The following is an excerpt of commencement day of Spring 200 + hour Ready-to-Lead-Strala Training by a Strala regular and good friend of ours, Todd Belt.  He spoke to the group as a friend, student, customer, beginner, and open mind.  The following is great advice for new and experienced yoga teachers, to not only remember who they are teaching to, but the potential for continued learning, helping, and humility in the process. Enjoy! - xo Tara

To my new Yoga Instructor,
My name is Todd Belt and I am excited to be one of your first students as you start out on this incredible new journey, one that I look forward to taking with you.  But before we begin, there are some things that I want you to know about me so that we can get them out of the way early on in our student/teacher relationship.  I’m not very good at organizing my thoughts verbally, so I thought I would instead write you this letter.
I’ve been doing yoga now for exactly two years.  You may prefer the term “practicing yoga” as you, of course, have a “yoga practice.”  But as you will soon see, what I have is by no means a “yoga practice.”  It is what you will soon refer to as “Todd’s Sweaty Mat Time.”  Tara thinks that it’s because I wear two shirts.  Michael thinks that it’s because I’m “over thinking” things.  Regardless of the root cause, I’m one hot mess (and not in a good way) and I apologize in advance for the sweat…I am trying to keep it on my mat and not on the floor, and I promise to clean up after myself.
I started out as an elliptical addict, mostly to counteract my frequent trips to the All-I-Could-Eat buffet, as well as my nightly lobster and heroine binges.  While the repetitive motion got my legs moving, it really was an excuse to numb my mind for an hour while watching some trashy TV show on my iPad.  I really didn’t crave the physical activity – I just wanted to know which Kardashian sister was going to get into a fight, or see who was going to get voted out of the house or off the island this week.
So, there I was, just five minutes into one of my typical brain-drain sessions when the unthinkable happened: my iPad battery died.  What was I going to do? Without the visual stimulation, there was no way I could endure the boredom that came with the grinding steps of the elliptical machine.  But just as I was about to head home, I overheard two women talking about the Yoga class that they were going to in a few minutes.  Yoga!  Are you kidding me?  How could they possibly be excited to be going to a Yoga class?  Wasn’t Yoga for bendy tree-hugging back-to-nature hippies?  How could theypossibly be going to a yoga class?  They were young, attractive, even normal looking woman.  And wasn’t yoga about self-torture, and forcing yourself to do things that no normal person should do?  Wasn’t it about starvation, and fasting? Didn’t it involve speaking in fancy languages and levitating and other dark mystical acts?  They couldn’t have possibly said that they were going to a Yoga class.
Well, 90 minutes later, I found myself laying on my back, drenched in sweat like I had never experienced on any workout machine, and staring up at the gym ceiling, exhausted, drained, and yet more complete then I could have imagined.  This Yoga-thing took me to a totally different place than I had ever experienced happening with any type of workout.  But beyond the physical aspects, something was happening inside of my head.  I was confused as I was suddenly immersed in this moment of “feeling:” feeling my body working in harmony with itself as I connected different muscle groups together; feeling my body become a follower to the instructors direction rather than a leader on the gym machines; and more importantly, feeling empowered with a sense of calmness - like I could do anything.
I had to know more.
Over the next few months, I dropped in on many different studios and styles of yoga, and got to meet and learn from many different instructors from all backgrounds.  Now, while I recognize the value of diversity and different perspectives, I chose to make my home at Strala.  And since you are hopefully going to be leading me as I continue to learn more about myself and this yoga-thing, I have a few requests for you in dealing with me in your class:
First, I’m scared and insecure about myself.  I don’t look like you do, I don’t bend like you do, I can’t do as many boat poses or push-ups as you can, and I sweat like a pig.  But do your best to find something positive in me and what I’m doing on the mat.  It won’t be easy to find it, but keep looking – it will energize me and keep me coming back.  And by all means, please touch me.  Even if my pose doesn’t need correcting, at least put your hand on my back or my shoulder, encouraging me to relax and let go some of the tightness that comes with my movement.  (And by the way, my poses willalways need adjusting.)
Next, I’d love to tell you that my diet is spotless, but clearly that’s not the case.  I appreciate that yours is well balanced, and plant based, but I’m ok with you being mortal too.  I like you just a bit more when you let it slip that you did a shot of tequila last night, or crave a Chili Dog with Mustard from time to time.  Let me see a side of you that I can connect with – it will draw me closer to you.
Additionally, believe in what you are doing in your class – more than just knowing the sequence and the steps, feel it happening as you are guiding me through the routine.  I can take a cross-fit class at any gym, but I’m following you for your commitment to Strala Yoga.  If you are simply phoning it in, I’ll know, and I’ll start thinking about the Super-Sized Double Big Mac meal that whispers to me on the streets of Manhattan.
Further, I appreciate it most when you have a Point of View.  You are not going to scare me off by taking a stand on things.  I’m not going to judge you or think poorly of you if you stand behind your beliefs.  Talk to me and about me, and don’t be afraid to tell me if you think I need to fix something.  I’m not following you because there are no other yoga instructors in New York – I’m following you because you challenge my body and my mind together.
And finally, besides taking your class, nothing makes me happier than to see you practicing yoga in another Strala teacher’s classes.  Seeing your commitment to both your practice and to other Strala Teachers, and having my mat next to yours in class fills me with pride and gives me a chance to brag to others about you and how awesome you are.  I’ll love talking about you and saying how I knew you when you first started out.  I’ve got a pretty big mouth, so this could definitely help get things going for you!
I could go on for hours about how much I love yoga, Strala, and how proud I am to have watched your teaching career start out, but instead I should just wrap it up with a few simple words of encouragement.
Be confident but not arrogant, be strong but still human, be knowledgeable but open to learning.  But above all else, have fun with it – you have the best job in the world.
And remember that if you say something is impossible, say it quietly - so that you don’t interrupt the person that is doing it…
Your pal,
Todd

