Congratulations! You’re a Feminist

Do any of these sound familiar?

  •  You didn’t vote for Hillary and you didn’t vote for Trump. You believe that everyone has equal rights and deserves to be treated with respect, lovingkindness-just like how you want to be treated. You didn’t march in any of the Women’s Marches because you feel it doesn’t represent who you are and/or it was too political, and that there are other ways to show solidarity than marching in the rain wearing a pussyhat. You didn’t IG, FB, or use any of the following hastags: #nastywoman, #powertothepussy, #IStandWithHer, #lovetrumpshate, etc..You hate seeing other women and populations being torn down by nasty words. You believe in people choosing how they want to live and conduct their life. Seeing all these “pro-pussy” posts on social media has you down because you they make you feel inferior for not being fired up, angry, a #nastywoman, and less than because you don’t see things like them.
  • You voted for Hillary and despise Trump. You use every outlet you can to forcefully push your beliefs on others and refuse to see other peoples perspectives OR you share your beliefs but  don’t use forceful language and berate people who don’t believe like you. Like the person above you believe that everyone has equal rights, deserves respect, and can choose to live their life the way they want. You marched on Saturday carrying a sign with a vagina sticking a middle finger to the man and wore a pussy-hat.
  • You are a woman who voted for Trump. You feel ostracized by other women because they look down on you for voting for him. They call you names and do not respect your choice though they preach tolerance. While you voted for Trump, like the other women above you too believe in equal rights for all, the right for people live according to their beliefs, and in treating others with respect. You understand that Trump and his position on women do not represent you but you saw something in his policy that resonated with you that Hillary, Bernie, Jill Stein, or Gary Johnson policy didn’t.
  • You are not like any of the women outlined above, or you are a variation of the three presented.

 

If you are any of those women outlined then Congratulations!  You are a feminist! Don’t believe me? Then look at the definition of feminism. According to Merriam-Webster feminism is defined as,

  • the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes

  • organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests

Feminist.com defines feminism like this, “feminism wants you to be whoever you are-but with a political consciousness. And, vice versa: You want to be a feminist because you want to be exactly who you are. That may be a person patriarchal society doesn’t value or allow-from a female cadet at the Citadel to a lesbian mother. Maybe you feel aligned with the self-determination and human rights implicit in feminism, but you also organize your life around race, religion, or class, rather than solely around gender“. See how anyone can be and is a feminist?

 

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Now that we have realized that each and everyone of us is a feminist, let’s take it a step further. How about we put feminism into action? Action is always better then words-we all know people who talk a good game but when we look at their actions and fruit we see otherwise. It is this call to action that will bring about the change people are so desperate for. Action doesn’t always mean marching or walking in protest. Action is anything carried out. As a friend on Facebook mentioned it doesn’t matter how you “protest” or what action you take as long as you do something. So here are some things you can do that are not just feminist in nature but are little gestures that go a long way in treating people like a human being that was, just like you, created by The Divine/God.

  • Words of Encouragement and Affirmation. Who doesn’t love a good word or two of encouragement after a rough day. We all love hearing that we are doing a good job at being a mom, wife, an employee, a friend, teacher, lover, etc…Words are the most powerful tool we have in our arsenal. Words can be used for good and to build each other up, but they are also the most destructive. As James 3:5-6 says, “In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself”. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to burn anyone’s life down or burn myself. So what are words of encouragement or affirmation? Some examples are: “I believe in you”, “Thank you for being you”, ” You are a great friend”, “You are such a strong person”, “You can do great things”,  “I’m praying for you”, or “You did a great job doing *insert activity/action* “. These words are so simple, but yet extremely powerful. Think back to a time when you were utterly distraught, forlorn, or depressed. How did it feel when someone noticed this and said something nice to you? Didn’t that pick you up and give you a little extra oomph to get through? For my yogis out there, this is a verbal way to practice Ahimsa (non-violence).

