I ate Vegan and Survived! YTT Part 2

When I started getting more into yoga, I started to follow a lot of yogis on IG. I quickly noticed that a good number of them were vegan but I never understood why. I thought it was kind of like Crossfit and Paleo, they just go together. It sort of is that way but there is a little more to it. I didn’t understand it until I went to the ashram.

When I found out that I was going to be eating vegan for about a month during my yoga teaching training I was super excited. I’ve never gone that long without eating meat or dairy and I was very interested in what it would do for my body. I suffer from acne so I thought this would be an awesome test to see if that would change. I normally eat a LOT of chicken so I wondered what would happen if I stopped eating it. And then just in general, how would I feel?

The first 2 days I was gone I had terrible headaches. That was the detox period. After that, smooth sailing, easy peasy! The easiest part was that someone was cooking for me and I didn’t have a choice in what I was eating. But if I had to say anything negative, and believe me this isn’t even really negative but I figure I have to have a down with my ups, it would be that I didn’t have a choice, LOL! There were a handful of days that we had the same food and that just got a little boring. But I ate it, and I was never hungry, so really not so much negative, just something that wasn’t 100% positive.

The acne didn’t go away. Actually, it got worse. This could be for a couple of reasons. One, I was surrounded by women the entire time and that meant hormone disruption the entire time I was gone. That said, I was getting zits in places on my face I don’t usually get them, so I don’t think it was all hormonal. Two, it could have been detoxing, stuff coming out, but I don’t think it should have lasted the whole time I was gone. So I am going to say that dairy does not have an effect on my skin. I think it’s time to see a dermatologist.

When I would tell people I was going to eat vegan, the number one response was, “You’re going to lose weight.” I sure didn’t want to. But I was interested to see what would happen so I took some measurements before I left. The only thing to really note here is that the two weeks before I was at the ashram were go crazy eating weeks. I was in California, I went to Disneyland where they have the best churros ever, and I wasn’t eating as clean as I normally do. So I started out about 5-7 pounds heavier than normal. So when I got home from the ashram here’s what happened weight/size/feeling wise. I felt bigger. I felt bloated the whole time I was gone. My clothes (yoga pants) still fit for the most part, but you could see it in my face. I actually had a friend tell me she’s never seen my face that round before. I did lose weight though, sort of. I lost the extra weight I had gained prior to going but nothing more. I was eating fabulous food, but I was eating a SHIT LOAD of carbs. My body is not used to that. So I think that is where the “side effects” came from. When I got home and went back to eating less carbs, the weight in my face fell off! The same friend who saw me and said my face was round saw me only a week later and said I was back to usual. Other people who see me regularly said I didn’t look like I had lost weight but I looked more toned. That surprised me because I wasn’t exercising like I usually do.

So to sum up, I learned that my brand of acne is not from food, and I should continue eating minimal carbs so I don’t feel bloated. But other than that, vegan eating was awesome! Oh, and the part about yogis being vegan? It all comes back to Ahimsa, non-harming/non-violence, the first of the Yamas and Niyamas, aka Yoga Rules. To sum that up without going into great detail. don’t kill anything, which would include animals for your food. Pretty basic stuff.

You’re probably waiting for some photos. So here are a couple of my favorite meals!!

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On the left is a frittata made with chickpea flour. Soooooooooo effing delicious!! On the right is a 3-bean salad. Also major yum! But really, that frittata!

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I have absolutely no idea what is in that patty, but it tasted like a burger and was amazing!

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Quinoa stuffed zucchini! This is something I would normally do at home already so it was great!

 

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MEXICAN FOOD!!!! Beans and spanish quinoa! YASSSSSS!!!!!

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Something I NEVER thought I would eat…palm hearts and okra with green beans. Delicious! Just weird because it was very new.

The next photo is the thing we ate, in my opinion, too often. Mung beans in various forms. If I never eat this yellow bean again I will be okay. I get it, it’s quick and it can be mass produced for a large group, but it wasn’t my favorite.

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The day I rebelled and decided to eat whatever I wanted was day 21. It wasn’t because I missed meat, it wasn’t because I was craving meat or dairy, I was just wanting something different. And so breakfast at a diner was the way to go! And I did it right! Eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, toast, and pancakes. And I ate it all!!!!!