The following is an excerpt of commencement day of Spring 200 + hour Ready-to-Lead-Strala Training by a Strala regular and good friend of ours, Todd Belt.  He spoke to the group as a friend, student, customer, beginner, and open mind.  The following is great advice for new and experienced yoga teachers, to not only remember who they are teaching to, but the potential for continued learning, helping, and humility in the process. Enjoy! - xo Tara

To my new Yoga Instructor,

My name is Todd Belt and I am excited to be one of your first students as you start out on this incredible new journey, one that I look forward to taking with you.  But before we begin, there are some things that I want you to know about me so that we can get them out of the way early on in our student/teacher relationship.  I’m not very good at organizing my thoughts verbally, so I thought I would instead write you this letter.

I’ve been doing yoga now for exactly two years.  You may prefer the term “practicing yoga” as you, of course, have a “yoga practice.”  But as you will soon see, what I have is by no means a “yoga practice.”  It is what you will soon refer to as “Todd’s Sweaty Mat Time.”  Tara thinks that it’s because I wear two shirts.  Michael thinks that it’s because I’m “over thinking” things.  Regardless of the root cause, I’m one hot mess (and not in a good way) and I apologize in advance for the sweat…I am trying to keep it on my mat and not on the floor, and I promise to clean up after myself.

I started out as an elliptical addict, mostly to counteract my frequent trips to the All-I-Could-Eat buffet, as well as my nightly lobster and heroine binges.  While the repetitive motion got my legs moving, it really was an excuse to numb my mind for an hour while watching some trashy TV show on my iPad.  I really didn’t crave the physical activity – I just wanted to know which Kardashian sister was going to get into a fight, or see who was going to get voted out of the house or off the island this week.

So, there I was, just five minutes into one of my typical brain-drain sessions when the unthinkable happened: my iPad battery died.  What was I going to do? Without the visual stimulation, there was no way I could endure the boredom that came with the grinding steps of the elliptical machine.  But just as I was about to head home, I overheard two women talking about the Yoga class that they were going to in a few minutes.  Yoga!  Are you kidding me?  How could they possibly be excited to be going to a Yoga class?  Wasn’t Yoga for bendy tree-hugging back-to-nature hippies?  How could theypossibly be going to a yoga class?  They were young, attractive, even normal looking woman.  And wasn’t yoga about self-torture, and forcing yourself to do things that no normal person should do?  Wasn’t it about starvation, and fasting? Didn’t it involve speaking in fancy languages and levitating and other dark mystical acts?  They couldn’t have possibly said that they were going to a Yoga class.

Well, 90 minutes later, I found myself laying on my back, drenched in sweat like I had never experienced on any workout machine, and staring up at the gym ceiling, exhausted, drained, and yet more complete then I could have imagined.  This Yoga-thing took me to a totally different place than I had ever experienced happening with any type of workout.  But beyond the physical aspects, something was happening inside of my head.  I was confused as I was suddenly immersed in this moment of “feeling:” feeling my body working in harmony with itself as I connected different muscle groups together; feeling my body become a follower to the instructors direction rather than a leader on the gym machines; and more importantly, feeling empowered with a sense of calmness - like I could do anything.

I had to know more.

Over the next few months, I dropped in on many different studios and styles of yoga, and got to meet and learn from many different instructors from all backgrounds.  Now, while I recognize the value of diversity and different perspectives, I chose to make my home at Strala.  And since you are hopefully going to be leading me as I continue to learn more about myself and this yoga-thing, I have a few requests for you in dealing with me in your class:

First, I’m scared and insecure about myself.  I don’t look like you do, I don’t bend like you do, I can’t do as many boat poses or push-ups as you can, and I sweat like a pig.  But do your best to find something positive in me and what I’m doing on the mat.  It won’t be easy to find it, but keep looking – it will energize me and keep me coming back.  And by all means, please touch me.  Even if my pose doesn’t need correcting, at least put your hand on my back or my shoulder, encouraging me to relax and let go some of the tightness that comes with my movement.  (And by the way, my poses willalways need adjusting.)

Next, I’d love to tell you that my diet is spotless, but clearly that’s not the case.  I appreciate that yours is well balanced, and plant based, but I’m ok with you being mortal too.  I like you just a bit more when you let it slip that you did a shot of tequila last night, or crave a Chili Dog with Mustard from time to time.  Let me see a side of you that I can connect with – it will draw me closer to you.

Additionally, believe in what you are doing in your class – more than just knowing the sequence and the steps, feel it happening as you are guiding me through the routine.  I can take a cross-fit class at any gym, but I’m following you for your commitment to Strala Yoga.  If you are simply phoning it in, I’ll know, and I’ll start thinking about the Super-Sized Double Big Mac meal that whispers to me on the streets of Manhattan.

Further, I appreciate it most when you have a Point of View.  You are not going to scare me off by taking a stand on things.  I’m not going to judge you or think poorly of you if you stand behind your beliefs.  Talk to me and about me, and don’t be afraid to tell me if you think I need to fix something.  I’m not following you because there are no other yoga instructors in New York – I’m following you because you challenge my body and my mind together.

And finally, besides taking your class, nothing makes me happier than to see you practicing yoga in another Strala teacher’s classes.  Seeing your commitment to both your practice and to other Strala Teachers, and having my mat next to yours in class fills me with pride and gives me a chance to brag to others about you and how awesome you are.  I’ll love talking about you and saying how I knew you when you first started out.  I’ve got a pretty big mouth, so this could definitely help get things going for you!

