Hot Yoga Isn’t Punishment: 10 Tips for Making Friends With Your Body During a Hot Yoga Class

Friends, friends: it’s that time of year.

I’ve taught Saturday and Sunday mornings for seven years now, and every December around this time folks roll into class ready to sweat out every canape and martini they half-drunkenly inhaled at the office holiday party the night before. Sometimes they’re wearing six layers of clothing in a 99-degree room so as to “detox” all the pinot and the feta and the gingerbread, armed with liters of coconut water and a couple of big towels for mopping up the evidence.

This always makes me a little bit sad.

I mean, I totally get it. I remember countless hazy, hungover twentysomething mornings spent rolling into Bikram classes feeling like I needed to do the same thing. Too many yoga practices that felt like atonement for the night before.

A decade later, as a hot yoga teacher myself, I cringe to think that my class could ever be complicit in my students’ self-abasement.

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So here I am to remind you: hot yoga is not a punishment.

You are not here to flog yourself for everything you consumed last night — especially in this season of overindulgence. You’re not here to beat your body into submission. You’re not here to burn enough calories that you “can have” that extra slice of pie tonight at Grandma’s.

You do not have to “detox” every bit of sugar you’ve eaten in the last month. Your body already has a great built-in system for that. It’s called your liver.

Get this: your body is your friend. Gulp, what? Yes, your friend. Your ally. Your buddy-for-life. Why not start celebrating it rather than shaming it?

Rather than making your yoga practice a participant in the kind of soul-sucking cycle wherein you eat and drink delicious things and then punish your body for eating them, how about you shift your mindset? Then, your yoga can become less a fitness regimen and more an opportunity to lovingly check in with your body and your mind in the midst of what is already often a frantic, busy holiday season. An opportunity to get quiet. To listen a little more. To offer your body grace for getting up in the morning and getting dressed and trudging through ice and snow and staying healthy and awake and alive in some of the darkest, coldest days of the year.

Portland, Oregon studio owner (and former Olympic ice skater) Jamie Silverstein has written a powerful article about this. In “Cut the Fat Speak: An Open Letter to the Yoga Community and Message for the Holiday Season,” she writes:

“Every time we speak in terms that portray food, exercise, reward, even love (!) as part of an economy of exchange, we are latently affirming a message of, “You are not good enough as you are.” Every time we employ a rhetoric of action-consequence we effectively say, “You are not enough.” Simply, this is not yoga….

On a more personal note, as a recovered anorexic/bulimic and eating disorder (ED) recovery advocate, I feel that this language is not only maladaptive, but that it also reinforces a dangerous ideal. Both from my personal practices and my work in the ED recovery field, I’ve encountered how the negative conditioning an exercise-exchange economy adversely affects people. It is often tantamount to verbal abuse. This is ironic, because as yogis, we are committed to ahimsa.”

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And living with ahimsa means creating less suffering, even for ourselves, right?

One of my favorite meditation teachings (I think it comes from Ethan Nichtern, but it might’ve been Susan Piver, too) is the notion that meditation is the process of making friends with ourselves. How beautiful is that? I know, I know; it sounds kind of cheesy at first. But when you really think about it, meditation (and yoga) are all about shifting the kind of negative self-talk that many of us are already pretty good at into a more compassionate, patient voice that greets ourselves as a beloved friend.

Here are a few tips for making friends with your body during a hot yoga class:

1. Use a witness-observer mind.

Notice what you’re thinking, without getting stuck in it, or thinking it’s you. Your thoughts are just thoughts. They come and go. They’re not YOU. (This is pretty much the whole definition of yoga: learning to no longer identify with the fluctuations of your mind.) And once you figure that out, life is so much easier.

2. Remember that hunger is not your enemy.

You don’t have to resist it, or avoid it, or chew 17 sticks of gum or drink 8 Diet Cokes a day to avoid actually eating anything. Hunger is actually a good thing. It reminds you to nourish yourself! Food can be a friend. Food can be celebration, and solidarity, and community, and holiday ritual. Food is here to fuel you, not punish or taunt or numb you. You don’t need to sweat it all away.

3. Treat yourself like a toddler.

Picture your favorite 1-year-old learning how to walk. They fall on their cute little butts constantly, don’t they? They wipe out and belly flop and totally lose it all the time, and what do they do? They giggle, push themselves back up, and try again. Can you imagine if you spoke to a toddler the way you speak to yourself when you fall out of a tough balancing pose? (“Come on, dummy, you are a such a failure! You suck. You might as well just give up because this yoga thing is so not for you.”) Of course not, right? When they wipe out, you just smile and help them up and say, “Way to go, buddy! You’re doing great. Keep trying. You’re doing it!”

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4. Three key words: Isn’t that interesting?

When you fall out of Pincha Mayurasana and CRASH, shaking the whole studio with your stunning wipe-out, notice it and smile and say to yourself, “Isn’t that interesting?” When your muffin top spills over the waistband of your yoga pants more than it did a month ago, rather than beating yourself up, notice it and say to yourself, “Isn’t that interesting?” This notion of “interesting” cuts the judgment: it’s not good, it’s not bad, it just is. It can shift everything in your day-to-day.

