Your Yoga Practice


Consider for a moment that every move you make today will count as your yoga practice.

Each word you speak. Each breath, the fullness with which you breathe.

Let your poses, like your life, be an offering.


Consider the way you move through your day.

Can you leave more evidence of love?

Can you spread kindness in subtle ways, even when your first reaction isn't compassion?


Go within. Do your meditation.

Share your practice.

Namaste.

Flexibility


Yoga is a practice of staying flexible when things don't go as planned.

My practice gives me the freedom to fail. To set a goal and fall short, and still stay hopeful. To try again, without judgment or guilt.


Yoga is a practice of understanding. Of inner awareness.

It is not a race, a competition, or a performance.


Yoga is a spiritual practice of awakening. Of seeing things differently. 

Awareness within each moment.

Flexibility to adapt, willingness to breathe, even as things change.


Photos in this post by Felipe Silva of Uprise Collective.

Have a Happy Memorial Day Weekend!


Hope you have a beautiful weekend, yogis!

What are you up to for Memorial Day? Any fun plans?

I'll be hanging out with family and friends, relaxing, and doing some yoga.

If you get bored (or hungry), try this amazing chocolate chip cookie recipe!


Wendy's Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1.5 c sugar
1.5 c brown sugar, packed
2 c crisco (can use a bit less, or substitute butter)
3 eggs

Beat above ingredients until they are creamed together.

1.5 tsp salt
1.5 tsp baking soda
3 tsp vanilla extract

Blend in to mixture.

Finally, blend in 4.5 cups flour, adding a bit at a time as you go. Fold in a bag of chocolate chips. Scoop spoonfuls of dough onto a cookie sheet and bake 7-10 minutes or until edges are golden.

Hope you have a beautiful and relaxing weekend. Namaste.

Moving to a New Home and Discovering New Yoga Spaces



Hi, yogis :) How are you? 

Recently I moved from the Sacramento area to Eureka, California. What a whirlwind month it's been!

I'm still getting settled and checking out yoga studios in the area and wanted to share a few reflections from the last few classes I've taken.


It's wild how much I've learned being in a new environment with teachers who come from different schools of yoga. In the last week I've experienced my first Forrest and Anusara practices and I've enjoyed picking up on small yet impactful differences in the language, cuing, and pacing of the classes.

Do you ever mix up your yoga routine? Or try classes at local studios when you travel? I highly recommend getting out of your comfort zone and taking a class where you aren't quite sure what to expect... open yourself to learning, and being a beginner again!

Tosha Yoga, Arcata, CA
This is a breathtaking space on the top floor of the building that I'll definitely return to. I love the natural light, the collection of lovely succulent plants around the room, and the calm, uplifting energy of the space. The Forrest yoga class I took here involved some awesome core work, grounding meditation, and new flows and movements that felt nourishing to the body (lots of Eagle arms, which I even felt the next day in my upper back!). 

The teacher Janine was very clear and precise in her teaching, and I appreciated the few hands-on adjustments she offered which helped me relax my neck and take tension out of my shoulders. At one point I could hear the sound of the rain on the rooftop. Very peaceful. I felt spaciousness, grounding, and openness. Even a little glimpse of blissful samadhi during Shavasana.

Om Shala Yoga, Arcata, CA
Om Shala offers a diverse range of yoga classes on their schedule. So far I've tried a basics Anusara class, a Hatha 'align and flow' class, and an all-levels Power Vinyasa class. The teachers here certainly have a wealth of knowledge about alignment and I've picked up some awesome tricks and tips about my practice. I love having reminders to pay closer attention to what my 'bad' habits are in class, or just to notice something new. This week I've been working on:
  • Knitting the low ribs in. Drawing energy into the center of the body really allows me to move from a place of more power! This helps in every pose - in foundational poses like Tadasana and Downdog, and especially in backbends and balancing postures.
  • Waking up the feet. Keeping the feet alive and the toes active brings more prana into the lower half of the body and the legs, giving more stability and grounding. Pada bandha, engaging the arches, is a subtle but very useful technique that makes a pose feel more balanced. I noticed this one in Half Moon. I also realized that metaphorically and energetically for me at this moment in my life it's very important to keep the feet awake so that I can feel more grounded in these new spaces I'm in!
  • Using props and the wall for support. I learned an awesome trick for using three blocks on the wall in Dolphin pose (beautiful, supported way to open the upper back and chest). I also worked on Ardha Chandrasana (Standing Half Moon pose) on the wall-- I was able to see how my hips needed to be more engaged in order to access more opening in the pose. Also started to work on wall walks in Wheel (!!!!) and practiced Forearm stand. So excited to incorporate these new 'tricks' into my home practice!
Sasha's power flow class at Om Shala was my favorite local yoga class so far since I moved. I loved her simple, direct cuing, her upbeat playlist, and the way she reminded us to send our breath into the area where our bodies most needed to heal. I definitely felt challenged and inspired, and was surprised by how many arm balances and sun salutations I was able to fit in!