I could go on for hours about how much I love yoga, Strala, and how proud I am to have watched your teaching career start out, but instead I should just wrap it up with a few simple words of encouragement.

Be confident but not arrogant, be strong but still human, be knowledgeable but open to learning.  But above all else, have fun with it – you have the best job in the world.

And remember that if you say something is impossible, say it quietly - so that you don’t interrupt the person that is doing it…

Your pal,
Todd

[caption id=”attachment_953” align=”alignright” width=”200” caption=”(c) Tomasz Trojanowski/123RF.com”][/caption]
Regardless how healthy our diet is, most of us probably have caught ourselves craving for, and eventually indulging in our favorite food. It may start with an intention of just having one bite, then one bite leads to another, and before we know it, we end up eating more than we’d like to admit.
We tend to submit to our cravings when we’re not being present in ourselves. It could mean that we’re just eating mindlessly, or that we’re trying to escape the state that we’re in right now. We want to feel better and happier – which is why our cravings usually lead us to comfort food that give us an instant but temporary sense of contentment.
Yoga provides us with ways to develop this sense of being present in our body, which can be helpful when it comes to dealing with our cravings:
1. Breathe. We’re always breathing, but not always deeply. Try deepening your breaths and see how it brings a sense of calm and clarity in you. We gravitate towards high-fat, high-calorie food when we are stressed or anxious. Restoring our inner peace by breathing can help lower our stress level and consequently disabling (or eat least reducing) our cravings.
2. Observe - without judgment. Saying no to our cravings doesn’t always make them disappear. Once you’re feeling calmer and more relaxed, try observing what’s going on inside you when the cravings attack. It can lead you to interesting discoveries of the underlying needs behind your cravings.
3. Learn to be patient. If you’ve always succumbed to your cravings, don’t be upset if you can’t beat them at first try. Always remember that each time you fall is another opportunity for you to arise. Give yourself time, develop a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, and you’ll see that it will get easier as you go along.
Finally, realize that you’re stronger than your cravings, and believe that you can stay above them – if only you would choose to.
Talk soon,
Monika

[caption id=”attachment_953” align=”alignright” width=”200” caption=”(c) Tomasz Trojanowski/123RF.com”][/caption]

Regardless how healthy our diet is, most of us probably have caught ourselves craving for, and eventually indulging in our favorite food. It may start with an intention of just having one bite, then one bite leads to another, and before we know it, we end up eating more than we’d like to admit.

We tend to submit to our cravings when we’re not being present in ourselves. It could mean that we’re just eating mindlessly, or that we’re trying to escape the state that we’re in right now. We want to feel better and happier – which is why our cravings usually lead us to comfort food that give us an instant but temporary sense of contentment.

Yoga provides us with ways to develop this sense of being present in our body, which can be helpful when it comes to dealing with our cravings:

1. Breathe. We’re always breathing, but not always deeply. Try deepening your breaths and see how it brings a sense of calm and clarity in you. We gravitate towards high-fat, high-calorie food when we are stressed or anxious. Restoring our inner peace by breathing can help lower our stress level and consequently disabling (or eat least reducing) our cravings.

2. Observe - without judgment. Saying no to our cravings doesn’t always make them disappear. Once you’re feeling calmer and more relaxed, try observing what’s going on inside you when the cravings attack. It can lead you to interesting discoveries of the underlying needs behind your cravings.

3. Learn to be patient. If you’ve always succumbed to your cravings, don’t be upset if you can’t beat them at first try. Always remember that each time you fall is another opportunity for you to arise. Give yourself time, develop a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, and you’ll see that it will get easier as you go along.

Finally, realize that you’re stronger than your cravings, and believe that you can stay above them – if only you would choose to.

Talk soon,

Monika


Even though it may not seem like it.  Maybe he or she can do a handstand on a fingertip, eats an impeccable plant-based diet, and emanates an effortless sense of peace, love and compassion for all sentient beings.
Eh.
No matter how long we’ve been doing yoga, we all are subject to the frailties of our human-ness, our imperfections, our whims and woes.  As a new yoga instructor, I strive to emulate the qualities of my most favorite instructors, the ones who not only guide me to my physical limit, introducing me to muscles I’ve never known my entire life, but also who are endlessly positive and make me feel great after class (despite having to do a million ab-thingys).  The instructors whom I gravitate to most of all are the ones who don’t claim perfection and remind me that they’re human too.

Before I possibly become your new yoga instructor, there are several things that I think you should know about me:
1. My meditation is a work in progress. (I too squint my eye open sometimes to check how long I’ve been sitting - it’s only been four minutes! Ahhhh!) Unfortunately, I am not a reincarnated bodhisattva, guru or Jedi Master.  Regardless, I know if I am able to find space to breathe in my mind and my body whether it’s for 20 seconds or 20 minutes, it still counts (a lot).
2. I love donuts, granted they are vegan donuts. Flaky/chewy/delectable baked goods get the best of me sometimes. Sugar happens. (See Example A.)


Example A. A blueberry donut, which I devoured happily. Yes, it was vegan, and, yes, it was delicious.

