New beginnings…

Change… Graduation has always meant major change for me. After graduating high school I took off for college. 10 years and lots of soul searching later I graduated from college and started a dream job working with children with a diagnosis of Autism. And now, facing graduation again I have to prepare for major change. I have to leave my beloved first job, the place that gave me a start, the place that reassured that special education is where I belong, the place where I love to walk into work every day and not only see the smiling faces of the children, but my amazing co-workers. This might be the hardest transition I have faced yet. But if yoga has taught me anything, it is that the hardest changes are usually the best ones. Stepping forward into the unknown can be thrilling.

Just like when I first started yoga, it was new, it was exciting, and I was scared to try new poses that challenged me. But I tried, I fell, I tried again, I fell again… but when I finally landed that pose it was an amazing feeling of accomplishment. So in my new job adventure I may fall and that’s okay. Because when I get it right I know I will be a better person for it. Our failures don’t make us who we are, but rather they mold us into the amazing beings that we are: our best Self.


School snow day…

A few things I would like to tell my 20-year-old self…

1. You are smart. That girl that didn’t care about school as a teenager just graduated with her masters with a 4.0. Never call yourself stupid. You are amazing.
2. Don’t fret about money. It can be a real issue for some, but think about the grand scheme of things. Being a millionaire is not of much importance.
3. Happiness is a state of mind that does not revolve around physical things (people, money, possessions).
4. Don’t be afraid to meet new people. The most amazing friendships are made there.
5. Don’t regret anything. Learn from your failures.

More change… Not only am I facing this major career change, but I am preparing to make the change from being a single girl living in a 1 bedroom apartment with a dog to being a wife (with two dogs). I am excited and scared all at the same time to take on these new roles in my life. It is important to me to be the best partner to my husband and the best teacher to the children that need it so much. I want to give everything I have to these two new roles in my life but as I think about it I can’t forget the relationship that I have built so strongly over the past 10 years… the relationship with me. I came to know myself through all of my soul-searching in my 20’s and I can’t forget or let go of that girl. I love that girl. So here’s the merging of me as one whole person and my husband-to-be as one whole person and I think the most important thing is that we don’t forget those people as we merge into one. We have to make time for our relationship with each other as well as with ourselves.

Heather Durham Photography



The Stuff of life…

I ran into an old friend the other day while taking my dog for a walk. It turns out that she has lived on the same street as me for a year and we never crossed paths. As we were talking and catching up she talked about her life in New York City and how her career in theater made her feel the need to be perfect. She constantly watched what she ate and always felt pressure to have this ideal body image. Although she’s still passionate about theater she faded away from it and decided that she really needed to experience “the stuff of life.” I hugged her and went about my walk and those words stuck in my head… the stuff of life. Do I enjoy the stuff of life? Am I too hard on myself? Am I too strict on my diet? Is eating a cookie (or two) really that bad?

With my wedding 4 months away I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Do I want to look amazing and fit on my wedding day? Of course. Does it matter? Not really. We’re getting married because I love him and he loves me, not because I look hot in a white formal gown. True love goes beyond that. But here’s the hard part… Showing that amount of love to yourself. I have a major inner battle with this. I love myself. I am proud of what I have accomplished and what I stand for as a person. But do I love myself every time I look in a mirror? … That needs some work.

I think we all need to learn to enjoy the STUFF of LIFE. Eat healthy foods, fuel your body, love your body, love your Self. But at the same time, have fun, eat a cookie, laugh, play, and go out with friends. Have a few glasses of wine, treat yourself to dessert (you deserve it) and be happy.

I have decided that to prepare for my wedding I will not restrict my diet any further. I will eat the foods I like (thank goodness I love veggies!), stick to my organic/whole foods/no processed diet, and amp up my workout schedule to what it was before grad-school happened. So far I’m enjoying getting back to my workout routine and feeling better about being active every day.

The STUFF of LIFE. Have your cake and eat it too.


{Have your cake and eat it too}

Have fun. Enjoy the STUFF of LIFE.


A journal entry…

I am a journalist… the kind that stays in my nightstand. Sometimes I think it’s just a way of talking to myself without sounding crazy. I’m also a blogger; but these two are very different. My journal is my thoughts that I do not broadcast for all to see, but my last entry I thought I might want to share since it correlates to yoga. Being a yoga-studying Christian in the South is often times an oxymoron and I’ve had my inner battles with it but I think I’m coming to a realization and I wanted to share.


