Manage Your Anxiety and Celebrate Your Successes With 5 Sun Salutations a Day

Benefits of Yoga Sun Salutations

I have been practicing Yoga on and off since I was 12 years old. The practice comes to me when I am in periods of transition and growth. It helps me to align my mind, body, and breath in a way that reduces my anxiety and connects me to my higher self.

The Power of 5 Sun Salutations

During one particular time of growth, I was feeling very challenged. There were great things happening in my life but I had gained more weight than I liked and let go of many of the self care habits that I had cultivated previously. My anxiety was high, I felt depleted and was not sure how I was going to sustain myself emotionally long term.

Benefits of Yoga Sun Salutations

I needed a change in my life so I began by doing five Sun Salutations a day (with each movement you take a breath in and then for the next movement breathe out). This exercise took me less than ten minutes every morning, yet the results I felt in my body and mind were ten-fold. My mind was calmer, my anxiety was reduced, and I felt the muscle tone coming back in my arms and legs.

As the days turned into weeks I became stronger and added additional yoga stretches to my morning practice. Then as the weeks turned into months I was taking a weekly yoga class, going for long walks, and even started swimming again. Nearly a year to the day that I started my five sun salutations a day, I have an almost daily yoga practice and have enrolled in a yoga teacher training. My anxiety is gone, my mind is clear, and I’m better able to balance the parts of my life that had been at odds before.

A Miami Girl Explores New Sights and Sounds in South Florida

2017 Chevy Malibu Exploring South Florida

I’ve lived in Miami for the past 18 years so I pretty much consider myself a native at this point, but there’s still so much I’ve yet to discover in this beautiful city. I had the opportunity to team up with Chevrolet and drive the 2017 Chevy Malibu Hybrid to finally explore all the gems South Florida has to offer.

2017 Chevy Malibu Exploring South FloridaAs soon as I hopped in the sedan it felt just as spacious as an SUV. I was stunned by the gorgeous attention to detail; this mid-sized car felt completely luxurious. Plus the car comes with it’s own Wi-Fi hotspot, allowing me to stay in contact with everyone while I was on the road.

I hit the road early in the afternoon on a Wednesday and went straight to a salsa concert at Ball and Chain, a traditional bar that has existed since 1935 located in Calle Ocho, known as well “Little Havana.” The concert was so much fun. Before the night was over I devoured a Cuban Ropa Vieja meal and a strawberry ice cream dessert. So good!

How This Latina Found a Way to Travel the World and Make a Living

Olga HipLatina DreamsinHeels

If you don’t always think of tech and travel going hand in hand, think again. I chatted with Olga Maria, HipLatina contributor and founder of DreamsInHeels on how she’s become a maven in integrating the two fields. She’s currently back in New York after a nine month stint in Europe and will be speaking at the #UnstoppableLatinas conference on March 27, 2017 sponsored by Web City Girls at Baruch College of the City University of New York. The conference features savvy Latinas like Olga who have made their mark in media and technology. Here’s what Olga had to say about the conference, her latest travels, and what it’s like to be a digital nomad.

Unstoppable Latinas Conference with Olga

Photo Credit Web City Girls Facebook

For the #UnstoppableLatinas Conference, you’ll be on the Unite & Conquer Panel which focuses on collaboration to grow and succeed. What made you want to participate in this panel—and without giving away too much, what’s the key to success through collaboration?

Olga Maria: I’m so excited that Lynn Ponder invited me to speak at the conference! I’m a big believer in collaborating with others to succeed. I think as women especially we’re more powerful together as allies. A lot of women get torn apart with jealousy or other fears. They don’t always trust other women around them. I believe that you need to compete with yourself to become better, not compete with others.

Not only as a panel speaker but also as a participant, what do you most hope to gain from the conference?

OM: I think this conference is not only about uniting women, but also about collaboration methods, learning about personal development, and learning tips on entrepreneurship. And technology! The women organizing the conference are innovators and tech people. They’re really trending in the market. There will be tons of advice to not just get started in this industry but also to learn to grow if you’re already working in this space.

I think this is everyone’s burning question– how did you make the transition from the cubicle to digital nomad and founding DreamsInHeels?