5. Be tender. ‘Nuff said.

With yourself, with your body, with your practice, with one another. Silverstein adds, “If you are struggling with self-acceptance this holiday season, as many of us do, let that be okay, too. Unfortunately much of our body-rhetoric and internal dialogue is harsh and prescriptive. Know you are not alone. Self-compassion cannot live in an antagonistic environment. The healing comes when we learn to acknowledge these voices without doing what they say.”

6. When you fall out of the pose, just get back in.

No big deal. No drama. No judgment. Whether we’re talking about a pose, or a healthy lifestyle, or anything else you’re trying to make into a positive habit. You are not the worst yogi that ever was. You just fell out, and now you’re gonna get back in. Get lost, start over. As Pema Chodron says, “Feel the feeling. Drop the storyline.” And then move right along.

7. Let go of the idea that a hot yoga practice is a detox.

I’m pretty ready to scrap that loaded “D” word already. Try to release the notion that your yoga practice is atonement for everything else you put into your body. It’s not here to wring out every “toxin.” It’s not here to sweat your “sins” out. It’s here to lovingly, patiently bring your body into balance, unraveling the knots, letting the prana (or life force) flow freely again.

8. Think of this practice as a celebration rather than a punishment.

I’m ever-grateful to my longtime friend and student Stacy, who suggested this to me once when we were hiking in Point Reyes. She noted that when I teach I often respond to people’s pained faces (when they’re clearly being hard on themselves in a pose). And then she said, “Rachel, what about the opposite? What about the moments wherein you maneuver yourself into a new pose for the first time, and you’re bowled over with awe and excitement at the amazing things your body can do? Things you never thought it capable of doing? So much that you just want to cry from the wonder?” I love this. Try approaching your practice with a spirit of “Holy shit, this is amazing!” rather than “Dammit, I suck.” Everything changes.

9. Picture yourself as an eighty year old.

If you’re lucky enough to live that long, you probably won’t be able to do any of this asana stuff. But you’ll still be trucking around this same old body, and you can choose to beat it up or love on it. Your call. I don’t know of anything that ever gets softer or kinder or more open from being beaten down, though. (At the risk of being a walking yoga cliche, let me quote Rumi, who said it best: “Be ground. Be crumbled, so wildflowers will come up where you are. You’ve been stony for too many years. Try something different. Surrender.”)

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10. If you’re a teacher, commit to using body-positive languaging.

Silverstein offers an inspiring pledge for teachers: “This season, I am committing to nourishment. I am committing to nourishment not just through physical food, but through language and action. I and my studio (The Grinning Yogi) promise to offer a message of acceptance and nourishment starting NOW. We are pledging the following:
* We will NOT teach from a voice rooted in an exchange economy of food, guilt, calories, indulgence, or anything related to not “being enough” as you are.
* We will create a safe-haven for our friends to feel empowered so they can take effective steps in promoting their own self-care and overall wellness.
* We will open a dialogue about what real nourishment is.
* We will remind our friends that food is food, love is love, and yoga… yoga is a GIFT!”

I am proud to commit to this pledge, and to make my hot yoga classes a sanctuary and a refuge from body-shaming. So come on in. Bring your perfectly-original body along. Share the love. You’re all welcome here.

 

 

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Rachel Meyer is a Portland, Oregon-based writer and yoga teacher. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, On Being, Yoga Journal, Tricycle, Yoga International, HuffPost, and more. You can find her at www.rachelmeyeryoga.com or @rachelmeyeryoga.

So, You Want To Make A DIFFERENCE??

So, You Want To Make A DIFFERNENCE??

First of all, you are alive; accept it.

The absolute most important thing is to know is yourself.

Love yourself as a creation of supreme existence. Cherish and Love yourself and YOUR LIFE. It is a gift that you chose and are choosing to accept.

Live it.

Let change move you into higher grounds, and allow others to change.

Number two, some suggestions:

Quit smoking FOR THE AIR, let your body benefit.

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Never buy paper towels again FOR THE TREES. Use a towel. Or save and use your napkins that are otherwise getting tossed.

FOR THE OCEAN: Everything you touch that is plastic, THINK about whether you need that thing. Can you live with out it? If so, then you don’t need it!
that includes:
-Your daily starbucks coffee drink (bring your own cup)
-To go salads (make your own)
-The straw from lunch (just let your server know that you don’t use straws when you sit down)
-Plastic containers of detergent (you can buy powdered detergent in a cardboard box), etc, etc.

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Take a shower every other day, or at least take short showers — your body cleans itself naturally. Use essential oils like a victorian princess.

Make your own cleaning and beauty supplies: https://www.diynatural.com

Walk or ride a bike whenever you can — your transit might be the best part of your day and a beautiful way to spend time with yourself.

Eat wisely, you are what you eat. Consider and respect the animal on your plate. Consider and respect the extra box of organic spinach grown hydroponically and transported across three states. Consider and respect the tomatoes from your neighbor, from the hand of an immigrant farm worker, from a can. Consider your organic, processed health bar you bought on sale. Consider eating whole foods and growing your own.

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And how about new clothes? It is not unlikely that you never need to buy another article of clothing ever again, considering you can live naked from the moment you were conceived until your last breath.

The truth is we are not far removed from anything; not from the Great Depression Era that only a few generations ago forced every single individual in the U.S. to conserve and save everything, food, water, clothes, paper, and everything was a commodity, nothing was wasted. Ask your Grandma.

