Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Summer Lovin' - Zen Girl Health + Beauty Faves

Summer has arrived! Long days, late sunsets, tan lines, good times. It's truly my favorite time of year! Here are my top 3 health + beauty favorites that I'm currently summer crushing on. Each are designed to highlight your natural beauty and bring out your most vibrant self during this spectacular, sun-drenched season. 

1 -- Summer Skin Care -- TruSelf Organics.

I found an amazing face mask that is an all-natural, organic way to fight blemishes: the Detoxifying Facial Mask by a Michigan-based yogi/mama/entrepreneur. The ingredients are simple, straightforward and from the Earth. My skin loved how it felt as the mask went from cool and wet to a thick, nourishing clay. It was like a green smoothie for my skin! 

2 -- Organic Nail Polish -- Madam Glam.

Their polishes are all 5-free, Cruelty-Free and VeganWhat does this mean? Cruelty-Free means that they never test on animals. Vegan means that the polish does not contain any animal ingredients. Never. 5-Free means that all their nail polishes are made without the five sketchiest ingredients linked to toxicity. That meants they're free of formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and toluene - plus formaldehyde resin and camphor, too. So safer and more healthy for your nails...and for you! My favorite Madam Glam colors are the classic "So Nude" and the mermaid-inspired turquoise shade called "Like a Dream"

3 -- Eco Conscious Yoga Apparel -- Balini Sports.

Having owned a yoga clothing company myself in a past life, I personally know how hard it is to manufacture in the US and the extra costs involved with using environmentally friendly materials. When I notice a yoga apparel brand that supports keeping jobs in the US and making sustainable products with minimal waste, I am 100% on board. Balini Sports is creating some really fun designs and shaking up the yoga clothing world with its popular prints and breathable fabrics. My favorite Balini swag is their Yogini Yoga Capris, which I've been living in for the past two months.

Thanks to my friends over at Balini Sports, I'm giving away a $50 Gift Card to one of my readers. 

Winner will be announced Friday morning, July 17th. Be sure to include your instagram name and/or email address so I can contact the winner. Good Luck! Happy Summer 2015!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 6, 2015

Zen Girl's Guide to La Jolla -- California's Jewel by the Sea

This month marks my 6th year anniversary of living in beautiful La Jolla, California. It didn't take much to lure me to this idyllically charming beach town nestled inside of the vibrant city of San Diego. While year after year, La Jolla maintains its status as one of the top food and luxury travel destinations in the world, it still retains its Old World charm. There's an air of 1960s surf culture that co-mingles gracefully with European sophistication. Having grown up in Italy, life now in La Jolla is warmly nostalgic of residing near the Amalfi Coast, where the days revolve around the sea and neighbors gather at sunset to marvel at the natural cinema occurring right before their eyes. Many a sunset gatherings end with a roaring applause. From Bird Rock to the Village to the Shores, the entire town is almost fully walk-able, from beginning to end. Unequivocally, my favorite part of La Jolla is the ability to be outdoors, highly active, and near the ocean, at all times, earning it the much-deserved nickname "The Jewel by the Sea".

Complimenting its natural beauty, La Jolla is abundant with some of the best dining experiences in the world. Farm to Table and Sea to Table are not simply buzz words here -- they are industry standard. In a town where most residents are very physically active and health conscious, restaurants respond and ensure that ingredients are locally and humanely sourced, with a consistent emphasis on seasonal pairings. From your morning coffee or green juice to a perfect date night out, here are my top picks for the best of the best in California's Jewel by the Sea:

  •  Morning Coffee -- BIRD ROCK COFFEE ROASTERS -- Arguably the best coffee in San Diego, BRCC serves up some of the most delicious brews that keep customers returning day after day. They source from all over Central America and Africa, bringing home the best coffee beans in the world to satisfy the picky palettes of La Jolla's residents. Their cozy coffee shop is a popular morning hangout, where seats get snatched up quickly, so come early, stay for a while and get to know the inner workings of this town in one of its cutest little local hideouts.
  • Green Juice -- FARM TO FORK JUICE -- 100% organic, cold-pressed juice bottled every morning, grab and go style. I personally know the owners and they have the highest standards for produce and select only the best, most nutrient-dense ingredients. With their recently opened 2nd location in the Village, you can get your healthy morning fix while cruising through town or at their headquarters in Bird Rock. Perfect for the yogi on the go!

