Alex Tacket

Yoga|Pilates|Bodywork


The Lazy Hippie’s Hangover Cure

Quick & easy tips to help beat one (or four) too many

Yogi or not, this article might have caught your eye because you like to party. Maybe you’re the type who likes to let their kombucha ferment too long on purpose, or maybe you’re the type who loves good and/or free tequila. Or maybe you’re like me and you’re both of those people wrapped into one wiggly fun-sized package. Either way, under the right circumstances, we can all feel pretty un-zen the next morning.

Even without being hungover, those natural remedy recipes things can be super overwhelming (seriously, who has ground cordyceps sinensis mushrooms just laying around the house). So! I’ve utilized my years of highly technical research to compile a quick list of some of my favorite EASY remedies to help hack a hangover. Being a yogi is not a prerequisite.

Please keep in mind that I have not turned into a doctor since my last blog post. These are things that have worked for me personally, please don’t do anything that a medical professional or your mom has told you not to do.

  1. Lemon

What: Lemon in any form you can get your hands on. Lemon slice in water at home or at brunch. Lemon essential oil in water, or applied topically on your temples and belly.

Why: Lemon contains fructose which is a form of sugar that some say can help you process alcohol faster and gives you some much needed energy. Since lemon contains citric acid, it also helps to make the body more alkaline to ease symptoms of a hangover.

Bonus: If you’re into the essential oil thing, a combination of lemon, lavender, grapefruit and peppermint taken internally, topically and diffused is my favorite hangover cocktail.

    2. Activated charcoal

What: If you can remember, take activated charcoal before you go to bed. If you can’t remember, take it when you wake up.

I keep some in my nightstand and in my purse so I don’t have to go far to ease my self inflicted discomfort. Drink plenty of water with it.

Why: Charcoal traps toxins in its gazillions of pores and helps to flush them out of your system. It is also used for things like food poisoning. *This is also one of my go to’s to take on an international trip in case I eat anything funky.

   3. Eggs

What: Eat some eggs.

Why: Eggs have lots of cysteine, which helps break down acetaldehyde (aka hangover culprit) in the liver.

   4. Liquids

What: If you’re down with water, or if thats all you have, drink that. Water never seems to sound good to me the next morning. I try to have kombucha (the carbonation is super refreshing to me), coconut water, fruit juice (anything but orange juice), or ginger tea on hand. Don’t have any? It’s 2016, order some on Postmates.

If you can, try to drink some of whatever you have before you pass out.

Why: Alcohol is a diuretic, aka it pushes liquids out of the body. Once your body has run out of liquids, it will start looking for other places to pull water from. Including your brain. Which is why you feel like a stale raisin in the morning.

Rehydrating helps restore the liquids depleted from drinking; Coconut water has 5 electrolytes found in human blood, fruit juice has fructose (see why lemons are helpful ^) to help raise your blood sugar, and ginger helps with nausea and motion sickness.

   5. Vitamins

What: B complex vitamin. Before you drink if you can. Definitely as soon as remember after you’ve been drinking. If you can’t find a B complex vitamin, take any multivitamin you can get your hands on since most multivitamins have some kind of vitamin B in em and other goodies that will be helpful.

Why: Along with pushing liquids out of your body, alcohol also sends vitamins along with it. B vitamins help your brain and nervous system function, it helps to convert fuel (food) to energy and some also say that it helps your body get rid of the stuff in alcohol that makes you feel bad the next morning.

Bonus vitamins: NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine) which helps the body detox and restore the liver to its natural state and milk thistle which helps protect the liver from damage. Try to take these pre-drink as well.

   6. Fresh air

What: Open a window, turn on the AC or go on a walk.

Why: Oxygen increases the rate that alcohol toxins are broken down.

Speaking of oxygen…

   7. MEDITATE

Before you roll your eyes and groan like I’m trying to trick you into doing yoga stuff while you’re in pain, hear me out. The older I get, the more I feel like my hangovers stem from my mind being ahead of my body, or almost like my actual ailment is impatience. I discovered this trick a few months ago and it has been a TOTAL GAME CHANGER.

