June is Men’s Health Month

Did you know that June is Men’s Health Month? Anchored by a Congressional health education program, the purpose of Men’s Health Month is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.

It’s never too early or late to learn about and practice a healthy way of life. Small tweaks like diet and exercise, regular annual visits to the doctor and getting educated on heart disease and diabetes can make a world of difference in your overall health and wellness.

Remember that striving towards and maintaining good health is a lifestyle. Don’t know where to begin? Give Yoga a try! Besides reducing stress and increasing flexibility, yoga may lower the risk of heart disease, depression, and high blood pressure. It also boosts blood circulation, improves respiratory function, builds muscle, and decreases inflammation. Not to mention you will feel AMAZING after your first class.

Remember. Eat right. Exercise daily. Visit the doctor. Stay healthy. Stay strong

I’m Fat and a Wellness Influencer. Here’s Why It Matters For You

The first time I went to a Kundalini yoga class, I was the only fat person in the room. I noted it and moved on; at a size 20, I am often the largest woman in the room. I’m a bit fearless when it comes to trying new things, so it never phased me to feel odd as I stumbled and tripped over myself, finding modifications for Frog Pose where my stomach wouldn’t get in the way.

But I know, unlike me, that over 55 percent of women in the U.S. have admitted to having “abusive thoughts” about their size; as a plus-size influencer, I can’t tell you amount of times I have heard women tell me that being self-conscious about their weight stops them from trying new things, taking classes, going places, and experiencing moments in life that many people take for granted.

I also noticed I was one of the older people in the room at classes—which struck me odd, since the average age in the U.S. is 38, and just over 50 percent of people are over 35.

I’d love to say these observations were anomalies… they weren’t. The more time I spent immersing myself in holistic wellness, the more I noticed a discouraging lack of body diversity participating in practices. We’re a country with a sea of colors, ages, sizes, and shapes—and yet, at most places I’d go, I’d be the lone larger body in a sea of slender, athletic, and disproportionately youthful women.

I am a 40-year-old plus size woman who works in self-love and wellness. I’m a Kundalini yoga teacher, a public speaker, a writer, and event creator. I’ve worked on social media serving size-inclusive groups of women with self-love and body positivity for over nine years. The number one comment I hear time and time again? “It’s so great to see someone who looks like me doing things.”

My Personal Journey

In 2015, I was around 360 lbs; this number may not be fathomable to you, so let me put it in perspective by saying my body was regularly in so much pain that I was unable to walk a single NYC block without stopping.  But the bigger problem, was that emotionally I felt like everyone was living, and I was just watching things pass me by in the fast lane. I needed more, but I was super scared to change.

I started looking around online, in classes, or in the media; there was nobody I could identify with to show me it was possible to create change from the inside out without buying into diet culture. I needed to identify with someone that could make it safe for me to try new things. So I’ve became the person I needed to see.

The number one comment I hear time and time again? “It’s so great to see someone who looks like me doing things.”

For the last three years, I’ve shared my spiritual, fitness, and personal growth journey online, the highs and the lows. In the process, I have become someone who runs the only truly size-inclusive personal growth event in the market today. Because I know the truth: Body diversity and representation matters.

woman standing with arms raised in workshop with gong

Sarah teaching her Body Love Workshop. Photo courtesy of the author.

To be blunt: This matters even if you aren’t fat.

Here’s why.

  1. If we are alive on this planet, we’re going to age.
  2. Chronic illness affects more than 40 percent of the population.
  3. Over 19 percent of people in the U.S. live with a disability.
  4. Deaf and hard of hearing people are often “left out” of traditional wellness spaces.
  5. 68 percent of women in the U.S. wear a size 16 and above.
  6. Nearly 40 percent of Americans are obese.

Slender, young, seemingly “healthy” people are not the average in this country. And yet the wellness space can hardly be considered a welcoming or “safe” space for marginalized bodies. Even if you aren’t plus size, there’s a good chance you’ll fall into one of those categories as you get older—which means unless things change, consider yourself left out too. We’re all in this together!