  • Brunch -- MUSEUM CAFE -- My favorite Sunday brunch spot! This adorable cafe is located in the garden of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and is just a short stroll from the beach. Chef Giuseppe Ciuffa carefully curates a seasonal menu, which has a wide variety of options that is sure to please everyone at the table, from classic egg scrambles and huevos rancheros to bountiful summer salads and hearty burgers. My personal favorite is the butternut squash panini that makes an appearance on the menu every winter. In addition to the Museum Cafe, Chef Giuseppe also has another restaurant in La Jolla Shores called Caroline's Seaside Cafe, with possibly the best view in town! (pictured below)

  • Lunch -- PUESTO -- located at 1026 Wall Street, in the heart of the Village, Puesto serves up the best vegetarian tacos I've ever eaten in my life! Inspired by the indigenous cuisine of Oaxaca, deep in the south west of  Mexico, it features a mix of cactus, zucchini, roasted corn and avocado topped with crispy melted cheese -- to die for! In fact, I'm going to take a break from writing this article and go grab one right now! Back soon . . . .

  • Casual Dinner -- EL PESCADOR FISH MARKET -- The sun just set and you're in the mood for something on the lighter side, Pescador is the way to go! From their famous fish tacos, to their fish sandwiches (get the yellowtail, add avocado) to their classic house salad topped with the grilled-up fish of your choice, there is no bad option on the menu. Everything is extremely fresh and sustainably sourced. Pescador is without question my #1 spot to take our out-of-town guests when they pass through La Jolla.

  • Fine Dining -- CATANIA -- The newest, most highly anticipated addition to the La Jolla luxury dining scene, Catania is the latest brain child of the Whisknladle Hospitality Group, who brought Whisknladle and Prepkitchen to town a few years ago. Featuring "coastal Italian cuisine", one can expect lots of fresh seafood, handmade pastas and pizzas made over their in-house wood fire oven. My personal favorite is the Black Squid Ink and Octopus Spaghetti paired with a glass of their homemade Limoncello on the rocks.

    photo by San Diego Magazine 

  • Dinner & Dancing -- Manhattan of La Jolla -- This is my absolute favorite local date night spot! Located inside of the Empress Hotel on Fay Avenue in the Village, it's pretty tucked away and definitely not a tourist trap. Stepping into the Manhattan, you feel as if you just time-traveled back to the 1960s Rat Pack era of old-school class and charisma. The pianist channels his inner Frank Sinatra and serenades the crowd with all the classics, as well as mixes in a few pop cultures favorites here and there. Put on a slinky dress and heels and be prepared to dance the night away!
Aside from food and drinks, La Jolla has some other amazing things to offer too! 
  • Best Beach -- Windansea Beach
  • Best Yoga Studio -- Prana Yoga Center La Jolla
    full disclosure: I teach there Monday nights, come join me for a class! :)
  • Best Wedding Ceremony Venue -- under 50 people: The Wedding Bowl
    Over 50 people: Ellen Browning Scripps Park
  • Best Wedding Reception Venue -- La Valencia Hotel
  • Best View -- walk to the top of Mount Soledad, 360 degrees of all of the Jewel
I'll leave you with this -- a classic La Jolla Cove sunset, no reservation needed.

Hope to see you here soon!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Woman Poetry -- this Saturday!

"Sometimes -- you’ll just be too much woman. Too smart, Too strong. Too much of something that makes a man feel like less of a man, which will start making you feel like you have to be less of a woman. The biggest mistake you can make is removing jewels from your crown to make it easier for a man to carry. When this happens, I need you to understand, you do not need a smaller crown— You need a man with bigger hands."  - Michael Reid

Woman Poetry is an incredibly healing experience. Woman Poetry is an opportunity to practice radical self-love. It is a chance to release, shed and surrender the negative emotions we hold onto. As women, we have immense intuitive and healing abilities to positively uplift and nourish ourselves and those around us. Unfortunately, more often that not, we stand in our own way. We hold onto past pain, heartbreak, regret, disappointments and most of all -- fear. We cling to these emotions and allow them to grow inside our bodies and minds. This manifests as digestive issues, stubborn belly fat, tightness in the shoulders, hips and low back -- and that's just on a physical level. Energetically, we can feel stuck, stagnant, and uncomfortable. Life is not meant to be lived this way! The sooner we acknowledge these emotions and move through them, we create the space for NEW energy to arise. Positive, uplifting energy to nourish ourselves and others. The ultimate freedom. All of us deserve to feel FREE.

