My first vinyasa class teaching

I broke my big toe…on my right foot…trying to get into scorpion pose. Scorpion pose keeps yogi’s ego in check on a daily basis. Its the most liberating and also the most frustrating for me so far. Monday morning in my vinyasa class i was trying my best to lift my head up while my legs were bent oh so elegantly (ok fine awkwardly) behind my back and then i very rapidly and drastically needed to come out of the pose…basically i fell, but i fell on my foot so it didn’t look like i “fell” but i crashed and banged awkwardly on my big toe. My teacher heard the crack and said “oh no that was bad!” I naturally shook it off and said “no no it sounded worse than it really was” and then the sweat came…and the realization that I was in pain, and then the idiot ignorance that I think I got from my father…I ignored the pain and continued to practice.

Then the best news ever…at 4pm Eloise asked me to fill in for her at her 545 class…immediately I agreed because I am not allowed to turn any offer for classes down (my own new rule). That being said, me and my big broken toe went off to teach my very first yoga class outside of the ashram, to people that are not of blood relation. I took my ice and tried to numb my toe. I figure if I can’t feel it than I can practice yoga (again I may blame my father for that)!

To say I was sweating is an understatement, thank god for moisture wicking shirts! I was dripping sweat because every time I put any weight on my toe I was in so much pain that I thought I would die! But I guided, I practiced and I got through my first class…the whole class…with a big black broken toe…and I’m guessing it just might be easier next time. It was an elating experience that I cant wait to do again…minus the toe problem.

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Yoga and ageless inspiration everyday

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The thing about yoga is that it can surprise you. Daily I see things about yoga online that make me pause and think. In my mind, just over two years ago, I thought yoga was for thin wealthy blonds in lulu lemon clothing…not for me. I was confused by the westerness that we all put on it, I didn’t get it. I don’t know that Ill ever truly get it but I try, day to day I try. When I look online and see Jessamyn Stanley KILLING it (mastering it Swami Paramananda would have me say “Ahimsa Katie, Ahimsa!”) in every pose imaginable, breaking the stereotype of looks in yoga, and Kelsey Koch owning and teaching yoga with a prosthetic leg I am in absolute aw, and also know that it is the truth, we are LIMITLESS.

I felt this in person, not just online, when I walked into Sivananda class in west palm beach to teach. It was my first yoga class teaching traditional Sivananda. I was a bit apprehensive but nothing major, I felt confident knowing the routine and believing that my purpose is to teach yoga, even if its only to my mom. So I greeted the students as they walked in…one seemed to be older than the next…and I became so excited and inspired and thrilled, and a bit terrified, older people may be set in their ways, what if I’m not what they’re used to?!?! I think the youngest person in the class was 72, and there were at least ten students there. Looking around I was thinking “how will they do headstand, how will they do shoulder stand?” I took a few deep breaths and began the class, initial relaxation easy, prayer WHAT THEY KNOW IT?! so cool!!! Then off we were in sun salutations, with all of them doing some version of it, doing their best, rocking the salutations, lifting their legs like they’re teenagers in double leg lifts, and then the moment of truth…sirsasana headstand…coming out of childs pose I guided them into headstand (as if they needed any guidance at all), these grandmas and grandpas shot up like rockets (ok some sort of slow moving rocket…paper airplane rocket or something like that). I looked around the room at them with so much gratitude to be in their presence. If they weren’t in the headstand, they were doing rounds of dolphin and I just smiled and knew I was right where I needed to be. The rest of the hour and a half went exactly the same, with these incredible senior citizens doing the very best yoga they could, at an age where so many just throw in the towel.

When the class was through and we finished chanting the tryambakam all together loud and proud, another amazing thing happened…they invited me for a coffee…naturally I went! How could I not!?!? So I joined five yogis for a dunking donuts and talked about their yoga journeys, which weren’t so different from my own. I had such a great time with them, and cant wait to teach them all again…who knows maybe scorpion next week!

