Yoga and Intentional Breathing

My neighborhood yoga center reopened last weekend. I was happy to attend an in-studio class again. Last January, I wrote about Why Yoga Poses Can Be So Beneficial. From maintaining muscle tone and flexibility, to improving balance and breathing skills, to strengthening how organs can function through various poses, all these are good reasons for practicing a few yoga asanas every day if you can. Yoga is great at helping reduce daily stress as well.

This past weekend, we practiced box breathing again. I really enjoy this calming breath exercise that helps regulate the autonomic nervous system. There’s no simpler way to help you reach a relaxed state than a quick intentional breathing exercise. So here’s the technique for box breathing (previously mentioned), along with a few other breathing exercises, to help you unwind!                                                                                                     

Box Breathing

Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds, and count for 4 seconds before breathing in again. You can increase the number of seconds as you become more skilled but always practice in moderation. And just a few minutes (up to 5 minutes) at a time is plenty.  

Belly Breathing

This technique is explained by Dr. Frank Lipman in the July/August 2018 Experience Life magazine, which you can also find in his book How to Be Well: “Place both hands on your belly, just below your bottom ribs. Rest the tip of your tongue behind your front teeth. Take a slow, deep inhalation through your nose. Draw your breath all the way into your belly, past your chest. Notice your diaphragm moving downward and feel your belly and rib cage expand. When you can take in no more air, exhale slowly through your nose until your lungs are empty – you’ll feel your belly falling under your hands. Repeat 10 cycles. As you continue, see if you can extend the exhale until it is twice the length of the inhale. Breathing this way helps quiet spinning thoughts and brings you back to your body in the present moment.”

Vagal Nerve Stimulating Breathing Exercise (also called 4-7-8 Breathing)           

This exercise (which I love to do every day) is well described by neurologist Dr. Maya Shetreat-Klein in a Bulletproof podcast. Begin by sitting comfortably without crossing your arms or legs. Place the tip of your tongue right between your palate and the upper teeth. Breathe in for 4 seconds through the nose. Hold the breath for 7 seconds. Breathe out through the mouth for 8 seconds, making a “whoosh” sound as you keep your tongue placed between your palate and upper teeth. Repeat 4 times only, twice a day.

Breathing Exercise Paired with Visualization

I read about this breathing exercise in a book titled The Fourfold Path to Healing, by Dr. Thomas Cowan, Sally Fallon, et al., and find the visualization very relaxing. Picture yourself by the seashore and as a wave comes crashing at your feet, breathe out. Pause for a few seconds, then as a new wave forms in the distance, take a deep breath in. Hold your breath for a few seconds, then breathe out as the new wave reaches your feet again. Repeat this breathing exercise a few times.

Which breathing exercise is your favorite?

Until next time!


Asprey, Dave. Talking Dirty about Spiritual Plants and Microbial Biodiversity. Accessed 17 Aug. 2019.

Cowan, Thomas S, et al. The Fourfold Path to Healing : Working with the Laws of Nutrition, Therapeutics, Movement and Meditation in the Art of Medicine. Washington D.C., Newtrends Pub, 2004, pp. 50–3.

Greenfield, Ben. Boundless : Upgrade Your Brain, Optimize Your Body & Defy Aging. Las Vegas, Victory Belt Publishing Inc, 2020, p. 49.

Lipman, MD, Frank. “6 Keys to a Happy and Healthy Life.” Experience Life, July 2018, pp. 68–9.

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Doing Away with Nutrient-poor Foods 

Once we decide to do away with processed foods and the traditional nutrient-poor foods found in most supermarkets, the amount of money we are going to spend on food is probably going to increase a bit. The next time you are looking at the low price tags on some processed foods, keep in mind that they are cheap because many of them are just a mixture of inexpensive fat, sugar, flour, and salt with barely any nutrients. On the other hand, when we consume real nutrient-dense foods, these will keep us satiated for a long period of time. We won’t feel the need to constantly have snacks throughout the day. Although at first it may seem you will be spending more when trying to eat cleaner, applying some of these simple strategies below will help to eat healthy on a budget.

Strategies to Eat Healthy on a Budget

Here are a few of these strategies, as described in The Wild Diet, by Abel James:

  • Buy in bulk and cook large meals ahead of time.
  • Shop at a food co-op (member-owned “cooperative”).
  • Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm.
  • Shop at farmers’ markets.
  • Look into volunteering at local farms.
  • Grow your own garden.

There is also what is called “cowpooling.” This is when you decide to buy with your friends a whole butchered cow at a local farm, each one of you getting a section of it.

To locate where you can buy meat and produce in your area, you can check,,, and

Online, Thrive Market is an awesome option to buy low-cost paleo and keto products.

In Summary

Eating healthy on a budget doesn’t have to cost a fortune. It is also important to keep in mind that eating nutrient-dense foods will most likely save you some money down the road by providing better overall health in the many years to come than would the traditional processed foods. Knowing that we are all unique individuals with specific requirements and sensitivities, as always, see which foods work for you and buy accordingly.

Until next time!


James, Abel. The Wild Diet:  Go Beyond Paleo to Burn Fat, Beat Cravings, and Drop 20 Pounds in 40 Days. New York, Penguin Random House, 19 Jan. 2016, pp. 300-301.

