.

 

You must learn one thing.

The world was made to be free in.

 

Give up all the other worlds

except the one to which you belong.

 

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet

confinement of your aloneness

to learn

 

anything or anyone

that does not bring you alive

 

is too small for you.

How To Meditate: A 30-Day Meditation Challenge

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How to Meditate.jpg

I love to teach yoga and meditation because I feel it's my calling to help people become the best versions of themselves so that they can go and bless the world in best ways they know how. 

The world needs people who are present, living their lives mindfully, and growing into their True Nature with a regular, dedicated meditation practice. The world needs YOU to be operating at your highest potential. 

Regular meditation is perhaps the most effective way to evolve into your highest self. Presence is the key to experiencing your birthright of magnificence. A group of meditators benefits the world in vast ways, bringing magnificence into the world like expanding ripples in a pond.
Some of the most common personal benefits of regular mediation are:

  • Spiritual awakening
  • Reduced stress
  • Greater focus
  • Understanding your purpose for the world
  • Greater compassion
  • Being less reactive more responsive
  • Greater happiness


Like any worthwhile endeavor, meditation takes practice. So let's do it together!

Join me in a meditation challenge, a group that will meditate every day for 30 days. This challenge will benefit you personally and will make the world a better place. 
 

The Challenge:

insight-timer-app.jpg


You will meditate every day for 30 days for 15 minutes or more. That's it. With the support of the group, you will have the encouragement and connection to tap into the power that happens when a collective of people are meditating together. Even if you meditate at different times, the power of intention that connects us will empower you and enable your greatest benefit.  

If you are new to meditation, this is a perfect way to start a new life-long practice. You will receive in-depth explanations, teachings, and follow up to demystify the art and science of meditation, and establish yourself firmly in your practice. 

If you are an experienced meditator, this is also a perfect way to join this powerful collective to bring new heights to your practice and open new doors and awarenesses. 

While I will be sending out guided meditations, you can also choose any style of meditation you'd like. We will each be tracking our meditations every day using Insight Timer, a mobile app designed to help you time and track your meditations.

Once you register, you'll receive emails and resources to encourage you and support you along the way, including teachings and explanations about the why and how of meditation. Plus, you'll receive an invitation to some live group meditations via Zoom or in person depending on where you live. Live sessions will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah. You'll be able to see and comment to the others in our group who are also doing this 30-day challenge. 

This next 30 days will change your life as well as the lives of everyone around you! 

Walking mediation.jpeg


Once you Register


Once you register, you'll receive a welcome email with information about:

  • Specifics of the challenge
  • Live meditations
  • Many forms of meditation you might choose to do
  • Downloading the app
  • Live group meditations, virtually via Zoom, an online meeting platform or in person
  • A catalogue of guided meditations, both my catalogue of recordings as well as literally thousands on Insight Timer, which you can keep to help support you on your medative journey.
  • Receiving supportive emails 

What does this cost?


I'm more interested in you succeeding and the world becoming more mindful than I am making money, so here's what I'm offering:
The 30-Day Meditation Challenge costs $30, so that you'll commit to it. And everyone who completes the challenge, meditates everyday using the app for 15 minutes or more, can opt to get a FULL refund of their tuition. No hassle. No questions. So, essentially this is free! My deepest desire is that I don't make a dime on this project!


I invite you to commit to your own wellbeing. I know you can do it and I'll support you every step of the way. Join me!

Register

Fill out the form and press submit, then click on the PayPal button.

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After the Fire

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Shiva Nataraj.jpg

I closed two yoga studios about 4 years ago. Running and closing those studios has been two of the most challenging things I've ever done.

It's really difficult to run a small business. I fought every day just to keep the doors open. Eventually, we had to close our doors; the studios weren’t sustainable. I wish I knew then what I know now about running a business. Ironically, I learned volumes about running a business by closing my business. One of the most important things I learned was how to rebuild my life when things don’t turn out the way you hoped they would.

At the time of my businesses closing, I wished there were a manual for how to rebuild your life after you’ve just suffered a massive blow. During that difficult time, I received some divine guidance during a meditation, instruction that seemed absolutely perfect for me in my life, like a manual to start to rebuild. 