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Since being home, a couple things have happened. At first, I went back to eating like I normally did. Clean and healthy, meat, low carb. And I felt just fine. No adverse effects from adding meat back into my diet. But as of a little over a week ago, my family and I are now vegan/vegetarian. It wasn’t just the ashram that made us make the change, I will blog about all that separately, but living it for a month helped sway me for sure. #ChangeIsGood!

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A Month of Firsts: YTT Part 1

It’s official! I am a 200 hour yoga teacher training graduate!! HEYO!!!!

I spent a month living at an ashram, a”forest school”, learning everything that is YOGA! I slept in a dorm with other yogi ladies, ate vegan food, chanted, and walked away with so much more than a certificate.

I have a ton to write about but it would be a gazillion pages long so I am going to try to break it up into categories the best I can. I’ll start with this one, a list of my “firsts” from this trip. Being in my 30’s it kind of seems weird to be experiencing things for the first time, but there is definitely a list so here goes…

My first time graduating after high school. After I graduated high school I started at San Diego State. I was a year in when my boyfriend joined the Army. So I quit school, started working full time to save money, got married, and never went back. I am not at all sad about it. I wouldn’t ever take any of it back.

Since then I have always had people wonder if I’d ever go back to school. My answer has always been no, I don’t want to have to go through all that, but if I ever did it would be for something specific. I guess I lived up to that. I went back to “school” to be a yoga teacher.

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My first time to Pennsylvania. After getting married I have frequently traveled along the southern states. For quite a few years, the DC area was the farthest north I had ever been. Now I can add Pennsylvania to my list of states visited.

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My first time to New Jersey. Sure I only visited the edge of Jersey that borders Pennsylvania, but I was still there. One of the last evenings at the ashram a group of us drove to an amphitheater in Jersey to see Alice Cooper and Deep Purple.

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My first time walking through a river. This one might surprise you. It sure surprised my friend who watched me walk in the water like it was normal. Sure I’ve swam in lakes but only ones that were highly populated for recreational purposes. This river was not one of those types.

On our first day off, a new friend and I ventured into town to do laundry, eat lunch, and go on a hike. We happened upon this great river area that had a walking trail, a giant covered bridge, and just all around great scenery. My friend is a seasoned river-goer so in we went. Of course I did yoga!

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Sticking to the theme here… First time jumping in a swimmin’ hole via a rope swing. On another day off we ventured to this great little town called St. Peters that sits along French Creek State Park. We nicknamed it the “Spirit Village” because it was just that; a quaint little village with yoga classes, a gem shop, and all around spirit, nuzzled up next to hiking trails and a river. I came here twice, the first time just for hiking, but found that this spot in the photo is where all the families hang out to swim and swing. So the second time we went I knew I had to get in and see what the fuss was all about. I guess you could say I am kind of adventurous. What an exhilarating experience! And yes, the water was cold.

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First time eating (almost) all vegan. I came into this really eager to see what eating vegan was all about. Having someone else cook it for me was definitely a plus! I plan to write a whole post just about this so I won’t say much but I will say this… I survived! LOL! I ate vegan breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a total of 20ish days. I even stuck to it when I went out in the real world. It was pretty great! I didn’t miss meat or cheese. I now have quite a few ideas to incorporate into my regular life. But around day 20 I was tired of eating the same thing everyday so I staged a revolt and went out to eat breakfast complete with eggs, bacon, and pancakes. I am not sorry!!

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This is a tough one… First time dealing with the loss of a pet. About half way through my time away, my husband had to make the choice to put down our boy Simon. It was a bit easier for me because I wasn’t around to witness it and I am also a bit more level-headed in situations like this. But that may be what made it harder for me; I couldn’t be there for my husband when he needed someone. I had the support of my new “family” while he only had the support of one of his best friends. Thank goodness for that one friend.

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Simon smiling on his last day.

Last but not least..My first time doing something totally alone, for myself. I got married when I was 19 and since then have been doing EVERYTHING with my husband. I have a 9 year old daughter, so the last 9 years have been spent doing almost everything with her as well. For me, doing things all alone involve me being alone at home or going grocery shopping. This was yet another road on my journey that I never expected.