 

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  • Practice Lovingkindness. If you are friends with me on social media or have come to any of my yoga classes, you have heard me talk about Lovingkindness or Metta. Honestly, if you have been to any yoga class or are friends with a devout yogi/yogini you have heard about Metta. Metta is a simple meditation that helps us see others in a positive light and helps us to cultivate compassion. The Lovingkindness Meditation is simple and can be done anywhere. To have the greatest effect recite the meditation a few times daily. You can also recite it when someone is getting on your everlasting nerves to help you calm down and treat that person nicely. I take my version of Metta Meditation after Jack Kornfield. My version is, “May I/you be filled with lovingkindness. May I/you be peaceful and at ease. May I/you be happy. May I/you be free”.  Find your version and begin practicing today! I know lots of people who could use some good vibes and Metta thrown their way.

 

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  • Support Woman Owned/Operated Businesses.  Not only does this support local economy it shows that you believe women are capable of being movers and shakers in the business industry, which is largely dominated by men. I am blessed to know many female entrepreneurs and run successful businesses. They give me inspiration to pursue my dreams and show the value of what hard work, determination, and not taking the word No for an answer can do. They show me and other young women that in order to make a statement, sometimes we have to go out on our own and pave the way to success. Whether a female in your life owns a company, is a freelance artist or teacher, sells essential oils, Plexus, artisan goods on Etsy,buy from her! Show her that you appreciate what she creates. And honestly, who doesn’t like to make money off what they love?

 

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  • Support Causes that Resonate with You. This is where we can generate support and show solidarity for others on a grander scale. I don’t care who you are there is something out there that moves you. There is a disease/sickness, social injustice, or mission, that resonates deep within your soul. Take a moment and think to yourself, what are you passionate about? Are you a female artist who wants to support other female artists to get work shown or become a director of a ballet company (which is a mans world though there are more females in ballet then men)? Have you been touched by the effects of cancer? Maybe it’s bringing awareness to the horrible practice of female genital mutilation, sex trafficking, homelessness, LGBTQ support, overseas missionaries, children’s hunger, making care packages for those undergoing chemo…ANYTHING!  For me, I am passionate about Eating Disorder & Addiction Recovery, Mental Illness, and  Domestic Violence because those have been me. I have lived many years in a self-harm state of anorexia, exercise addiction, and been emotionally abused. I share my story, educate young girls, write this blog, participate in the Red Flag Campaign and Take Back the Night, I do what I can-sometimes even if it’s just a prayer or sending of good vibes out. It’s something.

 

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  • Mentor Young Girls and Teach Young Men. This is probably the biggest thing we can do. It is up to us to reach out the younger generation and teach them about the power they have within them. It is up to us to teach young girls how to be strong women. We are to teach them that they can not only be whatever they want to be, but how to reclaim their bodies. Their bodies aren’t just for making babies and to be objectified. It is up to us to teach young men how to respect these young girls and what is/isn’t appropriate. We are to teach both sexes tthat they have worth and value that isn’t related to how many likes/followers/shares on social media, the clothes they wear, where they come from, or what other hindrances are in their lives. They have value and worth because they are divine, they were made in God’s image. Each and everyone of them are unique, beautiful snowflakes,with special talents that make the world a better place. When we raise this next generation, they can be the change that we hope to see in the world.

 

So, are you ready to take one or more of these actions and make a difference? Are you ready to claim your title as a feminist? Are you ready to start a revolution-whether it is just within your soul or in your community? If so, then good for you. If you aren’t, then guess what, that’s ok too! Just know that no matter your choice, I’m here for you. Just remember,  “You is kind. You is smart.You is important” (The Help).  for more female empowerment check out my article, When You Don’t Know What to Say Let Maya Angelou do the Speaking.

 

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Not Forgotten, Just Lost

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written, hell, even looked at this blog. It’s not that I haven’t forgotten it. In fact it is the opposite, I kept meaning to stop by and pick it back up, but I didn’t. I was lost. I lost track of the time-the days, months, minutes, hours. I lost track of me-who I am, who I was, where I’m going. I was as lost as your first road trip back in the early 2000s when there wasn’t Google Maps, just Mapquest or the McNally Map. If you are like me it is ridiculously easy to get lost with those (who am I kidding, I still get lost with Google Maps!).  My time away from imageoftheheart was just like those road trips. I lost my map. I had no internet service to connect to Google Maps. I drive a smart car but it didn’t make me smart, no desire, no passion to get from point A to point B. So how did I find my way back here with no maps,internet, or sense of direction?