Step 1. Put out any fires that are still burning.

Step 2. Practice forgiveness as the key to allow forward movement.

Step 3. Allow for new possibilities without the story of the past to jade the future.

In order to get some clear perspective, I had to get out of town for a few weeks to clear my head. I closed my studios and literally one week later got married to the love of my life. Yes, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

My wife and I went on a honeymoon to Europe coupled with me teaching a yoga retreat and getting out of town really helped me to gain perspective. I felt reinvented as I came home from Europe, ready to tackle some of the challenges that were still looming as the result of closing my studios.

The situation still felt raw, like was just coming to, sitting on a neighbor’s lawn, my face black with smoke and soot, my old house just burned down. And in a real way, many things about my old business were still smoldering and smoking but that old thing, that old life, old bachlorness, that old business, was razed. To. The. Ground. There was only one, exciting thing left to do and that is build a new life forward. And while this situation was scary, it feel freeing to look forward into the future. 

The Shivanataraj is the statue you often seen in a yoga context. It’s a depiction of the Dancing Shiva and represents the male/female creator of the universe in the dance of birth, sustaining, death, disillusion, and ultimate rebirth . . . over and over and over again. This statue teaches me that I’m involved in a process, one that will probably happen several times in my lifetime.

This understanding of moving in cycles made me feel better, like all of this was expected somehow. The Shivanataraj statue shows Shiva’s many arms and legs gesturing in the dance of all this continuous change while wreathed in flames. And despite all the craziness, despite the all the change, despite the fact that Shiva’s hair is on fire, Shiva’s gaze is calm, steady, forward. Shiva even has a calm little smile on his face like this is just another day in the burning universe.  

We are all somewhere in this process of birth, sustaining, death, disillusion, and rebirth. What are the things you need to do, need to avoid, need to plan for in this life that is burning in this moment.?

And finally, while our universe is spinning and we are all dancing around with our hair on fire, may we keep our steady gaze forward, centered in our most divine Self and the Divine, whatever form that may take for you.  

Here’s a poem I love that speaks to discovering the new chapter in your life.

The Layers

BY STANLEY KUNITZ

I have walked through many lives,

some of them my own,

Hawaii Yoga

and I am not who I was,

though some principle of being

abides, from which I struggle

not to stray.

When I look behind,

as I am compelled to look

before I can gather strength

to proceed on my journey,

I see the milestones dwindling

toward the horizon

and the slow fires trailing

from the abandoned camp-sites,

over which scavenger angels

wheel on heavy wings.

Oh, I have made myself a tribe

out of my true affections,

and my tribe is scattered!

How shall the heart be reconciled

to its feast of losses?

In a rising wind

the manic dust of my friends,

those who fell along the way,

bitterly stings my face.

Yet I turn, I turn,

exulting somewhat,

with my will intact to go

wherever I need to go,

and every stone on the road

precious to me.

In my darkest night,

when the moon was covered

and I roamed through wreckage,

a nimbus-clouded voice

directed me:

“Live in the layers,

not on the litter.”

Though I lack the art

to decipher it,

no doubt the next chapter

in my book of transformations

is already written.

I am not done with my changes.

Yoga: What I Learned Teaching in New York

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Yoga New York

Yoga Worries/Revelations

Pure Yoga New York

A year ago, I moved to New York City, having spent the previous 15 years successfully making my entire living teaching yoga in Salt Lake City. Honestly, I worried whether or not by moving to such a big town I'd drown in a sea of amazing yoga teachers and be forgotten and have to go and wait tables. 

Well, that didn't happen. On the contrary, I was able to land auditions and teaching gigs at some of the best yoga studios in New York and was completely delighted by my experience teaching yoga in New York. Even though my wife and I decided that New York isn't our forever place, my year there helped me to discover a few  essential things about teaching, things which I think you might be interested in. 

So, there are 8.5 million people in New York and it seems that every other person in New York is a yoga teacher. And while NYC has a lot of yoga teachers, I found that they aren't all good or very experienced teachers. And what I mean by a "good" teacher is one who is nuanced, ones who stands out, is original, and who has a lot of experience teaching anything other than a generic vinyasa flow class. 

