Yoga Jams

First off, thanks so much for all the support, comments, shares, and feedback on my previous post: Lessons Learned from NEDA Awareness Week. It has been one of my most popular posts of the year(along with my Whole 30 post)! After my last post I kept thinking about what to write. I have so many ideas but none of them seem right to write at this very moment or they need more time to hash out in my journal. There has been so much going on in the Insta IG World and in my own personal life that I’ve been overwhelmed on where to go. I have had a rough week, and I almost decided not to write a post. But then I remembered my intention to blog every other week–so here I am.

If you know me or come to my classes you know that music plays a huge role in my approach. I love creating playlists or let my students choose the music in case I don’t have a playlist curated. I firmly believe that music can enhance a yoga class and can make people feel comfortable in a setting that can be intimidated. If I can do anything to make a yoga class less intimidating and more relaxing I’ll do it! Music can also  make one work harder, focus better, or turn a bad mood into a good one. So here are some of my top playlists:






Body Positivity/Feel Good Playlist

*songs guaranteed to turn your frown upside and make you feel good about your body*

Feeling Good, Nina Simone
Video, India.Arie
Backwoods Barbie, Dolly Parton
Hey Girl, Lady Gaga & Florence Welch
Proud Mary, Tina Turner
Straight Up, Paula Abdul
I Got You (I Feel Good), James Brown
I’m Every Woman, Chaka Khan
The Glory of Love, Nina Simone
Brave, Sara Bareilles
These Boots Are Made For Walking, Loretta Lynn
Beautiful, Christina Aguilera
(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, Carole King
Lady, Stevie Nicks
Greatest Love of All, Whitney Houston

I Believe in Love and Jam Bands

*songs by your favorite jam bands that will open that heart chakra and let love flow*

Appalachia Waltz, Yo-Yo Ma/Mark O’Connor/Edgar Meyer
Tennessee Waltz, Appalachian Pickers
Soulshine,Gov’t Mule
Prickly Pear, Bela Fleck
Last Chance to Dance Trance, Medeski, Martin, & Wood
Jessica, Allman Brothers
Free, Phish
Everyday, Dave Matthews Band
Don’t Stop Believing, Vitamin String Quartet
I Believe In A Thing Called Love, Vitamin String Quartet
Simple Gifts, Yo-Yo Ma & Alison Krauss
Spiegel im Spiegel, Angele Dubeau
Breath, Helen Jane Long

Electric Flow

*for all my electronica yogis out there, get your flow on with these electronic tracks*

Moonbeams, MC Yogi & East Forest
Awake, Tycho
Ghost, Kiln
Dictaphone’s Lament, Tycho
Yellow Bird (Michal Menert Remix), Pretty Lights
White Lies, Odesza & Jenni Potts
Finally Moving, Pretty Lights
Innocence, Madeon
Bass Head, Bassnectar
You, Gold Panda
Love & Feeling, Chet Faker
Gooey, Glass Animals
Drift Away, Pretty Lights
Part Two-In My Own Way, Ray LaMontagne

Dedicated to Tom Petty

*I made this playlist after Tom Petty died, 45 minutes of some Tom Petty classics and deep cuts*

You Don’t Know How It Feels
You Wreck Me
Don’t Do Me Like That
American Girl
Free Fallin’
I Won’t Back Down
Turn This Car Around
Here Comes My Girl

I Love the 70s

*quintessential classics that will make you take out your lighter while holding Chair Pose*

Junk, Paul McCartney
Baby, I Love Your Way, Peter Frampton
More Than A Woman, Bee Gees
I’ve Got A Feeling, The Beatles
Sugar Magnolia, The Grateful Dead
Learning to Fly, Pink Floyd
Spirit In The Sky, Norman Greenbaum
Dreams, Fleetwood Mac
Heart of Gold, Neil Young
Romeo and Juliet, Dire Straits
Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters, Elton John
Into the Mystic, Van Morrison
My Melancholy Blues, Queen

The Go-To

*this playlist is good for any yoga class and suits all musical tastes, my go-to when I or my students can’t decide on what to play*

