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NEW WORK AND HOLIDAYS MAKES BEAUTY REPORT A DULL BLOG

NEW WORK AND HOLIDAYS MAKES BEAUTY REPORT A DULL BLOG

NEW WORK AND HOLIDAYS MAKES BEAUTY REPORT A DULL BLOG

NEW WORK AND HOLIDAYS MAKES BEAUTY REPORT A DULL BLOG

NEW WORK AND HOLIDAYS MAKES BEAUTY REPORT A DULL BLOG

NEW WORK AND HOLIDAYS MAKES BEAUTY REPORT A DULL BLOG

NEW WORK AND HOLIDAYS MAKES BEAUTY REPORT A DULL BLOG


But I’m back to blogging! There’s been a lot of changes for me in the past few months.

To back up a bit, a little over a year ago, I left a full-time job as an online community manager. I wanted to focus on teaching yoga, but was fairly sure yoga teaching wasn’t the only thing I wanted to do career-wise.

It’s been a great experience as far as deepening my teaching and growing a base of amazing students. Still, I also missed doing the online community work that I used to do and quickly discovered that I like having the structure and regularity that comes with a full-time, salaried job.

I was in the middle of the interviewing for a couple of non-yoga jobs when my husband and I left on Thanksgiving for a two-week cruise through the Panama Canal. There’s much more to be said about this fabulous vacation, but one wonderful part about it was that we were offline for the most part, with no cell access nor internet access (well, except for 75-cents-a-minute for what access might be there in the middle of the ocean). Unplugging is important to do from time to time.  But I digress.

I had an second interview mid-trip on one of the days we were in port. When our boat docked in Floria early on a Friday morning and I had internet access again, I came online to a job offer and was on a plane to Portland for training the next week. So it was quite the whirlwind. The universe can have a wonderful sense of humor when it comes to bringing you change.

Thus far, I am loving the work. I work for a nonprofit organization I’ve long admired and respected. I’m back working with a similar group of constituents and have been blown away by the warm welcome I’ve had from many people I know in this network. Best of all, I get to work remotely and have some flexibility with my hours which means I’m able to keep teaching away.

Right now, I’m still teaching a lot with a number of privates and group classes a week, so it’s busy and I’m juggling a bit to get into a routine with it all. That said, I’m loving it. Perhaps what I love most of all is teaching. I’ve re-discovered the joy teaching brings me. Now that it’s not the only thing I’m doing, I find myself excited again about coming up with juicy sequencing and exploring new assists. It feels like the best of both careers.

It took me a long time to get to writing this blog post. To be honest, I’ve been scared to talk about my new job and situation because I’m afraid: “What if it doesn’t work out? What if I blog about being happy about things are coming together so well and it all goes to hell?”

Ironically enough, as much as my fear makes me want to hide and not make a big deal out of things, I have two careers that are very public and require that I put myself out there, be it online or in front of a class of people. I can’t be hiding behind a curtain waiting for the other shoe to drop. What is a blog for if I can’t also be honest and put my truth out in words?

There’s a lot of stories out there about yoga teachers finding their path to teaching from another job. It may seem odd to find one’s path by taking a step back away from teaching, but that’s the way I’m finding my way and weaving my two careers together.

AND…I’m happy to be back to blogging and bringing in the beauty reports to come in 2013!

Tip Tuesday: What Yoga Videos Do You Recommend?

Tip Tuesday is a weekly feature where I offer a few yoga tips that have worked for me in the hopes that they can help you too.

Occasionally I get questions asking for yoga video recommendations. Some people may scorn videos as not being the same nor as good as being in a live yoga class. While videos aren’t a substitute for a live teacher, I think they are a fantastic alternative when a class might not be an option, time-wise, money-wise, or location-wise. Videos are also a good way to help you develop a home practice. They give you a place to start and once you get familiar with these sequences, you can do these on your own or weave them into your practice. I learned the Ashtanga yoga first series entirely from a video and practice manual before I ever went to an Ashtanga class.

Now there’s even more options available for video viewing. In addition to DVDs, there are a number of podcasts, vidcasts, and downloadable class mp3s and videos. Many are free, many are reasonably priced, considering that for the price of a regular yoga class, you can have a class to keep and practice at will. Netflix is also a great way to try out videos before you buy. I’ve test-driven a number of them this way.