Wellness is for every body.

Understand that when I say wellness, I don’t mean ads hocking weight loss products—that’s not wellness, that’s Diet Culture. There’s a difference between the two, and the industry needs to evolve beyond the idea that “thinner equals healthier.” Wellness is about creating wholeness in many areas of your life—your body, your spiritual life, your personal life, physical life, occupational life, and more.

Let me be clear—I do not have a problem with weight loss, and I am not, what some call, a Fat Activist. What I am is a person who believes that all bodies deserve access to tools and practices to help foster self-love and create change if they seek it.

I know the more we represent marginalized bodies engaging in wellness practices, the more we make it safer and accessible for more bodies to self-improve… And isn’t that what wellness is all about in the first place? All bodies deserve representation in the wellness space. As a plus size woman, I personally advocate for making wellness size-friendly.

⇢ What can we do to change the landscape? ⇠

If you are a teacher…

  • Learn modifications to help students of size or limited mobility. Introduce the modifications in your class without fanfare.
  • If you don’t know modifications, ASK for help. There are influencers and teachers who specialize in serving marginalized bodies; there’s no shame in being unaware. These voices have yet to be amplified in the wellness space, but they are there! Do the work and find them. (When I did my teacher training at Wanderlust Hollywood, I was the only person of size in the room; I continually used my presence to raise questions and share how my mobility impacted my practice.)
  • Don’t assume that every person of size who walks in the door will need special assistance! Simply make yourself accessible for questions if they are presented.
  • Encourage your studios to use a variety of bodies in their marketing and social media.
  • Once well-versed in accessibility techniques, offer to teach a class for serving different populations if none are available in your area. Enlist the support and advice of leaders who represent these communities with sincerity.
  • LISTEN to marginalized bodies; don’t talk over people. Be open and willing to hear, and be educated without ego. Remember, this is not about you.

If you are a student…

  • Treat everyone in your class the same way. Seriously.
  • Don’t “position police” your neighbors of size in class. Trust us, that person is aware of their body limitations; they don’t need you to chime in.
  • 61 percent of people think it’s OK to make disparaging remarks about other people’s weight—don’t be one of them.
  • Be an ally to your friends of size and consider being a little more “size-friendly” in your life in general.

If you organize festivals or events…

  • Actively seek diverse bodies with subject authority to speak and present. We’re out here, trust me.
  • Use marginalized bodies in your advertisements and on social media. Treat these bodies exactly the same as you would any other model or representative.
  • Make sure your programming doesn’t innately fall into the “diet culture” of wellness; be aware of the messages you are sending by choosing which subjects to create space for.
  • Vary. Your. Programming. Be willing to have the hard conversations and be willing to create a safe space for all bodies to come to the table and participate.
  • Partner with influencers who represent marginalized communities. (They may have smaller followings… Do it anyway.)

It’s time we start acknowledging that all bodies are not thin. All bodies are not young. Some bodies are more able, and some bodies are less able. But ALL bodies are worth the journey of discovering what wellness means to them.

If you have serious thoughts to add to this conversation and would like to contribute to The Wanderlust Journal, please email editorial@wanderlust.com. Let’s change the wellness world. Together. 

Sarah Sapora loves meditation and cowboy boots, and lives guided by the idea that every day we wake up (at any age or weight) is a chance to transform our life from a place of self-love. She’s a Kundalini yoga teacher who believes that strength training and deep soul-work are equally important in creating a happier and healthier life from the inside out. Sarah’s biggest passion is making holistic wellness accessible to bodies of size. She is a speaker, writer, social influencer, creator of the Body + Love Workshop, a totally size-inclusive personal growth event, and of LifeLove, an app launching in 2019. Sarah uses her voice to cultivate a community of self-love and self-improvement free of diet culture. You can find Sarah online on Instagram or on her website, www.sarahsapora.com.


