Break it Down: Split and tip into inversions

In the last few weeks, I’ve brought great emphasis into these techniques while teaching.   Somedays, my sequencing  explicitly preps inversions, while other days I approach inversions more subtly to help students feel some connections within their bodies.    Inversions are intimidating and they sure-as-shit did not come naturally to me.   I remember sweating with frustration, self-doubt and confusion with each and every attempt at a headstand.

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Ultra-Rich Body Butter to Beat the Winter Blues

It’s cold.  And I am miserable.  And if you have been in any of my classes in the last three weeks, you know it.  I start every class talking about it, about letting go of frustration and taking the time on your mat as a mini-break from the world.  Really, setting that tone at the beginning of class is more for me than it is for you guys…sorry, y’all.  #itsallaboutme :)

I know I’m not alone in my winter blues.  NPR had a whole segment the other day talking about how statistics show couples fight more in the winter, parents yell more at their kids, EVERYONE is less gracious to everyone else because we are all slogging through our own personal hell of snow, sleet, cold, slush…you get the idea…with our heads up our asses and our bodies wrapped in layer upon layer of wool and fleece in an attempt to stave off the -25 degree windchills trying to creep up our pants.  So at least I can take solace in the fact that misery does indeed love company. Continue reading

Winter Tunes Playlist

The winter blues are definitely draining me of inspiration and making my home practice feel like a chore.    My body feels helplessly lethargic.  My aspirations are even lame;  I find myself fantasizing about taking hot showers and laying around under several blankets and sleeping.  (Which is SO not me, I’m a movement junky who hardly ever showers). Continue reading

A Beginner’s Mindset

“You only like the beginnings of things,” said one of Don Draper’s objects of affection after he ended their romance.   These words have since resonated with me especially when I feel bored or uninspired.

In the beginning of any relationship or endeavor, change happens quickly and remarkably.  The tremendous and inexplicable high brought on by excitement and curiosity captivates like no other.  Expectations, thanks to naïveté, are minimal keeping disappointment or the risk of failure at bay.  In the beginning, with nothing to lose and indifferent as to what we may gain, we dive in headfirst without looking back.

I’m pondering the subject of beginnings because I recently began to instruct at a yoga teacher training.  The very heart of our training is practice; namely, learning to develop the unique language that clearly articulates one’s personal experience on the mat to beginners of yoga.  That might sound simple but it’s a totally freakin’ tough task.   Yoga is introverted in nature and an ineffable experience.  We feel things, observe stuff and work through challenges on the mat without any requirement to NAME said stuff, feelings or challenges.  Once we embark upon the journey towards teaching, we have to vocalize our journey clearly to ensure the safety of our students.   Unfortuantly, we lose some of the best stuff in translation from raw feelings to words.   Anyone out there who assumes that it’s easy to teach yoga, you are sooooo very wrong. Continue reading

Sweet Potato “Fried Rice” (gluten free, vegan option, paleo option)

I’m inspired.  Or should I say inspiralized.  

My cousin directed me to the food blog Inspiralized after I purchased my spiralizer.  I salivate over her recipes each and every time I visit her page.  For the most part, the recipes are easy to prepare and can easily be prepared vegan and gluten free.

Fried rice is without any doubt my personal defintion of comfort food.   It’s warm and flavorful, easily prepared (or purchased) and most importantlyI’m not necessarily proud of this oneeasy to shovel down.   Sometimes it’s just a fact, like when I’m hungover, have my period or I’m feeling defeated around my house, eating becomes emotional. Vegetarian fried rice, loaded with veggies of course and sometimes an egg, makes everything better without too much guilt. Continue reading

Dragonfly Pose Breakdown and My Defense for Complaining About Arm Balancing

I always preface the instruction of arm balances with a warning statement:  “I hate arm balances.”  I am 100% sure I’ve made that clear in more than one blog post as well.

Hate is strong word.

