Yoga to the rescue {video}…

Warning… When you want to wear your yoga pants all day because “they’re comfortable” it’s not necessarily a good thing. You need to do more yoga in those yoga pants and less drinking coffee, snacking and studying. I speak from experience.

So here’s my confession… I’ve gained weight since I started grad school. The truth is that I wanted to wear my yoga pants 24/7 because my jeans were a little too snug for my liking. At first, I beat myself up and had tons of self-destructive thoughts. I called myself fat while inspecting my thighs in the mirror, I even beat myself down during yoga when my clothes fit a little more snugly. My thoughts were making me feel horrible. I knew I hadn’t been able to exercise or attend as many yoga classes as I would like, but my diet was still pretty good and so I didn’t understand why I had gained the weight. I then realized that I was turning to late night coffee to keep myself up to study. And of course, I was snacking. A lot.

The remedy… I switched from late night coffee to early morning yoga and it made all the difference in the world. Who needs coffee when yoga naturally caffeinates your body?!?! I also started up my no-processed foods diet again: Click to view: Fuel your life… which I wrote in my pre-vegetarian days so I just made some vegetarian modifications. I feel so much better! None of my outside stresses have changed, the choice to be more proactive about my health and well being came from within. Does that mean that I have to get up earlier to practice yoga in the mornings? Absolutely. I just look at it as a time-investment in my happiness.

So the thing about negative self-talk is that you can read all you want about how bad it is on your mental/emotional health but you just can’t change your thoughts because you’ve read one article about positive body image and/or daily affirmations. Even though that all sounds great, like most things in life… It takes work. For me, when I am conscious about my diet, get plenty of exercise and plenty of me-time I feel like I have done all that I can to make the best version of Lindsey. I’m still working on it, but my thoughts about my body are slowly turning back to happy ones!

Practice self-love… Whenever you catch yourself comparing yourself to others (“He’s so much smarter,” “She’s so much prettier.”) or when you catch yourself in negative self-talk (“I’m so stupid,” “Ugh, I’m so fat.”) STOP and name 3 things that make you special, make you unique, or that you’re really good at. Plant seeds of positivity and honor yourself as the miracle of light and creation that you really are!

Morning yoga routine… Today must be the most beautiful day I ever lived.

Shanti,
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Aim true yoga challenge…

I kicked off National Yoga Month with a 10 day yoga photo challenge via Kathryn Budig & Instragram! Kathryn Budig is such an inspiration to me so I really wanted to try this challenge. It was so much fun to think of a pose that best fit the theme of the day then try to get a good picture of it! I loved this challenge because it reminded me why I love yoga so much. Each pose does something for my spirit.

Now… the rules. There is one cardinal rule to a yoga photo challenge… IT’S NOT ABOUT WHO CAN DO THE MOST ADVANCED POSE!!! A yoga challenge is about finding poses that go along with the theme and that fit your practice best right now, in this moment. It’s about the descriptions you give to the photo explaining why the pose is important to you. It’s about the real you.

Here are my 10 days of yoga pictures and description of why I chose each pose…

Day 1… EMPOWER

EMPOWER

Day 1 is a pose that makes me feel EMPOWERED. One day in class I told my teacher, “I don’t have the upper body strength” and he had a surprised look on his face and said, “Lindsey, you are so strong.” His sincerity made me realize that most of my weaknesses were mental. I finally landed the pose and I feel so empowered and strong.

I had to squish this picture to make it fit into Instagram so here’s the original… That’s my Bailey girl in the picture with me! She’s my yoga buddy.

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Day 2… CHALLENGE

CHALLENGE

Day 2 is any pose that CHALLENGES me. I chose handstand because it’s the hardest inversion for me. The fear of falling and fear of my arms and shoulders not being strong enough were debilitating. Every time I kicked up on the wall my elbows would buckle and I would fall down. My confidence started to build while doing this pose first in a doorway, then on the wall, and now I can’t hold it for very long… but I am taking steps in the right direction! I used a spotter behind me so I’m still working on trusting my own strength and balance…

Day 3… COMFORT

COMFORT

Day 3 is any pose that COMFORTS me. I chose Viparita Karani aka Legs Up the Wall Pose because it feels so good on my back! I spend my days working with children with special needs so I spend a lot of time hunched over, sitting on the floor, sitting in child-sized chairs, and picking up children. By the end of the day I can really feel it in my upper back and this pose gives the perfect mixture of backbend and relaxation!