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How to Enjoy Morning Coffee Without the Jitters

For many of us, no morning is complete without a piping hot cup of coffee. While a morning cup o’ joe has become ubiquitous in both culture and routine, so have the so-called “post-caffeine jitters.” If you have the tendency to consume cup after cup, you’re likely very familiar with these jitters—creeping anxious feelings that may cause you to feel on edge, restless, dizzy, sweaty, and even a little shaky. There are several things you can to do to help stave off jitters, namely, swapping out coffee for something more herbal. Not an option? Good news, caffeine-nuts—there’s a way to mitigate that without giving up on the brown gold. Enter: Collagen.

Collagen—the most abundant protein in your body—is the main structural protein found in skin and tissue. But don’t let associations of Botox or skin cream taint the way you feel about putting collagen into your cup. Powdered collagen has been hydrolyzed, meaning that its amino acids have been broken down into super small molecules that your body can easily absorb. There are a slew of alleged benefits to collagen, but in addition to health benefits, turns out collagen can sup up coffee just like it does your bod. Here’s how. 

Spreading the Caffeinated Love

Protein and fat can both elongate and distribute the effects of caffeine. Collagen creamer is awesome because it’s rich in protein, amino acids, and healthy fats. Not only does collagen creamer help to make you feel satiated (no more of those belly aches that come from consuming black coffee on an empty stomach), it also slows down the release of caffeine and balances your blood sugar and energy levels, so that you don’t end up anxious and/or crashing before noon.

Invisible Benefits

The best thing about adding this nutrient-rich supplement to your morning beverage is that it’s absolutely tasteless and odorless. Unlike other powdered supplements that can change the flavor of your fave drink, even slightly, you’ll never know collagen has been added. Note: There may be small clumps that sink to the bottom of your cup. Just let them sink. It won’t change the flavor!

Make It Fancy

Move over, regular old flavored creamer. Vital Proteins Mocha Creamer (also comes in coconut, vanilla, or gingerbread) is a delicious, dairy-free addition to coffee, tea, or even baked goods. It contains 9 grams of healthy fats from Medium Chain Triglyceride-rich coconut milk, and 10 grams of clean protein. Plus, the powder dissolves seamlessly into the coffee, so you won’t have to adapt to any new funky textures in order to get all of the added benefits.

Master Matcha

OK, OK… We know it’s not coffee. But matcha has just about the same amount of caffeine as an Americano, and it’s super yummy with a scoop of collagen. The fun part about matcha is that your body absorbs its caffeine differently than it does coffee. Caffeine spreads throughout your body slowly, so the boost is spread over hours rather than a quick hit. Use this collagen matcha recipe and feel a sustained high all day long.

Reclaim your morning free of the shakes or a mid-morning crash—and snag a beauty/immune support boost while you’re at it. The day is yours.  


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21 Ways to Make the Most of a 21-Day Yoga Challenge

Committing to a 21-Day Yoga Challenge is, well, a challenge. I spend many hours a week teaching yoga and although I practice regularly, I discovered some basic tools were in order for developing the self-discipline I needed to stick with it. Whether this is your first Challenge or your 100th, we could all use a little help to get through. Read on for 21 ways to stay on top of your game and learn as much as possible.

Ready to give it a go? Join our *free* Body. Breath. Beats. Challenge with Schuyler Grant, beginning March 4. For more information and to sign up, click here.

1. Set an intention.
Also known as a sankalpa, setting an intention at the beginning of the 21-Day Challenge can help you to focus on what you would like to get out of the next three weeks. It connects the heart to the practice.

2. Leave your mat out the night before.
If you feel the urge to skip a session, there is nothing more inviting than to wake up to an empty mat just waiting for you to stand on it. If daytime or evening is your preferred time of day, leave the mat where it cannot be avoided.

3. Keep a notebook and pen next to your mat.
Why not add another layer of support by tracking your journey through self-reflection. How did you feel before, during and after practice? What poses did you learn about? If you had to explain to someone else what you did, is there a single pearl of wisdom to take away from the session? If yoga is a journey then your practice journal is your travelogue.