I actually like the challenge arm balances bring to the practice;  it’s exhilirating to work outside of my comfort zone. But, I HATE seeing myself in a picture of an arm balance.   My body doesn’t look like Kathryn Budig’s or Tiffany Cruikshank or the other arm balancing extraordinaires who are paid to make arm balances look easy.   When I see an image of me in an arm balance I see my neck muslces bulging from face tension, my face looks like I’m constipated and my upper back looks like Quasimodo. Continue reading

Healthy Super Bowl Spicy Carrot Ginger Miso Dip

A few years back my cousin gave me the cookbook Clean Start by Terry Walters for Christmas.  It’s full of beautiful and delicious seasonal recipes that are all vegan, gluten free and whole-food-based.  The recipes are simple and easy to prepare and– for the recipe misfits like me who never EVER follow the rules–easily adaptable.

I’ve recreated her Carrot Miso Dip on dozens of occasions; I’ve changed the seasoning and spices, added ingredients and even stuck to her recipe time and time again.  This dip is always a hit at parties.  It’s also wonderful cold, hot or room temperature, so if you plan on sharing it with others, consider making an extra batch.    One taste is not enough, like when you bake Betty Crocker brownies, you will be licking the spoon and the bowl clean.
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Get Out of Your Head Funky Vashistasana B Flow

Cleansing, as I mentioned before, can take on a lot of shapes and can happen in a lot of different ways.  One of those ways is just good, old-fashioned moving and sweating.  Sweat is a super awesome, easy to access detox process that our bodies perform all the damn time – I would argue that almost nothing feels better than getting in a good sweat, getting your heart pumping and feeling freaking alive.  (Yes, I am dramatic in all facets of my life, including how I talk about sweat.)  So when I am cleansing, I like to move.  Which makes me sweat.  And the added benefit to linking movement with the breath (aka, the essence of vinyasa yoga) is that when your practice becomes a moving meditation, you drop out of your head, get out of your story and become completely absorbed in your body and breath.  Everything else melts away, which lets your brain get a little detox from the constant chatter going on in there, too.  When that moving meditation involves a challenging pose (which in my world is the dreaded Vashistasana B)…well, bonus points!!

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True Confessions Of a Used-to-Be Kale Hater

It’s true confession time: I used to loathe kale.  Utterly despise it.  I hated everything about it (except maybe the fact that it looked really pretty sitting in my shopping basket).  I hated the coarse, rough texture, I hated the stringy-ness once you started chewing, HATED how it got wilty and somehow even chewier after a day in the fridge.  And I definitely hated putting it in smoothies where allegedly the taste was disguised, but the damn texture still.hung.on. Little kale flakes floating around in the smoothie (and then subsequently in my teeth) was the WORST.

But then I became vegan.  And then I had a short-lived stint where I resided in Los Angeles, as a vegan. And they eat a LOT of kale in L.A.  And they have a lot of really interesting ways to eat the kale, buy the kale, dress up the kale, love the kale.  So slowly, without even realizing it was happening, I became one of THOSE people.  A person who loves kale.  In everything.  With everything.  Everything about this cantankerous, cruciferous vegetable became wildly appealing to me.  I admit, I got brainwashed, but I really think it was one of the best things to ever happen to me. Continue reading

Twisty, Flowy, Detoxing Flow

When I use my practice as a detox, I add in  twists and counter-twists and a whole bunch of other great stuff to create a churn-like action through my core to get things moving and work my obliques like crazy.    First round, I hold each pose for about 5 breaths to help center myself within the asanas and the transitions.  Then, I move through the flow rythmically (eg. one breath, one movement) 2-3 times on each side at a quick, but not rushed, pace.

On a physical level, this kind of breath-based flow builds heat, tones and cleanses my body.   I also find that when I’m intent and focused on the task of moving with intention and compassion (and not falling flat on my ass), all the excess chatter in my mind is suspended.   While cleansing my body of toxins during yoga, I also reboot my mind and  when I lay down in savasana I sigh with relief feeling both lighter and renewed. Continue reading