5 Ways to Give Thanks to Your Body this Month

5 Ways to Give Thanks to Your Body this Month

Do You Treat Your Body with Love?

5 Ways to Give Thanks to Your Body this Month

How often do you take time for self-care?  Really – be honest! 

Make a list – what have you done this past week to take care of you?  Have you done something for you that feeds your soul? 

If not, it’s time to stop and smell the roses – and celebrate with gratitude the wonderfulness of you! 

Child's Pose Melinda VanKirk

As we approach our many celebrations this time of year, it is all to easy to over-do it on everything – shopping, cooking, eating, and running around like crazy to get all your tasks done. Maybe you are traveling, maybe family will be coming over – but it tends to be a bit of chaos!

So I am inviting you to STOP, pause, and carve out time for YOU.  I know – you have too many things to do, right? – and certainly not enough time to do it all. As a culture, our schedules are packed and we are over-extended.  You have a seemlingly endless to-do list, causing burn-out, fatigue, and you feel totally WIPED OUT.  Sound familiar?  I know this is my pattern.

And what do you get from this endless list and constant pushing?  Usually a nice kick-in-the-butt wake-up call from the Universe to tell you to SLOW DOWN – often in the form of illness and complete body and mind fatigue.

So here are my 5 best tips for focusing on you first (yes I said YOU first!) as we enter this busy season.

Why you first? Because you must take care of yourself first in order to take care of others.

5 Tips for Self-Care for the Holiday Season


  1. Get Plenty of Sleep

Sleep is the most important thing to repairing our cells and feeling good in our bodies.  Go to bed early (10 pm or earlier is ideal), and try to get your 8 hours in before getting up the next day. If you are one of those that has a racing mind, try some calming tea before bed, read a book, or do some relaxing yoga (I even do this in the middle of the night sometimes when I can’t sleep!).  Find ways that help you to sleep best, and let go of the to-do list.  It helps to write everything down for the next day before you go to bed.  Keep a list by your bed in case you wake-up with that terrible feeling of “I forgot!” so you can jot it down and deal with it properly the next day, allowing your mind to settle back into rest.

2. Wind-down early

Schedule an hour or more before bed with no TV, no screens, no social media of any kind.  Perhaps take a bath, give yourself a hand a foot massage and an at-home facial, and do a guided meditation or a bit of Yoga Nidra.  Here is a 20-minute Guided Yoga Nidra from Rod Stryker.  If you have never experienced Yoga Nidra I cannot recommend it enough!  It is great any time of day, except if you are very tired or right after a meal. (The goal is to enjoy the experience and not fall asleep).  The point is to take this hour before sleep to prepare your body and mind for sleep, so maybe that means something different to you.  Find what works and feels good!

3. Rise early

As the saying goes, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”  Getting up early in the morning allows for personal and quiet time.  Rising before everyone else in the house and doing my morning routine is one of my favorite times of day.  It is so beautiful and peaceful – a perfect time for meditation and yoga practice.  Of course avoiding electronics during this time is key for a relaxing and calming morning.

Again start your day right with time for you – before the kids wake, before the TV goes on, and make it enjoyable!

5 Tips for Self-Care

4. Find your Daily Gratitude 

Reconnecting with feelings of gratitude is the easiest and most effective way of getting out of your head.  Whenever you feel stressed out, stop what you are doing, breathe deeply (take cleansing breaths in through the nose, and exhale out the mouth), and think of something you are grateful for in the moment.  Find something that makes you smile or laugh – nothing releases stress and anxiety like a little humor.  Perhaps it is giving thanks for your dog who sits on your face when she wants you to get up in the morning (yes my Yorkie, Weezie, loves to do that!).  Finding gratitude and joy calms the nervous system and helps you approach your next task with a little more ease.

5. Eat healthy and nourishing foods

“You are what you eat” is an old saying, but still holds true.  If you eat junk, you feel like junk.  If you eat home-cooked, healthy foods, you feel nourished and supported.  Who doesn’t want home-made soup or a casserole when they are sick or feeling down?  We nourish our bodies and our souls through what we take-in (physically and mentally).  Healthier food and less junk for both the body and mind will increase your immunity and  nourish you. In Ayurveda that which is not digested (mentally and physcially) is called ama.  The ultimate goal is rid the body of ama – and the best way to do that is to eat healthy and let go of our mental blocks.

Can’t find the time to cook?  Think about making 1 meal for the day like a crock of soup and having it for lunch and dinner.  Throw your broth, veggies, and spices in a crockpot the night before, and have a wonderful meal ready for the next day.  Breakfast can be simple and light like a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts cooked in a little ghee (yum!). How easy can you make it on yourself to make simple and delicious food?