OM: It takes a lot of things, but what’s most important is positioning yourself in a specific niche. Once you find that niche you can use your skills to provide value to others and find different sources of income. That’s the key. When you’re a freelancer, or entrepreneur, or any kind of digital nomad you want to have that flexibility.

What’s your advice for those who have had doubts about leaving the office job behind?

OM: You just have to take a leap of faith! If you don’t visualize what you really want and embrace your dreams, they’ll never become a reality. You sometimes just have to go for it. Like my favorite writer Paulo Coelho says, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” I’m a big believer in this quote and I think I’m a manifestation of it. I left Puerto Rico for New York by myself without speaking English when I was only 18. Then I took another leap of faith when I started in the travel industry with DreamsInHeels. And again when I skipped my flight nine months ago, stayed in Germany, and now live between there and New York!

Olga of DreamsinHeels in Turkey


Is there a place you’ve been that really pushed you out of your comfort zone?

OM: It’s hard to say because there are many! But I would say it was my last trip through the Balkans —Romania, Bulgaria, Eastern Europe. I randomly ended up going to Turkey also. That changed my life and pushed me out of my comfort zone. It taught me that you can’t live in fear and that there are good people in every corner of the world. Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone and you can’t let the media or others scare you. If I had listened to what other people told me, I wouldn’t have gone. But my dream was always to go to Turkey. I planned to go for ten days but ended up staying there for two months. I learned a lot, not only about them but also about me. The locals made Turkey so special.

Olga of DreamsInHeels LatinasWhoTravel

What’s next for you after the conference?

I’m actually going to Cuba later this month! My father is from Havana, but I wasn’t raised with him and found him through a private detective a few months before I turned 19. I’m going to re-connect with my father and his roots to learn about how he escaped from Cuba in 1969.

I also just launched a top line for LatinasWhoTravel—another community and movement that I founded. The day after the #UnstoppableLatinas Conference I’m speaking at New Rochelle High School to over 400 students. I’m starting a travel fund through the top line which will support a Latina student to be able to go abroad every year who otherwise couldn’t afford it. I’m very excited to make the dreams of a younger girl a reality.

You can keep up with Olga and see all her adventures by following her on her social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Join Olga’s LatinasWhoTravel group on Facebook. Don’t be afraid to ask for travel advice, plan meet ups, or provide your own travel tips! In your travels use the #LatinasWhoTravel in your photos and Olga will share!

Don’t forget to get your tickets to the #UnstoppableLatinas Conference here. Web City Girls will be live streaming the conference from their Facebook page on Monday, March 27. Olga’s panel is at 2:30. At noon, she’ll be interviewing lifestyle trend expert Mercedes Sanchez about career styling tips from JCPenney. You won’t want to miss it!

Selena: Jennifer Lopez Brought the Iconic Texan Singer to the Big Screen 20 Years Ago

Selena Jennifer Lopez 20 Year Anniversary

Do you remember the first time you saw Selena? I do, like it was yesterday. I was so excited to see a film starring a Latina that I practically RAN to the theater. I knew who Selena Quintanilla Perez was, of course, but I learned so much more about the iconic Texan singer through watching the film. Previously, I only knew a few of her bigger radio hits and as a Puerto Rican growing up in the Northeast, I wasn’t aware of how huge Tejano music was across the Southwest or what a trailblazer Selena was until I saw the film.

Selena has continued to hold a monumental place in pop culture for Latinas here in the U.S.A. Not only because her music was fantastic, but also because she was a woman who took charge of her own life and her own image. She made it because she decided to do things her way, not in spite of it. Everything from her skintight, sparkly jumpsuits to her dramatic deep red lips made a lasting impact on the way we see ourselves. That’s why MAC released an entire makeup line dedicated to her memory and why there are little girls still asking to celebrate their birthdays with a Selena theme.

But Selena also managed to launch the career of another Latina, Jennifer Lopez. Her performance in the musical biopic was critically acclaimed and even earned her a Golden Globe nomination. Did you know that Jennifer Lopez was the first Latina to get paid one million dollars for a film role? Because of the film, she landed her first magazine covers and eventually became one of the most powerful singers, actresses and producers in Hollywood. As a matter of fact, it was because of this very role that Lopez decided to pursue a career in music and she recorded her first album shortly after wrapping Selena.