Nor are we removed from the indigenous peoples world wide that live traditionally to this day.

We are not far removed from the hunger, the happiness, the hate, the humanity.

Wether you choose to see it or not, we live with thousands of individuals and families who live on the streets, scraping their lives together;
and maybe in the past that was even you —
maybe it will be you in the future…

You are not separate from the animals.
You are not separate from the grasses, cactus, fruit trees.
You are not separate from the war, from the tsunami.

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Know this and grow with it. Feel it.

Sulking gets us no where. LOVE MOVES.

Let the shadow push you to the light.

Connect with others in GENUINE experiences. You are your greatest judge. Release from your culture and live through your heart.

Your heart is the culture of all beings. Open it. Relax and breathe into it.

I like to imagine the powerful energy field around my heart and visualize it connecting with people, even when I’m in a conversation with someone that I don’t agree with, even when I see or hear politicians that I don’t agree with, with my family members, with hate, with pain, because love is more powerful.

Open your heart to spread the connective energy. The planet needs it now.

The first, the last, the only step to make the REAL difference in the world today, in your friend group, in your family is to OPEN YOUR HEART TO YOURSELF.

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You don’t need to read a book, or take a class, or fight, or even think about a thing; you must look within. This is the absolute most important thing that has ever existed in yours or anybody’s life.

Make a difference and:

“Know Thyself”
–Socrates

 

 

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Abigail Tirabassi: writer, dreamer, believer, artist, ocean lover, finding joy daily.

IG: @scrambby

Retreat Chef Spotlight: WildRaw

I was fortunate enough to meet Cat Cannizzaro in the magnificent Mentawai Islands during a ‘Yoga Trade’ experience in 2012. I was there on a work exchange to teach yoga and and help out around Togat Nusa Retreat for a month or so. Cat was the retreat chef and her partner Matt was surf guiding. Cat and Matt had been there for a while before I arrived, so they took me under their wing and showed me the ropes:) Dinner was one of my favorite times of the day, when we got to sit down together to share stories and enjoy Cat’s delicious and healthy meals. I was in awe of Cat’s knowledge and passion for cooking and wanted to soak up all her wisdom. There is a magic about travel experiences that seem to create life long friendships in short amounts of time. Although I was with Cat for only about a month on that island, I feel like the bond we have will last a lifetime. I still have yet to visit her and Matt in their hometown in Western Australia. Oh the beauties of travel! Thank you Cat for inspiring and believing in your path! Here we  catch up with Cat to learn more about her passion…

Tell us a little bit about your love of cooking and how you started WildRaw.

I started my love of cooking well before I was a teenager. My mum is a wonderful cook and she had to feed 6 kids and she also ran a small catering company. To earn some pocket money my sisters and I would go with mum to the functions and help prep food and do the dishes. I have two distinctive memories one is of my aching feet but the other was this canapé that my mum gave me to try. It was a vol au vent with a smoked oyster filling. I will never forget that moment, that taste and I still remember it today. Mum was pretty busy in the kitchen whether it be at home or work so I didn’t get that much time working with her but I got a lot of time watching and doing a little prep, even with my Italian aunties. My dad was a wonderful gardener and still is today at 80 years of age. We had mostly organic vegetables and fruit bought from orchards rather than supermarket food. My childhood set me up for what I do today, organic gardening and creating delicious recipes, and a lot of plant based recipes. I started working under a Michelin star chef who had crossed over to raw, he made me his apprentice and for three months he taught me as much as he knew before he returned to Europe and from there I began to spread my wings and create my own brand. It was a fun comment from a visiting massage therapist from another country who asked me if he could watch me make my signature raw chocolate tart. While he watched me working he said to me, ‘you are wild and you are raw.’ That is how I started WildRaw.
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What do you enjoy the most about cooking for retreats? Do you have a personal yoga practice?

I just love creating amazing food with incredible amounts of flavour for guests at retreats. The food is one of the most important things on a retreat. If the food is bland or boring it makes people feel really dissatisfied and they will look for food in other places which might not be healthy. I get so much from designing dishes that delight and inspire people to eat well and keep that theme for themselves when they get home. I’m always happy to share techniques and recipes with them. One of the things I love about retreats is that you can roll out of bed and go straight into yoga practice and the guests love it when the head chef is rolling around the floor with them.

Do you have a tip that can help us all eat a bit more sustainable and mindful?

Grow as much as you can.  If you live in an apartment or somewhere that has no garden at all you can always grow some herbs in pots. Go to your local farmers market and cook with seasonal fruits and vegetables. By putting your money back into your community you will always have fresh vegetables that have not been sitting in a supermarket cool room or in storage for weeks. Think about the proteins you would like to eat. Go to your local butchers and ask where does the meat come from? Is it local? Are the animals treated well? You will get much better meat and keep your local butchers business thriving if you spend a few extra dollars rather than shopping in a supermarket.
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What are some of your favorite foods and flavors to cook with right now?

Right now it’s winter in Australia and the Brassica family is thriving so we have cauliflowers, broccoli, brussels sprouts and kale coming out of the garden. Cauliflower fried rice is one of my favourite things to make during this season. I feel like I’m hovering over the garden waiting for them to be ready to pick. Our cabbages are just about ready so we will be making a lot of kimchi and sauerkraut in the next few weeks.
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What or who inspires you?