There really wasn’t one clear way that I got back here. In fact, it was many things and events that tied themselves together in a pretty present tied with a glittery bow. The past few months I was consumed with busyness. I had my yoga classes, dance classes, I started a new blog AUM in the Arts, I was choreographing, performing, rehearsing, working two other jobs. All of these stops were taking me further and further away from my center, what I had worked so hard on all these years on and off the yoga mat.

I felt like I was on a country back road that turns into a gravel road where you think you are never going to reach your destination. You begin to focus so much on not getting lost and hoping you don’t hear banjos that you forget to focus on the things around you. Eventually you end up where busyness takes you, to the holler of self-destruction. For me it was unparalleled anxiety, performance deprecating panic attacks, anger, sub par work, dropping the ball on things that I had once been on top of. I was not Leslie, I was someone else. Leslie had gotten lost on this road trip…too many wrong turns.

 

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Once I hit the end of the road, with a flat tire and a hunger for a GF/Vegan/Raw smoothie, I had to find my way back home. I had to give up what was wearing me down. I looked at all that was in my luggage and got rid of what wasn’t pertinent. First, I stopped the glorification of busy. Busy gets you no where contrary to what that mindset makes you believe. I was so busy being busy that “I like to be busy” became my mantra. I remember in therapy that I discovered that extreme busyness is a way to avoid things that make us uncomfortable or, in my case, it is used as a coping mechanism. Secondly, I made a list of what wasn’t fueling me and got rid of it. All that work I was doing for free-no more. That job that caused me pain and panic attacks-no more. Giving my art away for free-no more. Thirdly, I shed some pounds and not in the ED manner. I gave clothes away to the young girls at the dance studio. I purged “momentos” out of my drawers and made my pack light (as I write that sentence I think of the Bag Lady from Labyrinth). I also said goodbye to relationships that were weighing me down. Lastly, I revisited my 12 Steps and took steps back to where I began. Ready to begin 2017 anew.

I’m heading back to where I intended to finish 2016. That is the beauty of new years, new days, new months. We get the opportunity to start over. 2017 is another road trip. Where are you going? I know where I’m going and I’m not getting lost again.

Say it in Song

I’m still here…or am I? Life gets busy, dances must be danced, classes must be taught, yoga must be yoga’d, and work must be completed. In between dreams, naps, and pas de chat’s, a muse will appear. Lately I have been graced by the presence of quite a few muses which has caused me to pick up a pen *uhhh, keyboard* and open up the images of my heart….

The other day on the wonderful Book of Face (a fun name my hubby and I call Facebook) one of my friends posted the following question: What is your favorite song lyric(s)? I wanted to respond but soon realized I couldn’t pick just one. As an individual whose life is just as much about music as it is about dance, this question was like Lay’s potato chips, betcha can’t pick just one. In response to this question I  made my own list. As I sit here and make my list I have to give myself some rules or else this post would be one million words and an epic of lyrical proportions. 1) 1 Beatles song/1post break up-The Beatles are my all time favorite artists and I believe they have produced some of the best lyrics EVER, even as solo artists they continued to create work that is timeless, honest, emotional. 2) Include a handful of songs post 1990. Music from the 60s-70s is my jam and I could easily make my list of just songs from this era, but great music has been produced since then. 3) Include more genres than classic rock . 4) Pick what I think is the best/most moving part of the whole song, or what made me fall in love with the song the first time I heard it.

I’ve come to the conclusion that most of these songs are of the depressing and love gone wrong nature. Which while I’m a very happy and love all kinda person, most of the music/art/dance I enjoy isn’t very bubbly, it tends to be very angsty and sad. These kinds of lyrics and art seem to say what I can’t or speak to this inner part of me that I don’t showcase to many folks…I do have a darkside-we all do. It also tends to be more authentic and visceral, which nothing moves me more than when an artist is raw and unbridled. Many of these lyrics resonate with me because they came across my earbuds when I was in some really dark places or effortlessly described my situation(s) at the time. Each song has a link to a recorded version and I highly suggest listening to the music, some of these lyrics are highlighted by riffs and sounds from the guitars, pianos, or voice of the musician.