Woman Poetry: 
a night of self love 
and female empowerment 

Saturday June 27th
5pm at Bird Rock Yoga in San Diego
hosted by - Mandy Burstein & Jade Alectra
tickets --

Two hour "woman poetry" flow with guided savasana meditation and goddess circle, followed by a beach fire ceremony to release even more. Pricing $30; all are welcome; only a few spots left!

I am SO happy to be hosting the 2nd Woman Poetry event with Jade Alectra. Jade is an amazing goddess that has been through so much, which has sparked this spiritual journey to heal herself through words, breath and movement. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Zen Bride

She is present ~ She is active ~ She is alive

With vibrant, magnetic energy, she manifests the life she wants to live. 

She is creative, connected, nourished and nourishing. She floats effortlessly between the spiritual and material worlds and recognizes the value in both. With the love of her life by her side, she is ready to embark on this new chapter with unshakable confidence in her heart and unlimited peace in her soul. 

THE ZEN BRIDE is an essence that every woman should feel on her wedding day. When I got married in 2010, I was in the middle of my yoga teacher training and used my new-found breathing and meditation practice to ensure that I had positive energy swirling all around me. I am on a mission to help women come into this space and have the stress-free wedding of their dreams. My friend Janalyn Yanover (of Horizon Light Photography) and I created the Zen Bride concept to encourage the wedding industry to take a big, giant exhale and remember the purpose of it all -- two people joining their lives together from a place of infinite love and respect. 

With our expertise as yoga teachers, spiritual guides, event planner and professional wedding photographer, we create an opportunity for the Bride to completely relax, focus on her breath, and become the most beautiful, radiant version of herself. 

We invite you to wander through our ZEN BRIDE photojournal -- a collection of images Janalyn captured of me channeling matrimonial bliss and having some fun with acro-yoga, stand-up paddleboard yoga and even trashing my dress in the Pacific Ocean! 

ZEN BRIDE Packages
Mandy Burstein, founder of Zen Girl
Janalyn Yanover, founder of Horizon Light Photography
based in San Diego, California; available for on-location travel

"I mean . . . I like yoga, but why should I include it in my wedding?!"  {This is Why}

  • Bachelorette Yoga Parties (in San Diego and Baja California, Mexico)
  • Bridal Party Goddess Circle (at bridal shower or during wedding weekend)
  • Pre-Wedding Yoga Class (day before and/or morning-of)
  • Morning-After Yoga Class (optional green juice & smoothie delivery)
  • Day-Of Coordinator (Mandy has 7+ years of event design & coordination)
  • Wedding Photographer/Videographer (Janalyn has 10+ years experience)

    MORE INFO -- 858-523-8650 or email me directly at

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

How to Stay Healthy on the Road: My Top 10 Travel Essentials

One of my all-time favorite quotes is this little gem by Einstein that goes: "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." I strongly believe that the same holds true for your travel style. If I had to put my wander-lusting Zen Girl twist on the old classic, it would go something like this -- "There are only two ways you can travel. One is unprepared, malnourished, flustered and hangry. The other is balanced, peaceful and always in the flow." Sometimes I'm the former, sometimes I'm the latter. More often than not, I try my hardest to embody the peaceful, centered traveling yoga girl spreading love and good vibes, versus the "0 to 100 real quick" crazy pants. That being said, if you ever catch me in an airport without my emergency supply of raw almonds, run. The word "hangry" doesn't even begin to scratch the surface. 

Travel has the tendency to bring out the worst in people. So much is out of our control and that causes lots of chaos. To be totally honest, I'm just plain tired of having hectic travel experiences. I've been on the road since 9 years old. I've spent many of Christmases in airports and it doesn't seem like the Universe it letting me change my travel game up. In fact, as I type this, I'm booked to fly 6 times in the next 6 weeks, logging over 18,000 miles between early June and mid-July. Out of pure necessity, I'm actively re-thinking and re-designing my travel style to ensure that I'm 100% in my super-zen-gypsy-soul flow from now on.