Day 4… COMMUNITY

COMMUNITY

Today’s theme is COMMUNITY. I can’t think of any better community than my yoga community! But I have a confession to make… When my first wave of grad-school-ness hit me I thought about cancelling my yoga classes for “me” time. Extra time to study, extra time to sleep, extra time to just do nothing. But I realized that these spunky yogis are the reason I teach yoga. I love coming to class and seeing them touch their toes for the first time and fall in love with inversions! And most of all, who doesn’t need friends that will meet you at the yoga studio after hours just to take a silly picture???

Day 5… ENVIRONMENT

ENVIRONMENT

Today’s theme is ENVIRONMENT so I chose my everyday work environment… the playground! I chose a balance pose because being a teacher requires lots of balance in many different ways. I have a plan to create a special needs yoga program at work so hopefully there will be lots more yoga happening around this wonderful little school very soon!

Day 6… NO STRETCHY PANTS ALLOWED

NO STRETCHY PANTS

Today’s theme is NO STRETCHY PANTS… That’s right no Lululemon allowed. And to be truthful, I usually travel in my stretchy pants… But today I’m traveling like a lady… in my new dress! This is me dropping off Bailey at my parents house for the weekend because we’re headed to North Carolina for Susan & Mike’s wedding!!!

Day 7… EMBARRASSING YOGA PHOTO

EMBARRASSING

Today’s Aim True Challenge is to pose an EMBARRASSING yoga photo… I usually get on to Darren for taking the before-the-pose and after-the-pose photos of my butt… but all in the name of National Yoga Month & the Aim True Challenge here they are! It’s hard to pass up doing a yoga pose in an old-timey phone booth!

Day 8… OTHER LOVES

OTHER LOVES

Today’s theme is OTHER LOVES. I had to think about this one because I have many other loves than yoga… But I really love spending time with the little ones! I just happen to be spending time with this precious baby on the beach today and I asked her mother/my good friend what to do for today’s theme. She said, “Lindsey, you love kids! I can’t ever get Sophie away from you!” Precious babies are not only my occupation, but a true love!

Day 9… YES I CAN!

YES I CAN!

Day 9 of the Aim True Challenge is a YES I CAN! pose. Bakasana aka Crow Pose was one of those poses that I idolized when I first started a yoga practice. The funny thing about yoga is the more I did the basic poses the more confidence I had to branch out and try the more difficult poses. I started to believe in my own strength and play around… And it might take a while for it to be pretty (still working on that), and not to fall on your face (I recommend a crash pad), but it feels so good when you balance for a half second! I can now hold this pose for a few deep breaths and I’m working on a jump-back into plank. It’s so fun to challenge myself and try new things!

Day 10… AIM TRUE

AIM TRUE

Today is the last day of the Aim True Challenge and for today (Day 10) I am to pick a pose that embodies what AIM TRUE means to me. Aim True to me is a heart opener. I chose a variation of Ustrasana aka Camel Pose with my hand over my heart because I can’t even begin to explain how much yoga has helped me open my heart and at the same time taught me to listen to my heart. I realized my purpose in life during my RYT200 training and made some pretty radical changes in my life to serve that purpose. So what Aim True means to me is to be true to myself. To be the real me and not who anyone else thinks I should be.

Not only were these pictures fun to take and I had a re-connection with my love for yoga… but I had a few people reach out to me and ask if yoga was a good fit for them. My response was that yoga truly is for EVERY BODY. I love setting off new yogi’s on their new yoga path. My only want for you is that your ride is as amazing as mine.

Aim true,

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Beach ready yogi…

It’s officially summer time! Are you a beach ready yogi? I didn’t feel like it! Not with work, grad school, nightly homework, projects, and trying not to neglect my dog. So here’s what I did for the two weeks leading up to my beach trip:

Breakfast… 

  • green smoothie
  • herbal tea with honey (local honey is best)
breakfast green smoothie
Breakfast green smoothie

Snack… a fat and a fruit to give you energy and keep you full

  • celery with peanut butter (add raisins if you like)
  • apple with peanut butter
  • ***sun butter (sunflower-seed butter) works great if you have a nut allergy***

Lunch… I used to be completely against frozen entrees until I found the Amy’s brand. No preservatives and so yummy. And I had to compromise somewhere with my lack of time.