Yoga truly has no face, no age and certainly no body type. Imagine an exercise that has no age limit? There never comes a time when you say “Im too old for this” because in yoga you simply never are. Thank you Sivananda for giving me this gift and ability to teach these beautiful souls. Om Om.

Fifteen minutes…

IMG_1489Full disclosure…Im a bundle of nerves. Im full of anxiety and pressure. Its the same story with every woman my age, every girl I’ve talked to. You mention anxiety and everyone starts shaking their head “yeah me too.” what is that? why is that? and how can we all just calm down!? we’re bogged down by the same expectations, be thin, be happy, be pretty… What if we’re not that pretty? what if we’re not that thin? How do we reconcile with that?! We all know the basics, its arbitrary, beauty is in the beholder, its skin deep, etc etc…the fact is that we all see the same movies, commercials and read the same articles. So how do we really get deep inside and remove the crap that swims around in our heads? Well my friends, with yoga…and thats it. Through yoga the noise quiets, even if just for an hour. The non-stop buzzing of pressure and anxiety and media and politics (ugh god politics) is quiet. I found yoga by practicing on youtube alone in my living room because I was going through IVF and my mind was a roller coaster. Through yoga even if for fifteen minutes, I promise your mind quiets…imagine fifteen minutes of peace…then imagine getting into your practice a little bit more, and maybe creating a half an hour of peace…then forty-five minutes, then an hour…then who knows? The possibilities are endless. But start, start with fifteen minutes, give yourself that. We’re constantly beating ourselves up, and breaking down. How about building ourselves up and creating something new? Something awesome? Something groundbreaking….just create some yoga, sit still with yourself, and be awesome. we’re all beautiful, and guess what? we’re all the same…just chillax. The thing about yoga is that if you give it a chance it will change your whole world…fifteen minutes at a time.

the thing about yoga…

I’ve been back in America for almost three months….the thing about America is the choices, the options, the access to everything. In Macedonia I had a mirror and youtube, in south Florida I have anxiety about which studio to go to.

Studio 1 – deerfield beach – super fancy and cute, with a political and judgmental teacher…hmmmm the thing about yoga is that its the anti politic, the anti judgement zone. Obviously this studio wasn’t for me. I did Raja yoga where I basically just laid in a warm room for an hour and a half waiting for it to be over.

Studio 2 – west palm beach – not fancy, not even really nice. But the teacher, oh my god, so good! I thought you know what this is it, this is where i need to be. The teacher was even telling me about her pet chickens! Right up my alley. the class went at a nice pace, not crowded at all, sometimes i was even the only student…that is if the teacher showed up. I payed the groupon for the month, twice the teacher was a no show, and there wasn’t enough classes for me to get there before or after work…the thing about yoga is that if I want to become a true yogi and eventually start teacher training, I will need to practice everyday…if the teacher is a no show, its obviously not for me.

Studio 3 – lake worth – fancy and adorable. This studio felt like the girliest place on the planet, a picture on pinterest of perfect. It smelled like essential oils, the women were sweet and friendly. the teachers were pretty and gentle…the thing about yoga in my perfect world is that its difficult. I do need to get better at meditation, and focus, and the gentle aspects of yoga. However I have found that my meditation generally is while I am in a pose, while Im focusing on nothing but that moment. This yoga studio is expensive and beautiful and truly a magical sanctuary, but I need a little more bad ass in my practice.

Studio 4 –  Bikam bitches – yesterday I went to old faithful, a Bikram studio i found in west palm. I drove up to the studio which is an old church…yeah I know so freaking weird. But I knew what to expect from Bikram, I know the poses I know the heat, I know the length of time. I have been doing hot yoga on my own for a long time, I haven’t attended an actual class in years…The thing about Yoga is that its it can surprise you. I was fairly confident going into this class, and to be honest I wasn’t expecting to get dizzy from the heat, to have to sit out a few poses because the heat was excruciating. Now heres the thing about hot yoga, I feel like a warrior when I finish a class. I feel like I have just accomplished something so huge, and so phenomenal for myself, something that takes real strength and will power to get through the class.