Are you ready for some lyrical genius? I am. Here we go!

In no particular order….

***Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright by Bob Dylan

Favorite lyrics:  So long honey, baby, where I’m bound I can’t tell. Goodbye’s too good a word babe, so I’ll just say fare thee well. I ain’t a-saying you treated me unkind. You could’ve done better but I don’t mind, you just kinda wasted my precious time. But don’t think twice, it’s all right.

***Just Breathe by Pearl Jam

Favorite lyric: Did I say that I need you? Did I say that I want you? Oh if I didn’t, I’m a fool you see. No one knows this more than me. As I come clean…Nothing you would take, everything you gave hold me till I die, meet you on the other side.

***Give Me Love by George Harrison

Favorite lyric: Give me love, give me love, give me peace on earth. Give me light, give me life, keep me free from birth. Give me hope, help me cope, with this heavy load. Trying to touch and reach you with, heart and soul.

***Ain’t Got No- I Got Life by Nina Simone

  ~everyone should listen to this whole song, a snippet isn’t enough to do it justice~

Favorite lyric: I’ve got life, I’ve got my freedom, I’ve got the life. I’ve got the life, and I’m gonna keep it, I’ve got the life, and nobody’s gonna take it away. I’ve got the life.

***All Apologies by Nirvana (this is the MTV Unplugged version, just beautiful)

Favorite lyric: I wish I was like you, easily amused. Find my nest of salt, everything’s my fault. I’ll take all the blame, aqua seafoam shame. Sun burn with freezerburn chocking on the ashes of her enemies.

***Stop This Train by John Mayer

Favorite lyric: So scared of getting older, I’m only good at being young. So I play the numbers game to find a way to say that life has just begun.

***Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

Favorite lyric: We’re gonna get to that place, where we really wanna go. And we’ll walk in the sun, but till then tramps like us, baby we were born to run.

***Junk by Paul McCartney

Favorite lyric: Candlesticks, building bricks, something old and new. Memories for you and me. Buy, buy says the sign in the shop window. Why, why says the junk in the yard.

***For No One by The Beatles

Favorite lyric: She wakes up, she makes up, she takes her time and doesn’t feel she has to hurry. She no longer needs you. And in her eyes you see nothing, no sign of love behind the tears. Cried for no one, a love that should have lasted years.

***If It’s the Beaches by The Avett Brothers

Favorite lyric: If it’s the beaches, if it’s the beaches sands you want then you will have them. If it’s the mountains bending rivers then you will have them. If it’s the wish to run away I will grant it. Take whatever you think of and I’ll go gas up the truck, pack the old love letters up. We will read them when we forget why we left here.

***Old Enough by The Raconteurs, Ricky Skaggs, and Ashley Monroe

Favorite lyric: When I was I thought I knew, you probably think you know too, do you? Well do you? I was naive just like you, I thought I knew exactly what I was going to do…and how have you gotten so far without a visible scar? No one knows who you really are.

*~*~*

What are your favorite lyrics? Why? How does music and lyrics influence your life, art work, day to day interactions? Share below!

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Rabbit Hole Relapse

I’ve written about relapse before but this topic is always worth coming back to. Especially when you write about your experiences, need something to write about, and just had your first relapse in quite some time. Relapse isn’t scary for me anymore. When you first start recovery you are scared of relapsing. You are scared that you will loose the progress you made or that you are…what your ED tells you…”a failure”,”worthless” or my favorite, “you really are fat”.  I have been in recovery for almost six years and I will say relapses doesn’t happen that often. After you’ve been around the block a few times you  begin to notice when a relapse is happening or when you approach food or exercise the wrong way. I pull the yoga approach and just acknowledge it. Recognize that it’s there but go on my merry way. I do not sit down with it and have a cappuccino, or better yet a binge induced vegan affogato with the new Ben and Jerry’s non-dairy ice cream.