All The Wild Horses, Ray LaMontagne
Heart Is A Drum, Beck
Queen of California, John Mayer
Girl, Beck
All I Ever Wonder, St.Paul & the Broken Bones
Funkier Than a Mosquito’s Tweeter, Nina Simone
Sugar Never Tasted So Good (Acoustic), Jack White
Hit ‘Em Up Style, Carolina Chocolate Drops
Take a Walk, Passion Pit
Lovely Day, Bill Withers
What is Life, George Harrison
Can’t You See, Marshall Tucker Band
Souls Like the Wheels, Avett Brothers
Let’s Be Still, The Head and the Heart

My Favorite Pre-Made Playlists (Apple Music): Classic Acoustic, Relaxed/Remixed, Pure Yoga, Essential 70s Soft Rock, 80s Smash Hits, Today’s Chill, Rock Hits: 1973, The Beatles: Best Pop Songs

My Favorite Pre-Made Playlists (Amazon): Chill Indie for Yoga, Coffee Shop Electric, Mellow 70s Gold, 50 Great Beatles Songs, Classical for Yoga, Alt Pop for Yoga

Blog Posts about Music: That’s My Jam!, O, listen to the music, Say it in Song   


What are some of your favorite yoga jams? What artists help you get your flow on? What has been the most bizarre song you’ve heard or put on a playlist?





Lessons From NEDA Awareness Week 2018

Each year I participate in the National Eating Disorder Association’s (NEDA) Awareness Week. I have done something for it every year since I began recovery, roughly six years ago-I honestly can’t remember. Is that bad? Each year I have done more and more to raise awareness and try to make each year bigger, better, and more impactful. I am passionate about NEDA Awareness Week because to me it reminds me so much of the 12th Step, “having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we carry this message to other(s) {insert addiction} and practice these principles in all our affairs”.  I use this to educate others, draw awareness to this deadly disease, and also use this week to focus on full support for others who have been through this. Even providing them a platform to share their stories and perspectives. This year I took the last step and took twelve ginormous steps and went all out for this week.






What did I do? One of the many things I did was host an Instagram challenge. I partnered with my recovery and yoga soul sister in Tulsa, Cassandra McCoy, to start a challenge. Then Cassandra and I got a sponsor (who turned out to be a new friend!), Jamie at Evolve Fitness OKC. We wanted a challenge that was accessible to everyone and be more than crazy yoga poses. Our challenge was, Spread ED Awareness. Each day we would provide either a statistic or blurb about eating disorders. Then we had a word that was inspired by the post with a corresponding challenge. Challenges were:

  1. A yoga pose that makes you feel confident
  2. What activity did you do that you “failed ” at? Did you try it again?
  3. How have you been resourceful in your workout(s)/Got creative with them
  4. What activity or life event has made you feel strong?
  5. What is something that you have done that made you feel uneasy and vulnerable?
  6. Who supported you during recovery? Maybe you supported someone, who were they?
  7. Last but not least, share your story!






I’m not going to lie, I thought this would be “successful” (you’ll see why I use quotes around that). I thought people would be down to participate, especially since we had some cool prizes lined up and it was for a cause. However, I came to realize this wasn’t the case. People “liked” the idea but only a handful of people participated. I was hurt. I was sad. I was disappointed. Cassandra, Jamie, and myself had put so much time into these posts, deciding what to present, etc…and the turn out was low. Somedays I didn’t want to participate in my own challenge. I thought to myself, “if this was a handstand IG challenge or an inversion challenge more people would do this“.


Then I saw a post from someone I follow on IG (Justin Wolfer) talking about how it doesn’t matter the size of your following or audience, it’s what you do with it. Talk about a perspective change! I realized my ego was in the way and it was hidden by good intentions. I lost sight of the twelfth step. I told myself, ” It’s not about participants its about spreading awareness and educating”. I then began to focus on all the engagements my posts were getting, the people who were commenting on them, or reaching out to me. That right there is what #NEDAAwarenessWeek is all about.




