Saturday night …

And all I can think about is whether or not I ate too much chicken soup and if it will affect my inversion practice tomorrow.

That’s what happens when Yoga starts to take over your life.
I often hear people saying “I lost weight after starting yoga” and yes it’s true, a lot of times people lose weight after beginning yoga, but I believe it mostly comes from changing your habits so that your large lunch doesn’t show up during down-dog at 5 pm, because that only needs to happen once before you start making changes.
I am really, really grateful that my body has been progressing lately. My practice had been in the same place for about a year and just recently I started making breakthroughs again. I don’t think there was anything specific that I did. I believe that hard work pays off but, anything that is worth something takes time… and so it’s taken a while for my body to gain the correct strength that my yoga practice can use. I’m very excited to see where this can take me :)

I am also learning to tell my story. I think it’s going to be a life long unraveling of thoughts, letting go, thinking, forgiving and moving on… one of the hardest parts of meeting new people for me is opening up about my story. I don’t want them to feel sorry for me, because I don’t feel sorry for myself… but I also don’t want to downplay it, because I have overcome a lot mentally and emotionally, and coming through those things allows me to understand people on a different level, which I am very grateful for. It allows me a little more empathy towards different walks of life and provides me with an intuition to what people may be going through or needing. I’m looking forward to tapping into my wisdom a little bit more and learning how to open up and be okay with being seen.
I am very much looking forward to the future.

For now I will put the rest of the chicken soup away…

I have Enough.

I didn’t realize how much I was living from a place of scarcity until I was on the highway getting mad at other drivers for moving too slow, even though I  had plenty of time to get to work, and ended up being there 10 minutes early. I didn’t realize how much I thought I needed more until I was meditating and was anxious that the timer would run out before I was calm… so I kept checking on it.
I didn’t realize how much I didn’t feel like I had enough until I found I had the chance to ask someone to pay me for services, that I really didn’t need payment for.

I didn’t realize how much I already have until I was able to recognize my pattern… it was the anxiousness while meditating that did it. I found that my heart was beating fast and I was truly stressed that the time would run out before I figured this shit out…and then it hit me. As long as I think I do not have enough, I will never have enough. As soon as I start looking and being grateful for all that I have, I find I have so much that I have enough to give away.
I have gas in the car, food in the fridge, love of friends and family, a life that I love living, and if all of this isn’t enough, then what will be? What do I need in order to stop living from a place of feeling like I still need more? Do I need more food?  Do I need more clothes? Part of me says YES! but I know that I really don’t, in fact I should clear out my closet because I have a lot of clothes. Do I need more friends, another husband, more money to spend, another meal out? what? what is it that I feel like I need? Why am I hustling?

I find it so easy to get lost in the idea that “if you’re not struggling then you’re not trying hard enough” Unless you’re up nights stressed out of your mind working or trying to pay off a credit card bill then you could be doing more. Stuck in the “If you have time to play you have time to work” mentality.
But where is the allowance to be happy? Why is there a stigma attached to saying “in this moment I am very happy and I don’t feel like I need anything else.” People assume that you’re lazy or unmotivated, when really being happy doesn’t mean you stop trying it means you are grateful and don’t feel the need to go cutting people off on the highway rushing into work, or you don’t  eat the last piece of cake just because it’s there. When you live from a place of having enough you find that you have enough to give away. Happiness never decreases when it is shared.

Where can you find something to give today? not necessarily material things, but a smile, a hug a laugh, time. It sounds so cliche, I know, but it’s the truth. When you feel like you have enough you find that you are able to give to others more. Take 10 minutes to appreciate what you have and I think you’ll find that you have more than enough to give.

Give time today. Leave 10 minutes early so that you can help someone up the stairs, or bring flowers into work without feeling the need to struggle. Live life like you’ve only got one shot at it and know that, that is enough.

Secrets in the body

I have been having a dull ache in my left hip, it was my psoas,  (auto correct just suggested “soaps”) I knew it, I would do some work into it every once in a while, but now it was starting to affect my lower back and my leg so I knew it was time to crack this baby open.
Luckily I know really great instructors so after class on Sunday I mentioned to the instructor my problem and he suggested some work that would get right into the trouble spot. So I went home and tried it out and my body freaked the f*5k out. 