All because of one trailblazing Mexican American woman who wouldn’t take no for an answer. March 31 marks 22 years since Selena Quintanilla Perez was brutally shot and killed and this week marks 20 years since the release of the film, but no matter how much time passes, Selena’s legacy will never be forgotten.


Meet Funny Woman Aida Rodriguez: The Inspirational Guru You Need in Your Life

Aida Rodriguez comedian HipLatina

When you speak with Aida Rodriguez, it’s easy to understand why she earned her place on the eighth season of Last Comic Standing: she’s funny as hell.  In this close-up interview, Latinas will be inspired by the challenges this Puerto Rican, Dominican woman has faced and the obstacles she had to overcome to realize her dreams.

HipLatina: What experiences shaped your life the most? And who?

Aida Rodriguez stand up comedian HipLatina  AR: I grew up in Allapattah, Florida, a segregated community in Miami. I know what it’s like to live in an institutionalized system of crime, poverty, and illiteracy. If you get out of that system, you’re the exception. If it wasn’t for my community, my people – what others called the societal derelicts, drug addicts, and prostitutes – I wouldn’t have gone to Florida State University. They helped me get shoes and books. They helped to push me over the wall and get out. Every move I make now is with them in mind, to throw the rope back.

My grandmother was the matriarch in my family. My mother had me when she was really young and I grew up with five uncles. Only one of them went on to become a soldier and get an education. When I told them I wanted to be a stand-up comedian, they supported me because we were all influenced by my Cuban stepfather who exposed us to Cuban comedians. But when I told my mom what I wanted to be when I grew up, she said, “That’s not for girls.” And I’d say, “Well, Lucy Arnaz is doing it, why can’t I?” Even today, it’s still foreign to my mom, but when she sees one of my shows, she realizes, oh, this is real.

HipLatina: What are your most powerful inner qualities?

AR: I never look up or down at people. I don’t allow anyone to feel less than. We’re all on the same plane. I also never felt embarrassed if I didn’t have the things others had.

Reading has always been my outlet that I could get out, do what was possible, and think for myself. I learned the importance of critical thinking. That’s where my self-esteem came from. They told me that I was smart. The value of education is strong and powerful. I walked away knowing this.

HipLatina: What advice would you give aspiring young Latina comedians and actresses?

AR: There’s no rhyme or reason to success in this line of work. With the internet, TV, social media – there’s no formula to this anymore. With stand-up comedy, you cannot fool people for an hour. With true art, there is no cheating. If you really want to be a comedian or an actress, you have to love it. It’s going to hurt. It’s going to be torture, but if you love it, it will give back. You have to show up 100 percent.

HipLatina: Who is your mentor? Hero? AR: Mohammad Ali. I had lunch with him and I was worried that my fantasy of him wouldn’t meet reality, but my time with him exceeded my expectations. He was everything I aspire to be. He took what he loved to do and became a humanitarian. He was a social justice warrior. He’d go into the heart of Africa and visit impoverished children and showed them what was possible.

HipLatina: What’s Your Mantra?

AR: The universe agrees with a made-up mind. It’s a metaphysical principle. The programming of the subconscious mind either works for you or against you. I go out and teach this accepted belief to influence how people think.

HipLatina: What would you like to say to your Latina community?

AR: We’ve got to keep supporting our own. Creating a way for one another. There’s room for everyone. We’ve got to stop feeling threatened by other’s successes. We know how to support each other in time of struggle or tragedy; that we’ve got down. But what we have to learn to support each other when we’re in front of a crowd.

When Aida’s not busy traveling the country doing her stand-up comedy acts, she’s home in Los Angeles, writing her memoir.

Monica Dashwood is a freelance and blog writer.

Understanding Autism: Past, Present, and Future

Young Kids Origins of Autism

Sesame Street recently introduced it’s newest muppet, Julia, a four-year-old with autism. The news was met with praise and seen as another step in improving awareness around autism, however, little is still known about the disorder.