My donation class at Evolve Fitness



In addition to this challenge I wanted to host a clothing drive. Clothing drives are a great way to practice yoga because it is yoga. Donating clothes is a practice of:

  1. Brahmacharya (non-excess)
  2. Aparigraha (non-greed, non-possessiveness)
  3. Saucha (purity, cleanliness)
  4. Karma (action, generating)


I didn’t want just one clothing drive and for me to be the only one participating (which would have a limited reach). I wanted the whole community to get involved. So I decided to reach out to all the fellow yoga teachers and ask if anyone wanted to host a clothing drive for our local YWCA. Much to my surprise I got three other studios involved! Cycle 3Sixty wanted to host a clothing drive/free class AND they did a #WearYourPurple day-every tag/person who wore purple they matched one dollar and donated to NEDA. My pals at Hidden Dragon Yoga in Edmond wanted to have a box for a week. Evolve Fitness, the sponsor for the IG challenge, had a day of free classes for clothes. Then I had my class at Core Nutrition.  When the week had come to a close I counted over 50 bags of clothes!






It touched my heart to see so many people come together and do something for other people. To clean out their closets and their hearts, to make space for love. To build community and unite for a cause–being close to Spring and the itch to spring clean doesn’t hurt either….Sometimes it is hard to see the goodness in people, especially in our social media and headline driven world.


In addition to having my faith restored in people, seeing the light, and changing my perspective about Instagram (for the one billionth time hah!) this was the biggest thing I learned: Something Small Can Have a Big Impact. I guess I always knew that but it wasn’t till this week and reflecting upon these lessons did I really see it/understand it.  Not only is this shown through the clothing drives–these clothes will go to our local chapter of the YWCA– but I saw it through my friend, recovery warrior,  only participant, and winner: Nikki. Nikki pledged to do this challenge about a month ago then her son died. She almost didn’t participate but decided to anyway. I told her I hoped she found some healing and used this as a way to deal with her grief. Nikki told me that it did help her. That right there is more than enough. That statement is why I did what did and made it all worth it. She got what she needed to go on and live life.


What did you do for NEDA Awareness Week? Share below!




Setbacks and Pushes Forward

The beauty of life is that it constantly ebbs and flows. There is a quote that I love from my EDA Big Book, “life is not static and neither are we”. That easily applies to all facets of life–from the spiritual to professional. We are constantly in flux. Which can be a good thing. Sometimes it’s annoying. I know I’m not the only one who gets tired of life constantly changing, throwing things at you, jobs falling through, blowing you around like the wind during Oklahoma tornado season. You’re so topsy turvy that you don’t know which way is up and which is down, but you’re good at going side to side…or barely moving. The wind sets us back a few steps but if we turn the other direction that same wind pushes us forward.


Ever since I’ve moved to OKC my life has been filled with these set backs and forward pushes. Sometimes it is a lot to take in. There have been days I want to give up and just chuck it all out with the trash. Not the recyclables, the trash.  It has been disappointing to say the least when you hit your stride and all seems to be going well then life throws you a curveball. Jobs fall through. People let you down. You become confused on what you are supposed to be doing with your life. Nothing seems to go right. You face major set backs. You begin to wonder if you’ve been confusing life callings with selfish desires. You realize that you’ve been lying to yourself while holding on to a “dream“. To cope you begin to count calories, obsess over good and bad foods, regret switching up your workout routine, and spend WAY too much time on social media wishing you could switch feeds with those you follow. Sound familiar?




However, just like the Oklahoma wind that never goes away, a change of direction happens. The winds get so blustery that you have to turn around and find a new route to your destination. Along that new route you encounter new people and opportunities. These winds push you forward into an unknown territory. You are slightly scared because no one likes wondering in to the unknown. It is rough, dark, scary, and difficult. You keep pushing forward because deep down you know something good will happen–I mean that’s what they tell you right?


Eventually you arrive at this new destination–or maybe it’s where you were heading. The point is you get there. This new direction hopefully added a new perspective to life. Maybe you realized something about yourself along the way, like you are quick to anger/jump off the deep end, talk to much, and may be a tad bit of an aggressive perfectionist. Knowing these insights will help you when you make the trip again. You won’t have that drastic of a set back and you can push forward with more gusto.