I spent 24 days without my husband or daughter. I spent them in a “foreign” place. I shacked up with 7 other ladies in a dorm. I lived with 15-20 strangers for 24 days. I drove 6 hours in the truck to and from the ashram (I think I’ve topped out at 3 hour drives). I lived and survived on my own for the month. That’s the gist of it really. I elected to live away from my family and go on this crazy journey and I had to problem with it. I jumped in head first and it was AMAZING! I could easily say that being a military kid and wife prepared me for such a road, but I like to think that I am just awesome to be able to handle this kind of thing. 😉

What a trip!!

Stay tuned for more exciting posts coming soon!!

From Guide to Teacher #NamasteTuesday

I became a yoga teacher a little over a year ago. And I know that even though I am not certified, I am still a teacher. But when I tell people that I teach I sometimes use the word “guide” rather than teacher because I am not certified. I tend to get self-conscious about using the word “teacher” because I have never been formally trained. I have attended classes, but I am mostly self-taught. I have never been taught how to teach, I just gave it a try and found out I am pretty darn good at it. And while I feel confident as a teacher/guide, there are still some aspects of teaching a class that I could use a bit more confidence. Well…the time has finally arrived.

I am going to officially get my 200 hour yoga certification next month! WOOO!!!!

I have been talking about doing it for a while. Not only to be more confident when I teach, but mostly for myself. There is only so much that you can teach yourself. And there is sooooooo much more that I have to learn. But there have always been obstacles. First of course is money. It ain’t cheap to get your certification. The second obstacle has been scheduling. Although I don’t work and you would think I have all the time in the world, I don’t. Especially on the weekends. And yoga cert classes are not on YOUR schedule. Most of them are only one weekend a month; Friday evening, all day Saturday, and all day Sunday. Even though that’s only one weekend a month we have to work around, that’s a lot of work. And we only have one car and a kid. So making sure my husband is going to be home on time for me to drive for an hour and make it to class, and then if my daughter had somewhere to be on the weekend…you get it. One weekend can really mess things up. We were, of course, going to make it work, but it was going to be tough. Until the Kula Kamala Foundation popped up on our search.

One other quick thing that was going to be tough with the other classes, a lot of them required that you go to their studios at least once a week to attend a class. Again, I would have to really rework my schedule to be able to do this. Oh, another thing, it seemed to me that a lot of the classes are also geared towards getting your certification so you can turn around the find a job as a teacher. I don’t need that. Sure, in the future my certification will make it easier to get a job, but at this point I am not looking for ways to market myself. So….

There were a couple classes that I was going to settle for. We were going to make it work. And then Kula Kamala came up. I don’t even know how my husband found it because it isn’t local. But this was THE one. This one has everything I was looking for and more. First, it’s not as expensive, and let’s be honest, that is always a plus. Second, it’s all done in one month. One super long, intense month, but no big schedule changes. Including not having to find child care because my daughter is on her own vacation until school starts. Double win! Third, and this is the pretty cool part, I am going to live and be fed at the school for the entire time, and that’s part of the tuition. And four, this class seems to be more about the spiritual side of yoga, while also teaching you how to guide others. This is going to be so crazy and awesome!

I have never done something like this. I have never lived on my own. I have never done something like this where I leave the family for an extended period of time. And I’ve never imagined I’d go off to live in Pennsylvania with a bunch of other yogi weirdos (I’m definitely one of those so I am not making fun of anyone) for a month. It’s going to be fantastic. I am going to be mingling with my people. I am going to be completely immersed in yoga for a month. And I get to experience a ton of things I have never had the chance to before.

I am also going to be vegan for the month. The food served is all local or homegrown at the school and it’s all vegan or vegetarian. I am honestly not sure what there will be that is vegetarian, (milk?) so I am going to assume that it will be almost 100% vegan. I am pretty excited about this too. When I think about eating a vegan diet I always say, “That would be great…if someone else made the food for me.” You want to cook vegan for me? Perfect. I have to prepare everything and buy new things and learn new recipes? No thanks. So the fact that I will be eating this way because it’s what is being put in front of me is going to make it a helluva lot easier to try. Not like I’ll have a choice, LOL! But I am honestly excited. I have not, until now, realized that most of the yogis I know or follow online are all vegan. So it will be interesting to see what it does for my mind. I am very eager to see what it does for my skin, if anything. I suffer from acne and cannot figure out what the hell causes it. Maybe it is something in animal products. I have read about it being caused by dairy but I do not eat a ton of dairy. But you never know.