Sisson, Mark. The Primal Blueprint : 21-Day Total Body Transformation. Oxnard, Ca, Primal Blueprint Publishing, 2016, pp. 94-96.

You can also find me on Instagram.

No Recipe Needed

Have you ever tried cooking without a recipe? If you want a simple primal meal or snack, just putting a few ingredients together is all you have to do. Once your kitchen has the basic paleo/keto non-perishables, getting in-season vegetables and a few cuts of well-sourced meat is all you’ll need. These simple meals can be such a help at times!

How to Cook Without a Recipe

The following meal/snack ideas are mentioned in the Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals, by Mark Sisson and Jennifer Meier:

  • A big salad: just mix together some green leafy vegetables with a few other pre-cut vegetables and a protein of your choice (a dinner leftover, a couple of hard-boiled eggs, a can of sardines, or a handful of nuts, for example). Add your favorite primal-friendly dressing (homemade or not).
  • Stuffed avocados: cut an avocado in half, remove the pit, and put a mashed hard-boiled egg in the center of it. Feel free to drizzle some bacon bits on top.
  • Nut butter, homemade or in a jar, is a great dip for veggies and fruits (also mentioned in my article, 12 “On-the-go” Healthy Snack Options).
  • Lettuce wrap: on a Romaine lettuce leaf, add bits of leftover meat, cut-up tomato, and avocado, for instance, with some mayonnaise. Fold the leaf over the filling tightly.
  • Omelet or frittata: add to the beaten eggs any leftover you have on hand, meat and/or vegetables, and cook in the pan.
  • Coconut soup: bring to a boil some chicken stock and coconut milk (about the same amount of each). Add to the mixture some spinach and shrimps. Cook gently 2-3 minutes.
  • Smoothies: these can be very simple too by blending together 2 or 3 ingredients of your choice. For example, you can have some coconut milk with frozen berries. Another idea is blending ice, cucumber, avocado, and tomato. There are tons of possibilities here!

In Summary

Simple primal meals and snacks take no time to put together. With a little bit of imagination, you can have delicious meals done in just a few minutes. This is one way to tap into your creativity as well. There are many delicious primal recipes to choose from, but it is also nice to know that you can eat primal even when you are in a big rush. One less thing to stress about!

Until next time!


Sisson, Mark, and Jennifer Meier. Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals : Delicious, Primal-Approved Meals You Can Make in under 30 Minutes. Oxnard, Primal Blueprint Publishing, 2018, pp. xx–xxi.

You can also find me on Instagram.

Be Patient with Yourself

Have you ever decided to start a new exercise regimen just to see the whole thing fall apart just a few days after? Oftentimes we want to take on way too much, way too soon. It is normal that when we want to start something new we are excited about it, and therefore we want to make a big change right away. But building new habits and getting rid of old ones is a process that takes time. As mentioned in a previous post, author Dr. Kyra Bobinet explains in her book, Well Designed Life, “As the new behavior is practiced more and more, the neural connections underlying that behavior get stronger and stronger. It is like wearing a rough footpath through repeated use, and then once established, paving that road (i.e., adding myelin to neural networks) to make it faster. Eventually there are two neural pathways that are of equal strength—the old habit and the new one—and you can imagine two highways that you could choose from. When we hit this point, the new behavior is as good an option (and equally likely to occur) as the old default behavior.” Building a new habit requires patience, dedication, and consistency.

The “Two-Minute Rule”

In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear mentions the Two-Minute Rule, which means: “When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do.” By starting something new that takes only a couple of minutes, there is very little chance of failing. James Clear gives five examples:

  • “Read before bed each night” becomes “Read one page.”
  • “Do thirty minutes of yoga” becomes “Take out my yoga mat.”
  • “Study for class” becomes “Open my notes.”
  • “Fold the laundry” becomes “Fold one pair of socks.”
  • “Run three miles” becomes “Tie my running shoes.”

James Clear adds that “The point is to master the habit of showing up.” Of course you want to end up building on those two minutes. But if it is really just two minutes at first, that’s fine too. For example, if you want to start meditating, meditating for two minutes is an okay start. The new habit that you want to implement should not feel like a challenge.

In Summary

To build a new habit for good, you want to take steps that are easy to implement on a regular basis. As explained in Atomic Habits, opening your notes can lead to studying for ten minutes, to maybe studying for three hours, to getting better grades, to getting your degree. Doing a few stretches throughout the day, as I do, even if you don’t have the time for a complete workout, is just enough to keep strengthening the right mindset. You are building a new habit, but also a new identity, the one of someone who keeps showing up. It’s all about taking small steps easy for you to repeat every day. Once the habit is established, you can build on this new foundation and reinforce it even more for the better!

Until next time!


Bobinet, Kyra. Well Designed Life : 10 Lessons in Brain Science & Design Thinking for a Mindful, Healthy, & Purposeful Life. Walnut Creek, California, Engagedin Press, 2015, pp. 295–96.

Clear, James. Atomic Habits : Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results : An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. New York, Avery, An Imprint Of Penguin Random House, 2018, pp. 162–67.

You can also find me on Instagram.