A Whole 30 Full of Nothing

Congratulations! You made it through January. 31 days full of hope, can do attitudes, intentions, and of course….“diets”. Between juice cleanses, Paleo, vegan, Keto, vegetarian, it’s hard to see straight. Did you see one or more of these flood your social media? If your feeds look like mine over half of your friends chose Whole 30 as their New Years diet of choice. For 30 days my feed was full of Larabars,  kale chips, strawberries, and why sugar (in all forms) and gluten is the devil, why you need to cleanse yourself by restricting your food in take, and most important a mindset that a majority of food(s) are bad.

Too me that doesn’t sound like a diet. It sounds like an eating disorder. Eating disorders are extremely deceptive and sneak up on you. They creep up in the middle of the night posing as a good dream–dreaming of pounds lost, a healthy intestinal tract, clear skin, a sense of worth because you made it thirty days with little food. ED’s and food restriction give you something that most people can’t, a feeling of superiority–which when you lack confidence this superiority feels really, really, really, really, good. But ED’s devour you and suck you in. Eating disorders like to make you think that you are in control but you aren’t! They are. ED’s manipulate science, buzz words, and use scare tactics to keep you under their thumb.




Before you know it you have drank the (no sugar) Kool-Aid filled with collagen peptides and bone broth, you’re a “whole food expert”  giving everyone nutrition advice because you have done something that is seen as hardcore and valuable. Or  you give advice because you got a six week certification, so that means you are superior to someone who has a masters or doctorate.  If you have made it this far, another congratulations! If you disagree with me and want to blast me online go ahead, you won’t hurt me.

Hear me out though. This is why I write this. Here is a quote from one of Melissa’s blog posts,Food freedom is feeling in control of the food that you eat, instead of food controlling you.“. That right there is blatant eating disordered talk. To make it even more infuriating, she follows up with this,

“Food freedom doesn’t mean that you’re a perfect eater, however. It doesn’t mean you always make the “right” decision. It doesn’t mean you always stay on track, and never fall back into old habits. Food freedom means that when you fall off course, you don’t let it ruin your day (or your week), physically or emotionally. It means you always have a plan for returning to a place of healthy balance, gracefully. It means you recognize that life happens, but every “slip” is actually a learning experience, and your food freedom plan is that much more robust for these lessons.

Food freedom demands that you’re in this for the long haul. There is no hack for food freedom; no shortcut or quick fix. It’s you, working my 3-step Food Freedom plan, day in and day out, every single day. There are no weeks off. There is no “I’m on vacation, so I’m just not going to think about it.” You can’t disconnect from your body or your relationship with food when things get hard. Food freedom demands more attention than that.”





This is prime example of the smooth operator that an ED is. It is mixed messaging at its finest. Sure this sounds good, we all want food freedom, but look at her language. Words such as: right (ED: terms good/bad), slip (ED term: relapse), demanding attention, and that you have to do it HER way are setting someone up for an eating disorder. Sure you may not give in to this aspect of it, However, someone who is upset with their life, looking for control, coping with a traumatic event, etc… this language and concept will lead them down an eating disorder path. Conversely if someone has orthorexia (obsession with clean eating/healthy eating) using Whole 30 is the perfect cover up. It gives them a reason that is societally ok to be this obsessive. Which as a recovery warrior is the last thing I want see.

I want to see women and men have food freedom because they want it, not because someone else told them to or because their diet is “less than”. I want them to find their own version of healthy by working with a dietician who can customize a program for them.  I want them to work out in a smart, evidence based manner, where the results are actually a lifestyle that is maintainable. Everyone deserves a healthy lifestyle but at an eating disorder free cost.





For more articles about eating disorders and Whole 30 see the following:


***P.S-I am aware that there is a post about ED’s and Whole 30 on the Whole 30 blog. It is very generic and in my opinion glazes over some the of deeper issues that sets eating disorders apart from disordered eating (gateway to ED’s) and doesn’t take the seriousness of this issue.