How: Use a free guided meditation app for even just 5 minutes. It helps to increase the oxygen in your blood and clarity in the mind. The best part is, you don’t have to do anything, you throw that puppy on your phone and lay there.

I promise at the very least you will be able to fall back asleep.

Life doesn’t usually work out the way we expected, and the same can be said about a night or a day out on the town. If you don’t have all of these remedies available, do one of them. If you can’t have one of them, repeating the mantra “I am not hungover” until it becomes true (or the next day) is the route I usually take.

There are tons of suggested hangover remedies out there, this is a quick and dirty list of what has been working for me lately with minimal to no preparation time. I’m hoping this has shed some light on your extra curricular activities, let me know how it goes!

Cheers!

Alex

An all or nothing girl searching for the inbetween

 

 

 


Chronic Low Back Pain? Check your hips!

8 quick & dirty stretches for chronic low back pain

I’m here to share some helpful, quick & dirty information about the most common complaint I hear from students in classes (and life in general): chronic low back pain.

Before we go any further, please note that no one answer that will work for every body. If something doesn’t feel good, or you have been told by a doctor not to do any of these stretches, don’t do it. Working with your doctor, physical therapist or a private session with a qualified Pilates or yoga teacher would be a great alternative for you. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, you can skip the “why” and go straight to the stretches if you want to.

There’s lots of potential causes of low back pain, (we could go on forever, but I promised you quick & dirty) and lots of potential answers, but I’m here to briefly address one that most people are surprised to hear: tight hips can cause low back pain.

One of your hip flexor muscles, the psoas muscle (pronounced so-az) begins in the lower vertebrae of our spine and connects to the inner thigh. The psoas is also one of the biggest and thickest muscles in the body. With so much time in our lives spent sitting – at a desk, in a car or bottomless mimosas at brunch, your hip flexor muscles and hamstrings can shorten and tighten. Short or tight hip flexors on one or both sides can pull the spine and pelvis in all sorts of different directions, causing compression and discomfort (as well as a whole slew of other conditions) in the low back. By stretching the hips, it is possible alleviate some of that tension, making more room for your lower vertebrae.

If that wasn’t enough reason to give some extra TLC to your hips, I’ll try another fun fact: the psoas muscles are also connected with the sympathetic nervous system, or our “fight or flight” responses. When your brain is alarmed, your body’s natural response is to tighten and contract your psoas. So, when your hips are tight from life, it sends a message to your brain that you are in danger, and you remain in a more heightened (i.e. stressful) state at all times.

TLDR: Tight hips can = low back pain. 

Here are some easy stretches and gentle strengthening exercises that you can do at home, at work or in line at the coffee shop (I dare you!) to help with chronic low back pain.

Low Back Pain Relief Sequence

1. Cat/Cow & Hip circles

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Get on your hands and knees in a tabletop position, make sure that your wrists are stacked right under the shoulders and your knees are stacked right under the hips.

Inhale: Gently start to tip the pelvis forward, dropping the belly to the floor and bring your gaze forward

Exhale: Tuck your chin and round your back like a scared Halloween cat.

Approximately 10 rounds.

Then, start to circle your hips in one direction, drop them down towards your heels and then up and over to the other side. You can play with making big circles or little circles.

Bonus: combine cat/cow & hip circles together, backbending or rounding as you circle your hips around. If you’re worried about how it looks, close your eyes. Make sure to move in both directions.

2. Lunge

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Place one foot forward on the floor directly underneath the knee. Back knee stays down on the floor, maybe under a blanket or cushion if there is any discomfort in the knee. Make sure that your front knee is directly over or behind the ankle, but NOT in front of the ankle to protect the knee. You should feel the stretch in the front of the hip. If you feel sensation in your low back, don’t lunge as deeply.

Soften your shoulders down your back and BREATHE. At least 6 breaths on each side.

3. Figure 4

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Lay down on your back and bend both of your knees. Place one ankle over the other knee, keeping the lifted ankle and foot flexed. Either stay here, or for more of a stretch, reach forward and grab onto the back of the bottom thigh or front of the bottom shin. You should feel stretching sensation deep in your gluteal region. Try to avoid arching in your low back.

