By Allyson Lambert

After a 6am flight, a presentation and a photoshoot, I walked through the door of our guest house and practically collapsed on the floor. My assistant was behind me carrying my bags and I barely had enough energy to greet my team. “I have to lay down,” I said. My head was hurting, my throat was swelling, and I could barely keep my eyes open. 

This wasn’t the first time I had overbooked myself on a business trip. Over the past few years, I had pushed myself to exhaustion to keep up with the pace of my work. Because I love what I do, I used that as an excuse to say yes to everything and sometimes push myself a little too far.  

What do I do for work? I am an actor, writer, and marketing consultant, and on this particular trip, I REALLY overbooked myself. 

 Let’s take a look at my schedule…. 

  • Thursday 3pm– Met with a corporate client in San Francisco. 
  • Thursday 5pm– Stopped by a coffee shop to use WIFI and finish a consulting project.
  • Thursday 7pm– Had dinner with another tech client. During dinner, my throat started to swell up.

 After my client dinner, I stayed up until 1am because I was packing and still planning logistics for my trip. 

  • Friday 4am– Took Lyft to the airport to catch a 6am flight to Phoenix. Drank tea and slept on the plane because my throat was very swollen (I could barely talk at this point).  
  • Friday 9am– Finished coordinating catering for my workshop. 
  • Friday 11am– Took a Lyft to my office and finished my presentation.   
  • Friday 12pm– Presented a workshop about blogging for your business.  
  • Friday 2pm– Changed and did hair and makeup for a photoshoot. Tried to nap on the hammock outside for 20 minutes. 
  • Friday 3pm– Did a photoshoot with my photographer and struggled to keep my eyes open due to my cold. 
  • Friday 6pm– Traveled to our Airbnb to meet with my team. Practically collapsed on the floor from exhaustion. My team was very understanding and let me rest, while they went to check in for the conference. 
  • Friday 9pm- Prepared for a 3-day business conference that required 10+ hour days and working through the weekend. 

 Yikes! It’s no wonder I got sick. This was one of the trips that made me change the way I was working and living. I like to compare a scenario like this to chocolate. You may love chocolate, but if you have too much of it, it will make you sick. 

Self-Care is More than Ticking off a Checklist 

It was after this trip that I knew something had to change. I wasn’t proud of my sleep habits and that I didn’t build any breaks into my schedule leading up to the trip. 

As someone who enjoys running, working out everyday, and eating well, it seemed like burnout wouldn’t affect me. But it did. As a result, I spent years researching and working with coaches and doctors to find out the root cause of my fatigue and chronic pain. 

 For one, I do have severe scoliosis with a curvature in my spine of about 50 degrees. This contributed to a lot of my pain and fatigue that would usually leave me stuck in bed by the end of the week. I knew I didn’t want to live like this, and I worked hard to learn different therapeutic approaches for improving my quality of life. 

When I moved to San Francisco, I started taking Saturday morning yoga classes in my apartment building. We had our own yoga studio, so I could simply go down the elevator and do yoga without having to leave home. The class was taught by Julie Watson. One of the residents in my building said, “you have to take her class, she’s so therapeutic.” 

After taking group classes, I had the chance to work with Julie one-on-one for private yoga therapy sessions. I had just booked an acting tour which had a demanding travel schedule, so we met at her studio for sessions when I was back in San Francisco. The timing couldn’t have been better. At this point in my life, I was dealing with a lot of stress due to my travel schedule and an unexpected move that came up. 

What I Learned in Yoga Therapy: 

Julie taught me really simple breathing exercises that I can do anywhere. These exercises help me clear my mind and I still practice them often. 

Try this breathing exercise at home: Lay flat on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. Next, close your eyes and count backwards from 4-3-2-1. Counting backwards helps focus your mind so that it’s not running in circles, which is what Julie describes as “monkey mind.”