Here are my Top 10 Travel Essentials I will for sure be packing on every trip going forward -- 

  1. Your favorite tea -- purchasing premium tea on the road is expensive! Pack your own tea bags, most places will give you a free cup of hot water.
  2. Emergen-C and/or powered greens -- if you're used to drinking a green juice or smoothie everyday, you'll be heartbroken when all you can find is Minute Maid. Pack your own and stay healthy and hydrated. 
  3. Peppermint oil -- great for hangovers, rub a few drops between your palms, breathe deeply. 
  4. Arnica -- in gel or spray form, relaxes tight muscles. Apply before and after flights. My favorite is a spray bottle of arnica that also has MSM in it.
  5. Extra lotion -- planes are extremely drying, keep re-applying lotion to your hands, neck and joints throughout the day. My favorite to travel with is a thick lotion made of avocado oil, macadamia nut oil and lemongrass.
  6. Healthy snacks -- after an unexpectedly long layover in Mexico City where the only food option was carne asada tacos, I learned to never leave home without a good supply of healthy munchies. My favorite travel snack-pack includes: raw almonds, dark chocolate, dried mango and Rickaroons {a delicious gluten free snack packed full of superfoods}
  7. Your favorite scarf -- pack the perfect multi-functional scarf, one that can transform from keeping you warm on a plane to a bikini cover up to a beach blanket. 
  8. Big cozy socks -- even if you're going somewhere tropical, a pair of warm cozy socks will be a lifesaver when they turn up the AC on the plane or after a long night dancing in heels.
  9. DJ Drez and Trevor Hall -- these are my favorite yoga musicians that always put me into an immediate state of peace, even in a crowded airport terminal. Whoever yours are, make sure you download them from the Cloud ahead of time so you have access to your favorite tunes while off the grid. 
  10. Your journal and a new book -- long flights are the perfect time to reflect. Use the time away from technology on "airplane mode" to check in with your goals and intentions for the adventure. Mindless travel leaves you feeling unfulfilled (and oftentimes empty) when you return home. Wandering with a purpose helps you feel more balanced and more present for each new place you go and person you meet.
the view from above ~ flying home to San Diego is always a blessing!
literally squeezing in my yoga practice in a teeny tiny hotel room in Paris
stretching it out on the beaches of Miami after a long, uncomfortable red-eye flight

{Frequent Flyer Tip}
 as soon as you get to town, locate the nearest sushi restaurant. I was just visiting a small town in Connecticut and couldn't find a healthy snack to save my life. Our hotel was surrounded by steakhouses and diners and I was in desperate need of a big green salad. Luckily, there was one sushi spot in town, and where there's sushi, you can guarantee there will be avocado and at least a few veggies. The salads were so refreshing and exactly what I needed to stay balanced and healthy throughout my East Coast travels. I went there 3 days in a row!

What are your travel must-haves? Share in the comments section below!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sippin' on Zen and Juice: re-cap of my first 3 day cleanse

"So, you're gonna drink only green juice for three days straight? WHO DOES THAT to themselves?!" my sister inquired as I explained to her how excited I was to start my very first cleanse. Clearly, my idea of fun and her idea of fun were on completely different planets. Nevertheless, I was signed up, paid, and committed to this challenge. It was happening. No matter how crazy it seemed to the rest of the world, I was MORE than ready for a re-boot. It was the third week of April, everything was in full bloom all around me, but I felt lethargic. Heavy. Weighed down. I felt out of sync with nature and Zen Girl don't roll like that. Everything about the timing felt perfect and divine -- it was definitely time for change. 

Lucky for me, some of my very best girlfriends just opened a green juice bar in Mission Beach, San Diego at the beginning of April. Their green juice food truck, Juice Wave had a wildly successful first year providing our city with the freshest farm-to-cup juices and smoothies and it was time to expand. They asked me to be a part of their first 3 day cleanse with their staff to test the recipes and document the experience. 

Here's the inside scoop from my very first green juice cleanse experience --

3 days, 6 juices each day
Tuesday through ThursdayI loved this set-up so we could ease into Monday and then add the cleanse into our week. For me, would have been too intense to start on a Monday morning.
- My favorite parts of the cleanse
  • I didn't have to ever think about what to make/purchase for lunch or dinner = HUGE!
  • Delicious flavors, some of the best I've ever tasted. I never was not excited to open a bottle.
  • Each juice was intelligently formulated to help with your energy levels throughout the day (like lots of ginger in the morning juices and chia seeds in #3 for a mindful mid-day pick-me-up)
  • Ended each day with almond milk with lavender to fill you up and calm your belly before bed
  • You could literally taste the freshness -- all of Juice Wave's produce comes from San Diego's local farms, no further than 25 miles away, picked within a day or two, so you could literally feel the amazingly fresh prana (life force) inside of you. I never felt more alive! 
  • I had a huge amount of energy! Everyone I ran into commented on how "vibrant and glowing" I looked.