3. I care how you are feeling before, during, and after class.  I want you to enjoy being here.  I want you to feel safe, grounded and secure on your mat and in your body (and not to mention have fun while you’re at it).  I remember during one of my first yoga classes ever I was almost intimidated into going to class by the instructor.  She was rigid and stern, but impressive.  I respected her and wanted her to approve of me, so I’d push myself past my limit in every pose.  I tried to make it look good, but it didn’t always feel good and I’d end up feeling less secure about myself than when I had arrived.  That being said, yoga is for you, not me.  Never feel obligated to do everything I say. They are only suggestions and sometimes child’s pose is the best option.
4. I’m still practicing. I can’t do all of the hard yoga moves. Handstand? Yeah, with the help of the lovely Tara Stiles clutching my thigh, on good days. (See Example B.)
[caption id=”” align=”aligncenter” width=”300” caption=”Example B. Me attempting to do a cool yoga pose on a beautiful mountain, but falling on my bum in the process. Keepin’ it real.”][/caption]
5. I’m a little nervous about this whole teaching-yoga-thing, even if it doesn’t look like it.  (Shhhhh…!)  Despite having a pretty dedicated yoga practice, with this, I’m a beginner all over again.  It’s a new place for me — maybe it is for you too.
Just because I have some fancy yoga certification doesn’t make me any more advanced than you.  We’re all in the process of figuring ourselves out, getting our sh*t together, and finding the natural rhythm of our breath, and we both know that yoga helps us get there somehow.  We mess up sometimes. We’re fallible. It’s the natural state of being.  It’s really about how we pick ourselves up (out of a fallen inversion, way-too-long yoga-hiatus, or broken relationship) and keep breathing.
Peace, peas and all that good stuff,
Suzy

Even though it may not seem like it.  Maybe he or she can do a handstand on a fingertip, eats an impeccable plant-based diet, and emanates an effortless sense of peace, love and compassion for all sentient beings.

Eh.

No matter how long we’ve been doing yoga, we all are subject to the frailties of our human-ness, our imperfections, our whims and woes.  As a new yoga instructor, I strive to emulate the qualities of my most favorite instructors, the ones who not only guide me to my physical limit, introducing me to muscles I’ve never known my entire life, but also who are endlessly positive and make me feel great after class (despite having to do a million ab-thingys).  The instructors whom I gravitate to most of all are the ones who don’t claim perfection and remind me that they’re human too.

Before I possibly become your new yoga instructor, there are several things that I think you should know about me:

1. My meditation is a work in progress. (I too squint my eye open sometimes to check how long I’ve been sitting - it’s only been four minutes! Ahhhh!) Unfortunately, I am not a reincarnated bodhisattva, guru or Jedi Master.  Regardless, I know if I am able to find space to breathe in my mind and my body whether it’s for 20 seconds or 20 minutes, it still counts (a lot).

2. I love donuts, granted they are vegan donuts. Flaky/chewy/delectable baked goods get the best of me sometimes. Sugar happens. (See Example A.)

Example A. A blueberry donut, which I devoured happily. Yes, it was vegan, and, yes, it was delicious.

3. I care how you are feeling before, during, and after class.  I want you to enjoy being here.  I want you to feel safe, grounded and secure on your mat and in your body (and not to mention have fun while you’re at it).  I remember during one of my first yoga classes ever I was almost intimidated into going to class by the instructor.  She was rigid and stern, but impressive.  I respected her and wanted her to approve of me, so I’d push myself past my limit in every pose.  I tried to make it look good, but it didn’t always feel good and I’d end up feeling less secure about myself than when I had arrived.  That being said, yoga is for you, not me.  Never feel obligated to do everything I say. They are only suggestions and sometimes child’s pose is the best option.

4. I’m still practicing. I can’t do all of the hard yoga moves. Handstand? Yeah, with the help of the lovely Tara Stiles clutching my thigh, on good days. (See Example B.)

[caption id=”” align=”aligncenter” width=”300” caption=”Example B. Me attempting to do a cool yoga pose on a beautiful mountain, but falling on my bum in the process. Keepin’ it real.”][/caption]

5. I’m a little nervous about this whole teaching-yoga-thing, even if it doesn’t look like it.  (Shhhhh…!)  Despite having a pretty dedicated yoga practice, with this, I’m a beginner all over again.  It’s a new place for me — maybe it is for you too.

Just because I have some fancy yoga certification doesn’t make me any more advanced than you.  We’re all in the process of figuring ourselves out, getting our sh*t together, and finding the natural rhythm of our breath, and we both know that yoga helps us get there somehow.  We mess up sometimes. We’re fallible. It’s the natural state of being.  It’s really about how we pick ourselves up (out of a fallen inversion, way-too-long yoga-hiatus, or broken relationship) and keep breathing.

Peace, peas and all that good stuff,

Suzy

When you step onto your yoga mat, do you turn off and tune out the rest of the world? Or are you looking around, scoping out the room and comparing yourself to the others in it? Or worse, are you comparing you to yourself on a day when you felt stronger, more flexible, or more at ease?
The only things that matter in your yoga practice are: you (exactly as you are right then), yourself, your breath, your thoughts, and if you are practicing on one, your mat. Nothing else matters.  To be sure: no one else matters.
Personally, I could never tell you anything about the practitioner who was on either side or in front or in back of me (unless of course, he or she happened to fall on me, kick me, or perhaps sweat so much that his or her sweat sprayed onto me – there are exceptions…) There is something so magical about getting lost in the rhythm of the breath: being present in each moment, and simply listening to the guide of the room and moving in accordance to what he or she calls out: what ever that means to my body at that time.
It used to drive me a bit bonkers when people would allude to competition in yoga classes.  The idea was so absurd and foreign to me. Competition in yoga? One of the reasons that I fell in love with yoga was the lack of competition that I thought the very practice implied. The more I went to classes (before I was fortunate enough to discover the non-competitive oasis that is Strala), the more it became apparent that mine is not an opinion all others share.  I could care less what anyone else in the room is doing, and when it was first pointed out to me, it used to bother me that there were possibly others in the same room who didn’t feel the same. But eventually, I learned to tune all that out too.  Now, thanks to Strala, it’s back to just me, my mat, my breath, my thoughts, and my movement.  It’s as simple and easy as that.  Because for me, regardless of what anyone else may think, say or do, there is no competition in yoga.  Least of all with myself.  It is irrelevant what anyone else is doing.  No two bodies are in the same place ever. My body is never in exactly the same place ever.  Just because something felt great yesterday does not mean that it will feel great today, if, for example, I slept funny the previous night.
The more I thought about it, the less I knew it mattered what anyone else thought or anyone else was doing.  What goes on in the head of the person on the mat next to me affects me not at all, unless I let it.  It’s their yoga, they can do what they want, and make it whatever experience he or she wants.  My yoga is my yoga.  I do what I want. What anyone else does?  Matters not at all.  Yoga is not a competitive sport.
xoHeidi Kristoffer