Here’s the videos I usually recommend:

Ana Forrest’s The Pleasure of Strength is a great introduction to Forrest Yoga for beginners and intermediate students and includes a breakdown of the basic moves. Strength and Spirit is a slightly more challenging practice and also has an inspiring video of one of Ana’s yoga demos so you can see where all those abs might take you. Both are an hour so it makes it easier to work into a busy schedule. Ana also has a 5-CD set of advanced classes and class mp3s available. Most of these are much longer (two hours or more) and because you only have the audio and booklet, they can be much harder to follow along. I recommend these only if you’re a more experienced student and have some familiarity with Forrest Yoga. If that’s you, you’re in for some butt-kicking, juicy classes.

Yoga with Deborah Burkman is perfect for a beginning vinyasa practice with plenty of challenge, but also instruction so you’re not lost in the flow.  I also like Seane Corn for a deep, intermediate yoga flow.

Les Leventhal has a bunch of videos available on iTunes. Most cost a small amount, but you can save by buying a bundle of classes. There’s a few classes that are offered free so you can get the flavor of Les’ classes. They range in length, so I will often pull one out that works for the time I have available for practice. Most are all-levels, but offer plenty of advanced (and beginning) options.

Jason Crandell has a number of short helpful videos on Yoga Journal. They are accessible and useful for all levels. He also teaches weekly online classes through YogaGlo, though I have not tried any of these.

If you’ve got any favorites I missed, please share them in the comments.

 

 

 

 

Tip Tuesday: Yoga for the Holiday Season

Tip Tuesday is a weekly feature where I offer a few yoga tips that have worked for me in the hopes that they can help you too.

If the Christmas decorations in stores didn’t tip you off, the holiday season is officially upon us. I’m on pre-holiday holiday with my husband for a few weeks. So it seems like a good time for a round-up of Tip Tuesday tips, especially ones that can help you approach the season with a breath (well, lots of breath) of yoga serenity:

 3 Poses for When You’re Feeling Anxious

A Simple Way to Take Your Yoga Off the Mat

Getting Back to Yoga

Tip Tuesday: Reasons Why You Can’t Do Yoga De-Bunked

Tip Tuesday is a weekly feature where I offer a few yoga tips that have worked for me in the hopes that they can help you too.

A lot of people will ask me about yoga, express interest in trying yoga, but then have a reason for why there is no way they would be able to do it:

“I can’t do yoga because…

…I’m not flexible enough
This is like saying you can’t go to the gym to get into shape because you’re not in good enough shape. Yoga helps build flexibility; flexibility is not a prerequisite for practicing yoga. Props are there to help (and look around, you’ll hardly be the only person using them).

…Everyone will be looking at me
Ok, I know I just said “look around”, but honestly other students aren’t really paying attention to you. They’ll see you, they will see other people in the class, but they are focused on trying to do the poses, remembering to breathe, and maybe worrying how they look to other people. Chances are they won’t remember (or care) whether or not you balanced in crow pose. Unless you’re wearing some skintight booty shorts or other eye-catching attire, the teacher is the only one who’s likely to pay you much notice.

…the teacher will probably be correcting me the whole time
I used to take any kind of correction or adjustment by the instructor as a sign that I was doing the poses poorly and just wasn’t getting it at all. From practicing and teaching, I’ve learned to appreciate (and sometimes even love) adjustments. First off, if you’ve never done yoga before, you’re going to need some correction. You are not expected to get it immediately. There’s a reason people practice the same poses over and over–there is always something to learn and refine about a pose on any given day. Secondly, assists also can help give you resistance or a release that you can’t get by yourself. Finally, touch can be a powerful tool to bring you into your body and connect your breath to different areas of your body.

…I won’t be able to do the poses
There is always a version of a pose for everyone. It may not look like what everyone else is doing, but there is some version of the pose you can do. Even if a pose is out of the question because of an injury, there is always a related option to do that will give you similar benefits. In my advanced teacher training, even though we had a group of experienced teachers, you would often find at least five different variations on any given pose. People were always adapting the pose to accommodate physical ability, injuries, or other limitations so that practice was serving their needs.

…it’s not enough of a workout
There’s a stereotype about yoga class being a place where you just sit in lotus with your eyes closed chanting “Om”. While there are some gentle forms of yoga that don’t involve a lot of movement, let’s just say Forrest Yoga does not fall into that category. If you haven’t tried a Forrest Yoga class, I encourage you experience the sweat pouring out of you during the class and then assess if it’s giving you a workout.