I’m not quite sure why I felt panicked and shaky and weepy, but I did. I allowed myself the space to take a break, take some breaths and then get back into it, because I just wanted to do this the once and get it over with. I wanted to unravel this space in my body, get rid of the tightness and be done with it! The good news is that I feel a thousand percent better now, I was able to break up most of the knot and I feel so much better. The other news is that I know it’s probably not a one time thing. The body has tendencies, and while I do feel released I can feel my body trying to pull back into tightness again, trying to get back to what it’s used to, and I know I’ve now got to be mindful of that pitfall in my body and take the steps to avoid it becoming such a big problem again. 
There are so many things in life that I go through and think “awesome, done, I don’t have to do that again, learned that lesson” then a little ways down the road, I do in fact, have to learn it again. It’s not exactly the same, it never is. But perhaps it’s the same principle on a different level.
It’s like climbing a spiral staircase, sometimes you feel like “I’ve been here before” and yes you have, but on another level, and even though being “back here again” can feel like a setback you’ve got to remember that you’ve been climbing and so you’re at a higher level and you can get something different out of it this time as long as you have enough pause to observe the difference between this time and the last.

I feel so blessed that my practice allows me to get deeper and deeper into my body.  I feel like as I get to know this vessel that is my body I learn to treat it with a deeper respect and listen to it a lot more. Wisdom comes from all different places, take a moment to listen to this vessel that’s carrying you through life, close your eyes, sit still and notice any areas of tightness or tension, breath into those areas.  Give yourself permission to observe, to massage, to change habits. Create a practice that helps you align with your body and mind just a little bit better so the next time something comes up you can look at it from a different level of observation. You only get one body for your entire life, treat it well. 

It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”― Socrates


Learning about Yin Yoga

In the interest of continuing education of my yoga practice I’ve recently begun to venture into the world on Yin Yoga. What I’ve found has been incredible and I’m really excited to learn more about it and get into the trenches of the body, or deep into the fascia as it may be :) 

A quick description of what Yin yoga is: Yin Yoga is a very slow paced style of asana (postures) where you hold the posture for anywhere from 3-10 minutes, allowing the body to deeply relax and allowing not just your muscles, but the connective tissue at the joints to stretch. If your first reaction- like mine was- is “why are we stretching the connectors at the joints, isn’t that bad” here’s a excerpt from Yin expert Paul Grilley on just that subject

The Joint Stretch

The idea of stretching connective tissue around the joints seems at odds with virtually all the rules of modern exercise. Whether we’re lifting weights, skiing, or doing aerobics or yoga, we’re taught that safety in movement primarily means to move so you don’t strain your joints. And this is sage counsel. If you stretch connective tissue back and forth at the edge of its range of motion or if you suddenly apply a lot of force, sooner or later you will hurt yourself.

So why would Yin Yoga advocate stretching connective tissue? Because the principle of all exercise is to stress tissue so the body will respond by strengthening it. Moderately stressing the joints does not injure them any more than lifting a barbell injures muscles. Both forms of training can be done recklessly, but neither one is innately wrong. We must remember that connective tissue is different from muscle and needs to be exercised differently. Instead of the rhythmiccontraction and release that best stretches muscle, connective tissue responds best to a slow, steady load. If you gently stretch connective tissue by holding a yin pose for a long time, the body will respond by making them a little longer and stronger—which is exactly what you want.

 I’ve been able to read Paul Grilleys book Yin Yoga, principles and practice, actually I blew through it all in one sitting and am now re-reading it :) I’ve done a few yin sessions, starting with 2 minutes on each pose, working my way up to being able to hold them for 5 minutes at a time without my mind being like “I’m finished!!” It’s a really wonderful practice to get into a pose and then just try and stay, for me staying is the hardest part. I’ll put on my timer and know that  all I have to do is breathe and relax, and somehow my mind thinks that that’s so stressful!! So really, it’s also a wonderful opportunity to meditate and clear your mind. Sometimes I’ll just listen to my breath, sometimes I’ll observe my thoughts, but always I will leave my yin session feeling 100% percent better than when I started it. 
It’s especially helpful for those days when I feel like I have no energy but I really want to practice. Yin allows your body to open up and stretch, without getting vigorous about it. I believe it would be especially beneficial to those who have health problems that require them to stay in bed rest or chair bound. The idea behind Yin is complete relaxation, so you can use pillows, blocks, blankets, tennis balls, socks etc, any prop that will allow you to find more rest and release is helpful. My practice has involved tennis balls to release the psoas, blankets and blocks for chest/hip opening and a wall for a relaxed backbends. 