Anything that comes out of the garden. I love it when I am overseas and I go to a market. One of the most fun markets one year was in Quebec and it was snowing outside. Inside I found fresh kipfler potatoes and cranberries. I had never seen cranberries fresh in my life so it was so exciting. The people selling the potatoes gave me a traditional recipe and I had purchased some truffle oil in Naples so from that I made this amazing creamy mashed potatoes with truffle oil to go with our dinner that night and then I made a fresh cranberry sorbet. I get inspired from beautiful, real ingredients. It’s as simple as that.
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Born to cook, eat, write and travel, Cat Cannizzaro is Australia’s leading raw food gourmet chef. Her food, recipes, chocolates and food styling are sought out around the world. Cat focuses on simple and seasonal ingredients and inexpensive kitchen equipment. She is the creator of WildRaw: It’s about teaching and sharing the knowledge of how to become more self-reliant and how to implement those lifestyle changes, simply, efficiently and without breaking the bank. How to make raw, vegan, cooked vegan and cooked vegetarian delicious food. How to shop consciously and where to find those great food buys. Connect with Cat here:

http://www.wildraw.com.au/

From Ashram to the Andamans

A Yogi’s Transformational Journey through India

I’m not your typical world-traveling yogi. There aren’t too many 40-year-old women leaving everything behind for a taste of adventure. I mean, unless they’re having some sort of mid-life crisis, which I am not. No, really.

However, after recently becoming an empty-nester (I started young!), and after recently divorcing my husband, I felt the need to explore life differently, a new way to think, a new way to be. (yes, I’m aware that part does sound a bit mid-life crisis-like)

Yoga was a big catalyst for this new way of being… I had been practicing daily for a couple of years and was getting stronger by the day- mind, body and spirit. I felt the next step was obvious, to become yoga certified.

So I began the search for teacher certifications. Initially, I wanted go to Bali, Indonesia. Maybe it was because of reading Eat, Pray, Love– but I had this image of Bali being this goddessy-glamourous place toThe-Flying-Elephant-yoga-studio study yoga, and who knows maybe I’d find love there. I wasn’t looking for love, I was (am) already in love but the man of dreams didn’t (doesn’t) love me back. Anyway, I digress.

I found a few options for yoga training in Bali, but for whatever reason- doors kept closing. So I thought, maybe that’s my sign to stop looking so far away and just find training nearby in Florida where I live. But again, doors kept closing and nothing seemed to be working out. As I was taking a long walk on the beach one day- a thought became crystal clear: I needed to go to India to study yoga. Duh! Why wouldn’t I go where yoga originated?

I have a friend who quit her job, sold all of her possessions, and is now travelling throughout India. I remembered her telling me about a small ashram that offered yoga teacher training AND it was cheap. So I found out the name of the place, emailed them, and almost too-perfectly everything just sorta lined up. Tuition- check. Airfare- check. Indian Visa- oh, shit. No one told me how time consuming this part would be and after all the waiting there’s a chance I could be denied a visa. But just in the nick of time, the FedEx guy showed up at my door with my visa-stamped passport. Whew! (By the way, I highly recommend anyone traveling to India to get their visa FIRST. This will save a lot of stressing out!)

I read all kinds of blogs from people who had travelled though India. I spent a lot time working myself up over a bunch of stuff I didn’t need to be worrying about… but it did help me to prepare for my trip. And somewhere during this time of searching blogs, I came across an awesome blogger “This American Girl”, and that’s where I heard about Yoga Trade. I signed up and immediately found a posting for a yoga-exchange opportunity in the Andaman Islands. I had never heard of this part of the world but as it turns out, it’s a cluster of islands between India and Thailand but it is considered part of India. Perfect! I’ll be getting my teacher certification about the time they need an instructor at this resort on Havelock Island.

I remember telling my friend, the one who quit everything and moved to India, how I planned on going to Havelock Island in the Andamans after my training at the ashram. She responded with “are you sure you’re not just wanting a cookie at the end of your India trip?” I hadn’t looked at it that way at all. I saw what looked like this amazing paradise where elephants swim and the water is the loveliest iridescent turquoise, yes, but it was also a wonderful opportunity to get some hands on experience after my ashram training.

After weeks of going back and forth, and trying to organize the travel from the mainland to the islands (it’s not easy to get there)… it was finally set. I would be going to an ashram in south India for three weeks, then I would make the journey to one of the most remote places on the planet- the Andaman Islands.

As I write this, it’s now been two months since I’ve been back from the most exciting adventure of my life. And here’s my observation. Life at the ashram on the mainland and life in the Andamans on Havelock Island, couldn’t be more different.

At the ashram, we had a disciplined schedule. Up at 5am to “shower” (it’s a bucket with a cup for rinsing) and get ready for our asana practice, yoga history and philosophy throughout the day, volunteering at a rural school-house, and an all-vegetarian diet with little to no sugar or caffeine and definitely not any alcohol.

Whereas, on the island, 8am for yoga but many times people missed class because they were up too late Havelock-Beachdrinking the night before, Nutella pancakes for breakfast, prawns as big as your head on the barbeque, the wine is flowing and cigarette smoking is quite common.