“If you can breath you can do yoga.”
~David Beadle

Going Through the Motions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently I’ve been down in a dark hole. I struggle with depression on and off, but this was the lowest I’ve been in recent memory. “I know that I have wonderful people in my life and so many things to be grateful for and I am, so what’s my problem”, I will ask myself. Then I feel worse because I have no excuse to be so down in the dumps.

For me, being bummed out is a series of contradictions. I don’t want to go to sleep at night, yet don’t want to get out of bed in the morning. I don’t want to do anything, but don’t want to not do anything because that will give me yet another reason to feel bad about myself. I want someone to reassure me that everything is okay, but I’m convinced that it isn’t. Being around people is the last thing I feel like doing, yet it’s when I’m with people that often I feel slightly better, even if it’s temporary.

The worst part is feeling like I’m just going through the motions of my life. There’s still work, responsibilities, and even basic behaviors like taking a shower and emptying the dishwasher. Yet I feel like I’m doing it all with a big cloud of sludge surrounding me.

This brings up another contradiction. I don’t want to be fake. It doesn’t seem very yogic. I don’t like putting on positive, cheery front, if that’s not being true to where I’m at. On the other hand, I still have to hold it together. If I’m leading a volunteer group or teaching a class, I need to be holding a positive space for people. So is it better to act upbeat even if that’s the polar opposite of how I feel?

A wise person pointed out to me, “What if you just were to be where you are? What if you do just go through the motions and accept that that’s where you are right now?” For some reason, this took some pressure off. I still show up. I don’t have to be the life of the party, but I do have to put myself out there and do the best job I can. If I feel like I’m just slogging through it, that’s how it is right now. Going through the motions is a way of keeping hope. Even if I don’t believe things will get better, if I keep doing it anyway, eventually I can begin embodying the effort I’m putting forth.

The fog has started to lift. Yesterday I had the chance to do a long yoga practice. Midway through I found myself giving out a big sigh as a huge block of sadness fell away. I kept going through the motions of my practice, but for the first time in awhile, felt present in my body and okay with myself.

 

 

 

Tip Tuesday: Breaking Habits

Tip Tuesday is a weekly feature where I offer a few yoga tips that have worked for me in the hopes that they can help you too.

The process of changing habits sucks. Just ask anyone who’s quit smoking. Although the end result is positive, it’s an uncomfortable re-patterning curve to get there. It never fails to amaze me how much our habits on the yoga mat often reflect our habits off the mat. For example, if you slump in front of the computer, you’ll frequently find yourself unconsciously slumping in poses.

When you’re faced with the often daunting task of breaking a habit, the mat can be a good place to start. You can consciously make small changes that are easier and not as emotionally hard to do. By practicing less dramatic changes, it gets you in the “habit”, if you will, of riding through the discomfort of change to prepare you for the next leap off the mat.

A few ways you can do so:

Clasp your hands in your non-habitual way Interlace your fingers, then move your fingers over one. It will feel weird because you’re in the habit of doing the other way. But like breaking other habits, it’s going to feel weird for awhile as you start a new behavior.

Mix up what foot you start on If you usually start off on the right on one-sided poses, do your left side first or vice versa. If you are doing sun salutations, switch off what foot you begin with. Kicking up to handstand or forearm balance? Make sure you also do it with your non-dominant leg.

Take the down-level That goes for advanced students too. Purposely do the more basic version of the pose. Re-connect to the basic mechanics of the pose. Observe if your mind goes crazy because you’re “not doing it hard enough.”

Change your focus For example, in triangle pose, instead of aiming to get your fingers to the floor, prioritize getting length in both sides of the waist. Or pick an area of your body to work with and find how you can connect with your chosen spot through every pose.

Know that it will feel awkward and wrong and you won’t want to do it. But if you can break a habit successfully on the mat, you know you can take a small step towards busting those larger bad habits.

You Gotta Grow Like a Lotus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud — the obstacles of life and its suffering. … The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. … Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one. ”

― Goldie Hawn

Top 10 Ways Teaching Yoga is like Social Media

I’ve been having a blast helping Innerstellar Pilates and Yoga studio out with their social media. It’s a wonderful marriage of my two careers and two things I love: yoga and social media. Maybe it’s just my tendency to see parallels to yoga in everything, but I find a ton of commonality between teaching yoga and working in social media.