Don't get me wrong, there were still a ton of extraordinary teachers in New York and one of the things that helped me stand out from other teachers and land some of those great teaching gigs was my ability to teach Yoga Nidra.
 

 

Standing Out

If you don’t know about Yoga Nidra, it’s a form of guided meditation that helps people reach profound levels of relaxation and awareness. It's very healing and illuminating. People love it because it's as profound as it is relaxing, anybody can do it, and people often get great mind-blowing results, from their very first session. 

Yoga Nidra is a bit of a niche practice but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how popular Yoga Nidra has become. Both in Salt Lake and New York, Yoga Nidra is always one of my greatest attended regular classes.

I’ve spent the last 10 years studying and teaching Yoga Nidra, and it's truly changed/revealed who I am  as a person and as a teacher. I hope you can tell how passionate I am about it. While receiving Yoga Nidra is relaxing and easy, teaching it can be very complex. I'd love to share my decade of experience teaching Yoga Nidra with you. 

 

Offerings

20-Hr. Yoga Nidra Immersion

Virtual or In-Person July 20–22 2018

While I’m in Salt Lake City for a few months, besides offering classes, privates, retreats, and trainings, I'm offering a 20-hr. Yoga Nidra Immersion (July 20–22). This Yoga Nidra immersion is a unique opportunity to learn about your own deep True Nature, as well as to learn how to teach Yoga Nidra, both to a group and in one-on-one sessions, which are conducted quite differently. You’ll get a certification with this training and it will count as continuing education hours with Yoga Alliance. Plus, you’ll be able to develop a skill that will immensely benefit your students, help you gain more students, and distinguish yourself from other yoga teachers, no matter where you teach. Yoga Nidra is also a great way to develop a robust online presence.

Besides teaching Yoga Nidra, New York taught me volumes about teaching in general and specifically my own teaching. I’m much more prepared to teach on a larger scale than before and I’m excited about new ways in which I’m growing as a teacher.

One thing I practiced and refined was how to get into some of the best yoga studios in the country. In my Yoga Teacher Mentor Program curriculum, I offer a proven strategy to get hired at the studio you want to teach at. It had been a while since I needed to "bust in" to a studio, and have never needed to audition to teach, but I followed my own strategy to get in and it worked like a charm. Of course I brought my best teaching to the audition, but with so many yoga teachers in NYC, even getting an audition is nearly impossible. My strategy to get hooked up with good studios even helped me to network with some of the best studios in the country outside of NYC, including making introductions to people who are running national yoga festivals

Even though not every NYC yoga teacher is fabulous, there are still plenty of really incredible teachers, many of whom I could learn from for the rest of my days. And there are enough great teachers in NYC such that I knew I had to bring my A-game to every class; there's no way I could phone it in.

Yoga Teacher Mentor Program

To ensure I was offering my best, I had to look at  many of the ways that my teaching had become stale or rote. Man, that's hard to do! As a teacher, I think it's hard to see the ways we've become stale because we think it's just the way we teach, or think that our way of teaching is a best practice of teaching. I was very fortunate to get some spot on feedback about my teaching from a nationally renowned teacher, feedback that helped me improve my teaching immensely. I began experimenting and tweeking small things about my teaching which made a big difference in the way my students received my teaching and what I felt of as my role as the teacher. 

If you are interested in really refining your practice of teaching, learning how to reach more students, or make a career from teaching yoga, I’d love to talk to you about my Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. This is a one-on-one mentorship where together, we develop a very personalized curriculum as we discover your talents and leverage them into helping you become an even more extraordinary teacher, making the kind of money you deserve. This mentor program pays for itself as new opportunities arise from the knowledge and experience you gain from this program. Plus, if you register for the Mentor Program, you’ll get the 20-hr. Yoga Nidra Immersion for free.

Wherever your life takes you, may you always teach yoga and may you always strive to bring your A-game. The world truly needs what only you have to offer. 

What are the ways in which you are growing as a teacher or know you need to grow as a teacher? Leave a comment!