  • Amy’s frozen lunch 
  • any other sensible lunch that includes a carb, protein, and vegetable

Snack… Watch your quantities. I prepare it ahead of time and bring it to class with me. Bringing the whole box of crackers is always a bad idea.

  • fruit with peanut butter (I like to use a half apple or banana)
  • cheese and crackers with fruit

Dinner… Here’s what I think is the most important part. Juice for dinner! Super kick of vegetables and gives your digestive tract a short fast every night. Also, if you don’t get home until 8pm like me, it’s too late to eat a full meal but you’re hungry!

  • fresh juice! 
Green juice sponsored by my friend's wedding...
Green juice sponsored by my friend’s wedding…

My secret cheat… For when I just have to have some chocolate. It’s an addiction, we’re all human.

  • Dark chocolate square with a scoop of peanut butter. 

I’m an ingredient snob. Look at the ingredients list, not the nutrition facts… you can find out a lot more. In the above foods this means check out your peanut butter, frozen lunches, crackers, and cheese.

At the beach… 

  • Go to the grocery store… We stocked up on healthy snack items, sandwich stuff for lunch on the beach, and green smoothie ingredients. (We ended up with: Spinach, mango, banana, strawberries, apples, watermelon, pineapple, bread, cheese, avocado, deli meat, peanut butter, peanut/raisin/cranberry trail mix)
  • Go on walks/runs… We brought our dogs so this one was easy to remember to do. We walked once in the morning and once at night. In the morning it’s not too hot and at night we waited until sunset so it was cool. It felt great to walk twice a day and vacay with our babies.
Our morning walks included duck watching...

Duck watching on our morning walks…

  • Find a local yoga studio… This is a must. I love visiting new studios and experiencing new teachers. I found a studio right in the area we were staying. Walking distance is definitely a plus!
I spy a yoga studio!

I spy a yoga studio!

  • Bring your blender… I left my juicer at home but I brought my blender. Nothing fancy, just a small single serving blender and I continued to have green smoothies for breakfast. It made me feel light and ready to put on my bikini! (Beach condos usually provide you with a blender but I brought mine just in case)
  • Yoga on the beach… because it’s fun!
Yoga on a cloudy day...

Beach yoga on a cloudy day…

Shanti,

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There’s a pose for that…

Your Immune System.

Are there really yoga poses that can help boost my immunity? Yes, indeed. Iyengar says, “The immune system is the defense mechanism of the body and protects us from disease. Its main agent is the blood, a fluid consisting of plasma and red and white corpuscles or blood cells. It is the white corpuscles that inhibit the invasion of the bloodstream microorganisms. There are two types of immunity: natural and acquired. Yoga strengthens both, and regular practice of the recommended asanas can help to counter the disorders that affect them.”

A practice that includes supported or inverted poses increases the circulation of lymph – a clear, watery fluid that moves through the body picking up bacteria and viruses and filtering them out via the lymph nodes.

Unlike blood, which moves as a result of the heart pumping, lymph moves by muscular contractions. Physical exercise, such as yoga, is key for keeping lymph flowing. The movement of lymph is also affected by gravity, so anytime your head is below your heart – for example, in Uttanasana (standing forward bend) and Sarvangasana (shoulderstand) – lymph moves into the respiratory organs, where germs often enter the body. When you return to an upright position, gravity drains the lymph, sending it through your lymph nodes for cleansing.

The research I have found recommends resting your head on a support in each pose to allow your neck, throat, and tongue to relax fully, thereby encouraging the lymph to flow freely through the nose and throat. Hold each pose for two to five minutes, breathing deeply from your diaphragm for the entire time.

Don’t wait until the sniffles start up to attempt this practice! By that time inversions could agitate both body and mind. Instead, use this sequence to build up your immunity throughout the winter and keep common bugs away!

The sequence… I used poses from the Iyengar method (Path to Holistic Health) along with other poses to help drain the lymph system. Props are used in the Iyengar method to truly relax into the pose and get the full benefits, so use your props if you have them!

  • Setubandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose)
  • Supta Baddhakonasana (reclining fixed angle pose aka. reclining butterfly)
  • Supta Virasana (reclining hero pose)
  • Setubandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose) again.
  • Adhomukha Svanasana (downward-facing dog stretch)
  • Salamba Sirsasana (headstand)
  • Viparita Dandasana (inverted staff pose)… I did not have a chair for a prop so here is me in the full expression of the pose. And Iyengar’s model (from the book) in the relaxing modification.
  • Salamba Sarvangasana (shoulderstand)
  • Halasana (plough pose)
  • Setubandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose) again.
  • Viparita Karani (inverted pose aka. legs up the wall pose)
  • Savasana (corpse pose)… Supported savasana as shown by the model in the book.
  • Ujjayi Pranayama (conquest of energy aka. ujjayi breath)… To be done in savasana (as shown above).
  • Viloma 2 Pranayama (interrupted breathing cycle aka. breath holds)… To be done in savasana (as shown above).

Other holistic ways to boost your immune system… A healthy diet and some natural remedies should do the trick!

Reference: Yoga the Path to Holistic Health (BKS Iyengar), Yoga Journal 2011.

Yoga, a Sex Cult?…

Yep, here I go again talking about the latest high-profile news in yoga.

Just in case you haven’t heard, the New York Times has declared that yoga originated as a “Sex Cult” in an article called, “Yoga and Sex Scandals: No Surprise Here.” I feel the urge to say, “how rude” (Full House style). I’m honestly starting to think that this William Broad guy just likes the attention. (William Broad is the guy that wrote “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body…” Oh yeah! Remember him?)

The article: Yoga and Sex Scandals: No Surprise Here (William Broad: New York Times)

Response: Please join my Tantric yoga sex cult (Mark Morford: San Francisco Chronicle)

Response: Christopher Wallis addresses “factual errors” in New York Times article: Yoga and Sex Scandals (Flow Yoga Magazine)

“I’m happy to report the NYT and Broad are mostly full of crap on this. Yoga is a physical, spiritual, energetic, wildly interconnected practice that can transform every aspect of your world. It’s based on some powerfully sacred, ancient philosophy and scriptural teachings that only want you to become a fully realized, divinely illuminated being, right now, this very second, on your very next breath — no gods, guilt, cultish sex rites or blind faith required. What’s not to like?” ~Mark Morford

Read the articles, come to your own conclusions.

Oh yeah, and just in case you didn’t know, exercise in general raises libido.

How the New York Times can Wreck Yoga…

Okay, so I stole that heading from Marshall Hagins, but I loved it too much not to use it. So here’s the article that has gotten so much attention lately…

And here are the responses…
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When I first read the article I wasn’t as worked up as some yogi’s. I took it with a grain of salt knowing that the flaws in anything can be taken out of context and made believable. Yes, it’s unfortunate that the article may scare some people away from yoga. But I think that Leslie Kaminoff said it so well that I just have to use his words… “This article said ‘shoulderstand, plow, and head stand are dangerous.’ It didn’t say, when certain people do it who have certain things going on in their body in a certain way, it can be dangerous. That’s a big fat ‘duh.’ I mean, who didn’t know that?”
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The reason yoga is held so high and has so many health claims is not just simply because of the poses. It’s not simply the activity. It is the state of mind that you fall into while breathing deep and stretching your body in such a way that it feels good. If you go so far that it doesn’t feel good, you shouldn’t be there. Simple as that.
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“When there is a great potential for making money, quality is usually the first thing to be sacrificed. Fast food, anyone? It is unfortunate that this is exactly what we are facing now – yoga has been McDona-fied. It has been reduced from a practice that traditionally demanded dedication, discipline, sacrifice, humility, surrender, love, devotion, and self-investigation – and yes, suffering through rigorous practice – to something that one can now learn to ‘teach’ in a weekend. Or, more popularly, in a mere 200 hours you can become a bonafide, registered yoga instructor. 200 hours is spit. It is a joke. And it is a joke that is leading a tradition – one which, granted, has even in India been subject to ridicule – to an even greater harm.  We have an opportunity, in the West, to bring these transformative teachings to places where they will result in the greatest good. It is true that this is already happening – in schools, prisons, hospitals, with veterans, and as well with people who simply walk into a class off of the street – but it is also true that a rotten apple can spoil the barrel, and the yoga industry apple is a mighty big apple.” ~ Marshall Hagins
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We shall see what The Science of Yoga book has to bring. Hopefully not so many inaccuracies.
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Happy and healthy practice to you,