When you step onto your yoga mat, do you turn off and tune out the rest of the world? Or are you looking around, scoping out the room and comparing yourself to the others in it? Or worse, are you comparing you to yourself on a day when you felt stronger, more flexible, or more at ease?

The only things that matter in your yoga practice are: you (exactly as you are right then), yourself, your breath, your thoughts, and if you are practicing on one, your mat. Nothing else matters.  To be sure: no one else matters.

Personally, I could never tell you anything about the practitioner who was on either side or in front or in back of me (unless of course, he or she happened to fall on me, kick me, or perhaps sweat so much that his or her sweat sprayed onto me – there are exceptions…) There is something so magical about getting lost in the rhythm of the breath: being present in each moment, and simply listening to the guide of the room and moving in accordance to what he or she calls out: what ever that means to my body at that time.

It used to drive me a bit bonkers when people would allude to competition in yoga classes.  The idea was so absurd and foreign to me. Competition in yoga? One of the reasons that I fell in love with yoga was the lack of competition that I thought the very practice implied. The more I went to classes (before I was fortunate enough to discover the non-competitive oasis that is Strala), the more it became apparent that mine is not an opinion all others share.  I could care less what anyone else in the room is doing, and when it was first pointed out to me, it used to bother me that there were possibly others in the same room who didn’t feel the same. But eventually, I learned to tune all that out too.  Now, thanks to Strala, it’s back to just me, my mat, my breath, my thoughts, and my movement.  It’s as simple and easy as that.  Because for me, regardless of what anyone else may think, say or do, there is no competition in yoga.  Least of all with myself.  It is irrelevant what anyone else is doing.  No two bodies are in the same place ever. My body is never in exactly the same place ever.  Just because something felt great yesterday does not mean that it will feel great today, if, for example, I slept funny the previous night.

The more I thought about it, the less I knew it mattered what anyone else thought or anyone else was doing.  What goes on in the head of the person on the mat next to me affects me not at all, unless I let it.  It’s their yoga, they can do what they want, and make it whatever experience he or she wants.  My yoga is my yoga.  I do what I want. What anyone else does?  Matters not at all.  Yoga is not a competitive sport.

xo
Heidi Kristoffer

Hard Things Easy
How to make practicing patience far from boring
We know that poses aren’t the whole story in yoga.  There are people creating inspiringly healthy, happy lives for themselves who can’t hold a warrior 3.  And there are people who are frustrated and unhealthy in their lives who can stick any pose you can name.  So how do we bridge this gap between the posing of yoga and the creating of yoga?

This is a core focus of my ongoing series on making hard things easy.  A central theme here is moving from the ground up.  We get to practice patience and movability with our feet resting calmly on the ground, that will carry us forward when it’s time to reach for the sky.

If we’re already tense moving into something hard - if we’re already thinking “oh crap!” - then we just move from tense into more tense.  If we expect things to be hard, a struggle - “maybe I’ll fall and hurt myself” - we’re right.  Again and again, we have great success in proving ourselves right.  What we’re heading for is scary!

Luckily, there’s another way, which gets us into our creative power: PATIENCE.  We all know that patience with ourselves - the ability to be right where we are - is something we can practice in yoga.  Without some deliberate care, though, it quickly becomes something we practice Later.  Especially when it’s time to stick those tough poses.

The problem is, we never get to creative power through force and struggle.  Fortunately, there are ways to make practicing patience far from boring:

1) Begin in your middle.  No matter what picture you have in mind for a pose, work from your belly and hips first.  Don’t worry about getting your hands and feet and legs all extended and “perfect.”  Once you’re moving comfortably in your middle, extend from there.

2) Explore!  If you never move left and right from straightforward, how will you ever get to know yourself?  There’s lots of exploring through every inch of you, through all 360 degrees of how you can move your body, all with your body in very comfortable positions.  In fact, you’ll explore much more readily - and go much further - when you’re comfortable than when you’re strained and overextended.

Set your sights on being easy in your base - free to move gently in every direction, up down left right.  It’s more useful than stiff and strained, hoping to last just long enough to do the pose, while praying not to tumble out of it.  This is how we bridge the gap from posing to creating: shifting our focus from what we’re doing to how we’re doing it.  We go inside to create what we want outside!

The thing to remember about poses is, there is no final pose.  There’s always wiggle room.  Always new places to explore in you, new room to move.  That’s the whole point.  The point isn’t to be done.  The point is to keep moving.