You won’t see a blog from me in a while since I’ll be very busy, but I will definitely find time to journal and blog when I return.

The next time you see me, I should will be able to say with confidence, “I am a yoga TEACHER.”

And for fun, here’s me smiling while inverted. 🙂

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Overflowing with Joy #NamasteTuesday

A quick post before I go to bed because my heart is seriously swelled up so big!

First on the list, after Thursday’s yoga class one of the ladies asked who was teaching Saturday’s class.  I told her me and she said she’d be sure to come. She came because I was leading.

Second, I  had 6 ladies in my Saturday class! Wooohooo!!! After class, one of my chair regulars was double checking which Thursday’s I’m teaching so she can make sure to come. Again,  she’s coming because of me. 

Third, my first online class with a friend was perfect!  We’re planning to do it every Wednesday!

And last, the super terrific reason I’m overflowing with joy and love…. remember that guy that came to my Saturday class last month?  Well, that was his first yoga class. He was visiting his sister,  a chair regular,  and then headed back home.  The first thing he did back in his hometown was join the Y yoga class! Ahhh!!! So awesome!  But wait,  there’s more. He met a lady in class and they are now dating.  All because he tried my class!! His sister told me that story tonight during class and I about broke down.  I haven’t smiled that big in ages. That story seriously warmed my heart and made me incredibly happy and proud.  That took an insane amount of confidence to join a class and then approach someone in that class. Gah!! So much love!

Good night,  lovelies!! 😚

Happy Yogaversary to Me!!

The last time I blogged about yoga I was broken. That was a rough two-ish weeks. I didn’t write about it all during that time because I could feel myself slipping into a bit of a depression and I knew that if I wrote about it it wouldn’t be good. There was even one day when I thought I would never bend over again. It was that bad. I’ll sum up… (edit: once i started I couldn’t stop. So if you want to just read about the title, skip down some)

I broke myself by sitting. I kept joking, “Remember that time I broke my butt by sitting on it?” For real. I had a muscle spasm in my muscles surrounding my tailbone. On a Friday night, I watched a bunch of movies and sat with my butt sunk down into my couch for hours. I woke up the next morning sore but not worried. By Monday I couldn’t bend forward at all. By Wednesday I couldn’t sit. I trained myself to squat down to do everything. On top of that I had a cough and was sneezing. Let me tell you this… sneezing and coughing with a muscle spasm is the absolute worst shit ever. I don’t wish that on anyone. It’s crippling. I had to hold onto a wall or else my knees would buckle and I’d fall on the floor. I’m not exaggerating. I went to the ER Thursday and was put on pain meds, steroids, and a muscle relaxer. They said it was both good and bad that I was a healthy and active person. Good because I would recover just fine. Bad because I would have to rest. HA! Being a mom and wife, I don’t know what rest is. By the next Monday, I really didn’t think I was going to get any better. So I doped myself up on the pain meds and prescribed myself bed rest. I basically slept for two days. And I felt a little bit better. I could at least sit down to pee without dying. But it wouldn’t be until that Friday that I could do some sort of yoga again. It was devastating. Like I said, I was getting depressed. But Friday came, and by accident I bent forward. But it didn’t hurt. Hallelujah!!

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I posted that photo to my Instagram talking about how this was the one thing that was keeping me from doing what I loved. And although I wasn’t 100% healed, my soul was on the mend.

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I posted the above photo to show me bending forward again. It’s funny because I have seen people post photos like this one and I always thought, “Why?” And then I folded forward and it hit me. Now I understand. This was something I could not do while I was broken. And this meant I was back.

Not doing any sort of exercise for 2 weeks really weakened me. There are still, now almost a month later, several things in yoga I cannot do. I try, and then my back reminds me that it isn’t quite healed yet. It’s weird. One thing I lost was pincha. I lost the strength. But I was determined to get it back.  And then I did.