When I relapsed recently I actually found it intriguing. Why? Because I went through a dance concert a few months ago, where I was in multiple numbers and didn’t restrict food. I for once ate a lot, kept myself healthy and sane. I use to do the opposite. So obviously you would see why I was confused with this relapse. I didn’t do my yoga techniques or recovery techniques, I instead sat down and had 2 TBSP pistachios, 1 cup of soymilk, blueberries, and fiber pills. Or I would have measured out cereal, measured out oven fries, measured out everything. I was angry, I was hungry (I think it’s called hangry), I was checking for cellulite, I was hating my body (more so than usual), everything sucked. I think I said “I hate everything” with a few expletives more than once.

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That’s what a relapse does. It makes you angry because 1) you gave in 2) you fall back into old habits that were coping mechanisms for your insecurities/control that exacerbated the problem. Relapse is also a “rabbit hole”, just like Alice in Wonderland. You go follow the white rabbit, usually it is a thought put in your head like “I’m not the skinniest girl in the room anymore, I’m fat”, “My muscles are different”, “Why doesn’t my top quad stick out as much anymore?”. You take the bait, or should I say pill to stay with the Alice theme, and BAM! you are in a hole that you can’t get out of-only if you want to.

If you want to…If you want to…If you want to. Relapse is a peculiar thing, it’s comfy and constricting. You can easily get out of it-work your steps, call a sponsor, do some yoga-but it is comfy, like your favorite hoodie. The hoodie that is worn in, holds special memories, the perfect fit and smell. It keeps your warm and protects you from the rain. However, you still get wet from the rain. The hoodie has holes. The hoodie has its fair share of bad memories. Just like a relapse. Relapse has it’s good memories (remember when you ate only 1,000 calories and worked out for 5 hours) but it also has it’s bad (remember when you ate only 1,000 calories and worked out for 5 hours BUT couldn’t sleep because you were starving?). Relapse constricts you because you haven’t been in for awhile, so you’re a little bigger and it has to work harder to tighten you up, makes you pull the hood over your head and pull the string…tighter, tighter, tighter, tighter, tighter.

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After a few more rabbit hole trips and not being able to  breath due to the hood over your head there are two options. 1) stay in and go back to your old ways or 2) make the decision to stop the relapse. Option one is definitely easier but it sucks because your anger is making life difficult. Option two is more difficult but makes life easier. Which one do you think I chose?

Two. I definitely like to be comfy and cozy, but my ED doesn’t make me comfy and cozy anymore. My dog and husband make me comfy and cozy. I do like rabbit holes, but only when I watch Alice and Wonderland or am on a Parks and Recreation Netflix binge. I am trying to choose two every day. I haven’t been perfect, but as yoga teaches us, there is no such thing as perfection and just be OK with the process.

 

A Year of Entrepreneurship

Time moves so quickly that you never really know what month it is, let alone what year it is. Is it still 2015? All my dates still say that…Luckily Facebook has this thing called Timehop that keeps track of all your memories, important dates, and crazy poolside shenanigans from your glory days. On days that you’ve posted something in the past on the same day you get a little notification and you can stroll down memory lane. Timehop is actually my favorite thing about Facebook. Timehop helps me to remember those poolside shenanigans, when my husband proposed, and “celebrated” my one year of being a entrepreneur.

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It was last July when I set out to open my own yoga studio because I wanted to be a small business owner, was unhappy working for other people, and felt like it was my path. Well, that was short lived. I decided to close my studio because I soon found out that I wasn’t mature enough to handle running a business, that it didn’t bring me happiness, but more anxiety and stress. In January I decided to do something probably even harder, become a freelancer. What was I thinking?!  I made things more chaotic. I had to find new spots to teach, plan months ahead of time, network harder, find opportunities to capitalize on all while not loosing my ever loving mind-not that I had one to begin with. However, becoming a freelancer and doing what I truly wanted has helped me to discover my path to what I’m suppose to do…for the time being.