Relax your shoulders and neck, and BREATHE. At least 6 breaths on each side.

4. Hamstring/IT band floor stretch

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Grab a belt or a long piece of rope or something similar (I used a dog leash). Lay down on your back, bend one knee and place that foot on the floor, extend the other leg up towards the ceiling. Loop the middle of your strap like object on the arch of the extended foot. Most people will have to have a bend in the extended leg and this is perfectly acceptable. Square your pelvis and hold the rope with your hands, one strap in each hand.

Relax the shoulders and neck and BREATHE. Hold for at least 6 breaths.

Bonus: If this feels comfortable in your body, start to gently draw the extended leg across the body. You should feel the stretch transition to the outside of your extended leg’s thigh. 6 breaths.

5. Goddess pose

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Feet go wider than hip distance apart. Bend knees, and squat down, placing your hands together and elbows on the inside of your knees. Keep your weight in the back of your heels, and gently press into your hands, which will help spread the knees farther apart and open the chest. Soften your shoulders and BREATHE.

If your heels can’t touch the ground, place a folded blanket under your heels to bring the ground to your feet. If it is difficult to balance, place a block or a cushion under your butt – you’ll still get the same benefits of the stretch :D.

6. Legs up the wall

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(Insert imaginary wall here ^^^) Find a wall and lay down on your back, scootch your butt as close to the wall as is comfortable and extend your legs up the wall. Knees do not have to be straight. Relax your neck and shoulders. You can hold for as long as is comfortable (I like to read like this).

If that is too sensitive, find a chair or table that is about knee height. Lay down on your back and rest the back of your calves on the top of the table.

7. Sphinx

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Lay down on your stomach like you were going to watch tv and place your forearms on the floor. Feet go about shoulder distance apart and relax your glutes. Your elbows will stack underneath your shoulders, or, if that is too intense in your low back, walk your hands farther forward to take the stretch into your mid & upper back. Try gently pressing into the floor to open your chest.

Bonus: If it feels comfortable, you can relax your head down towards the floor to add a neck stretch.

8. Move!

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If all else fails – you don’t have time, you’re tired, all of this sounds boring or intimidating, just move! A lot of us have jobs that require sitting, we love to binge on Netflix, travel by car or plane and it turns out that there are days when we spend most of our waking hours sitting – Do your best to get up and move around throughout the day. Every little bit helps!

There is no one answer that is right for everyone, but the more you can inform yourself and listen to your body to learn what you need, the better. We live in a culture that revolves around sitting, so it usually takes some extra thought to make sure to love on our low back & hips.

Did I miss anything? Do any of these work for you? What are your favorite tips to help keep your low back happy & healthy?

Wishing you happy hips!

Alex T.

An all or nothing girl searching for the inbetween

A special thank you to Dr. Isabel Dutra for editing & feedback xx


Full Time Yoga Teaching: When to Make the Jump

5 Lessons I learned from dropping everything to become a yoga teacher

I’m now one of “those” people who had a more or less sound & safe career who dropped everything to become a full-time yoga teacher. I worked in California State Politics for five years. About two years into my job, I signed up for my first teacher training, graduated & never stopped teaching.

With my recent transition, a few people have contacted me via the ‘ole Instagram to ask how I knew when it was time to leave my full-time job to become a teacher, and what I did to prepare to make the jump. So! I’m sharing a bit of my story and highlighting some of the lessons I learned here in hopes of providing some insight:

#1. Only YOU know when it’s time to jump 

I’ll start with what I think the most important thing I learned and you’re probably not going to like it: no matter what advice people give you, only you are going to know when the right time is for you. When you talk to your friends and family (or people on Insta) some people are going to make leaving jobs or changing careers seem soooo easy that you almost feel stupid for asking the question in the first place. Others are going to respond with words of caution, especially if you had a “career” like I had with benefits and a slew of other ‘practical’ reasons they will use to try to get you to stay. Take what they say to heart, but remember to look inside of yourself for what you need – and don’t get pressured either way. There is no wrong answer, but there is also no perfect time. 