So far I’m four studios deep, Ive learned different styles of yoga, different styles of teaching. My latest goal is to attend Bikram for 2 weeks straight, see how accustomed to the heat I become and see if thats my spot…if not well the thing about Yoga is that there is always another studio out there to try.

I QUIT…now what?

I finally did it, after months and months of debating and back and forth i finally had the courage to walk into my bosses office and resign. That was three weeks ago…I gave a two week notice and have spent the last five days blissfully unemployed…ok i need to work on the bliss. There is an unemployment glow, and like the pregnancy glow it wears off…and it wears off fast. My glow is gone, this doesn’t mean that I’m regretting my decision in any way at all, but i need to focus, I need routine…and I need to get it together.

Yesterday was spent literally horizontal, the only vertical time spent was to and from the kitchen to refill my already full stomach. The pain, and disgust I felt at myself throughout the entire day was awful. I was sad…I hit my unemployment low.

Well thank god thats over! Now there is nowhere to go but UP! Never one to dwell on a low, as I stuffed my face yesterday, I was coming up with a game plan on how I was going to wake up the next day and press reset. Sometimes in our lowest moments we find what we need. For me this is yoga. My game plan is to wake up each morning, have coffee and practice yoga. This focuses me for the day, it brings me peace and it keeps me calm. Also I developed a list in order not to live life on the couch watching awful tv (Modern Family excluded obviously).

  1. exercise everyday – be it yoga, hiking, running etc. every single day I need to do something active. I need confidence, and to rebuild my self-esteem, the only way i have ever been able to feel truly satisfied within myself has been through regular exercise and clean eating.
  2. Blog everyday – I need to write something down, and have something worth writing about each and every day.
  3. Read yoga inspired material everyday – my ultimate goal is to become a certified yoga instructor, everyday whether it is a magazine article, a book, or a yoga pant review, I need to stay focused on my goal and realize daily why I want to pursue it.
  4. Cook or bake something everyday – I love being in the kitchen, it makes me feel productive and happy. I love having my husband come home, walking in the door and immediately feeling excited because he smells something yummy cooking. It takes time, research, patience and ingredients to cook…It takes love to make recipes well, and lets face it everyone wins.
  5. Leave the house everyday – this i have to improve on…i am a home body…and someone who is always happy to be with friends, but generally needs to be dragged out of the house to do it. I need to get better.

so I quit…now lets get started.

Authenticity

I think that in the current environment of social media, over stimulation and instant gratification we lose our own authenticity. When we think for a moment “I want that” and within the next 30 seconds it’s ordered, and in the mail the fleeing moments of real want are generally lost on us.

When I moved to Macedonia two years ago I was a normal American girl. I got new outfits for every occasion, I “needed” something new every weekend to go out, I saw something online and I ordered it immediately. It was all so instant that when it arrived I found that I generally had forgotten that I had ordered it in the first place, and upon opening the package I wasn’t brimming with excitement and anticipation. It was more “normal” than special. This all had become a way of life for me as I grew up.

It came to an abrupt stop upon entering Macedonia. My new home is a small country, the population doesn’t even reach 2 million. The postal system is like all other government institutions here, complete crap. Buildings and personnel are older than the software they use, break time is more important than customers, and doors are locked for hours on end so employees can smoke, drink coffee and complain about how much better life was in Yugoslavia. During my first year here, this drove me MAD! I couldn’t pay a bill online, get said bills delivered correctly to my mailbox or order from my regular “go to” websites from America. I was in an intense Victorias secret, Nordstrom, Amazon and Ugg withdrawal period. To add insult to my need for retail injury the mall and shops around Skopje didn’t satisfy my “needs.” The clothing in general over here is way overpriced, and the catch to that is that its poor quality! How is something going to look crappy but be expensive??! Oh the depression! Why ME? How do people live like this?!