Still don’t have time for cooking?  Make healthy choices when eating out, stop the snacking, and indulge in some detoxifying tea when you feel midday hunger (a simple ginger root tea is so easy to make and one of my favorites before or after a meal).  Read about the many benefits of ginger tea from the Chopra Center.

Simple Ginger Tea: 

Cut up a ½ – 1” piece of fresh ginger root.  Wash the ginger, but no need to peel it if it’s organic.  I like to cut mine into matchsticks.  Put in a pot of boiling water (about 1 quart), boil for 15 minutes, strain and serve!  This is great to put in a thermos to have throughout your day.

Living Inspiration Tribe

How do you nourish yourself?

Let go of the old mindset – it is time to prioritize your health and wellbeing, and recognize that you are a unique and creative being that deserves nourishment and self-love.

I would love to hear from you – how are you nourishing yourself this week?  Post it in our forum!

Want to learn about how I can help you nourish yourself and feed your soul?  Join me in the Living Inspiration Tribe, or for our upcoming Detox Cocktail Party.

Read other articles by Melinda

Transitioning Into Fall – Balancing Vata

Transitioning Into Fall – Balancing Vata

Transitioning Into Fall – Balancing Vata

As we begin transitioning into Fall, and out of the heat of Summer, you may find yourself feeling “off” or out of balance.  As the temperatures drop, the days get shorter, and the air becomes dry, we often find ourselves in a state of flux.  

Personally I have been having some difficulty transitioning to this new season.  As much as I love Fall, I find myself out of balance almost always during a seasonal change.  Odd sleep cycles, vivid dreams, and poor digestion have been the result of my body needing to make changes in order to come back into balance.

What are you Experiencing?

Take a moment and think about how your body has been reacting to the seasonal change.  Has your sleep been interrupted lately? Have you been having lucid dreams or waking up at odd hours? How about your digestion – is it poor? If so, you may be experiencing an imbalance, which could be caused by this change in seasons.

Transitioning Into Fall
Transitioning Into Fall
Transitioning Into Fall

Combatting the Fall Transition –  Finding Balance through Yoga

One way to combat this transition into the Fall season is through your asana yoga practice.  Grounding, strengthening poses and repetition will help balance the body, and challenging poses heat the body and release mental tension.  Twists make space in the body – physically flushing out the old and making space for the new.

Challenge yourself!  Forget your ego – forget about if you can “nail it” and experiment with some challenging postures.  It’s all just playtime – falling out of a pose can be fun, and laughter is always the best remedy for stress.

Come join me in a class to try out some fun and playful peak poses.  

Tips to Help the Seasonal Transition into Fall

Transitioning Into Fall

Seasonal Change and Yoga – what do they have to do with each other?

Read this detailed guide for the Ayurvedic perspective –

Banyan Botanicals Fall Guide

Seasonal changes are directly linked to our bodies’ sense of balance.  Yoga’s sister science, Ayurveda, helps us work through these imbalances in our lives.

As we begin Transitioning into Fall you may have noticed some changes happening around you – in Ayurveda, we are moving from the heat of Summer, or Pitta season, to the cooler, drier temperatures of Vata season. We are now in this time of transition where the hot temperatures give way to cool, dry air, and unpredictable changes in the weather.  Vata season is governed by the air element, and just like Fall, Vata holds these qualities – cool, dry, windy.  This change in season can cause us to become out of balance, which impacts us physically and mentally.

How Can You Stay Balanced with these changes?

According to the Chopra Center, “when too much Vata accumulates in the body and mind, the imbalance may manifest as physical or emotional disorders, including insomnia, dry skin, arthritis, constipation, high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression.”

If you are feeling any of these things, it may be time to pause, look at your eating and routine and make some changes.

See our tips for how to keep balanced this time of year.


Change up your diet to eat seasonally

Look for local fresh produce (organic when possible) and eat for the season.  Apples, squash, sweet potatoes – these are all great for this time of year.  Soups for dinner are a wonderful choice, as they are warming, oily, and comforting – the opposite of Vata.


Switch-Up Your Asana

Slow down your practice and get strong!  Use grounding poses to build strength, and introspective poses to help you reduce “monkey mind.”  Move fluidly and with intention, making your practice a moving meditation.  Check your ego at the door and tap into you.