Here I am half way through the Day 2 feeling strong and free!

My thoughts toward the end of Day 2, when I had a work meeting at a pizzeria . . . 

Of course, there were a few "downsides" to the cleanse . . . 

Naturally, there were a few things that took some time getting used to. I could honestly drink green juice for breakfast and lunch and into the evening, pretty much most of the day, every day, I would be stoked to live on fresh organic produce in liquid form. Except at night. Nighttime is a different story. It was definitely weird having only liquids post-sunset. It helped that the last juice was actually a tummy-settling nut milk, but still weird. Equally strange was cooking my husband chicken tacos for dinner while I sipped my zen and juice. And declining happy hour and restaurant dinner invitations was definitely a bummer. But honestly -- it's only 72 hours of your life. And I would 100% do it again. In fact, going forward, I'll probably step it up and do the 5 day cleanse next to really give my digestive system a total re-boot. For now, I'm super proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and taking on this challenge. I hope you consider treating yourself to a detoxifying cleanse when your body asks for it. 

If you live in San Diego, I would highly recommend joining the next Juice Wave cleanse. Use the promotional code "ZENGIRL15" for 10% off any cleanse package. They offer 1, 2 or 3 day options -- more details here. The best part?? Your cleanse package includes a free health consultation with the most adorable Holistic Health Coach, Sarah Andersen. Sarah sends out pre and post cleanse emails with all the information you'll ever need, plus is available for additional support and guidance throughout the duration of your cleanse. I loved this perk, she was a huge help!

for more information and guidance
send an email, or call 240-246-5126
 Tell them Zen Girl Mandy sent you!

Friday, April 24, 2015

reflections in baja -- a full circle experience

The deeper I travel into my yoga practice and the further I push myself outside of my comfort zone to discover new parts of the world, while discovering new parts of my self, one thing becomes abundantly clear -- life is a full circle experience. We give, and we receive. One cannot occur without the other. Where we get ourselves into trouble from time to time, is when we give too much, without boundaries, and find ourselves depleted. On the flipside, taking too much without recycling that positive energy back into the world leaves us feeling imbalanced and incomplete. When we stay in the flow and honor the karmic circle of life, we feel energized, purposeful and complete. 

This past weekend in Baja, Mexico was just that -- a full circle experience. Positive energy, love, and purpose oozed from every corner of the Baja Yoga Soul Retreat. Every moment felt like I was doing exactly what I was put on this planet to do. Help people relax, unwind, breathe a little deeper, reconnect with themselves and nature, indulge, and then of course, complete the karmic circle by paying it forward. I felt honored to lead this trip, alongside my partner Amar Harrag, in benefit of a cause that is near and dear to our hearts -- Corazon de Vida Foundation. CDV overseas 13 orphanages in northern Baja, Mexico, one of which, Casa de Paz, is located in one of my favorite places in the world -- Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico's famous wine-producing region. Only a 45 minute drive from the coast, we created a unique experience where our retreat participants could wake up to the waves, practice yoga while gazing out at the ocean, then travel inland to explore the wine country and visit the beautiful children at Casa de Paz. A full circle experience, indeed. We give, we receive, we give, we receive . . . and the Universe smiles as we honor the intended flow of life. Here is a photojournal of our Baja Yoga Soul Retreat. I hope you join us on the next one!

valle de guadalupe ~ mexican wine country
thank you to our generous hosts Villa del Valle, Vena Cava, and Quinta Monasterio
for the delicious meal in the middle of your vineyard and VIP tour of your new spa, Viniphera.

karma yoga at casa de paz
this particular orphanage is set on a many acres of lush, fertile wine country land, so one of our key projects there is building organic greenhouses so they can live off the land and become completely sustainable. with wide open space to roam and sweet animals providing love and free therapy to the over 40 kids that live there, this home is becoming a healing sanctuary that I'm so proud to be a part of. {lesson learned:  piƱatas are always a good idea!}

thank you to Omar Araiza Photography for capturing theses stunning images of our yoga retreat.
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