#2. Start small

My big girl job was much more than a full-time job – working late hours, early mornings & being “on call” via phone and email – so it was especially difficult for me to make time for teaching since I didn’t always know when I would have time away from work. I started with teaching every other weekend, when I knew I would have some time to teach, and also to prepare for class. Some people are relaxed and confident enough to hop right into teaching classes without any anxiety. I am not one of those people. I would be nervous days before class, and would take much more time to prepare my classes then I do now. So, it was important for me to start small, gain confidence and avoid stressing myself out (more than I already was). See if you can get a class on a day that you have nothing pressing to do beforehand, so you have time to relax and focus. As time goes on, your “teaching stamina” will increase.

The second reason why starting with fewer classes before quitting your job (yet), is that you might start teaching four classes a week and realize that you absolutely hate teaching – Which is actually a really good thing. What?? Yes! That means that you figured out you didn’t want to teach full-time BEFORE making the jump. You still have time to reduce your teaching hours to something manageable that you still enjoy – or stop altogether. You don’t HAVE to quit your job to become a yoga teacher, you can do both! Teaching on the side is a great creative outlet, an awesome way to make some extra cash or to serve your local community with karma classes.

#3. Get creative

As time went on, more opportunities started to open up. In addition to the yoga classes I was adding to my schedule, I received an amazing offer to do my Pilates teacher training and to teach at a studio. Once I maxed out the hours I could offer outside of my work to teach, my full-time boss was nice enough to agree to let me go part-time at the office – working 75% time to make more room for classes and even some quality time with my pup. The Pilates studio also hired me to do administrative work, which really helped my financial confidence (and my ceaseless need to cross things off of to do lists) as I planned my exit strategy.

There are all sorts of ways this can play out – maybe you reduce your hours at your current job, maybe you quit your full-time job, pick up a few hours at a low-stress part-time job and increase your teaching hours – have an open mind! Remember that there are no wrong answers, and you never know which other employment opportunities will open doors to meet new clients.

#4. Take care of yourself

With an already busy schedule and stressful job, adding so many classes meant that my days were absolutely packed and it was nearly impossible to make myself a priority – or to even get myself anywhere on the to do list. I thought that teaching the most classes would help speed up the process of becoming a “great” teacher. Boy was I wrong. It quickly became difficult to find time for my own practice and (most importantly) for SLEEP. When I lacked either of those things, the quality of my classes suffered, I didn’t feel good about how I was teaching and it made it much harder for me to go to class. It takes time and hard work to become a good teacher, there is no other way around it. Don’t sacrifice your personal health, happiness or quality of your classes to try to speed things along. 

#5. Start a “Quit My Job” fund

As soon as I started getting paid for teaching, I placed all of the money I made from classes into a separate account that I didn’t have a debit or credit card connected to (i.e. I couldn’t take out any money). I used this account to save money without being able to see it, and continued to live off of my regular job salary. I utilized the money saved in the account to pay for other training and also as part of my “Quit My Job” fund as extra cushion for when I decided to quit. This created some serious peace of mind, and also a new lesson in learning how to save $$.

The way of the yoga teacher is not an easy one – despite how it may seem on Instagram – but for me, the benefits far outweigh the cons. It took me nearly two years of having way more than a full-time job to feel ready to jump. I was good friends with my coworkers and boss and it was hard to part ways, but ultimately it was just too much for me to juggle and stay in good presence and health for teaching. So far, I haven’t looked back or regretted a thing. With the space to think and to breathe, I have felt more creative and motivated in my classes, I’ve had more time for my personal practice and more beautiful opportunities have been popping up – almost as if they had been waiting for me all along.

I hope this has provided a bit of insight towards whatever you are going through (or at least a bit of demystification of one of those yogi Instagram accounts). I’d love to hear from you about what some of your experiences are with yoga teaching, so please feel free to reach out! If you are interested in this topic, stay tuned – I’m working on a post about things you need to know starting out in the yoga world – most of which I had to learn the hard way.

Rock on,

Alex T.

An all or nothing girl searching for the inbetween

A special thank you to Ms. Annie Clark for editing & feedback xx