See you soon!
Mike Taylor

Hard Things Easy

How to make practicing patience far from boring
We know that poses aren’t the whole story in yoga.  There are people creating inspiringly healthy, happy lives for themselves who can’t hold a warrior 3.  And there are people who are frustrated and unhealthy in their lives who can stick any pose you can name.  So how do we bridge this gap between the posing of yoga and the creating of yoga?
This is a core focus of my ongoing series on making hard things easy.  A central theme here is moving from the ground up.  We get to practice patience and movability with our feet resting calmly on the ground, that will carry us forward when it’s time to reach for the sky.
If we’re already tense moving into something hard - if we’re already thinking “oh crap!” - then we just move from tense into more tense.  If we expect things to be hard, a struggle - “maybe I’ll fall and hurt myself” - we’re right.  Again and again, we have great success in proving ourselves right.  What we’re heading for is scary!
Luckily, there’s another way, which gets us into our creative power: PATIENCE.  We all know that patience with ourselves - the ability to be right where we are - is something we can practice in yoga.  Without some deliberate care, though, it quickly becomes something we practice Later.  Especially when it’s time to stick those tough poses.
The problem is, we never get to creative power through force and struggle.  Fortunately, there are ways to make practicing patience far from boring:
1) Begin in your middle.  No matter what picture you have in mind for a pose, work from your belly and hips first.  Don’t worry about getting your hands and feet and legs all extended and “perfect.”  Once you’re moving comfortably in your middle, extend from there.
2) Explore!  If you never move left and right from straightforward, how will you ever get to know yourself?  There’s lots of exploring through every inch of you, through all 360 degrees of how you can move your body, all with your body in very comfortable positions.  In fact, you’ll explore much more readily - and go much further - when you’re comfortable than when you’re strained and overextended.
Set your sights on being easy in your base - free to move gently in every direction, up down left right.  It’s more useful than stiff and strained, hoping to last just long enough to do the pose, while praying not to tumble out of it.  This is how we bridge the gap from posing to creating: shifting our focus from what we’re doing to how we’re doing it.  We go inside to create what we want outside!
The thing to remember about poses is, there is no final pose.  There’s always wiggle room.  Always new places to explore in you, new room to move.  That’s the whole point.  The point isn’t to be done.  The point is to keep moving.
See you soon!
“You are what you eat.” If there is one thing that I have learned in the past two weeks, it is that this statement is for real. I completed Dr. Lipman’s two week cleanse yesterday and I am feeling pretty great. He really figured it out.  You should try to eat plants, vegetables, fruits and gluten / wheat free grains to feel really good. Why is it that people generally have such a hard time avoiding junk food when the concept is so easy? I’m not sure that there is one general reason that can be applied to everyone. I can, however, think of a number of reasons, applicable to most people, as to why you should stop eating unhealthy food. This brings me to my top three takeaways from Dr. Lipman’s Cleanse Program.
1. Eat nutrient rich food and recognize what your body doesn’t need. – I am so guilty of eating past the point of being full. Especially when the main ingredient involves sugar. Spending 14 days on this cleanse really helped me to recognize my fullness meter. When you’re eating quinoa, spinach, and beans you fill up more easily and your body doesn’t crave what it doesn’t need – ie. Sugar, alcohol, caffeine, etc.
2. Whole foods equal great skin. – Think about it… eating greens and veggies loaded with vitamins and nutrients will result in a bright, healthy appearance. It is simple, if you’re eating tons sugar and sodium, your skin will likely appear dull and tired. The cleanse facilitated a huge difference in my overall appearance. Less breakouts, more glow.
3. Clean eating cultivates a clear, happy, energized mind. – Eating nutrient rich food will likely make you feel lighter and more excited about life in general. During the past two weeks, I’ve had no trouble waking up super early and starting my day right away. While at work I’ve been able to focus with ease and lack of tension. Meditation and yoga have gone from feeling like a big slice of heaven to feeling like a massive slice of heaven. Eat clean, feel happy and inspired!
These are only a few of the many benefits that you will experience when you give your body a break from common irritants and hit your reset button. Would I recommend Dr. Lipman’s Cleanse? Absolutely. Despite one cheat and a few struggles with my willpower, the Cleanse Program definitely has my seal of approval. It is a great way to set yourself up for a healthy relationship with food and your body. Moving forward I hope to maintain the above progress, but I definitely will not stop myself from having a treat or glass of wine if I want it. I had a chocolate chip cookie today and it was fantastic. Everything in moderation. ;)
Xo, Priya Patel

“You are what you eat.” If there is one thing that I have learned in the past two weeks, it is that this statement is for real. I completed Dr. Lipman’s two week cleanse yesterday and I am feeling pretty great. He really figured it out.  You should try to eat plants, vegetables, fruits and gluten / wheat free grains to feel really good. Why is it that people generally have such a hard time avoiding junk food when the concept is so easy? I’m not sure that there is one general reason that can be applied to everyone. I can, however, think of a number of reasons, applicable to most people, as to why you should stop eating unhealthy food. This brings me to my top three takeaways from Dr. Lipman’s Cleanse Program.

1. Eat nutrient rich food and recognize what your body doesn’t need. – I am so guilty of eating past the point of being full. Especially when the main ingredient involves sugar. Spending 14 days on this cleanse really helped me to recognize my fullness meter. When you’re eating quinoa, spinach, and beans you fill up more easily and your body doesn’t crave what it doesn’t need – ie. Sugar, alcohol, caffeine, etc.

2. Whole foods equal great skin. – Think about it… eating greens and veggies loaded with vitamins and nutrients will result in a bright, healthy appearance. It is simple, if you’re eating tons sugar and sodium, your skin will likely appear dull and tired. The cleanse facilitated a huge difference in my overall appearance. Less breakouts, more glow.