The ashram life allows you to reflect on everything, why am I here, what am I doing? I had dreams of conversations with goddesses, I faced my demons head-on, and I came to peaceful conclusions of letting some things (and relationships) go. Spirituality thoughts seem to overtake any thoughts of the flesh.

On the island, all I could think of was how unbelievably grateful and happy I was to be alive. I met new friends, I met a very young, very attractive Indian man, made out in the ocean and on the beach, had totally different kinds of dreams and felt lots of love.

Now as I reflect on these two experiences, I would like to somehow be able to balance my life somewhere between the disciplined schedule of the ashram in India and the carefree frolicking on Havelock Island.

Vegetarian diet with almost no sugar or caffeine most days, but sometimes Nutella crepes and espresso for breakfast or a late-night dinner feast and the wine is flowing.

Practice yoga and meditation for hours but occasionally skip the mat and go swimming in the ocean with a gorgeous boy as we kiss with the crashing waves on us.

Get up early most mornings enjoying peaceful solitude but not missing birthday celebrations, nights on the beach watching the full moon, and staying up late talking with new friends about love, life and God.

How can these two places be so close and yet so far away? But I think the drastic contrasts of the two helped me learn something about myself. I’m not a typical yogi. I’m not a typical anything, really. I’m just me. I’m somewhere in between these two lifestyles. I’m not following “the path”. I’m making my own path as I go along. Yes, I could stand to incorporate more discipline into my life but I also need to make time for carefree living too.

And as it turns out, my friend in India was right, I did get my cookie.

 

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Angie is a yoga certified instructor with a passion for traveling and learning about new people and new cultures. She teaches yoga on the beach at sunrise in Florida, USA and organizes yoga retreats around the world.

Connect with Angie:

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Reasons to Start Living Yoga Today

Yoga is an entire science of living which works on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. The movement towards living yoga is one which brings back the depth to the practice, helping us navigate our relationships with the world around us, offering tools that promote mindfulness and present moment awareness, and ultimately paving the way to more joyful living.

Here are 5 reasons to get started:

 

1. You become what you repeat.

While it’s unfortunate that there is a misconception, particularly in the Western world about yoga as a purely physical practice – I do still believe that the growing number of mary3people rolling out their yoga mats is something to be celebrated. I like to think of yoga asana, or the postures as the gateway drug. We start with the physical then learn to integrate our energetic body through conscious breathing until eventually our mind settles into deeper states of concentration. For this reason, BKS Iyengar refers to the body as the “vehicle to the soul”. In the same way that stretching and deep breathing create space in the body, meditation helps ease the mind by creating a sense of inner spaciousness. We learn to simply observe as feelings of stress, anxiety and fear arise before reacting. This means we have the control to choose how to respond. Rather than blowing up when things go awry, we can shift gears into a more calm, relaxed state. Thanks to neuroplasticity, it’s possible through regular practice to actually rewire our brain into these positive thought patterns even outside of our practice. Or to put it simply, we become them.

 

2. Wake up!

In between a series of long-held, intense balancing postures in class the other day, my teacher, Shy brought us into a standing position where we could rest for a few breaths mary1with the stability of our two feet grounded on the floor. “If you’re not enjoying this right now,” he paused, “Wake up!” I laughed out loud… guilty. My mind and body were already agonizing in the posture coming next. This is a strong reflection on the way many of us live our lives – hung up on the past or stressing about the future. Yoga snaps us into the present so we can make the most of every moment. After all, the only time we are guaranteed is right now.

 

3. Your vibe attracts your tribe.

Cultivating positive energy through yoga and mindfulness allows our practice to be of service to others. It’s contagious. Buddhists recognize the Sangha, or community as one of the Three Gems alongside the Buddha, the teacher and the Dharma, the teachings, all of which further us along our spiritual path. This support network is even more valuable as advancements of the modern world have made it easier to isolate and disconnect from the world around us. Instead, we can utilize the online yoga community to increase our Sangha to a global scale, allowing for cross-cultural connections and an overwhelming amount of online resources for sharing knowledge.

 

4. Acceptance: No mud, no lotus.

Yoga does not promise to fix us; it’s a practice of acceptance. Similar to the way the lotus mary4flower can only emerge from the muddy floor of the pond, yoga brings awareness to the difficult areas of our life and trains us to accept them so we can grow from them. We become grateful for even the most challenging situations life throws our way. Imagine that. It is through this process that we begin to experience our true nature, the union of all aspects of the self and the world around us.

 

 

 

 

 

5. For the benefit of all beings.

You don’t have to be an activist or a yoga teacher for your work to be of service to others. Living yoga and mindfulness practices allow us to go out into the world acting from a place of love, compassion and understanding. In many cases, simply not contributing to violence or hate is enough. It is only through the wisdom gained from our own experience that we can start to change the world around us.

 

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Mary’s passion for yoga has taken her across the world from the U.S. to Southeast Asia & India where she leads retreats, private lessons and co-leads 200-Hr Teacher Training. You can visit her website for more details on where she will be next.

http://www.marytilsonyoga.com/

Travel Yourself Healthy

Earlier this year, my bearded better half and I decided to escape real, responsible adult life in the city for a travel adventure which is taking us from Costa Rica to Argentina, via all of the snowy peaks, sandy beaches, yoga classes, jungle treks and waterfall dips possible. The main motivation for our adventure was to give our sun-starved, tired out selves a year off the daily grind and be let loose without curfew deep amidst the great outdoors.