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At this point I’d say I’m 90% back to normal. At least I can teach again… which brings me to the main idea of this blog post.

Today, one year ago, I taught my first yoga class!! Happy Yoga-versary to Me!!!

I never knew I would be a yoga teacher. That was never ever in my mind. Then one day during a class, the instructor said she would need a sub at some point. I asked if there were any qualifications needed, and she said, “Nope, just yoga knowledge.” So I volunteered to be her sub. In the weeks leading up to it I was nervous because I had never taught yoga. But the day came and it was awesome! Flash forward to now, I teach a beginner/chair yoga class every Tuesday and teach regular yoga every other Thursday. I also teach a Saturday class once in a while.

Last Saturday I had 7 people in my class! And a guy! That was a first! It was sooooo amazing! The fact that I can share yoga with people brings me so much joy! But right behind that, these people are coming to class because I teach it. They keep coming back because I’m there. And then they bring more people!! They’re telling more people to come to MY class. Man, that is a cool feeling.

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We cancelled Tuesday’s class this week because there was a special program at the community center, but one lady said she was going to try my Thursday class instead. One lady said she’d come, but she bought 3 others. And those are my beginner ladies coming to my other class. Gah!! I cannot explain how awesome this is! And it makes me soooooo incredibly proud of these ladies for going way out of their comfort zone when they come to my class.

Like I’ve said before, I never ever saw this road coming on my journey I call life. Yoga Road detoured me when I needed it, not even knowing I needed it. And then Teacher Avenue appeared out of nowhere but I took that road without even thinking about it. Life is weird. Life is crazy. And I’m having a ball!!

So what’s next in the yoga journey for me? Online teaching! A TON, like literally a good 10 people have asked me to teach online. I have always been hesitant because of data issues (we live in the middle of nowhere). But, the stars have aligned and Verizon is now offering unlimited data again. So…..March 1st I will video chat with a friend and for the first time I will teach via internet! I am also thinking of making cd’s with videos but I haven’t started that yet. How weird right? To go from student to exercise video host? LOL!!! Again, life is weird.

I’ll end with this photo of me doing pincha in my jeans from last week. Happy Saturday!

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Aspire to Inspire #NamasteTuesday

A couple days ago in my health support group, a friend posted a fill in the blank status that said, “I am inspired by________. I aspire to__________.” The answer came to me easily…

I am inspired by other yogis and their journeys. I aspire to be as inspiring.

I think I am in the right track. I get so much positive feedback from my IG posts and the people that come to my yoga classes. I am also getting a bunch of friends and family members asking me how to get started with yoga. They all tell me that I inspire them to get started and that I am very encouraging. And that all makes me so happy. Seeing other people discover the beauty of yoga is inspiring!

I got this message from my cousin last week…

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The Mexican angry is the best part! One, I totally get that, and two, it’s such a yoga thing to become less reactive. I continued the conversation telling her about a recent Facebook post I commented on and how not reacting was something I was so proud of. The post was political and while everyone else stomped on me and told me how wrong I was, I stood my ground while being positive and never getting mad or speaking down to the other commenters. A couple years ago I would have started a “Facebook War” and definitely would have gotten Mexican angry. I eventually left the conversation quietly because I “let things go.” That really made some of the commenters mad, lol.

My most favorite philosophy in yoga is “Practice make progress.” I love to teach that idea to others. I love when people tell me that they can see differences in their balance, posture, poses, and mood. That all comes from practice. Here’s one of my most recent progress posts.

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The bottom photo was a neat morning. I was just doing my yoga thing, not planning to practice kapotasana (full pigeon), but it happened in my flow and it felt right.

I am doing another IG challenge. This one is called #PinchaQueens. A couple weeks full of all kinds of forearm stand prep and actual pincha. Today is pincha with bow and arrow legs.

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A couple days ago was pincha with a prop. Most people used a yoga wheel but since I didn’t have one I decided this was a great time to do some yoga with my chickens. (Watch my video here or check the side bar for the video on my IG.) It was a great morning. I tried so many times to get a good take but my balance was way off and Hagrid was just over it. The video was around take 5 and it still didn’t work. Hagrid was a great sport though so she got lots of cuddles.