Other tips that Julie gave me while on my theater tour:

  • Drink warming drinks: During the winter months, Julie suggested that I try having hot tea or soup at the end of the day after performing. This was something simple I could do in the hotel. I could easily carry tea in my purse. 

According to Julie, “Hot drinks or cooked foods helps improve digestion and elimination, which therefore gives your immunity a boost. They can also be very nourishing and grounding, which is needed during cooler temps or when you’re feeling scattered or cold.”

  • Remember to breath: So much tension in our lives can be attributed to forgetting to breath. This simple technique reminded me to breathe through stressful moments and let go of tension in the body before it turns into stress. 
  • SelfMassage: Julie also taught me effective self-massage techniques. Using oils, like coconut oil or vitamin E oil, can create a calming effect that can help you sleep better. 

You Don’t Have to Suffer for Your Art 

I think artists and creative entrepreneurs can sometimes get caught up in the idea that they either have to choose between their well-being or their art. However, I’ve tried to develop a career and lifestyle that integrates health and wellness into my work. Together, I think we can break the stereotype that you have to suffer for your art. 

I think art can enrich our lives. It can bring us more energy and vibrancy. It can inspire us to be better versions of ourselves. And caring for our health and well-being is an integral part of creating good art. 

I learned first-hand that it takes an immense amount of energy to perform. You’re going to feel tired afterwards. Fortunately, these techniques and tools have allowed me to recover in a healthy way so that I can still enjoy a day off, have coffee with a friend, or even visit a museum (without being on a schedule!) 

Can I cure myself of scoliosis & chronic pain? Maybe not completely, but the techniques and tools I have learned through private yoga therapy have improved my life by a significant amount. 

If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that life is for living, not just working. I think Julie does a fantastic job in bringing out the best in people and teaching them simple tools to live a healthy, balanced life. I’m so thankful that we crossed paths and we got to work together. 

I hope today you can take a breath, take a moment, and simply enjoy this life and this day you’ve been given. 

For someone who is always in action, I asked Julie what I should do next and she said, “pause.” 

Momentum doesn’t always come from being in motion. A pause can be the one thing that you need in order to move forward.

Ready to start your yoga therapy journey? To book a virtual session with Julie, please click here.

Even a brief introduction to meditation can ease pain

New research has found that a 30-minute introduction to mindfulness can significantly reduce negative emotions and ease physical pain — even for those who have never practiced the technique before. Article from Medical News Today  (February 2020) referencing published results from Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience journal.

Meditation Can Down-Regulate Pain

Cauliflower and Cashew Soup

Cauliflower and Cashew Soup

Mains & Sides Recipe

This vibrant, warm and sweet soup reminds me of the Autumn season, but I’d happily feast on it all winter though spring. It’s easy to make and really yummy. In my recipe I used some of Elemental Alchemy’s Spiced Golden Milk, which contains turmeric, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg and more. You can also substitute it for more turmeric to start and add a dash of any of those flavors you enjoy.

  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 head of cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp Spiced Golden Milk or 1 additional tsp turmeric
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • Juice from ½ lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cilantro

In a large pot, heat olive oil and sauté onions until they start to slightly soften. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add cauliflower, cashews and salt, stir and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, and then stir in 2 ½ tsp or a combination of turmeric and Spiced Golden Milk. Cook an additional minute. Add stock. Once mixture boils, bring to a simmer and cook until cauliflower and nuts soften, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and blend soup well with an immersion blend or transfer to a blender. Add lime and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with cilantro.

Serves 6-8

Fennel and Leek Soup

Fennel and Leek Soup

Mains & Sides Recipe

This is great for a warm day is soothing on the belly. It’s light and cooling, with a nice touch of sweet, pungent and bitter qualities. Fresh herbs would work perfectly – for the flavor I wanted I only had dry herbs on hand. Also, if you enjoy the flavor of fennel, I suggest adding ½ teaspoon or more of crushed fennel to stock.