Namaste,

Scott

Kauai 1.jpeg
 

Truth in 15 Words

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Success isn't about fame or fortune. Success is only measured by happiness, awareness, and love.


Period.


(Drop the mic. Walk off stage)



How do YOU measure success?

 


 
 
Truth in 15 Words
 
 
 
 
 

How To Relieve Stress

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Photo by David Newkirk

Photo by David Newkirk

learn how to relieve stress

Can I get real for a sec? 

I freak out sometimes. 

People often assume that because I teach yoga I never get stressed. I assure you, nothing could be further from the truth. NYC has been great, it's been fun, and it's caused me to stretch and grow in ways I didn't know imaginable. But sometimes it feels like this town is kicking my ass.

Fortunately, I've got some tools. 

I've taught Yoga for Anxiety courses, not because I never get stressed, but because sometimes I freak out too and sometimes I use the tools yoga has taught me to help me manage stress. Don't get me wrong, I don't pretend to always have the answer for stress. Despite my experience with meditation, breathing techniques, and stress-relieving yoga poses, sometimes I still find myself self-medicating with Ben and Jerry's.
 
Here's what I do when I get stressed and I'd love to hear what helps you when you get stressed.

First, I take a bunch of fat sighs out my mouth, mostly when I'm driving or alone and can really let it fly without turning heads. I try to make it as dramatic as possible. I think this helps. This is a natural tension releasing technique that a lot of mammals use. Also, I'll try to relax my jaw and notice whether my stress lessens even by doing just a couple of sighs. Sometimes when I’m really worked up, I'll sigh for 5 minutes or so.

Next, I'll practice ujjayi breath, whisper breath. A lot of you know this but it's the breathing you use during yoga practice where you breathe in and out of your nostrils and put a little whisper in the back of your throat, elongating your breaths. It really helps. This form of breathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system, the opposite of your flight or flight nervous response. Try it, it's a miracle for stress.
 
Often when I feel stress, I will also do something physically active, like go to a yoga class, put on my running shoes and hit a trail, or even just take a 10 minute walk around the block, even if I don't have the time to do so. It's incredible how my perception changes when I get outside or at least get moving for a bit.

Wallace Stevens once wrote, "Sometimes the truth depends upon a walk around the lake."

Yoga explores the relationship between mind and body. If my body can relax, maybe my mind can follow. Putting some endorphins in my body and some oxygen in my brain is a great way to make me feel good and clear my mind.
 
Next, I'll actually look the bull straight into the eyes and see my stress for what it is. I'll try a meditation technique where I try to adopt the role as the observer rather than the one who is oppressed by stress. The other day, I felt like I was feeling a lot of stress and caught myself trying to avoid it or pretend it wasn't there. I had a few minutes to meditate and instead of mentally escaping it, I decided to look at it straight on. I closed my eyes and noticed how my body felt in response to the stress. I observed the images in my mind and emotions in my heart and thoughts in my brain, everything associated with this stress and tried to just observe it rather than fix it.

As I looked inside, this feeling inside me felt like a cold, metal vice along my chest. The more I looked at it, and just observed it, the more I realized that what I was feeling was more like protective armor than oppressive stress. It suddenly felt less like worry and more like my call to action to both do something about what was worrying me as well as practice self care.

Through my meditation, my observation, I was able to see this feeling for what it was instead of trying to avoid it and worry about the monster I felt was breathing down my neck.
 
Overall, I'm doing wonderful in NYC. These stress relieving techniques certainly help when ever I feel less than wonderful. I

can assure you I'll continue to use these techniques throughout my life. Maybe you can use some of these techniques if you find yourself freaking out. Try to do some breathing techniques, come to a yoga class, or try to meditate.

Of all these aforementioned techniques, I realize, too, that the only thing yoga class does not incorporate is the Ben and Jerry's therapy. Maybe after class we should go and get some ice cream and talk about our problems. 

What are the tools that help you work with stress?

I've built an entire learning module complete with stress relieving Yoga Nidra practice, breathing exercises, discussions, and additional recourses. It's built like my online courses. This is free awesome and totally free. 

Let me know how it goes!