Here’s a little pre-text on the entry… My boyfriend is Catholic, I am not. I was raised in the Baptist church but with very open-minded parents. When people hear I am Baptist they think, “Bible-belt Baptist.” But I am far from it. (Obviously, hence the yoga blog and the laughing Buddha on my nightstand). I do not currently belong to a church but I often go to Mass with my boyfriend and always enjoy the message. I guess since I do not go to church regularly, do daily devotionals, or even own an adult-version bible (my last bible is a “teen study bible” from when I was 14 that is tattooed with pictures and “autographs” from my friends at church camp), you could say I’m not a ‘practicing’ Christian.



Yesterday I went to church with D’s family and I really liked the message. The Bishop conducted the service and he really did have an air about him. The one thing from the reading that I really liked was a part about a woman who committed adultery and she was brought to Jesus. The men said, “This woman was caught in the very act of adultery. The law says any woman who commits adultery is to be stoned. What should we do?” The men were trying to catch Jesus in an act of tyranny so he could be persecuted. Jesus simply said, “Let the one of you who has never sinned be the first to throw a stone at this woman” (I started nodding my head and felt like yelling out an “amen”). The men one by one walked away. When Jesus looked up and saw all the men gone he asked the woman where her captures had gone. When she said they had left he said to her, “Go freely and do not sin anymore.” I really loved this message. If Jesus did not even judge her for her actions what right do we have to judge our fellow humans? Then the Bishop went on to talk about death. He explained death as simply going behind a veil. Your body is only temporary, but your soul is eternal. The similarities between Jesus and Buddha’s teachings are uncanny to me.


The thing that turns me off about organized religion, particularly in the South, is not the religion itself. It’s the people, the congregation, the followers… In the South, Christians seem to think they are better than everyone else. They are right and you are wrong. Basically, their religion is better than yours. This is not what Jesus taught. Here is where I am conflicted: I fall into the Christian category, but I do not think my religion is any more superior than that of a Buddhist, or Jew, or anyone else. I am not a scholar on the Bible and cannot quote scripture but I am always amazed at the similarities between Jesus and Buddha. They both taught love, acceptance, kindness, and non-judgment. What else is there to know? I’m slowly becoming more at ease with my Christian upbringing colliding with my yoga teachings, simply because they are one in the same. I just have to get through the political fog that we humans put on the subject.




Good intentions…

I went through a phase where I never made New Year’s resolutions because the “loose 5 pounds” goal was getting a little old and redundant. Plus, I didn’t feel like it was a healthy goal (in the sense that it just promoted the negativity of my body-image issues)… but now I’m looking at new years resolutions from a different angle where it is a good and healthy practice.  Making an intention is like taking aim or pointing your arrow at a target. So here’s what I did this year…

A positive 2013…

  • Reviewed all my accomplishments
  • Reviewed all my actions or words I regretted – Okay. So nobody likes this step. But it is necessary to bring light to who you do not want to be as well as who you do… Write them down just so you can tear them up or throw them in a fire. It’s very relieving.

“You can’t step consciously into the next phase of your life unless you bring consciousness to your past.” ~Sally Kempton

  • Asked myself 3 questions:
  1. What would I most like to accomplish this year?
  2. How do I want to live my life?
  3. What qualities in myself would I like to bring forth?

One of my intentions is to get a clear sense of what I’m meant to offer as a teacher. I know I have found my passion working with special needs children but what is going to make me an exceptional teacher? Patience, loving, compassion, consistency? Yes, all of the above. But honestly, all of those things are standard issue for the job. Requirements, really. I’m not exactly sure yet what will make me exceptional, but I think it will have something to do with yoga. Kids yoga!

“If your intention is clear enough, it gives a focused direction to everything you do, and you find yourself making choices that naturally expedite the journey toward your goal.” ~Sally Kempton

Happy resolutions!


What to do when…

…LIFE gets in the way of your YOGA practice.

Here’s my dilemma: Work during the day. Volunteer during the day. Paper due by midnight. Halfway finished. Yoga 6:45-8:30pm. I am totally useless past 9pm.

What to do… 

1. Do it in your living room… Or kitchen, or bedroom. Pick your favorite spot, throw down your mat and do your thang. No, it’s not the same as going to class. Personally, I love classes, the energy from the other people gets me going and not to mention there is somebody there to challenge me into new asanas my body has never seen. However, I also like my solo practice. It’s calming, quiet, and who can complain about having the world’s-best-dog lay next to your mat (and sometimes ON your mat) and kiss you during savasana?  So, no, you won’t have any help in your latest pose adventure, but there’s something to be said about doing it all by yourself.  Better yet, do it outside and get some vitamin D/fresh air/sounds of nature/sounds of the city while you’re at it.