3. Clean eating cultivates a clear, happy, energized mind. – Eating nutrient rich food will likely make you feel lighter and more excited about life in general. During the past two weeks, I’ve had no trouble waking up super early and starting my day right away. While at work I’ve been able to focus with ease and lack of tension. Meditation and yoga have gone from feeling like a big slice of heaven to feeling like a massive slice of heaven. Eat clean, feel happy and inspired!

These are only a few of the many benefits that you will experience when you give your body a break from common irritants and hit your reset button. Would I recommend Dr. Lipman’s Cleanse? Absolutely. Despite one cheat and a few struggles with my willpower, the Cleanse Program definitely has my seal of approval. It is a great way to set yourself up for a healthy relationship with food and your body. Moving forward I hope to maintain the above progress, but I definitely will not stop myself from having a treat or glass of wine if I want it. I had a chocolate chip cookie today and it was fantastic. Everything in moderation. ;)

Xo, Priya Patel

We’re back with another secret from Alexis Wolfer’s The Beauty Bean. You’re going to love this one! Yummy from the inside out!
No matter how many fancy facial treatments I get or how many DIY facial recipes I whip up, Full-Fat Greek Yogurt always remains on the top of the “best in DIY facial list.”
Not only is it really inexpensive (especially since you only need a couple tablespoons, so it doubles as breakfast too!), but also it really works on all skin types.
The lactic acid gently loosens dead, dull skin cells for a gorgeous glow, while the fat hydrates and the probiotics work some magic, leaving your skin looking revitalized, exfoliated, hydrated and radiant. It even reduces facial redness, soothes a sunburn (and even cuts down on healing time!). And for anyone dealing with breakouts, it even helps calm down inflamed pimples too.
Just apply 1-2 tablespoons of full-fat, plain Greek yogurt to your face to form a think but opaque layer. Let it dry before using a warm washcloth in gentle circular motions to remove the yogurt.
Enjoy!
For 3 more DIY Facial Recipes, visit www.thebeautybean.com

We’re back with another secret from Alexis Wolfer’s The Beauty Bean. You’re going to love this one! Yummy from the inside out!

No matter how many fancy facial treatments I get or how many DIY facial recipes I whip up, Full-Fat Greek Yogurt always remains on the top of the “best in DIY facial list.”

Not only is it really inexpensive (especially since you only need a couple tablespoons, so it doubles as breakfast too!), but also it really works on all skin types.

The lactic acid gently loosens dead, dull skin cells for a gorgeous glow, while the fat hydrates and the probiotics work some magic, leaving your skin looking revitalized, exfoliated, hydrated and radiant. It even reduces facial redness, soothes a sunburn (and even cuts down on healing time!). And for anyone dealing with breakouts, it even helps calm down inflamed pimples too.

Just apply 1-2 tablespoons of full-fat, plain Greek yogurt to your face to form a think but opaque layer. Let it dry before using a warm washcloth in gentle circular motions to remove the yogurt.

Enjoy!

For 3 more DIY Facial Recipes, visit www.thebeautybean.com


Story has it that Elvis Presley’s favorite sandwich consisted of peanut butter, banana, and bacon.  I love PBB sandwiches, but I don’t understand the bacon.   His unique taste buds are the inspiration for a smoothie I made the other day, but I swapped the bacon for kale.  I know The King might say “Don’t Be Cruel” to the switch, but if he heard how I was introduced to kale he might come around.
Originally, I thought of kale as a “garnish” on a plate.  (Poor kale!  I hope one day you will forgive me.)  When I first ate kale, which, I’m ashamed to admit, was only about 2 years ago, I was a little hesitant to eat it raw because I was told it was very bitter so I wound up steaming it with some lemon and garlic.  Now, some of you may enjoy eating kale this way but I wasn’t too fond so I sucked it up and tried it raw in a salad.  Instantly, I became hooked.  Where was this wonderful green all my life?!  I would just like to say that I am in love with kale, and it has a special place in my heart. It is a staple in my weekly menu of green juice and smoothies and salads.
Here is a quick green (organic) smoothie, inspired by Elvis Presley himself that I threw together for breakfast the other morning (minus the bacon).  It would be great to sip on at any time of day or as a treat after yoga class or a work-out :-):
“The King Smoothie”
-1 banana (sliced)
-1 tablespoon of peanut butter
-Two large leaves of kale
-1/4 cup of almond milk
-Frozen peaches
(Should make about two servings)
Put the kale, banana, almond milk and peanut butter into the blender (in that order) and blend on high for about 30 seconds.  Blend on low for another 30 seconds.  Add the frozen peaches and using the ice crush option briefly and then blend on low until all looks smooth and beautifully fresh and green.  Next, take a spoon and test.  This part always makes me happy because it’s like sampling the cookie dough before it becomes a cookie, only the end result is seconds away, rather than minutes.  The consistency will be smooth and cool because of the frozen peaches.  The taste of the peanut butter and banana will be abundant.  Pour into your favorite glass, sip and enjoy.