Official Diagnosis: You’re on My Last Nerve

If you have followed me over the past few years or know me in real life you are aware of my Phantom GI Issues. For five years these episodes have controlled my life. There were days when I could not get out of bed. There were days when I had to leave work early because I couldn’t stop throwing up. There were months where I lived on smoothies and liquid foods. There were dates with the hubby that had to be cut short because I got sick and would pass out. Then there was the time I had an attack at the OBGYN office; the hubs had to pick me up and I had to drink the orange sugar drink they give pregnant ladies. I lived in fear (and sometimes embarrassment) of knowing that any moment I could have something coming out of somewhere.


Over the years I have spent more time in doctor’s offices then I’d like to admit. I have lost my temper and swore off doctors all together. I have had ingested more radioactive tracers than a “healthy” person needs to. If I had a dollar for every time I heard “you’re too young to be here” or “too young to be having these issues” I’d have a brand new car. I had tests done that costs more than a new car done that came back with negative results. I have tried medicine, food, supplementation, and just living to get this under control. I had to listen over and over again to people telling me that I need to ingest essential oils and I’d be cured. That I don’t do enough yoga or meditation. These antidotes spun around me like a record on a record player.


I got to a point where I thought they were never going to figure out what’s wrong with me. It wasn’t my gallbladder, my hiatal hernia had been long cured, it wasn’t my small intestine  and it’s function, my colon, or more food allergies. While I almost felt like giving up a part of me kept fighting on. I knew eventually something would have to give and I would find out what was causing my distress. Even though it seemed like no one was listening to me that something was wrong (it started to have that girl who cried wolf vibe) I knew internally something was off. I just had to find the right doctor.




After reading some research on a medicine I was taking, I began to think that maybe my nerves weren’t working. While I suffer from GAD and spent most of my life battling eating disorders, I thought that maybe somehow together they caused the nerves that go to my belly to stop working. If that was the case then maybe there is some way to stimulate them, just like the therapies that are out for Alzheimer’s and when you ESTEM a muscle when it has atrophied too much.  When I went to my new GI doctor we talked about that and he set me up for one final test. The results were positive! I finally got a result: I have gastroporesis/delayed stomach emptying. The nerves from my brain to belly in fact didn’t work. Since they don’t work I can’t tell if I’m full, hungry, or something in between.  I was so relieved. To think I finally had a diagnosis. That something was actually wrong with me! I wasn’t crazy.


With this new found relief came a whole new round of stress. Yup, the stress was still around. This time instead of worrying where the closest bathroom was I had to restructure my eating and lifestyle AGAIN. I’m not going to lie it was, and still is difficult. I had to stop eating vegetarian because I can’t digests lentils, beans, and most staples of a vegetarian die (bring it on to those who disagree with research and science). I’m slowly eating more mea and figuring out how to keep my veggie loving self happy. I have to eat small portions every few hours and eat very slowly.


While I still have some stress about eating, I feel relief in my diagnosis- almost a sense of peace. With this new found peace I am determined to finally have a healthy relationship with food. It will take some time but hopefully bite by bite food can restore how I view food once and for all.






New Year, Not So New Me

Happy 2018! It’s that time of the year for New Year Resolutions, gym memberships, intention setting, manifesting, positive thinking, living life to the fullest,  and most importantly– #NewYearNewMe. Love it or hate it that is the mantra for January. Our feeds are filled with it, I admit I have used that hashtag myself. While I don’t mind the concept, deep down it isn’t what we think it is.

Whether you make resolutions or like me, set goals and intentions, they are filled with hope and the mindset of change. Our lists guide us every day in aiding us to make the best decisions that line up with our 2018 vision board. As the days turn into weeks and the weeks turn into months what begins to happen? Some of intentions/goals/resolutions may have subsided and gotten lost with that gym key fob or they may have fully transformed our lives. What changes do you notice? Maybe you are more peaceful. Maybe you have cultivated mindfulness. Maybe you go for a walk three times a week. Maybe you started a blog or vlog. Whatever it was…they are all external.