  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 large fennel bulb with stalks, coarsely chopped, stalk ends and fronds set aside
  • 3 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced and cleaned
  • 3 stalks celery, roughly chopped and divided
  • 1 small red potato, diced
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ tsp dried fennel, crushed
  • 3 pinches dried summer savory
  • 3 small pinches dried rosemary
  • ½ cup parsley, coarsely chopped, and more for garnish
  • ½ raw pumpkin seeds
  • ½ tsp Aleppo pepper (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, sauté leeks they start to soften. Meanwhile, in another pot, heat stock, water, fennel ends and fronds, 1/3 of celery and chopped parsley on medium heat.

To leeks, add fennel, fennel stalks and remaining celery. Cook until fennel starts to soften, approximately 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often. Add potato and a generous pinch of salt. Stir then add all the contents from the pot with the stock. Add the summer savory and rosemary and bring to a boil. Once it boils, bring to a simmer, cover and cook for about 25 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, lightly toast the pumpkin seeds in a skillet for 1 or two minutes. Immediately remove and pulverize in a food processor. Add a ladle of liquid from the soup to saturate the pumpkin seeds and set aside.

Remove large pot from heat and add the pumpkin seed mixture. Blend soup well with an immersion blend or transfer to a blender. Add Aleppo pepper if using and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley.

Serves 6-8.

Long-term meditation practitioners have a faster psychophysiological recovery from stress, study finds

“Stress is responsible for a variety of negative health outcomes, and takes a toll on quality of life and well-being. Thus, research on behavioral approaches that can help to attenuate the stress response is of utmost importance,” Article from PsyPost referencing research published in Psychoneuroendocrinology (April 2019)

Link to Article

Fresh Vegetable Quinoa Soup

Fresh Vegetable Quinoa Soup

Mains & Sides Recipe

For this soup I used lots of summer/early autumn vegetables. Substituting the zucchini and corn with butternut squash and turnips and using canned tomatoes in lieu of tasty summer tomatoes would be an easy transition for a warming late autumn or winter soup. This soup is well balanced with flavor and texture and is quite fulfilling in the belly.

  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, minced
  • 2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
  • 4 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 2 medium red potatoes, diced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 ¼ cup corn kernels (2 cobs)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped, and more for garnish

In a large pot, sauté onions, carrots and peppers until onions become slightly translucent. Add garlic and ginger and sauté for about 1 minute. Add Mexican oregano and tomatoes, cooking for about 5 minutes, then add the potatoes, stock and water and bring to a boil. Add the quinoa then reduce to a simmer. Cook for approximately 10-15 minutes and stir occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste, and possibly more smoked paprika. Stir in cilantro before serving and garnish individual portions as desired. Although not listed as an ingredient, a splash of lime adds a nice brightness.

Serves 6-8.

Sautéed Okra with Red Onion and Red Bell Pepper

Sautéed Okra with Red Onion and Red Bell Pepper

Mains & Sides Recipe

Okra is sweet, cooking and astringent, making it a good balancer for the three doshas. It also said to be full of nutrients and have many health benefits. It’s generally in season July through September, although in California okra season extends through November. The cooked onion and red bell pepper are natural flavor matchmakers with the okra, although the red bell and paprika should be used in moderation for high pitta. Another option: try green bell pepper for a milder flavor or a yellow bell pepper for more sweetness. I made this as a side dish for my husband’s fine Southern cooking, but it can be paired with Indian, Moroccan, Middle Eastern or Mediterranean cuisines. Simply adjust the spices and oils as desired.

  • 1 Tbs sunflower oil or ghee
  • 1 lb okra, washed and dried; tips and ends cut off, cut into ¼-inch circles
  • ½ large red onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp salt

Heat oil in pan on medium heat. Add cumin and mustard seeds. When seeds start to pop, add onion, bell pepper and salt. Sauté until onions become slightly translucent, stirring occasionally. Add okra, cover and simmer until okra becomes tender, approximately 15 minutes. Stir mixture often to avoid burning.

Serves 4-6.