The origin of autism is a question that has been around for more than 100 years. Back in 1908, it was first described as a severe type of schizophrenia, which they called autism. It is widely believed that Dr. Leo Kanner came up with the first descriptions of children with typical autism behavior in 1943. By the 1960s, Dr. Bruno Bettleheim along with Dr. Kanner assumed the condition was caused by parent’s neglect and frigid mothers, leading to a troubling time period for parents accused of causing the condition.

Fortunately for these accused parents, psychologist Dr. Bernard Rimland, strongly disagreed with this targeted assumption. Dr. Rimland, the father of an autistic child, started to investigate the causes of the condition and subsequently went on to found the Autism Research Institute.

Until the 1980s, autism was thought to be a behavioral problem not a medical condition. Now an autistic diagnosis is made if the patient presents exhibits problems in socialization, speech, and involuntary movements. It is categorized depending on severity from I to III. Other considerations like intellectual disability and genetic syndromes are added.

The incidence of autism has skyrocketed in the last 30 years. In the 1960s, 1 in 2500 persons had autism; now 1 in 45 in the United States with updated numbers expected soon. The increase has puzzled scientists from all around the world and hundreds of studies are published every year looking for the cause and treatment. A 25-fold increase in 50 years should alarm us all and if it continues, it is expected that 1 in 2 children will be on the autistic spectrum by 2025.

Although medical professionals acknowledge increased awareness and earlier diagnosis are contributing factors to the incidence increasing, it does not explain the exponential increase. More and more studies support the theory that it is associated to environmental factors like increases in exposure to toxins, genetically modified food, and food that has less nutrients. Despite the many theories about the cause of autism, a single one has not been established.

In my experience and after treating thousands of children and adults with autism, I suspect the following: autism is a genetic problem that causes the body to have problems with detoxification, which leads to an abnormal response on the immunologic and metabolic system. This response affects the production of energy at the cellular level (Krebs cycle), causing an inflammatory response that affects multiple systems including, the gastrointestinal system (neurotransmitters, nutrient absorption, Dysbiosis, Leaky Gut Syndrome, etc.), neurological system (astroglia inflammation, neurons communication, brain development in general, etc.), and problems with thyroid and glucose.

Treatment can be challenging because it is based on the way our body metabolizes or breaks down chemicals. We have trillions of chemical reactions in our body that are run by proteins that are dependent on our genes. We do not have genetic testing yet that has a high yield in demonstrating where is the specific problem, so it is very hard to determine the perfect treatment.

From my experience, the best results in treatment are going to be achieved by being able to identify the medical problems utilizing the tools we have available at the present day. After identification, a patient can  start an aggressive protocol of individualized neuro-stimulation.

If treated appropriately, the patient can improve significantly to the point that symptoms regress. It is very important to understand that what works in one patient with autism does not necessarily work in another. The key to success for all patients is a team approach – knowledgeable, experienced professionals teamed with persistent and organized parents or caregivers.

You can find Dr. Baez Franceschi on her weekly Facebook Live event.

This information is for informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

A 30-Year-Old Gets Real About Living on a Budget in the Bay Area

working woman living on a budget

In our “Let’s Talk Money” series, we ask respondents from all walks of life the same set of raw money questions. The answers reveal intimate details of their financial lives.

Talking about money is one of the longest held taboo subjects in our culture. With this weekly series, we open people’s wallets (and with them fears, hopes, and closely held beliefs). We don’t approach this with a certain outcome in mind—we just want to open doors and find out if money is taboo for good reason, or if remaining quiet is keeping us all down. We hope you’ll join us in considering this question: Is it time to reimagine polite society when it comes to money?

To participate in this series, please email us at

From Amanda, Age 30

Location: East Bay, San Francisco Area

HipLatina:  How do you make your living?

Amanda:  I am a paralegal and commute daily to San Francisco’s financial district.

HL: How worried are you about money? How do thoughts of money affect your life?

A: I am always worried about money, as I still live paycheck-to-paycheck. Due to my lack of money, I have to constantly be planning what I can and can’t do. Something as silly as wanting to try a “weight loss meal plan” I found on Pinterest is complicated—I have to figure out how much it would cost and see if I can afford it.

HL: How do you spend your money? How would you describe your level of debt?