Redwood Strength, Fortuna, CA
This class was an hour-long hot vinyasa practice in a new gym that's a mix of Crossfit-style workouts and hot yoga. I enjoyed the heat and thought of my friends and colleagues at CorePower Yoga and how I miss that beautiful room and its humidity ;) I enjoyed the teacher's enthusiasm and sense of humor and felt at home listening to the sound of Krishna Das' voice.

HealthSport, Eureka, CA
I took a Hatha class and was easily the youngest yogi in the room. One of my favorite moments was about 15 minutes into class, looking over at the gorgeous gray-haired yogini next to me take on full Hanumanasana with her arms overhead and a smile on her face :) The teacher Francis had a unique way of getting me to try more depth in the poses and I loved the mindful, intentional sequencing. At the end of class my body felt open and my mind clear.


Home practice
My home practice has been really key in the last few weeks, too. Rolling out a mat in the kitchen or in my backyard has given me space to be completely comfortable, to relax, to release stress, to breathe loudly and sigh heavily, and to cry a little. Moving is incredibly draining and exhausting work, and it hasn't been easy.

During the weeks leading up to moving, I felt overwhelmed by to-do lists and I benefited greatly from having a restorative yin practice. Since we arrived here on the coast, I've felt a little down and lonely on some days, so a more vigorous practice with inversions and backbends has helped me stay positive.

I can tell that in the weeks and months to come, as I take a little break from having classes to teach, my home practice will be a great way for me to stay creative, to keep up my self-confidence in my teaching, and to play with new flows and ideas for what I love to teach.


I'm still struggling a little bit to find where my new yoga 'home' is, and I'm certainly grieving the loss of having weekly classes to teach in beautiful communities, but I'm doing my best to keep a positive attitude and stay open to whatever opportunities come my way.

I'm thinking of offering a mom's yoga group or a beach yoga meetup... 

Ooh, and stay tuned for details on my upcoming Alive in the Fire yoga retreat that is now in the works! I'm planning a weekend getaway on the coast featuring yoga, chanting, meditation, journaling and hiking. It's going to be incredible! (And Yani and Kels from the sponsored yogis team will be attending -- wheeeee!)

Hope you are all having a beautiful week. Cheers to finding inspiring yoga classes and please know I'm sending you big hugs! Namaste.

Spring Cleaning (Yogi Surprise March Review)


This month's Yogi Surprise box is all about spring cleaning, which I love. Lately I've been working on projects around the house to declutter and organize, and I'm noticing that afterward I feel a sense of accomplishment, and I feel more at ease and more focused when I'm working.

Do you do spring cleaning at this time of year, yogis? Here are my top five spring cleaning projects to do.

Photo by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.

5 Simple Spring Cleaning Projects
  • Donate old clothes. Go through your closet and find clothing that no longer fits or that you don't use much. Give it to friends, family, or Goodwill.
  • Scrub your yoga mat. Give your mat a good deep cleaning. See below for some great mat spray ideas, or just use a simple vinegar, water and essential oil mix. Enjoy practicing on a clean surface that's inviting :)
  • Declutter one room at a time. If you've only got 15 minutes to spend cleaning up or organizing, be efficient with your time. Focus on one area of a room until it's complete, then move on to the next. 
  • Clean your fridge. Also consider cleaning up your diet for a few days, incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables, drinking a smoothie for breakfast every day, or taking a break from alcohol. Write down some new recipes. Commit to a new health goal, and give yourself permission to be imperfect in the process of accomplishing it!
  • Write about what it's like when things are clean and uncluttered. What does it feel like to have this new space? What happens to your thoughts and emotions when your physical space is well taken care of?
Photo by Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography.