Top 10 Ways Teaching Yoga is like Social Media

10. You get to touch the lives of others, be it a juicy yoga class or a helpful response to a user on Facebook.

9. Just as your yoga practice changes and evolves over time, social media is always changing. You have to adapt and progress forward.

8. There’s no shortage of workshops on both subjects and so many people to learn from.

Image courtesy of Master isolated images FreeDigitalPhotos.net

7. You get the opportunity to share information and information with others whether it’s through teaching or tweeting or a Facebook update.

6. There’s no “right way” to do social media or yoga. There are guidelines and best practices, but ultimately you have to be the one to discover what works.

5. In both practices, you give, but you can be overwhelmed with how much you get back from others.

4. Opportunities to be creative abound!

3. As you do them more and more, you begin to find your own voice.

2. You must be willing to experiment. If something falls flat, problem-solve, try something else, and change direction as you need to.

1. The best part of all is the personal connection with others.

Social media and yoga. It’s a damn good combination.

Tip Tuesday: 5 Ways to Love Forrest Yoga Abs

Tip Tuesday is a weekly feature where I offer a few yoga tips that have worked for me in the hopes that they can help you too.

I’ve found many of my students dread the abs part of class. So you might wonder how love and Forrest Yoga Abs can be in the same sentence that isn’t meant sarcastically. Believe it or not, you can find love in doing abs. ?Here are the top 10 ways to find love in Forrest Yoga Abs:

10. They help big-time with lower back pain
Ana Forrest designed the abs as a way to heal lower back pain. If you’ve ever seen some of the poses she does , you’ll see that they helped her do just that.

9. Abs are guaranteed to bring more aliveness to your body
I’ve yet to find the person who didn’t feel awake after a round or two of abs with a mat.

8. Let’s face it, it’s pretty darn cool to see some muscle definition in your abs

7. You’ll notice it helps you in other yoga poses
You use your abs in other yoga poses, especially inversions and arm balances, but there’s not a lot of traditional poses that specifically target the abs.

6. Stronger abs promote better posture
Abs are a great counter to “slump-asana.”

5. After doing Forrest Yoga for awhile, you’ll find the abs section in other classes to be a piece of cake

4. You’ll feel connections to your back, hips and thighs
When you connect into your center it’s pretty amazing to feel the pathways of connection to other parts of the body that awaken.

3. Abs help with digestion
As Ana would say, you start getting rid of your shit. Literally.

2. You may find peace with this area of the body
For a lot of the population, the belly is not a neutral place, nor a place we typically feel positive feelings about. If you’re uncomfortable with this area, you get to connect into it anyway and the feelings it might harbor.

1.You get connected to your power
The core is also the core of who we are. Cultivating a strong center in the body helps cultivate a strong center in the mind. Doing a few rounds of abs before doing something I’m really nervous about helps me walk into the situation with more confidence.

So much ab love!
Photo credit: Root Yoga Center

 

Giants Yoga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been an exciting week in San Francisco with the Giants sweeping the World Series. San Francisco was a blob of orange and black on Wednesday as thousands gathered for the victory parade. Giants merchandise abounds. Bakeries carry Giants cupcakes. MUNI buses have “Go Giants” signs.

Clearly yoga needs to get in on the action too. Celebrate the World Series champs with these Giants-inspired poses:

1) The Pre-Practice Warm-Up

Emulate the Giants pre-game ritual! Before you roll out your yoga mat, gather with fellow yogis and surround your yoga instructor. Bop up and down, whoop, and throw sunflower seeds over each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2) Bat in a handstand homerun

Face towards the wall. Channel your inner Panda. Using the strength in your core, exhale and bat your leg up. Don’t worry if you have a little extra heft on you; it might just help you power your leg up. Aim for up and over the wall (but just on it will do for yoga). Repeat three times in the same class. Oh, and when you hit the handstand home run? You can look this happy too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) Diving Amazing Catch Pose (aka One-Legged Bow Variations)

Image credit: Sports Overdose

Lie on your belly and come up on the forearms. Stretch your right arm up as if you were about to catch fast-moving baseball. Use your left forearm to help you lift. Extend the left leg and bend your right knee and lift the foot. Keep a strong lift in leg and the arm. Gregor Blanco would be proud.

4) Don’t Stop Believin
Patiently listen to everyone say it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to meet a challenge in your life. Have them point out the odds against you. Deal with their skepticism. Then prove ’em wrong!

Go Giants!