A: I have this down to a science, actually. I spend about 40% of my monthly take-home on rent. My largest monthly expenses after rent are $200 to commute to work, $300 on car payments, $500 for food (which includes morning coffees and work lunches). I even have a budget for irresponsible spending ($300) for things like going to the movies or buying a video game. I am currently only in debt for the car I never use.

HL: How would you describe your credit score? How does your credit score affect your life (for good or for bad)?

A: I checked my credit score about five months ago and it was around 750. This doesn’t really affect me now as I haven’t been looking for a loan.

HL: What regrets do you have about money–decisions you’ve made, actions you’ve taken, or not taken? Have you changed anything because of these regrets?

A: I regret spending $10,000 on the KAPLAN program to help me pass the LSATs. Long story short, I had a good enough score to get into law school but my credit score was too low to get any loans at that time and a relative who promised to help backed out. This taught me that if I want something I need to be able to do it myself and not rely on others. It sounds negative but this belief only applies to money.

HL: How do your parents talk about money–with each other, with you? How is money handled in your family? 

A: I have only the one parental unit. In the past, we never really talked about it but over the last two years it has been a normal topic for us. My mom makes three times as much as I do but still seems to struggle. She only recently started a 401k which shocked me since it means we both started our first 401k’s around the same time. I just can’t imagine making that kind of money and having issues.

HL: Are you in a relationship? If so, how much money does your partner make? How do you handle money issues in your relationship?

A: I am! He makes about $30k more than me. The current setup is that we each still maintain separate checking accounts but share a small savings account. Everything was split pretty much down the middle until we moved to Alameda, CA. Now with my added commute costs and his now being nonexistent, he pays $200 more in rent to balance my $200 more for taking the ferry. I pay for our car insurance and internet. He pays for the utilities. We trade off on groceries. The one issue that I always bring up is when it comes to going out. My small budget limits me greatly so I feel obligated to remind him that if he really wants to go, say, to the movies again, I can’t afford to go, so we can either stay in, he can go with friends, or, and this is usually what happens, he buys my ticket.

HL: Do you have children? 

A:  No. I do not plan on having children.

HL: Do you have friends in different economic situations? How do you make social decisions with friends who have different incomes?

A: Yes. We have two couples on opposite spectrums. Let’s call them JK and IC. JK has plenty of money and can buy anything they want whenever they want. IC has one partner working two jobs while the other was fired and went back to school. Luckily for all of us, the things we most like to do are basically free.

HL: How does your financial life differ from others in your life, such as friends, family, or neighbors?

A:  With my friends, I would say there are three categories: those with plenty of their own money, those like me, and those who have parental assistance. All of my friends who own a home had help from their parents.

HL: If you had more money, what would you do with it?

A: I would finally buy my own place! I have never lived in the same place for very long. My mom has been divorced five times and she never kept anything. She was more of a run-and-start-over kind of person. Then, when I moved out, I became a renter. My dream is to find a place and stay there! No more moving around, no more worrying about rent hikes or being asked to move out. I am over it!

Bogotá: 6 Ways to Enjoy the Outdoors in a City of 8 Million

Bogota - El Candelario

With a population of over eight million, and one of the highest population densities of any city in South America, Bogotá might not be the first place to come to mind when you want to enjoy the outdoors. But since it’s “on the cusp of becoming the hottest city in South America,” and a Forbes top 12 destination of 2017, we wanted to show you that it has something for both the urban explorer and the outdoors lover. You may need to cross off a sprawling green backyard from your Airbnb wishlist, but that should be the only House Hunters style compromise that you’ll have to make.

I recently headed down to the Colombian capital for some “field research.” I learned that despite the eight plus million people packed into the city, there were countless opportunities to explore the outdoors full of friendly bogotanos.

Parque Nacional Enrique Olaya Herrera

Parque Nacional Enrique Olaya Herrara in Bogota

Photo Credit: Panoramio

This park makes a great stop to unwind and relax after a day of sightseeing in colorful colonial La Candelaria. Head north on Carrera 7 after making stops at the must see Museo del Oro and Museo Nacional. Once you get to Calle 36, the park opens up toward your right. It’s a great stop for a sunset picnic or to just sit and chat with your friends after being on your feet all day. If you time it right, you can catch a show at the theater inside the park.