My two favorite items from the March Yogi Surprise box, which are also helping with my spring cleaning:


The Little Red Book of Yoga Wisdom, edited by Kelsie Besaw

This little book has lots of great yoga quotes. I like opening it to a random page in the morning for an idea to ponder, or an idea for themes for when I'm about to teach a class. My two favorites this week:

Let your practice be a celebration of life. 
- Seido Lee DeBarros

Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes.
- Thich Nhat Hahn

I like the idea that spring cleaning also declutters your mind, and this little book is a daily reminder of that!

Gypsy Soul Organics Aromatherapeutic Natural Yoga Mat Cleaner 
This stuff smells amazing, and it works so well at making my mat feel clean after a sweaty class! Highly recommend it.

Best of luck with all your spring cleaning projects, and feel free to suggest more ideas in the comments below :)

PS More spring cleaning ideas:
Spring cleaning tips, room by room.
And a post on how cleaning at the yoga studio is like a form of meditation.

Sun Basket, My New Favorite Way to Make Dinner


Does anyone else out there struggle to find inspiration for healthy, creative meals (especially during the work week)?

Helloooo, winter time...you with your cold temperatures and back-to-back colds... you make me feel tired and unmotivated to cook!

Enter the genius company Sun Basket

Photo via Sun Basket.
The way it works is simple and so clever: you can sign up online and pick out your favorite meals, then a magical refrigerated box with fresh food on ice packs arrives at your door.

Inside are all the ingredients you need, plus a handy recipe card for how to cook the meals. And after you're all done, you can even mail back the box and freezer packs for free, so Sun Basket can recycle the shipping materials. So rad!

All of the three farm-fresh, nourishing meals I cooked were delicious! They featured incredible flavor combinations, healthy ingredients, and organic fresh herbs and produce.


Sun Basket offers a ton of specific meal options, too, including vegetarian, Paleo, gluten-free and breakfasts. Their pricing is a little high, but I think this would make a great gift idea, either to treat yo'self or give your loved one a night off from cooking.


Thank you, Sun Basket, for giving me the opportunity to try out your awesome meals! I'll be recommending you to friends and fellow yogis to share the love.

I'm grateful I can cozy up and relax without having to stress over dinner... truly a blessing for a busy yoga teacher like me :)


Namaste, dear ones!

Yoga Snacks


What do you like to eat before and after yoga class?

I'm a fan of practicing on an empty (or nearly empty) stomach, and I'm always happy to discover light, energizing snacks that give me lasting energy.

Here are my current three favorite pre- and post-yoga snacks :)


 
Crunchies has all sorts of yummy freeze-dried fruits that are perfect as a topping over Greek yogurt. My faves are blueberry and cinnamon apple.

Avocado with salt and pepper
So good. Every time! :)

Veggies and hummus

You can't go wrong with some Mediterranean spices hummus and a pile of freshly chopped veggies. Yum!

What are your favorite snacks, yogis?

Slow Mornings


One of my absolute favorite things about controlling my own schedule is having slow mornings.

My daily routine used to involve a very frazzled hour at the beginning of my day. I would set my alarm as late as possible, still wake up feeling exhausted, rush around making coffee and getting dressed, and then eat a quick breakfast in my car on the way to work, all the while feeling slightly overwhelmed and dreading the rest of the day.

Now, I wake up (occasionally without an alarm) and slowly get ready for my day. I'll often drink hot lemon water, fix some coffee, make breakfast, check email, and hang out with Jess in the kitchen :)


Some days I practice yoga at home, or take a class at the studio.


I often have the option of choosing whether I want to be in my PJs for a few hours, or if I want to get dressed and head out for the day.

That freedom? It's priceless. :)


What do your mornings look like, yogis? Cheers to keeping them simple and slow!