What I have found works best with my schedule is yin yoga before bed, it’s a lovely way to end the day, and I go to bed feeling gumby and happy inside. If you’re looking to get your Yin Yoga on, there are tons of resources online, here are a few to get you started 

A list of poses, some with videos to help you understand what you’re doing. 

An Eckhart sequence if you have an hour to spare, really great to see the use of props as well. 

And of course some Yoga Journal sequences for you. 

I’m still learning, but please ask me questions if you have them! If I don’t know the answer I’d love to find it out with you! 

What a wonderful world! 

Yoga resources for teachers

Hello :) 

I realize my blog has been mostly about my personal journey and while that’s all well and good, I thought I’d share some of my favorite and most accessible teaching resources that I’ve found extremely helpful as a new teacher. 

My favorite books so far and the ones I cannot put down are my Mark Stephens books. The Yoga sequencing by him has been a really useful resource, I wouldn’t be the teacher I am today if that book wasn’t written, seriously such a good resource, also a good home practice guide for when you’ve lost inspiration for your home practice. 

Light on Yoga is of course an awesome resource. I like to mix up the solid foundation that I get from the yoga sequencing book, with a crazy posture from Iyengar and see if I can sequence to it, actually I’ve found combining the two structures are a sure source of some awesome classes/practices. 

For my transformitive practice or things to think on I’ve found Anodea Judith to be priceless. So much was healed that I wasn’t aware was broken. Her Easter Body, Western mind book is such a good book, I go back to it often. Very well written. The first time I tried to read it I read chapters 1 and 2 and thought BORING!! And lent it to a friend for a few months. When she gave it back I tried again and I haven’t been able to put it down! I keep re-reading it. 

My last suggestion is my favorite suggestion, and it has nothing to do with yoga, but it has everything to do with yoga. It’s The emperor’s handbook by Marcus Aurelius. So much accessible wisdom, another book that is well worth being read, and re-read.

Let me know if you’ve ever read these and how you feel about them, also if you’ve never had them before, try them out!! I’m a tough person when it comes to books, and the fact that I keep on reading these says something about them :) You won’t be disappointed, and if you are let me know and then maybe ship me the book… can never have too many copies!  

I hope this helps!! Get your read on this weekend, xxx 

Watch your thoughts …

…..They become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”― Lao Tzu

Sunday, I woke up and had some coffee with my favorite person (husband Kenj) then I picked up some reading material and also ran across an old notebook that I hadn’t cracked open in a while so I was like “ooh fun, what’s in here” Oh I was in for a treat.

Back story, I was raised in a cult  and one of the many ways they would control was my sending out monthly GN’s (Good News)- basically propaganda, I don’t think there is another word for it, and these GNs could be made up of anything, structural changes, new “moves of the spirit” prophecies from “Jesus” or the founder “Grandpa” or Bojangles, (I’m serious) really anything. Anyway, being a devout follower I would write down the passages that spoke to me, or things I knew I needed to work on and had a problem with. I thought maybe if I wrote down these motivational quotes it would help me be a better disciple. Here are some quotes I ran across in my notebook:

It’s worth giving up your life to live the life Jesus wants you to. But, if you chose not to obey, you chose to forfeit a measure of the protection of my spirit and you will lack the stamina and strength to continue on.  (This was a message “from Jesus” )

You are your own worst enemy. There is no such thing as good self or bad self, there is only bad self.  (This is from the founder, David Berg) 

If you’re putting others first and tuning in to their needs and desires, if you’re outgoing and unselfish, if you’re meek and humble, listening more than you speak, being willing to yield to me and others rather than push your own way or loudly profess your own opinions, then you are walking in my spirit and in the spirit that I intended for a woman to walk.  (This was “from Jesus”)

Needless to say, I had a moment of “what in the actual F@c%!!”  To think I wrote these down in earnest, really trying to be the best I could but never feeling capable or strong, and I wondered why I didn’t feel strong. Perhaps 23 years of the conditioning above had something to do with it. Just a hunch.

Contrast this with the material I’m currently reading- I mean besides all the yoga books :)

” If you look at the definition of love and think about what it means in terms of self-love, it’s very specific. Practicing self love means learning how to trust ourselves, to treat ourselves with respect and to be kind and affectionate towards ourselves. This is a tall order given how hard most of us are on ourselves.” 

“The wholehearted journey is not the path of least resistance, it’s a path of conscious choice. 
The willingness to tell out stories, feel the pain of others and stay genuinely connected in this disconnected world is not something we can do halfheartedly. To practice courage, compassion and connection is to look at life and the people around us and say, “I’m all in.” 