But what about internally? Are you any different? If you were to sit with yourself and look deep down inside would you notice anything? Have you changed from a Type A bulldozer to a Type B cool cat? Have you overcome your introversion and became a mad extrovert? What about your values, morals, and things that make you tick? Did they change? I didn’t think so. That’s why #NewYearNewMe is a lie. It “changes” you outwardly but it doesn’t change who you really are.

I may be making intentions to go from a human doing to a human being, live life by The Four Agreements and 12 Steps, be impeccable with my word, take my ACSM Certified Ex. Physiologist exam by April, launch a Youtube channel and dance conditioning in the OKC Metro, blog every other week, become a better wife, and develop a healthy relationship food now that I finally know what is wrong with me; but I’m still Leslie. I will always be a Type A bulldozer who is highly competitive to a fault. I will always be a perfectionist but am choosing when to express it. I will always value kindness, respect, and treating everyone equally. I will always be awkward and quote movies in everyday conversation. And guess what…that’s ok.





So you can’t really be a new you, just you who is making changes to live a life more fully. Are you embracing the #newyearnewme concept? What are you wanting your 2018 to look like? Share below!

To Those With Invisible Illnesses

Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about invisibility. I’m not talking about the super power, I’m talking about things that can’t be seen. Like invisible illnesses. If you have followed me for some time or know me you are aware of my invisible illnesses: eating disorders, anxiety, un-diagnosed GI issues. But there are also more invisible illnesses: depression, other mental disorders, addiction, autoimmune diseases (fibro, lupus, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc…)With 1 in 5 adults experiencing or diagnosed with mental illness, and approx 50 million people living with an autoimmune disorder , chances are you have known someone who is suffering without you being aware of it it.




Those of us who live with these various illnesses become masters of masking our pain with smile and concealing it better than the best make up concealer in the world. Sometimes we are too good at covering it up that people don’t believe us.  Invisible illnesses are also hard to explain when on the outside you look happy and healthy but internally your body is waging war. It seems that unless we bear our souls, post a billion IG videos documenting our lives, send up prayer requests in small groups, act sick all the time, become hermits; then do people only sorta begin to understand or have a bit of sympathy.

I can’t tell you how many times people don’t believe me when I say I have an illness. When I first began to seek help for my eating disorder I constantly heard, “you don’t look like you have one”, “you aren’t emaciated, just thin, only emaciated people have eating disorders”, “but you eat. how can you have anorexia when you I see you eat all the time?”,  “you can’t be addicted to exercise, exercise is healthy!”. Now with my mysterious GI issues I hear, “you are too young to have this problem”, “are you sure you have a problem?”, “it’s just IBS”. Do this sound familiar? “You’re just tired, “all you need is a nap”, “you’re being over dramatic”, “do more yoga”, “try this essential oil”…the list goes on and on.




I have blogged about this before and keep discussing it in therapy, how difficult it is for me to work on cultivating a positive body image when my body hates me. Who else has been there? Between people not believing us, the doctors appointments, the episodes, bland diets, and tears we forget that we aren’t our illness.  It is so easy to get caught up in the physical that we wear ourselves down even more. The disconnect continues to grow and fester till it’s unbearable. But is it truly unbearable?

How can it be bearable? By coming together and lifting each other up. Reminding one another that we are beautiful beings who are capable of so much more; that there is more to life and even on our worst day it’s a miracle that we are even here. We can also see each other–and I don’t mean physically look. I mean really see. Recognize others who are like us and show support. Educate others on these invisible illnesses and teaching them how to show support for people like us. For my yogis out there, really practice Namaste.   Lastly, take time to remind yourself that you aren’t your body by reading this meditation. Then reach out to someone who needs to be seen, fully loved, and fully heard.




So next time you are all alone in our bedroom wrapped up in our favorite blanket cuddling with our doggy waiting for our episode to be over, that we aren’t alone. There is someone else out there wrapped up in their favorite blanket, cuddling with their animal, waiting for their episode to be over.