Here is what my past year as a entrepreneur has taught me:

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  • There is no such thing as failure, but opportunities to grow. Yes, this may sound EXTREMELY cliche but it’s the truth. I didn’t really understand this till one of my yoga mentors showed me that what we perceive as failure is a judgement, judgement gets us nowhere. What “failure” really is an opportunity that was mis-timed and nothing is a failure if you can learn something. So what did a I learn from this “failure” of a yoga studio? That I need to have more years of business experience, more stability, and being able to commit wholeheartedly to one thing. It also wasn’t a failure because I did have people come to class and show interest, I just couldn’t run a studio yet.
  • The people who need your service (whatever skill you provide) will find you. Not working at a yoga studio makes filling classes harder. I’ve only had 2 sold out classes/workshops in my six months of freelancing. Sometimes I have three people, sometimes ten, sometimes one, sometimes I cancel. I could go back to thinking I failed, or I should just go to a yoga studio, or I should start selling MLM “superfood” to make money. But no, I spin this. I recall what I was told in teacher training, “those who need yoga at that very moment will be there, those who like your teaching will find you”. It’s all about perception isn’t it? Once I make the shift I’m instantly happier and can go on with my day.
  • Dedication takes on a new meaning. In yoga we talk about  being dedicated to your home practice, being dedicated to yoga, but you also need dedication to the self-employed lifestyle. You have to be dedicated to the hard work, networking, social media, and creativity that comes with being your own boss. How can you continue on when a month’s worth of classes and workshops weren’t packed and you were counting on that money? How can you be dedicated to bringing quality classes to your students and building relationships with them? How can you be dedicated to positivity and not get carried away by the storm of negativity?
  • You will find what you are made of. No, I’m not talking about sugar and spice or snails and puppy dog tails. But, what your soul is made out of. Owning your own business or seeking employment that fits your terms will highlight parts of you that need work or bring light to parts of you that you didn’t know existed. I always knew I was strong because I overcame an ED but I never knew what resiliency was till I had a few kicks in my face. I never knew I had a strong business mind, that I could figure out how a website works, that I really am a good instructor/educator, I found confidence, and that I my arms are strong enough to transition from bakasana (crow pose) to chaturanga
  • Surround yourself with other creatives and entrepreneurs for they will be your encouragement, competition, and inspiration. Over the past year I have met and befriended more creatives and entrepreneurs than I can count. It has served me in more ways than one. Not only are these people who can impart wisdom, advice, or act as a sounding board, they are also competition. They spark competition which deep down increases my drive to do better or serve a better product. My creative friends also feed my creativity which help me offer unique programming. I use my love of small business, what my friends offer, and see how yoga can fit in with their business. That is how I started Third Thursday Yoga & Art, Breakfast Yoga, and my blog AUM in the Arts.

What have you learned this past year, or past seven months? For my entrepreneurs out there, what has being an entrepreneur taught you?

Back to the Mat of Things

The beauty of life and yoga is the fluidity of it. Life is always moving, forward, circular, constantly, never stagnant. Yoga is the same way. Yoga follows you wherever the current takes you. It helps you maintain the flow and keeps you from drowning in the waters of life. What else is great about yoga is that there are many limbs and facets to yoga that one can always practice it. If you follow me, take my classes, or know a little about my opinion on yoga; you know I always talk about the non asana limbs of yoga. While asana is great and much needed it shouldn’t be the only thing we focus on. Until recently, I never really understood how much asana is needed, especially in my life.

This past month has been a whirlwind. Talk about the never stagnant waters of life. May was the month of dance, dance, dance, new blog adventure (check out auminthearts.com), writing, yoga, and more dance. All this combined made for one tornadoesque month. There was so much going on that I didn’t get to practice much yoga…asana. I was trying to act mindfully, eat well, breathe, BUT, my asana practice was lacking. Which showed me how much that one limb of yoga influences the other seven limbs.