Practice Grounding Breathwork

Practice balancing breathwork (pranayama) like alternate nostril breathing – Nadi Shodhana.  Click to see my video on my favorite version of this breathwork practice.


Nourish Your Senses

Dress for the weather – be careful to not get cold and dress appropriately.  Give yourself a daily warm oil massage after your shower (I love sweet almond oil with a drop or two of your favorite essential oil).  Clear-out your nasal passages with a Neti Pot, and even lubricate them with a dab of sesame oil.  Pay attention to your mood and be sure to take time for nourishing self-care practices.

Finding Balance – Reduce Your Anxiety and Depression

Finding Balance – Reduce Your Anxiety and Depression

Balance – Reduce Your Anxiety and Depression with One Simple Practice

Balance is my focus this week.  By definition, it means “to bring into harmony or proportion” (merriam-webster.com).  How am I working on finding balance?  Right now, I am focusing on one simple practice – a morning walk into the rising sun.

It seems so easy to fall out of balance in our lives, with emotional changes, environmental changes, and physical changes that we experience every day.  Our world is one of anxiety and stress – which is ironic considering we have so many things to make life easier right at our fingertips.

The reality is, we are impacted by a lack of connection in our world. Our phones, computers, and tablets are tools designed to connect us to the world, but can often exacerbate that feeling of disconnection.  Literally, our physical human connection is impaired – how often do you look at someone else when your phone is in your hand?  What do you notice yourself doing instead of talking to the person sitting next to you?  (I am guilty of this too – so please know there is no judgment here, just self-observation.)  The pandemic has amped up these feelings more than ever – there is so much discord, violence, isolationism – we all feel it.

(Click here to learn more about my personal journey.)


So I ask you to reflect on your own feelings

“What can I do to regain balance and find connection in my life?”

When you find balance within yourself, you can reduce your anxiety, fear, and stress.  You can be a better person for everyone and everything else in your life.

Finding balance allows us to show-up more for our families, our friends, our neighbors, and even those we have never met.  Finding balance within our world begins by finding it within yourself.

One Simple Practice to Find Balance, Reduce Anxiety, and Help with Depression

Balance Zen Tower

Walking into the Rising Sun

Four Tips on Building This Habit


Recently I began a new wellness adventure in my life.  In May, I began seeing an Ayurvedic practitioner, and have been slowly changing my lifestyle to live a healthier life through my daily habits.

If you aren’t familiar with Ayurveda, it is the sister science to yoga (founded in many of the same principles) and literally translates to “knowledge of life.” Ayurveda focuses on the idea that a healthy lifestyle can restore balance and good health.  It connects the mind, body, and spirit with our environment – much as our yoga practice does.

(To learn more about Ayurveda,  you can read more in this in-depth article from the Chopra Center.)

Each week I am working on adding a new habit to my life, and I wanted to share this week’s habit, as it has greatly improved my feelings of anxiety and depression, even in the short amount of time I have been actioning it.

This habit is simple – Walking towards the rising sun.  

As the sun rises in the morning hours, take a short walk facing the sun. This can be a great time for your morning meditation – leave your devices behind, and notice the sounds of nature around you.  Reconnect with the earth, feeling the ground under your feet.  Find your roots, your balance, and allow the energy of the sun to fill you with joy and gratitude.


Start Small

This practice can be done in just minutes a day.  Decide that for 2 minutes a day you are going to take a walk in the morning towards the sun.  Committing to 2 minutes a day makes it easier, and won’t aggravate your stress levels. (If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up either!  Remember, this practice is to REDUCE anxiety.)  You can build the length of your walk from there, and grow the habit as you like – if you have 10 minutes, maybe that will be the key amount of time for you.  This is your practice, and you will find what works best.  No right or wrong here – as you are unique, and what works for someone else may not work for you.


Set a Habit Trigger for Yourself

For example, setting your walking clothes out the night before.  Or maybe you work it into your day right before your morning coffee – figure out what works for you, and find how you can be consistent in your practice.  Write it down, set a reminder – put it in your phone or calendar – where does this fit into your schedule?  Even if you are at work early, take a break when you in the morning to take your 2 minute walk outside.  Maybe it’s just before you go into the office and you are in the parking lot – what a great way to de-stress before you tackle the day!


Make this a Nourishing Practice

As you walk towards the sun, appreciate the sun, nature, and draw in it’s energy for your day. 


Make this practice one of enjoyment!

The whole point of this exercise is to reduce stress, so be easy on yourself as you begin to develop the habit.  Aim for 80% of your days – but maybe start with 20%.  It is most important to take things one day at a time and work towards automation.  

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