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

The above quotes are from Brene Brown in her book The gifts of imperfection.

On one hand, the you have thinly veiled threats about stepping out of line, people telling you, you are all bad,  and the laying out of the path that you- as a woman- are supposed to walk. All of these encourage submissiveness, giving away your power, feeling like you are bad and helpless without others to guide you. Those were my thoughts and struggles.

On the other hand, the thoughts that are running through my brain now are ones of acceptance, trust in myself, finding my joy and empowering myself to be the best version I can be. No threats, no impending doom, just cultivating joy and connection.

I am 100 % happier now than I was back then. It’s incredible for me to go back there and remember how helpless I felt and how I had no power because I had given it all away, I didn’t know what power was. I am so grateful that I know that I am no longer in that place. I am proud of myself for the work that I’ve done to overcome the conditioning to be helpless and play victim.
I feel truly free, free to be myself, free to invest in my life and what I love to do. I teach to empower others who feel like they are incapable. If there is anything that yoga teaches you it’s that things that seem out of reach, are in fact possible. You find that you grow strength and as you continue to practice you find that you have access to things you never thought were possible.

You are worth the work on yourself, and you are more than your story.
The darkness is there so that you can define the light.

True story.

Because it’s Saturday

I’m having some coffee and thought time to myself this morning, contemplating a lot of things, I have a bunch of “big articles” I’d like to write but they require more thought and organization.
I am missing the part of me that goes from “gosh that sounds like fun I’d love to do that” to the groundwork and the organization needed to bring it through to fruition. Growing up there were a lot of instances of “this is the next big thing that we’re going to push for and do” and then 3 months later, nothing. I didn’t see anyone actually bring any sort of plan they laid out to a successful fruition. Sure there was mediocre success, like making the months rent, that was always pleasant, but then there was the next month and you’d have to go through the process all over again. There were pushes to “win disciples” but as long as they turned into a supporter, well that was good enough.
Going through my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training was the first thing that I completed from start to finish. I didn’t chicken out at 180 hours or think “well this is good enough” I actually finished all the requirements, and then some because I loved learning all I could about Yoga. I was 27.
I had done the training for myself, no one else. It felt good to know I could invest in myself and actually carry through, I was very proud of myself for completing the program and chasing after my dream, it was also eye opening to know that I could finish what I set out to do. This might be a very basic mindset for anyone else who grew up in a regular school environment where you have tests, complete them and then move on, or those who played sports where you win a tournament and go on to the next level etc, but for me there was never any sort of structure set up so I just tried to get by each day doing what I was expected to do and “who knows what’ll happen tomorrow” Maybe the Antichrist would finally get here and then my troubles would be over :)

One of my biggest challenges in life is learning to put working legs to my brain child. I’ll have an idea and LOVE IT! I’ll see it in my head I’ll pick people or locations out and imagine how exciting it would be to see this come to life!! And then groundwork will come up and I’ll think meh… maybe I’ll do it later, I’ll wait for the right time… after all who has time to go to city hall and apply for permits etc. Old habits of “well maybe if I do this instead it’ll be good enough” will pop up and more often than I care to admit I’ll take the lazy way out. But that’s no way to live.
If I don’t constantly challenge myself to take risks I find that I’ll simply stand still, nothing will improve. It won’t get worse… but it won’t improve, so unless this is as far as I want to go, I have to keep on moving forward- no matter how scary it is to put myself up against a challenge that I don’t quite know how to complete.

My Yoga practice is so helpful in challenging me. There’s always another step to take, more to discover and there is also no “quick” way to do yoga. It’s a slow process that you’ve gotta commit to for the rest of your life, otherwise it can be frustrating. The magic of the practice is that it imitates life, when I find that I’ve been stuck in my practice for a long time I can usually look at my life and find the same thing, I haven’t added any challenges or tried something new in a while. When I am trying new things in life and pushing myself to reach forward, I’ll usually find my practice starts growing as well.

I do not have the perfect yoga practice or the perfect life, but I am so, so thankful for what I do have and I won’t let it go to waste by settling for 75% of what I set out to do, I need to keep moving forward and finding that balance of pursuing the things that are actually important to me and which I wish to complete 100%, and letting go of the less important things or things that I’ve allowed to be “put” onto me by others. Never stop moving forward and chasing what is important to you. Personal dreams and goals are important, invest in yourself and improve on what you have, lean into your strengths and watch them grow!
Now if you’ll excuse me I have some Excel sheets to fill out :)