On Yoga

My Secret & Not-That-Strange Stress Survival Technique

| On Living Well, On Yoga

My Secret & Not-That-Strange Stress Survival Technique

 

“I can’t cry anymore.”

I confessed this to a friend during a hike one morning. We were somewhere in Griffith Park climbing in rhythm with our breaths. She is also a yogi, so she knew the significance of what I had just said. With concern between her brow, she pressed me for more details.

Generally speaking, I’m not really a big crier. Sometimes everyone around me is crying and I’m just standing there trying to figure out what to do with my face. (more…)

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Talking the Yogic Talk – On Being Kind

| On Parenthood, On Yoga

Be Kind

When you’re a yoga instructor, you’re a guide. You take students along on a journey. Yes, you’re a ‘teacher’ when you need to be. But you are mostly guiding them. And as a guide, it’s your job to also try to make the ride inspiring – sometimes challenging, maybe enlightening – but mostly you want your students to walk away saying, “That was great. I so needed that.”

My students were recovering addicts. They were going through divorces, career changes, and life crises. They were broken-hearted and they were healing. They were in the middle of finals and dissertations and other hard freaking shit and yoga was helping them get back to themselves.

Then one day, I was in the middle of some hard freaking shit. (more…)

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How to Ditch Your Yoga Practice

| On Yoga

Ditching Yoga

 

In the past year I have effectively ditched my yoga practice. I know what you’re thinking. How on Earth did you do that? I tell you, it wasn’t easy. It was a slow progression. It took a lot of excuses. A LOT. And then one day, I couldn’t even remember when I last practiced yoga.

Sure, there were a few times when I fell off the wagon and practiced yoga. Propelled by guilt, stress, or a visit from my sister-in-law, the superstar yogi, I found myself on the mat a handful of times in the past year. And let me tell you, the mat can be an enchanting place. You roll out your mat and suddenly your hopes and dreams seem only a vinyasa away.

Don’t be fooled. The most productive among us know that in order to get things done, we should stay as far away from the yoga mat as possible. Truly.

So, here it is, my fool-proof guide for ditching your yoga practice. (more…)

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How to Win in Yoga & in Life

| On Yoga

Gold Star

“Did you win?”

This is the question I get from Jeremy as soon as I come home from a yoga class.

But there’s no winning in yoga.

Yes, I hear you. I thought so too.

You see, Jeremy loves to win. He loves winning so much he turns noncompetitive activities into opportunities for more winning.

How does one win at yoga?

You win by (more…)

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Sphincters & Moans (or the Power of Om)

| On Parenthood, On Yoga

OmI have a confession to make – I’m om shy.  Oh, I can om with the best of them in a classroom setting but when it comes to leading others in the chant or vocalizing a mantra in my own meditation practice, well, I’d prefer not to.

My husband loves the om and used to pester me about adding it to my classes when I was teaching yoga regularly.  Ok, I’d say, then conveniently run out of time at the end of class.

I actually quite like the om.  There is something really great about feeling it surround you from all sides, ripple up your spine, and fill your chest. The collective om is an energy I feel comfortable tapping into.  There’s strength in numbers.  But the solo om has never been my thing. (more…)

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Yoga Strong

| On Yoga

Girl got hips
Girl got hips

Show me a woman and I’ll show you an eating disorder. In some way, shape, or form I guarantee she’s got one.

Body image is something that I’ve struggled with since 5th grade when Barbie stepped onto her Barbie scale and the weight read, 110 pounds–six pounds more than my 5th grade body weighed. It is still something I struggle with.  Yep, pro-woman, yogi, college educated, Women’s Studies minor ME still struggles with body image.

My body image issue usually lays dormant. But about two and a half years ago I was trying to figure out some health issues and restricted my diet.  Not in an unhealthy way; I was simply cutting some things from my diet to figure out what was triggering symptoms.  This new diet, combined with a new found love for running resulted in weight loss.

I dropped 2 pants sizes.  But there was this weird disconnect.  I held up my new jeans and they looked so tiny.  I couldn’t believe that I fit into them.  Then I’d put them on and wish that the itty bitty pinch of flesh that hung over the waistband would disappear.

One day I overheard a gal pal tell my boyfriend how “smokin'” I was looking.  His response (God bless him!), “She’s losing her ass.  It’s no good.”

Well, there’s a quandary.

One of my closest confidants was singing praises to my new figure (Ladies, let’s be honest, we are more hell-bent on impressing other women than we are men–even men we care about). On the flip side, my guy was wishing he had a little more somethin-somethin to grab when reaching for my behind.

As a yogi, my priority is my health.  So while I entertained these thoughts, wellness won.  I figured out the culprit and slowly began to integrate wine, yogurt, sugar, and whole wheat back into my diet–in moderation.

Poof!  Booty came back!

And let me add, so did my periods, which had mysteriously disappeared.  Marvelous!  Irregular periods, just another way for mother nature to let you know something’s not right. AND just another excuse for insurance providers to deny you coverage.  Sorry, that’s another post.

Since then, no–since 5th grade, this is something I struggle with. What my intellectual self and my emotional self understand are two different things.  It’s a constant conversation. So when I see things affirming what I know is true (intellectual self) I have to stop and take note.

Not too long ago a blog post caught my eye as friend after friend shared it, liked it, and cried hallelujah in appreciation of it.  “Strong is the New Skinny,” a gal named Sophie says.  Masses of strong women stand behind her.

I was reminded of this post today after a series of events.

1. Facebook post by friend, Anna Brown: “Awesome moment of today: I was working out at work (GO JAG GYM!) and a group of little girls, had to be 8, came over and were mimicking my movements on the balance beam (V-sit on beam while shoulder pressing dumbbells). I notice them out of the corner of my eye and had them grab smaller weight (2pders) and had a mini work out demo. LOVE LOVE LOVE! I will be a positive change in the world of child fitness… you have been warned!”

2.  At home yoga practice: a few warm up vinyasas, a few standing balances, forearm stand with variations.

3.  Passed by the mirror and wondered how my hips got so wide…

What?!?

Yes, despite my support of the strong women I know and my appreciation for a practice that allows me to view the world upside down, I still measure the value of my physical self by the standards set by our culture.

Forearm Stand
Balancing those hips

I love being a yoga instructor and being part of a movement that promotes wellness and strength.  Some of the most rockin’ yogis I know sport swimmer’s arms, round tushies, and quads that could squeeze the life out of you.  I admire these women.  Furthermore, I am not so blind as to discount the waifs of steel that can hold their own in a sea of inversions.  We are all born with different bodies.  Therefore, “strong” is going to look different on each and every one of us.

Skinny is one of those words that can be a compliment or an insult depending on how it is said.

“Ay, you look so skiiiiiny!” (said by my auntie handing me a plate of carbs) or “Damn girl, look at that skinny little thing!” (said by the man on the street)

Regardless, I’d like to replace skinny with strong.  Piggy backing off of what Sophie so eloquently said, strong is the new skinny.  But let’s keep in mind that strong is going to look different on different women. That may mean curvy calves, broad shoulders, or an expansive belly.  It also may mean wide hips.

At the end of the day, I bow my head and smile to my practice and to my body, as I acknowledge how strong I am despite all the squishy, jiggly, and wide parts of me.  Let my insecurities give me insight.  Let my weakness give me compassion.  And let my body give me strength.

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