Perhaps I’d been a little too vocal about being addicted to a plant-based, superfood packed diet prior to our departure, causing friends and loved ones concern as they envisioned me passed out on a grubby floor somewhere – unable to cope with the distress of having to survive on buckets of hostel cooked pasta and nondescript fried street-meat.

Fortunately enough, discovery number one of traveling was that even if you’re on a trip typical of gap-year 19 year olds, you don’t necessarily need to eat like one. We’ve been eight months on the road so far and we’re still fueling our hikes with maca and chia seed porridge and my Instagram is still clogged with rainbow plates of salad conjured up in the most random of pit-stops.

Here’s my top five tips for staying healthy when you’re living out of a backpack…

1. TRUSTY TUPPERWARE

Yep, my first tip is to pack a good, air-tight tupperware. Forget fancy shoes or jewellery even exist – when you’re living half your life on a bus a girls best friend is reduced to a square plastic box. Whether your mode of transport is bus, car, taxi or plane, chances are your journey will deprive you entirely of anything resembling real, fresh food. This is mildly irritating when you’re on a bus for 4 hours but stomach crippling when you’re faced with a 22 hour bus marathon (yep, that happened). Before you depart fill your new best friend with something veggie based that won’t die too fast. Raw cabbage salads and chickpea-veggie mixes have been absolute winners for me.

2. OBEY THE POWER BREAKFAST

Start the day with something virtuous and you’ll be less likely to resign yourself to a image2greasy tray of street papas by lunchtime. Before traveling, I wouldn’t even have made it out of bed had it not been for overnight chia oats, a.k.a. the health food bloggers equivalent of potent narcotics, waiting patiently for me in the fridge. SO easy to make, even when you only have access to a kitchen shared with 30 other travelers and their half eaten saucepans of pasta.

The trick is to prep a decent stock of ‘the power mix’ to take with you ahead of your trip. For me this consisted of: chia seeds, maca powder and baobab, ground flax, sunflower seeds and cinnamon.

Then, all you need to seek out at your destination is a humble bag of oats, some fresh fruit for the topping and either almond milk (it’s been astonishingly easy to find), coconut milk or just plain old H2O to make the magic happen. Mix it together in the afore mentioned tupperware before you hit your bunk bed and in the morning you’ll have the healthiest brekkie ready to eat while everyone else in the hostel is queuing up to cook pancakes from a dodgy looking bag of pre-mix.

3. THE INTERNET IS YOUR FRIEND

Having arrived at over 60 towns so far on our travels, I’ve been amazed by how many wonderful, health obsessed people have set up shop in the far corners of this planet. I’ve met many of them through a phone app (have a search on your app store) which lists vegan/veggie cafes and restaurants and specialist/organic food stores. It was through this that I found a green juicery in a small town in Ecuador, a superfood-lovers paradise in Colombia and countless Hare Krishna centres offering bargain ‘menu del dias’ (super cheap veggie 3 course set lunches) in almost every major city. Having a quick search online and asking friendly hostel dwellers about where the nearest fruit and veggie markets are will save your tummy as well as your wallet too.

4. LEARN THE LINGO

Learning some of the local language is a given for most conscientious travelers, but don’timage1 restrict yourself to friendly basics if you want to eat healthy when treating yourself to meals out. You’ll have to do the leg work for your own destination – but below are a couple of the most useful Spanish phrases I’ve come to rely on so far:

Yo soy vegetariano – I am vegetarian

Sin carne o pollo, por favor – Without meat or chicken, please (in some countries ‘vegetarian’ is simply not a thing)

Sin azúcar, por favor – Without sugar, please

Tiene aguacate? – Do you have avocado? (curveball: some South American countries call it ‘palta’ instead of ‘aguacate’)

5. BECOME A HOSTEL SEARCHING NINJA

Bid farewell to that adrenaline rush you used to get when browsing hotels for your summer holidays as searching for hostels is the least glamorous part of a traveler’s job description. If you’re trying to salvage your healthy glow then save your sanity and prioritize finding a decent hostel kitchen, preferably one equipped with more than just a sieve and a saucer… although the challenge of trying to make a meal using only the most random and obscure of utensils will really revitalize your creativity in the kitchen.

 

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Suzie is a 200 hour qualified yoga instructor, travelling Central & South America with her partner whilst blogging about teaching yoga, keeping fit and eating healthy. See her adventures at lifeinfullcolour.co.uk and on Instagram @life.in.full.colour

A Little Bit Softer Now…

Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed that my body has become “looser”, a little bit softer. My butt jiggles a bit more when I step, and my stomach went from a budding four pack to a cozy one pack. But I’m okay with it. If I wasn’t, which I wasn’t a few months back for sure, I would not have written this post.

Now, I’ll be honest, this post was inspired by my first trip back to the gym in about 6 months. If anyone reading this knew me a few months ago, you’re probably shocked. And if you really knew me, your mouth may be on the floor. Because, yes, I was once a burning calories, workout DVD obsessed, pre-workout junkie, straight up body-conscious maniac.