That evening my daughter found my farmer Barbie and said, “Look, mom. I made you!” She is really my number one fan with yoga stuff. She makes fun of me and likes to tell me I’m showing off, but I know one day she’ll understand it all.

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While so much of my yoga is for me, I do hope to continue to teach others and inspire. It really does bring my happiness.


 

Thankful For Yoga #NamasteTuesday

If you don’t follow me on Instagram, here’s what you missed!!

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Everyone is doing “Thankful” challenges so I decided to do my own. I’m going to be thankful for yoga and all the things it has brought me!! To start off day 1, I’m Thankful for Yoga. Period.

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Today I’m thankful for the opportunity to share yoga with others in the form of teaching/guiding. I get such a thrill out of people coming to my class and experiencing yoga with me. I never thought this road was on my path, but I’m so glad it was.

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Today I’m thankful for the community center where I practice and teach yoga. I happened upon the building looking for the library when I first moved here. At the library I learned of the yoga and exercise classes. I immediately became part of the community. We frequent the community center as often as we do Starbucks (if you know us you know this is a LOT) and we get involved as often as possible. If I didn’t see the yoga sign that day, life here would be very different.

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Today I’m thankful for the opportunities my yoga teaching/attending has given my daughter. When the hub is home I go to yoga alone and the two of them get dad/daughter time. When hub is gone the daughter comes with me and spends time in the library. It’s so awesome! I don’t think about her the entire time. I know she’s reading, crafting, or busy gabbing with the two librarians, 60ish year old Ricky and 32 year old Mary. Gwen even says Mary if her bff. The opportunity this gives Gwen is so much more than library time. It’s time away from me and time for her to be extremely independent and adulty. Annnnddd, if one lady hadn’t ever come to my class, we wouldn’t have been invited to a Hoe-Down at a horse ranch and we wouldn’t have ever gotten Gwen involved in the FREE horse therapy/riding lesson program. Annnnddd I wouldn’t be the new craft coordinator for said program. All thanks to the yoga classes in a tiny community center. p.s. my money tree isn’t dead. She’s sad because she was outside in a freeze.

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Yoga in the biggest, comfyest (totally a word) pair of sweats I own. Today I’m thankful for what yoga has done for my soul. I feel like the philosophy of yoga (there’s so much more to yoga than being stretchy) unlocked a part of me that was always there but maybe not right on the surface. Ever since really embracing the yoga lifestyle I feel 100% myself. It’s a missing piece I didn’t even know was missing.

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Today I’m thankful for what yoga has done for my body. Not only am I stronger and more flexible, I love my body for both it’s flaws and awesomeness, and I’m more in tune with my body. I read somewhere that “it’s isn’t about using your body to learn a pose, it’s about using a pose to learn about your body.”

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I tried something new today. I’m continuing to try to figure out new things to do with my legs while in pincha. This was tough but I held it for a couple breaths.

Today I’m thankful for what yoga has done for my spirituality. I’m not religious, never have been. But I am spiritual. Not believing in one specific idea allows me to be open to a gazillion others. And yoga philosophy has really opened my mind and made me feel, again, like I am finally 100% me. I’ve been living this life for 30+ years but I am finally living it fully.

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Today I am thankful for what yoga has done for my marriage. I know that seems weird. But yoga gives me time away, mini breaks, time for myself. Yoga has taught me not to sweat the small stuff. Again, it’s one of those things that was there already but yoga has enhanced it. Yoga has really taught me that there are so many other important things in my life and to really enjoy everyday things. Which in turn has helped in the marriage department. Been married 13 years today (11/22)

#ThankfulForYoga

 

Yoga in a Chair

I had no idea that this yoga road was on my path called LIFE. The very first time I took a yoga class I loved it. It was slow and calming. The poses were easy. If I got tired I could just go into child’s pose and rest. But the second time I tried? I hated it. Like, super hated it. They did planks all the time and down dog was a resting pose. How is down dog a resting pose? It would be about 7 years until I decided to try yoga again. The only reason I did was because a new friend was the instructor. Boy, am I glad I did. My life is forever changed because I got over my yoga fear and took a chance.