2. Drink a chai while you study… Seriously. New studies show that coffee and tea are great nutritious snacks (in moderation). That’s almost as exciting as the study that says that chocolate is good for you, right? Almost. I’m not a big caffeine person and I don’t drink coffee, but chai has just the right amount of caffeine for me. I like to use two Tazo Organic Chai tea bags (for extra spice), 1/2 cup of soy milk, and a splash of pure vanilla extract. Caffeine speeds up your metabolism and gives your brain a little kick to get you into study mode.

3. Take meditation breaks… And by meditation I mean any activity that gives you a brain-break. Walk the dog, sit on your porch, take deep breaths, cook dinner, whatever it is that calms you. When I take Bailey for a walk I usually realize halfway through that my mind has been completely free of thought, just focusing on the simple act of walking. If that’s not meditation tell me what is.

Bailey likes meditation breaks.

4. Yoga will wait for you… Realize that your practice will be there when you need it most. Yoga is pretty dang reliable. To be honest, this one is hard for me. Mostly because I want to conquer that next pose. But I realize that in this moment what I need most is not yoga (sigh), it is to be a good student.

5. Focus on the present moment… Blah, blah, blah, right? You hear it over and over again but it’s true. If I focus on why I am skipping yoga it helps. I am writing a paper to make an ‘A’ in this class. An ‘A’ in this class gives me more knowledge in my field making me, potentially, a better teacher. I am actively preparing for my future in this moment, writing this paper, drinking my chai.

Whatever it is that you must do instead of yoga, go do it. It’s okay. Life happens. Yoga will wait for you.

Goal setting…

This year, for the first time ever, I am going to write down my goals. Long term and short term. Goal setting is believed to make you happier and more productive. Goals can be large or small, playful or serious, but the more daring the goal, the more likely it is to be effective as a catalyst to action.

I feel like I’ve made some big leaps and bounds in my personal life in the last few years and  I have yoga to thank for opening my mind. With the power of self-realization (still in the process) I am going to dig deep and set my goals.

“Failing is an essential part of success. To make goals effective, you have to fail at them 50 percent of the time, or they didn’t stretch you far enough.” ~Chip Wilson (founder of Lululemon Athletica)

I found these steps to goal setting in an article inspired by Chip Wilson, the founder of Lululemon, in my monthly Yoga Journal. The article states one of his goals was to climb the Grouse Mountain trail, a steep hike (2,800-foot vertical rise over 2 miles) near downtown Vancouver. The challenge was not just to get to the top, but to climb it at least as many times as the number of his age each year. In 2011, at 56, he had hiked to the top 56 times by September, achieving his goal. What a great personal goal to keep him active and healthy. Which also reminded me that my goals don’t have to all be about career, they can (and should) be about personal health too.

Aim high… steps to goal setting

1.  Imagine… Start by thinking of your life 10 years from now. Imagine a detailed picture of where you see yourself. What kind of home do you have? Who do you spend time with? What work do you do? How does it feel?

2.  Break it down… Work backward from that vision to figure out the steps you need to take to turn your vision into reality. Define 10-year, 5-year, and 1-year goals.

3.  Set deadlines… It’s easier to get yourself focused on a quantifiable goal with a “by-when” date. For instance, if you’re hoping to become a yoga teacher some day, turn that into “I will complete a 200-hour training by January 2014.”

4.  Test your goals… Read your goals aloud to see if they feel authentic. If you feel a little tension in your belly as you read, that’s probably good. Powerful goals will excite you and drive you to action.

5.  Recruit support… Share your goals with friends who you know will support you. Encourage them in their goals as well. The mutual support will help you make it to your personal finish line.

6.  Revisit and refresh… Write your goals on a piece of paper and keep it where you will read it often. Feel free to revise them. Nothing’s set in stone except your commitment to achieve the success you are capable of.

Here I go…

A yogi’s prayer for 2012…

May all who are mean return to good;
May all who are good obtain true peace.
May all who are peaceful be freed from bonds;
May all who are free set others free.

Blessings upon all the earth;
May all of the world’s rulers uphold righteousness.
May only good fortune reach everyone;
May all the world’s creatures be happy.

May rain fall when the earth is thirsty;
May all the storehouses be filled.
May everyone here be free from injury;
May all who are good be free from fear.

May everyone know a life of joy;
May everyone live a life of health.
May everyone see only good in the world;
May everyone soon be released from pain.

May everyone overcome all their woes;
May everyone see only good in the world.
May everyone realize all their desires;
May everyone everywhere be glad.

May our mother and father be blessed;
Blessings upon every creature on earth.
May our works flourish and aid everyone,
And long may our eyes see the sun.

Om shanti, shanti, shanti (peace).

(From Mukunda Stiles’s “Structural Yoga Therapy”)