So what shifted? How is it that the place I once planned my days around (which I did), now intimated me? I did not know my left from right or what contraption was going to do what, flooded with fear as soon as I realized I had completely forgotten what a gym workout was consisted of. How many reps was I suppose to do? How do I adjust this seat? Do I have the right shoes on for this? I could feel my ego deflating, because I had once placed my self-worth in these routines.

So much of how we define ourselves is through the physical body. We obsess over the density and tone of random carousel-item-1muscles, complimenting her quads and his pecks, creating images of ourselves centered around our physical structure. I can remember comparing myself to other girls at the gym thinking “well at least my biceps are toner than hers” or “if only my core looked that flat”. I judged those beautiful women, and labeled them, subconsciously, as body parts, because my idea of self image at the time was just that. It did not go much farther than what the outer shell of a human being looks like. It did not encompass their whole human existence. I literally individualized them by a muscle on their body and identified them as such. I judged them, I judged myself, but moreover, I saw them as different than I. And, yes, honestly, sometimes I assumed I was better. And it was painful. And obsessive. And lonely.

I’ve literally “softened my shell” since my muscle tone has escaped me and been resurfaced with soft, fleshy, humanly skin. With my body less “tight” it’s stopped grasping for the image it was searching through all those hours of cardio and insanity workouts. I’m less “defined” both muscularly and mentally, as I’ve stepped away from all those definitions I set for myself as a chick that can do 80 squats a minute. There’s nothing wrong with physical strength, but what was I proving? That I could pick things up and put them down really fast? What purpose did that serve?

Insanity can be defined as actually believing your thoughts. Which I did. I was somewhat insane. Because I believed my thoughts that told me my body was not toned enough. Not strong enough. Not perfect enough.
But I am enough. I am so enough.

My first day back at the gym flooded me with memories of hours on end spent in this space that were filled with darksara1 thoughts of my own self image. I came to realize I was literally not working out MY body, because I was focused on an image of one that was outside of myself. I was picking things up and putting them down, lifting my knees at rapid speed, cramming my joints and muscles, all for the sake of sculpting a figure that I had projected and associated as being perfect. Never mind the divinity within me, I wanted her six pack, her perky butt, and her capped looking shoulders.

Now, I can honestly say my perspective has shifted to a place that I honor my body. So I would like it to be strong and able, so that I can perform daily tasks, like picking things (chairs, my laundry basket, my little sister) up and putting them down, and other sorts of physical labor so I can be of service to others. I also enjoy the serotonin release of a nice run, and of course a physical yoga asana.

Since my body shape has changed, although it’s not been drastic, I’ve come to separate myself from the idea that I need to by physically “perfect” to be valued. I had once lived from a mindset that had created a hardened image in my brain of what I was suppose to look like, I was so sure I would feel full when I looked that way. But when I started to look “that way”, I was sore, aching, and in so much pain that I actually spent more time resenting my body because it was affecting how I was experiencing my days. It did not feel good to be in my body.

But life is comprised of so much more than the way the physical body experiences it. There is taste, touch, smell, laughter, and meditation. And dark chocolate. And I was missing out on so much of it all of those hours at the gym. All of the dinners I skipped to get my cardio in. All of the friendships I put as second importance to my own selfish needs of wanting to look better. There is so much more. So, so, so much more.

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Sarah Rose Bogden is a 22 year young 200 hour registered yoga teacher who feels blessed to have found the path of yoga. After years of chasing a life that was driven ego, she realized her self-worth and dropped out of college and enrolled in her YTT.

Autumn Chill And Detox

The Colorado high country is known for panoramic views and stunning fall colors. In Summit County, we become enveloped with the golden glow of changing Aspens. The crisp fall air brings a new chill to the air and something about bundling up and getting outside is nourishing to the soul.

Being a Colorado native, I thrive on the 300 days of sunshine. The sun gives me the energy to get out early every morning for hikes and trail runs, and if I’m lucky, fly fishing with my favorite ladies. I love the summer months, but this time of year grants me permission to slow down and unwind. We tend to fill our summer days from sun up to sundown, enjoying every ounce of Vitamin D we can absorb. That being said, there are moments when I have to remind myself to slowdown; to bathe in the stillness.

We’ve all heard the term “spring cleaning.” This can be taken from the view of cleaning out old items we’ve acquired over the past few months; purging the old, making space for what is fresh and new. We can also view this from an internal sense. Cleansing the boding of the stale energy and making room for fresh prana. Why don’t we have a “fall cleaning”? Observing nature and the environment we live in, nature is the guru fall cleansing. The Aspens drop their tired old leaves, we experience more rainy days washing away the dust and eventually we are draped in a layer of freshly fallen snow.

During the fall we turn our focus to the lungs and large intestine. Both organs are linked to aliments that become more prevalent in the autumn months. We experience breathing troubles such as asthma and common skin issues like eczema. Especially during the first few weeks of temperature shifting – avoid sugars, flour and dairy. And often most difficult for us to avoid once all of the pumpkin/spice/nog libations arrive: alcohol. We want to avoid anything that will create excess mucus, causing our boding to promote the growth and longevity of illness. This time of year there are so many vibrantly colored veggies offered at the final days of the farmers market. Beets, Rhubarb, apples, kale, citrus and radish are all making their last appearance. Keep an out for stone fruits such as peaches, nectarines and apricots. Paired with your leafy greens (kale, spinach, Swiss chard, bok choy…) you have a Vitamin C powerhouse! Not mention all that produce intermingled will aid in your body’s natural detoxification efforts!