Flash forward to another road on my path…teaching yoga. I never ever would have thought this would be something I would do. I never thought I would get such a rush out of people showing up to my class and letting me guide them through a practice. And I really didn’t think that I would have my own beginner class where I teach yoga while sitting in a chair. It continues to amaze me how life works. How one little thing can lead up to so many bigger things. How one trip to the local library to print something in a town with no internet would help mold me into the yogi I am today.

The town I live in is in the middle of nowhere. Lots of farming, lots of open space, no neighborhoods, no sidewalks. It’s also an area where houses are occupied for generations. You don’t find a “new” family living in the houses. Well, I take that back, because we are THAT family. You don’t normally find that because these houses aren’t normally rented out. Families have lived on properties for generations and they continue to. The people I meet at the library/community center all know each other and their kids know each other and their grandparents all knew each other. The reason I am telling you all this is because it paints a picture of the yoga community, or lack there of. There are no fancy studios. There are no expensive memberships. And there aren’t too many youngsters. I think I might be the youngest person who comes to the classes.

The other yoga teacher, who also teaches an exercise class, practically begged me to teach. She had mentioned needing a sub someday and I volunteered. I thought my teaching days would just be that; the occasional leading. I taught one class and she was telling me to have my own class. I thought about it, tried to tell myself not to do it, and then I was like, “F*** it! Let’s do this!” Sometimes that’s the best way to do things; jump right in! I found out later that part of her agenda was to try to get more people to come to the community center. Not only that, she knows the benefits of yoga and knows that yoga can really help with strength and balance for the older community. She wasted no time trying to recruit people to my class.

The downside? They see me, young yogi, and get scared. It does not matter how many times I tell someone that I didn’t look like this when I started or that you don’t have to be flexible. I can shout all day that I won’t fold you into a pretzel but they just won’t hear it. That’s when the idea of chair yoga came up.

Do you know that you can do a ton of yoga while sitting in a chair? It’s true! And you still get a really good workout while stretching and breathing and working on balance and flexibility. We decided to try the class for the month of November to see if we got any fresh blood. We advertised a bunch and talked to a ton of people about it. November 1st was the first class. I walked in and there were 8 people in my class! 8!!! My normal class usually has between 1 and 3 people. I walked in and shouted, “Oh my gosh! I’m so excited!!!” It was so fantastic! This week will be my 4th class and people are still coming back! It’s not 8 people every time, but it’s not 1 or 3 either!! People coming back is such a huge compliment!! And the feedback is all positive too. One lady says that she can already feel her balance getting better and (don’t tell the Tai Chi teacher) she likes my class more than the Tai Chi class! Ahh!! So awesome!!

My Tuesday class is now going to be Chair Yoga every week. There has been such overwhelming enthusiasm that there is no way I would switch it back now. And it gives me a chance to continue to share yoga with others. That really does bring me joy each week! And I get to see people’s progress. Once I start adding new things into our routine I am excited to see how everyone starts to gain more flexibility. I’ll bend these ladies into pretzels in no time!!

Bend it Like Chrissy #NamasteTuesday

This has been a pretty big week in my yoga world. Hopefully it will get even bigger today! Read on.

Yesterday was the last day of the latest Instagram challenge I was participating in. This was #BentYogis2, and while #BentYogis definitely challenged me, challenging may be an understatement for this one. I tried new things and most of them were difficult for me.

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These may look easy but they are not. I don’t recommend trying any of these without REALLY warming up first. The middle one on the right was totally weird. One of the hosts of the challenges demoed it and said, “it looks deceptively easy.” That was 100% true. You go in thinking it’s going to be simple but it’s not. I am not even in the full pose there but that was all I could do.

