Maybe it’s because I am here in Los Angeles, the epi-center of folks looking for the next wellness trend, but I have been hearing (or feeling rather) the buzz about the healing practice Reiki, on the daily. Under my own assumptions I put together that Reiki healers use their energy and touch to channel healing powers into a certain ailment plaguing a patient. I thought the practice was similar to that of acupuncture: you lie down, tune out and let the expert work their magic.
I met Kelsey Patel, a Pure Barre studio owner, wellness coach, Reiki Master, and wife and step mother, aka Wonder Woman, at a menu tasting event at Beaming West Hollywood. After dying in her barre class and showing interest in Reiki, she invited me in for my very own session.
My Session with Kelsey
Kelsey gave me no preparation or warning about what I’d experience so naturally, I upgraded my assumptions about Reiki to truth. I was excited to lie back, relax and leave with an energy pep in my step. When I walked in, she placed a stone in each of my hands and told me everything that we discuss in the room would be kept confidential and judgment free *silent panic… ummm come again?
She began to ask me a series of guided questions to understand where I was in my life right now and where exactly I would like to be. I had to rank how I felt mind, body and spirit on a scale from 0 to 10. I ranked my mind at a 6, for example. Kelsey said, “Ok, explain the gap between 0-6 and 6-10.” I said something like, “Well my mind is super excited lately- I’ve been experiencing so many new things, meeting so many new people and developed a new passion. The gap between 6 and 10 comes from uncertainty about how this new passion will manifest itself career wise… Oh and I’m also feeling a little anxious today from running around.”
Kelsey looked for gaps and commonalities in what I was saying and challenged the answers I gave her. This mini therapy session dove deep and was enough to make a grown woman bubble up and cry. I was proud I was able to articulate genuine and honest responses as reflecting upon every prong of my life is not one of my daily chores. For some perspective, in high school I had a friend that would sit me down and say anything and everything to try to get me to cry (never worked). Perhaps this is my emotionally reserved Norwegian side shining. Once Kelsey zero-ed in on something to focus on, the Reiki began.
I logged on to Reiki.org which explains, “Reiki heals by flowing through the affected parts of the energy field and charging them with positive energy. It raises the vibratory level […] and causes the negative energy to break apart and fall away.” Working with a Reiki master like Kelsey, “allows the student to tap into an unlimited supply of ‘life force energy’ to improve one’s health and enhance the quality of life.” Kelsey explained that this unlimited energy travels through her and onto me.
So, lights off, candle on, stones gripped tight, I got on board. Kelsey held her hands near my head and led me through a series of breathing exercises. I could feel her hands moving around (but not touching) my head and shoulders. I sat still and listened to what sounded like a soft chant. I then felt as though she motioned from back to front, above my head. I felt fresh air and light pour onto me like I just dropped the top on my convertible. I felt a gust of wind travel into my left ear, loosen my jaw and release through my right ear. I felt bright and aware like I just popped my ears after a long, muffled flight.
Kelsey then repositioned herself in front of me and began EFT– Emotional Freedom Techniques. EFT uses the Chinese meridian system used mainly for physical ailments in acupuncture. Instead of using pins, EFT uses finger tapping to awaken the meridian points to focus on emotional issues. Kelsey told me to repeat after her. She said a phrase, I repeated, and she double tapped a meridian point. We repeated the same phrase and double tap for each meridian, then started over with another phrase. This was no casual Instagram scroll, these double taps got intense. By the end she was shouting things I’d never say aloud and I was shouting them back. Though it was definitely not the first time conversation has led to yelling “F*ck these bitches,” it felt so good to say it 8 times straight. I wasn’t prepared for such an intense experience, my session got heavy. I was glad when the EFT was over but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try it again.
Kelsey gently led me back into awareness, turned on the lights and asked me to rank mind, body and spirit again all of which took a tick towards 10.
Leaving the session, I felt calm and clear and also stunned at the journey I had just experienced. I definitely didn’t engage in my normal quiet cuss at bad drivers behind my wheel or even pace back and fourth at my casting that was running an hour late. Reiki is meant to bring the feeling of new breath and light and my session did just that. Did this single session cause a major fix-it shift in my life? No, nothing comes that easy. It did however make me understand the importance of regular spiritual practice. Cleansing my insides with certain foods, physical activity and stretching is a priority for me, so why not take care of my spirit? I’ve since subscribed to Kelsey’s newsletter which includes a guided meditation. I’ve been using this meditation to begin a regular spiritual practice in combination with her at home exercise below.
An At Home Exercise from Kelsey:
This small monthly practice allows you to take the reigns, clean ‘stuff’ out and to provide room for you to pursue your dreams.
Know that there is no right or wrong to energy work. Deep respect and acknowledgement of ancient practices is fantastic, but we live in 2016 and need not be scared to honor yourself and adapt practices to your life the way they fit.