Let us fast forward a bit to the present day. In the past year I can tell you every item of clothing I have purchased, this being because it is less than 10 items. I say this with such pride that its hard to contain. Being out of the instant gratification, need for more, wasteful life I used to lead has changed me significantly. What I need, what I appreciate, rely on and consume are so different. I don’t buy something new because it’s Friday, I buy something new because something old has worn out, and I need to replace it. I have no desire for a new dress for a birthday party, unless I will wear it to work, and to multiple other types of events. I don’t waste much anymore, and when I am wasteful I am mindful of how to change that behavior in my future, and waste less. This is not to say I look like a girl from “little house on the Prairie” and I’m sitting in my pilgrim dress churning butter, I am still stylish, and on trend just with combinations that I make with what I already have.

As I continue to embark on this journey of “less,” I become more authentic to my own true being. I am so many things, but none of it is defined by material possessions or new outfits. Being placed in an area where it is simply not an option to buy buy buy, allowed me the the time to reflect on why I buy, on what its useful for, on do I really need this? When I really need it, I can always find a way to get it, but 9 out of 10 times that I think I REALLY need something, I wait a week or two and honestly forget all about it. The changes that adapting to this aspect of life in Macedonia is 100% positive. I am no longer the “ideal consumer” that I once was. This was not a conscious choice or change, it was an adaptation of my surroundings. Had I not lived in Macedonia I don’t know that I ever would have embarked on this type of journey, or realized the excess I lived in, or even desired less. Had I not moved to Macedonia I don’t believe I would have tried to get to know myself better, or to understand my true wants and needs.

It’s amazing how “less” has made me authentically so much more.

Inspired…Be kind, have less…Inspire more

I am inspired lately by things that have a general theme of “less” and in “kindness.” Less being that of a more self-sustaining life, a way to get through things more organically than having to go shopping every day. A way of using what I have and growing what I need. I’m not talking off the grid by any means, or the non-deodorant wearing type of “less,” just a healthier, more environment friendly self-satisfying less. I’m googeling more and more about composts and rain water collection than I am about fashion and celebrity culture. I like this shift and I’m starting to inspire myself to make a real change, the real change is the ultimate shift though…which leads me to kindness. Full disclosure I have never thought of myself as a particularly “kind” person. The kindness I see in myself is reserved for animals and a very short list of people. Yet lately I’m wondering how to expand on this kindness and put myself on a kinder more gentle path. I have found and been inspired in the last few days by Jennifer Pastiloff’s blog and ideals in http://themanifeststation.net/ she’s all about women and empowerment and kindness through yoga and swearing and honestly just a lot of positivity and love from what I can see so far. I have been drawn to her brand because it’s not a kindness that is about Zen life and quietly thanking the trees, and being walked all over, it’s about swearing and yelling and listening. It’s more my style.

What I am ultimately inspired by is women who put their shit out there, are unashamed to say how they feel and inspire others to follow suit.

As I have gotten older I have calmed down a lot, I’m not angry, I’m not trying to impress and I’m not looking for anything that I don’t have. Therefore I believe it is time for me to stop following the rules with a corporate soul sucking job that I hate, and make a real inspiring change.

Here it begins, the start of my quest for happiness, stillness and calm within myself. I will give my notice, and develop into the person I am inspired to be through hard work, meditation, yoga, gardening, and all of the challenges that will come along with that. My journey is about finding my inner peace, my way of life that is not against the grain it’s against what the grain has taught me. I’m looking to stop the pressures of media, pressures of family expectations, unrealistic body image, and everything that gives me the anxiety that shortens my breath, the pain in my chest and the extra blinking to fight off tears for simply what has become my day to day life.

I have to be the one who changes, no one will do this for me…but please follow me along for the ride. we may end up inspiring each other.