The last day was yesterday and the pose for the day equally excited and scared me. It was something I had never done before. It’s called Hollowback. The point of this inversion is my have your hips behind your shoulders. Again, when you see the hosts giving examples it looks easy (that’s part of the problem with pictures). Since I am pretty good at forearm stands I wanted to try it that way. We were encouraged to use a wall if we needed but I was determined not to. I used to rely on the wall and my bff, Isis,  would say, “Fu** that wall!!” So when I thought about using a wall this time, I was emotionally blocked to allow myself to use it (that seems like terrible grammar. Sorry, English majors). I felt like I would be going backwards in my progress. So I tried, approximately 47 times, without the wall and COULD NOT get it. I kept bending too much and going into scorpion. I kept texting Isis telling her that I needed her!! It’s very difficult to learn new things while you’re alone. She gave me some great tips and I tried another 47 times without sticking it. She reminded me that it was the very first time I was trying and that I have a lot of time to practice. I needed to hear that. We are very similar in that when we want to learn something we want to master it that first day. Yoga doesn’t always happen like that. I need practice. I ended up using the wall and going with the handstand variation. It was still incredibly difficult. Good stretch? Yes. Am I sore as shit today from all the trials? Hell yes.

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For now I’ll stick with regular pincha, forearm stands. I like those. And I like to get festive with them!

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Somewhere in the middle of last week, Isis and I decided to do another long distance yoga post. We went with backbends making a heart with our legs. This was out first try lining it up and I love it so much. It’s perfectly imperfect!

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Tonight is my first night teaching my super beginner yoga class. Most of the practice is done while sitting in a chair and we’re sticking to very basic poses. I am really excited. I didn’t realize just how much you can do from a chair. It’s pretty fantastic. I am hoping to see some new faces and get a nice new crowd to class. Not only will it benefit me and my teaching, it will also bring new people to the little community center. Win, win!!

West Coast Yoga #NamasteTuesday

Welcome back to your weekly update of all things yoga…well, all things about me and yoga. I was getting ready to go to California two weeks ago and then I just took last week off from blogging, so now I’m back and getting back into the weekly routine.

I was so happy to get the chance to go to Core Power Yoga while I was in San Diego. I checked in on Facebook and said, “I’m Home.” It was such a great hour. The guide that day was a bit advanced and it was awesome. I did a few new things I’ve never even attempted before. The first new thing was trying to bind during triangle. It takes me so long just to figure out where I’m supposed to put my arms. Then from bound triangle she went into Bird Of Paradise. This is a standing, bound pose and it was definitely difficult. Advanced people have one leg completely straight up in the air but I was lucky to just get that leg up off the ground while trying to stand up straight. As usual, I could get it on one side and not the other. Same with the other binds…more shoulder work is in my future. I left Core Power feeling awesome and ready to tackle whatever else was headed my way. That place just makes me feel amazing.

The same day I went to Core Power I headed to the beach with my husband to eat lunch with his sister. We had some time to kill so we walked along Coronado and enjoyed the warm day on the beach. Of course I had to do some yoga.

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And of course I fell for my husbands tricks. You’d think after being around him for almost 17 years I would have figured this out already, but I always fall for it. I was holding my pigeon and I asked if the photo was taken yet. He says, “Just one more second.” And then the wave came, while he was taking a video. See the video here. It’s fun, I promise.

The main reason we were in California was a wedding. All three of us (husband, child, and I) were in the wedding so it was kind of a big deal. The wedding was beautiful!! And I did some bridesmaid yoga of course.

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Once I was back from California it was back to the usual daily stuff. This last Saturday I took my daughter and some friends to a pumpkin patch. What better to celebrate than with a forearm stand!!

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This worked out perfectly because back in the winter, I took a photo of me doing pincha in the snow. Once spring rolled around I decided I should do a stand in each season. I waited until I was at the beach for my summer one, and then I did the fall one at the pumpkin patch. Here’s all of them together.

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I’m trying to decide on a new pose for this next year. I am not sure if I want to do more inversions or something different. Maybe I will do something I am not so good at to see how I progress throughout the year. I’m open to suggestions.

The other yoga teacher, at the community center, and I have been talking about ways to get more people interested in the yoga classes we teach. A lot of the community are older folks so the next couple weeks I am going to brush up on some chair yoga. Starting in November my Tuesday class is going to be very, very beginner class. We are going to start with the very basics of yoga and touch on some chair yoga. I’m excited. There are already a few people who have said they want to try it. I still think people are scared of yoga so I am going to try my hardest to make them unscared.

This weekend I’m starting another Instagram challenge. It’s #BentYogis2!! A sequel to the one I did about a month ago. I’m super excited! I’ll update you on that as it progresses. But make sure to follow me and watch along the way. @chrissyq02

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