When: The new moon and full moon. This happens every two weeks. (Next full moon is July 19// New moon is August 2. Keep track here.)
NEW MOON – The new moon is about bringing things into light and calling in what you want or know you need – sit in silence or with relaxing music and get in tune with what you really know you want over the next 30 days. Take a piece of paper and pen, write the date on it and then write 5 new things you want to bring into your life over the next 30 days. Ex: Attract a new beau or get the next job
FULL MOON – The moon is full and so is your heart. Your energy is about to burst. Concentrate on what you want to release. Write it down. Sleep with it under your pillow. Rip or burn in the morning. Ex: Shitty boyfriend or obsession with chocolate
Shape Magazine set up at the Hudson Loft in downtown Los Angeles to host Shape Body Shop this weekend benefiting the Movement Foundation. The pop-up studio event was jammed packed with classes from celebrity trainers like the Tone It Up Girls and Jen Widerstrom from The Biggest Looser, Flywheel, Pop Physique, various bootcamps, yoga, and a special appearance by Julian Hough. In between classes we were able to shop fit gear, sample some of Shape’s top beauty picks, and snack on delicious healthy treats. My friend Remi and I jammed in five, I repeat FIVE classes on our own free will.
Jen Winderstrom: Bootcamp. She split the room in two and pitted each side against each other to pushup faster and lunge harder. Turning the class into a game made complete strangers work together and root each other on. Such a good ice breaker for the day.
Brett Hoebel:Yoga Brazil. Brett took his training in Capoiera (Brazilian martial arts which combines dance, acrobatics and music,) and blended it with traditional yoga practice. He changed up our thought process in basic yoga positions – we need to bend deeper in a lunge to avoid an overhead kick…talk about motivation!
Tone it Up Girls. These fitness moguls used resistance bands the entire class. I absolutely love using resistance bands because they are a notch up from using your own body weight while working out. You don’t have to worry about bulking up and they make you fire up your stabilizing muscles too. It’s insane how much you can do with little bands and the super sweet Tone it Up Girls were beyond creative with them.
Lacey Stone, my girl! I trained with her at my first adidas event last year. She set the energy on fire at a point in the day when I was ready to nap. She turned simple aerobic dance moves into HIIT. She incorporated medicine balls to use like basketballs and we performed moves inspired by her college basketball years. Lacey’s energy is contagious and I appreciate that she gives everything she has every time she teaches.
Pop Physique: This was a good day ender! I’ve taken lots of Pop classes- it is similar to many other barre classes, but Pop incorporates a squishy ball for many of their exercises. We were tucking our pelvis’ and plie-ing with every ounce of energy we had left.
Why shoot apple cider vinegar when you can sip it poolside? I make this detoxifying, energizing and anti-inflammatory tonic all summer long. This gives me that poignant and refreshing I feel when I crack open a cold Kombucha. I play around with the ratio depending on the day but here is a good base:
Lot’s of ICE
1 T Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 – 1/2 Lemon
2 shakes of turmeric
1 shake of cayenne
Sweetener of choice- I use half a stevia packet or agave because they mix best with cold water
Group boxing and shadow boxing classes are so on trend right now. I scroll my IG feed and every other picture is a chick post-class with gloves up and I love it. All things women empowerment are totally my thing, but my easily inflatable arm muscles and pesky shoulder tear had kept me from latching on to this hot workout trend.
I met Ashley Guarrasi at an Adidas’ Wanderlust event in Los Angeles last month. As we ran, yoga-ed, meditated and braided our hair I had no idea she was an absolute powerhouse in the world of boxing. If it weren’t for needing to keep her face in tact for her acting and modeling career, she’d be standing opposite Ronda Rousey for the win.
After creeping on Ashley’s Snap and witnessing her take blows from clients, often men 2-3 times her size, I decided if I were to feed my curiosity about boxing, it would have to be from her.
Warm up- Jumprope. 2 rounds of 3 mins.
Shadow Boxing: She introduced me to basic punches and proper technique. We combined the punches and performed various combinations without gloves.
Boxing and Conditioning: Gloves on, baby. Alternating between throwing combinations to her on mitts and performing sets of planks, squats and push ups.
I expected that my upper body would be absolutely destroyed by the end (it was,) but I didn’t think my core and legs would get as much action as they did. My obliques fired up on every cross punch and I especially felt my core clench on uppercuts. Also, because Ashley alternated between boxing and plyometric exercises, every inch of my body had to engage. The entire session was cardio / non-stop interval training which means the hour workout packed a calorie burning punch (pun intended).
Boxing is great for the mind and body. The sweat and body fatigue was undeniable but I also had to keep my head in the game the same way I need to in a dance class. Boxing combinations are essentially choreography you have to remember. Instead of tuning out like I do when I run, I needed to dig in and engage.