Try this tasty recipe to assist your body in a smooth seasonal transition. Not to mention the flavor combo will tantalize your taste buds.

DETOX & Nourish Juice Blend:

Ingredients:

1 medium beetbeet

1 large apple

3 radishes

1 cup fresh kale or spinach leaves (raw kale can be difficult to digest for some folks)

½ of a fresh lemon (juice and a bit of zest)

Method:

Place all ingredients in the blender and process. Enjoy within 72 hours!

 

 

 

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Melany has been practicing yoga for the past 13 years in Colorado and abroad. She earned her 200 RYT through the Bindu Yoga School in Bali, Indonesia. Her goal is to have yoga accessible to all ages and abilities.

10 Healthy Veggies to use in Green Smoothies

Our friends Michael and Kristel at Your Superfoods kindly shared this bit of Green Smoothie inspiration. Time to get green:)

Do you catch yourself often making the same smoothie? Using the same vegetables? Just adding wheatgrass powder to your smoothie? We made a list of the healthiest and most delicious vegetables to use in green smoothies! Check this page to solve ‘tired of wheatgrass’ problem.

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Swiss Chard
  • Beet Greens
  • Romain Salad
  • Avocado
  • Cucumber
  • Zucchini
  • Celery
  • Herbs (parsley, coriander, mint, etc)

Glowing Green Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 10g Super Green Mix
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tbsp. (homemade) almond butter
  • 50g fresh or frozen mango
  • 4 strawberries
  • Handful of fresh spinach
  • 150ml coconut water

To do: 

  • Mix all the ingredients in the blender
  • Enjoy!

This is just one example of a recipe where you can use the Super Green Mix, but there are many other delicious recipes that you can make. Here you can find many other different superfood mixes.Your Superfoods Mixes can be added daily to your smoothies, yoghurt, juices, water, raw cakes, ice-cream or salads!

http://www.yoursuperfoods.eu/

The Holistic Evolution of Business Culture

This article is being graciously shared with us by Living Yoga Ambassador, Lauren Lee. You can find more inspiration at the community project she founded, ‘Raise Your Beat’.

Over the past 50 years throughout many Western cultures, social status (perceived success) was easily defined by material wealth. Whether it was a home, car, accessories for your home, clothing, jewelry (or all of the above) it was culturally accepted (and expected) to consume more, simply because we could.

(*Of course this mentality was more present in certain countries, and excluded those who rebelled and lived their lives according to their own set of rules.)

Fast forward to 2015, and there has been a drastic shift in values and perspectives. Currently our culture is redefining our relationship to ‘wealth’ and the age of mindless holistic1consumption is slowly fading.

The trend of shopping at corporate stores and buying mass manufactured products is dying out. It is now replaced by the urge to support smaller personalized shops that offer local, organic and fair trade products.

Businesses are constantly becoming more innovative, resourceful and eco-conscious with their products, priding themselves on quality over quantity and strong ethics that are aligned with their economic growth.

Along with the change in what we are buying, is the change in how we are buying. Outdoor markets and festivals boasting gourmet foods and live music are replacing air-conditioned malls with fast food courts and parking lots.

And the most interesting progression is quite possibly the transformation in our desires.

The desire to even physically own a product is instead being replaced by the ability to have access to that product.

This radical revolution from our changing desires supports a culture of business that offers new ways in how we use products.

For example: a bike, which you can rent near your flat, ride across the city, and drop off at your new destination…music, movies and media stored online, available to you on anyDSC06331 device with or without internet… experiences working abroad in exchange for accommodation and food…taxi services, cars, sleeping accommodations and land directly rented from one another.

These products are more flexible, offering more availability and affordable prices. They support us to share and network with both our local and global communities. And most important, they protect the environment and work to create a smaller carbon footprint as ultimately, fewer goods are being manufactured.

As mindful consumers, we are becoming more interested in the ‘root of the product’.

What is the true purpose behind its use (is it necessary), and how can it become a tool to enhance our lives?

Can this product become an experience and offer me more value?

What is the impact of this product on myself, my community and the Earth?

Our intentions as a culture are becoming more yogic with a better understating of our yamas and niyamas (ethical guidelines), connecting to what’s truly important – access over ownership, a quality eco product over one that harms our bodies and nature, and community success over individual success.

These Yogic principals encompass multiple aspects of healthy production and consuming, and are at the heart of the evolution of many small entrepreneurs and big corporate businesses alike.

It seems the rise of yoga among the masses has begun to permeate deeper than asana with a rising in consciousness as a culture. And even in a context, which seems so far from ‘yogic’ (such as consuming) the new trends in business are implementing more holistic perspectives to sustainable and healthy options.

As a consumer, the next time you are in the market for a product, stop and think (research) which companies are offering that same product in a more user-friendly, enjoyable and eco-conscious way. Remember that you always have a choice and your lauren_bancosupport for these products will radiate far beyond buying and using them, as you will be a positive example of a mindful being for your own circle of loved ones.

 

LAUREN LEE is passionate about holistic health, exploring the world and empowering others to live vibrant and happy lives. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated yogini and sun seeker, she lives for creating connection and enjoying simple pleasures.