Growing a Garden


Do you grow a garden?

Over the last few years, I've been so grateful for the chance to put roots down in California and grow a garden at home.

It's so rewarding to learn information about each plant, care for the plants and water them, see the progress as they flower and produce fruit, and pick delicious, fresh fruits and vegetables to eat seasonally.

Over the months, I've been photographing all the abundant garden harvests and I'm so happy to post them today... a photo journal of sorts :) Enjoy!




















In our home garden, we've grown a lot! Many of the fruits and veggies are pictured above, plus here's the full list...
  • veggies: tomatoes, lettuce, kale, spinach, arugula, red leaf lettuce, corn, onions, green onions, broccolini, carrots, potatoes, jalapenos, bell peppers, cayenne peppers, tomatillos, artichoke, zucchini, yellow squash, and pumpkins {still waiting on ghost peppers}
  • fruits: grapes, strawberries, peaches, cantaloupe, watermelon {still waiting on plums, apples, apricots and avocados}
  • herbs: parsley, cilantro
  • from the neighbors, we also get to enjoy cherries, lemons, oranges and pears!
We also keep a compost and recommend checking out these two books if you have questions about gardening: Step by Step Organic Vegetable Gardening  by Shepherd Ogden and The Gardener's A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food by Tanya L.K. Denckla.

Namaste.

My Favorite Yoga App


Have you guys tried the Cody app?

It's hands-down my favorite yoga and fitness app. They offer some incredible at-home workouts with fantastic yoga teachers.

My two favorite yoga routines:

  • Ultimate Yoga Shred with Sadie Nardini. This 14-day plan features HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) for optimal cardio, fat burning, and lean muscle building.


  • Bodystrong with Ashley Galvin. This 30-day set of videos is designed to tone and strengthen the whole body using challenging asana series, multiple reps, and workouts targeting major areas like the core, legs, arms, and booty.



I have a lot of gratitude for both Sadie and Ashley for sharing these kick-ass yoga classes, and a big thanks to the team at Cody for continually offering high-quality videos. Namaste.

I Could Use a Hug


Hello, loves! Can you believe it's already October? 

Today I'm curled up on the couch and feeling under the weather. :( Not sure if it's the flu but whatever it is, it's not fun; besides that, I've had some pretty strong anxiety recently and am just finding it hard to release fear. I'm feeling humbled and decided that instead of suffering alone, I'd ask for extra hugs. 

Isn't it amazing how as soon as you choose to ask for help and not feel like you're carrying the weight of the world by yourself, things start to shift?

That's what I'm noticing today... as soon as I put it out there to ask for help, it comes my way. Even just texting friends and saying, hey, I'm not doing so hot, could you send a hug? It makes all the difference!

I'm amazed, too, by the connections I've made through social media and on this blog. It blows me away how we've built such a compassionate, meaningful community of yogis! Thank you for that.


My hope today is that by opening up and saying, I could really use a hug, that I would receive the loving energy that I need and that I would also remind others that being vulnerable and asking for help is OK.

We're all struggling. We're all going through a lot, and trying to figure it out and make it through. Even if it doesn't feel like it today, we'll be OK.

Sending much love ~ Namaste.

Compassion on the Yoga Mat


Today I did a very simple at-home yoga practice. Nothing fancy, only 15 minutes of my favorite poses.

  • Cat/cow
  • Sun salutations with low lunge
  • Down-dog reach throughs
  • A shoulder stretch
  • Reclined twists
  • Dharma Wheel rolls
  • Shavasana

Some days I need more rest and less intensity. Some days I want the quiet of home where I can wear whatever and play whatever music I like, and not be distracted or surrounded by a lot of other yogis.

Some days I just want my practice to feel good. I'm allowed to let the practice be sweet. To focus on ease. Sukha, the sweetness. Cherishing that. Lingering. Not forcing anything.

Today, I let my practice be all about compassion toward myself. Ahimsa, doing no harm.

I gave love to all the places in my body that needed love. I took rest without any sense of shame, dissatisfaction or guilt.


Each day in this practice is different. Honor where you are right now. Let go.