Fitness X: A fitness experience for women who do more than burn calories. Adidas is always thinking outside the box. I leave all of their events having tried something new and exciting. Fitness X paired working out with three other aspects important to today’s fit woman: nutrition, design and styling. The typically sunny SoCal weather was uncharacteristically cold and the misty rain was cramping my hair-style but we pressed on 🙂
We started the day with a hour long work out led my girl Ashley Guarrasi on the Santa Monica Pier. Ashely led us through an on-your-mat circuit class combining resistance bands, plyometric training and shadow boxing. Our shivers turned to sweat and it felt amazing.
FITNESS X DESIGN
We were then led on a short run through Santa Monica to our DESIGN activity: Candle making at Stone Candle Bar. We chose our oil/scent and were instructed how to assemble our very own candle. I went full Tom Ford and combined Vanilla Cashmere and Tobacco. Our hand poured, sleek black coconut wax candles would retail for 45 big ones, so Diptique and Jo Malone better watch out.
FITNESS X STYLING
Next we ran to the STYLING activity: Succulent arrangement at The Leaf and Petal Co. The nursery looked like an enchanted dream. We were allowed to roam about and choose whatever our succulent hearts desired. Not only are succulents super on trend, they’re beyond easy to care for- water your succulent with 2 ice cubes every other week or every week if there is a drain in your pot. Using ice cubes ensure that you don’t drown the plant and that you water it slowly (as the cubes melt). Mind blown.
FITNESS X NUTRITION
Our final stop was lunch and our NUTRITION activity at True Kitchen. True Food has created a menu that is anti-inflammatory by nature. It was super fresh and we were starving so it was extra delicious. We passed herbed hummus, kale avocado dip, chopped salads and antioxidant cocktails. We chatted, laughed and bonded over loving veggies but needing more pita bread. This 3.5 hour event was jam packed. I met so many new rad women from different walks of fitness life so thank you adidas for yet another fun and adventurous event!
All of the participants received a packaged that included a full outfit to wear to the event. I lucked out with these:
Super low in carbs and packed with flavor, spring rolls seem super impressive but it’s really not that hard. I stuff mine with roasted chicken, cilantro, cucumber, sprouts, shredded carrots and avocado. I’ve also gone full veggie with flavored tofu or hard boiled eggs. Sorry for the awful video, I just uploaded my Snapchat story. Though the quality is rough it shows just how easy the process is. I’ve even had a small dinner party where I prepped a variety ingredients and let guests make their own! Pairing spring rolls with cauli-fried rice is one of my favorite fresh meals.
As a dancer, I travel a lot. Whether I am on tour with an artist, performing at a corporate event, or shooting on location, there are certain easy to pack items I bring to ensure I always have a healthy option when I can’t find something fresh. My requirement for all the items are that they be – 1. multipurpose and 2. relatively sturdy (kale chips turn to dust).
Produce Items: Unripe bananas and avocado (more durable for travel). Apples.
Other Items: Brown Rice Cakes, Instant Oatmeal packs (original or a brand that’s not loaded with sugar), Seaweed snacks, Homemade Trail mix – often almonds, sunflower seeds, dates, dried cranberries, goji berries and mulberries.
My friends at Rockit Apples sent me some of their cuties (pictured above) to try. They come stacked 5 high in a plastic tennis tube like container which made it super easy to chuck in my suitcase and backpack without further protection. The apples stood the test of travel and tasted sweet and delicious. The packaging is too much to replace my hand picked farmer’s market beauties for home, however they served their purpose flawlessly in this case.
healthy hotel room snacks and mini meals
Oatmeal with Almond Butter and Banana – Use the coffee pot on your hotel room for hot water
Oatmeal with Trail Mix
Rice cakes topped with almond butter and banana
Rice cakes with Avocado (add salt, red pepper and lemon if possible)
Avocado sushi! Slice up avocado and wrap in seaweed snacks. Surprisingly satisfying especially when you buy the wasabi seaweed.
Assortment of apple and banana slices and dates with dollops of almond butter
This pic doesn’t do these pancakes justice. They’re totally dairy and gluten free but beyond satisfying if you are missing a sweet treat breakfast. I’ve seen a ton of posts about making 2 ingredient pancakes with mashed banana and egg. I set out to make this, but got carried away and turned mine into a 5 ingredient, fiber and protein filled version.
1 ripe banana
1 tablespoon flax meal
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used vegan SunWarrior Classic Vanilla)
5 shakes of cinnamon
(1 teaspoon coconut oil for cooking)
Mash the banana with a fork until there are no chunks left. Mix in egg. Add flax and protein, mix well. Heat pan and add coconut oil. Canola oil would be fine too, however I think the coconut oil takes the flavor next level. Small pancakes (4 inch diameters) cook best. 2-3 minutes each side. This recipe yielded about 8 little guys, but don’t think you have to share 😉
I used the same pan to melt almond butter to drizzle on top instead of maple syrup. I added pomegranate, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries straight from this morning’s farmers market. Enjoy!