Without practicing asana it was hard for me to be still. Without practicing asana I couldn’t work out that excess and anxious energy to focus on my many tasks at hand. Without the asana I didn’t fully catch my breath or know where it was. Without asana my eating disorder thoughts began to arise because I wasn’t “working out”, “moving my body” enough to eat (even though I was dancing up a storm). Then there was myyoga-1146277_1920 physical body…it hurt. My hips were always stiff which interfered with my dancing. My knee pain was worse. The un-rounding of the shoulders I’ve been working on and opening the thoracic spine work started to go away.  My back was achy and not mobile, which again impairs dance performance. Everything sucked!

I didn’t want life to suck. I didn’t want my body suck. My dancing sure as hell couldn’t suck and neither could my new blog! So I made sure I put asana back in forefront of my day to day happenings. I woke up earlier. I did small sessions of yoga throughout the day. On the weekends I did restorative yoga. If I had five extra minutes I was in a yoga pose, be it a down dog or splaying on my new yoga wheel. And guess what? This ebbing and flowing river that was May began to be calm, or maybe I was just steadier. All because of my asana practice!

How does your asana practice influence your life? What do you notice if you don’t practice enough of the physical yoga? Can you practice too much physical yoga? Now onto June! Keep swimming in the yoga waters…

 

 

When the Yoga Works

I have been practicing yoga for sometime but have really prescribed to it over the past few years and more so lately because I am a yoga teacher! So I really have to live up to the yoga hype right? Actually, I don’t have to live up to the “yoga teacher” hype but it does help me to be more aware of yoga practices, how to live more yogiclly, and to practice what I preach (which is so much easier said than done!). My biggest challenge in the realm of yoga and recovery life is that of being meditative.

Meditation is not what most people think, thinking of nothing. Meditation is developing a mindful attention to one thing at a time and giving all your energy and focus on that one thing. My meditation practice isn’t sitting there in lotus with my malas smelling lavender essential oil and chanting Ohm. In fact, my meditation is practice is anytime I can just be still and focus on one thing, usually it is a chore/task/yoga pose. My meditation practice has stepped up since yoga teacher training, before then it was non-existent. In my teacher training we were required to establish a meditation practice and journal it. I went from zero minutes all the way to seven minutes in the course of eight months. I went from manic monkey mind to just monkey mind. I went from unmindful and hustle bustle to a more mindful hustle and bustle. Sometimes I never really notice how far I have come until someone points it out or I am in a situation where normally I’d be a walking ball of stress and anxiety and I am surprisingly clam. Like a magically fountain spring in the holler calm. Nothing showed me this more than my recent trip to the allergist.

I went to the allergist to get my food allergy panel retested because it’s been a while and it needed a check up. If you haven’t experienced an allergy than you a lucky duck. Allergy panels suck. You  lay on your belly and they prick your skin. If that isn’t bad enough they begin to fill the little pricks with possible allergens. Right as those allergens hit the pricks your skin goes on fire if an allergen is present. Then you have to lay there for fifteen to twenty minutes. No music, no TV, no human interaction. Just you and the burning, itching, kerosene soaked fueled fire, that is on your back. You can’t scratch it. You can’t move. All you can do is lay there and breathe. Breathe. All I did was breathe. I practiced my breath counting exercise (my favorite pranayama, count inhales and make the exhales the same length). 1,2,3,4,5,6, in and out 1,2,3,4,5,6. I began to feel the groundedness of laying on my belly. I began to close the eyes and imagine my breath filling up my body, just like I tell my students. I kept counting. 1,2,3,4,5,6, in and  out 1,2,3,4,5,6. When my mind would wonder or think of something else I would acknowledge it and go back to counting. 1,2,3,4,5,6, in and out 1,2,3,4,5,6. I didn’t feel my back burn. I didn’t feel the itching. I lost track of time. I almost feel asleep (but that could’ve been because it was 8 am). Before I knew it the alarm went off and it was over. They counted my results and we discussed my test. After I left the allergist office I realized that yoga works. I was in a situation where I normally am unhappy, irritated, and dread. But I didn’t really notice much of anything. I barely felt any itching. I just accepted the moment.

Yoga works when you want it to. All you have to do is surrender to it and just do it! Just do yoga. Breathe in. Breathe out. 1,2,3,4,5,6.