In addition to the recipe I wanted to showcase some nutritional facts on the ingredients you absorb when you drink this yummy smoothie:
Dark, leafy veggies, such as kale, are big sources of vitamin K which is great for your blood; vitamin A which is great for your eyes, the tissues in your body, protects from infection and boosts the immune system; vitamin C which helps make collagen and keeps you from bruising easily, help in the absorption of iron and folate, keeps your gums healthy, and also protects from infection; manganese which aids in metabolism; and folate which is great for helping the body make new cells and the production of DNA and RNA, forms hemoglobin in the red blood cells and may protect against heart disease.  So, actually, kale is one of the healthiest veggies around, so eat lots of it!
Almond milk is an excellent source of calcium, which, as we all know is great for bones, but also helps your muscles to contract, such as your heart involuntarily beating; vitamin D works hand-in-hand to promote the absorption of the calcium and keeps your bones strong; Almond milk is also great if you have a soy or lactose allergy.
Bananas are a good source of potassium, which regulates the mineral balance in and out of cells, such as counterbalancing a large sodium intake(if you’ve had a heavily salted meal recently); maintains normal blood pressure; and helps to transmit nerve impulses.
Peaches frozen at the peak of ripeness add that coolness that we look for in a smoothie.  They are similar to the nutritional makeup of the ingredients listed above and are a source of fiber.  Fiber is a phytonutrient that aids in digestion and can help protect you from certain diseases.  Because these peaches were peeled before packaged they’re considered soluble fiber.
Peanut butter adds the protein that is necessary in our diets.  Protein is used to build and repair tissues, such as muscle tissue, makes hormones and body chemicals, transports nutrients and supplies energy.
So that’s my (but not really my own) nutritionally packed, super yummy, breakfast, lunch, dinner, after yoga, anytime, Elvis-inspired smoothie treat.  If you try it, I hope you enjoy it.  I have a feeling “the King” probably would.
Love to you all and happy Monday!
Deborah The Food Yogi

Elvis/PBB photo by seriouseats.com

Story has it that Elvis Presley’s favorite sandwich consisted of peanut butter, banana, and bacon.  I love PBB sandwiches, but I don’t understand the bacon.   His unique taste buds are the inspiration for a smoothie I made the other day, but I swapped the bacon for kale.  I know The King might say “Don’t Be Cruel” to the switch, but if he heard how I was introduced to kale he might come around.

Originally, I thought of kale as a “garnish” on a plate.  (Poor kale!  I hope one day you will forgive me.)  When I first ate kale, which, I’m ashamed to admit, was only about 2 years ago, I was a little hesitant to eat it raw because I was told it was very bitter so I wound up steaming it with some lemon and garlic.  Now, some of you may enjoy eating kale this way but I wasn’t too fond so I sucked it up and tried it raw in a salad.  Instantly, I became hooked.  Where was this wonderful green all my life?!  I would just like to say that I am in love with kale, and it has a special place in my heart. It is a staple in my weekly menu of green juice and smoothies and salads.

Here is a quick green (organic) smoothie, inspired by Elvis Presley himself that I threw together for breakfast the other morning (minus the bacon).  It would be great to sip on at any time of day or as a treat after yoga class or a work-out :-):

“The King Smoothie”

-1 banana (sliced)
-1 tablespoon of peanut butter
-Two large leaves of kale
-1/4 cup of almond milk
-Frozen peaches

(Should make about two servings)

Put the kale, banana, almond milk and peanut butter into the blender (in that order) and blend on high for about 30 seconds.  Blend on low for another 30 seconds.  Add the frozen peaches and using the ice crush option briefly and then blend on low until all looks smooth and beautifully fresh and green.  Next, take a spoon and test.  This part always makes me happy because it’s like sampling the cookie dough before it becomes a cookie, only the end result is seconds away, rather than minutes.  The consistency will be smooth and cool because of the frozen peaches.  The taste of the peanut butter and banana will be abundant.  Pour into your favorite glass, sip and enjoy.

In addition to the recipe I wanted to showcase some nutritional facts on the ingredients you absorb when you drink this yummy smoothie:

Dark, leafy veggies, such as kale, are big sources of vitamin K which is great for your blood; vitamin A which is great for your eyes, the tissues in your body, protects from infection and boosts the immune system; vitamin C which helps make collagen and keeps you from bruising easily, help in the absorption of iron and folate, keeps your gums healthy, and also protects from infection; manganese which aids in metabolism; and folate which is great for helping the body make new cells and the production of DNA and RNA, forms hemoglobin in the red blood cells and may protect against heart disease.  So, actually, kale is one of the healthiest veggies around, so eat lots of it!

Almond milk is an excellent source of calcium, which, as we all know is great for bones, but also helps your muscles to contract, such as your heart involuntarily beating; vitamin D works hand-in-hand to promote the absorption of the calcium and keeps your bones strong; Almond milk is also great if you have a soy or lactose allergy.

Bananas are a good source of potassium, which regulates the mineral balance in and out of cells, such as counterbalancing a large sodium intake(if you’ve had a heavily salted meal recently); maintains normal blood pressure; and helps to transmit nerve impulses.

Peaches frozen at the peak of ripeness add that coolness that we look for in a smoothie.  They are similar to the nutritional makeup of the ingredients listed above and are a source of fiber.  Fiber is a phytonutrient that aids in digestion and can help protect you from certain diseases.  Because these peaches were peeled before packaged they’re considered soluble fiber.

Peanut butter adds the protein that is necessary in our diets.  Protein is used to build and repair tissues, such as muscle tissue, makes hormones and body chemicals, transports nutrients and supplies energy.

So that’s my (but not really my own) nutritionally packed, super yummy, breakfast, lunch, dinner, after yoga, anytime, Elvis-inspired smoothie treat.  If you try it, I hope you enjoy it.  I have a feeling “the King” probably would.

Love to you all and happy Monday!

Deborah
The Food Yogi

Elvis/PBB photo by seriouseats.com

tarastileseats:

Yoga Cures Giveaway!!! Check it out! Thanks FitSugar! xo

tarastileseats:

Opening up the front of the body and the mind. Backbend.

tarastileseats:

Opening up the front of the body and the mind. Backbend.