4. Invest in props.
Whether bought new, second-hand or made from books and the sash from your bathroom robe, a basic set of props is easy to come by. A blanket or towel, a ripped up t-shirt for a yoga strap and a tennis ball can all add to the creative nature of your practice.

5. Practice at the same time each day.
New habits take time and in spite of the demands of modern life, who can’t find 20 minutes to practice something they love? Consistency is the key.

6. Create sacred space.
Light some incense or choose your favorite essential oils for use in a diffuser. The more calming the space, the more likely you will enjoy the sense of peace that comes with regular yoga practice.

7. Create an altar.
This could be as simple as a vase of fresh flowers and a candle or as elaborate as a sacred statue or picture of a mandala. Whatever you use, let it express a connection to your sankalpa.

8. Practice in the same place each day.
Familiar territory can help embed new habits. If you live in a busy household and need to change rooms, your pop-up altar can create a similar sense of familiarity.

9. Schedule your practice.
Just like any other important appointment, schedule your challenge sessions into your diary as a daily reminder.

10. Set an alarm.
Using a digital diary? Set an alarm for each day of the Challenge complete with unique ringtone. There’s nothing like a favorite song to help keep you motivated!

11. Turn off your phone.
It can be tempting to respond to the sound of a text coming in so rather than risk being distracted, this may be the time to turn the phone off. If you are using your phone for the 21-Day Challenge, try using airplane mode.

12. Keep the Wanderlust TV web page or app open on your browser/devise.
Sometimes the thing standing between you and your practice is convenience. We can use all kinds of excuses to avoid practice but if the first thing you see when you pick up your smartphone or tablet is the next 21-Day Challenge session, that could be the boost you need.

13. Watch your mind.
Notice if thoughts of self-judgment interfere with your practice and put them on a shelf. Don’t forget to return to them in your practice journal. The simple act of observing thoughts and emotions creates the space for change.

14. Practice with a friend.
Why not call a yoga loving friend and practice together. If you are the kind of person who is motivated by a shared challenge, this could be the route for you. You also get to hang out with  your friend a lot (added bonus!).

15. Take video at the beginning and end of the Challenge.
There is nothing more satisfying than progress and taking a video of your practice to track where you begin and end up can be very rewarding (even on a path without a goal).

16. Post on social media.
Sharing your yoga journey with friends and family can help keep you motivated, especially for those much  appreciated words of encouragement. Your journey may even inspire others to practice (another added bonus!).

17. Allow time for conscious rest.
It is worth adding an extra 5 minutes for conscious rest in Savasana (Corpse Pose) at the end of each session. Not only will it help ground the practice but allows time for processing those  new discoveries alongside some much needed rest and relaxation.

18. Open and close each session with sacred sound.
If you are someone who finds the striking of a gong or chanting calming to the senses, then beginning and ending each session with sound can help create a calm and focused environment.

19. Review progress.
It can be useful to look back through the challenge as a way of tracking progress. You might even want to think about what progress in yoga means to you and use the challenge to explore this.

20. Teach a pose to a friend.
Now that you are getting some poses under your belt, try teaching one to a friend. You will be amazed to discover how much you have learned by passing on some of your newly acquired knowledge. This might be the encouragement they need to take up the practice themselves. After all, inspiring others can be highly motivating.

21. Take the next 21-Day Challenge.
Now you know what it feels like to sustain a practice for three weeks, try the next Challenge and take note of the changes. Compare with your notes from the first round and use whatever tools help to keep you motivated.

author bioPema Clark (PhD, RYT200) is a writer and yoga teacher whose practice is deeply informed by Tibetan Buddhism. She discovered Ashtanga yoga in 2005 but after training with Yoga London as a Vinyasa Flow teacher she discovered the work of the late Vanda Scaravelli whose influence continues to enrich her classes. Connect with her on Instagram @yoga___dhana.


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