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.

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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 Bikram…

I did Bikram in my early 20’s…and there just happens to be a bikram studio close to my current home. I got the two week unlimited deal for new comers, I went religiously for a week, going six times in seven days…the think about Bikram is that I just hate it. Every single class i went to i questioned my sanity as if i was in a James Arthur Ray sweat tent. I never left the room, I was dizzy and on the verge of passing out / throwing up each and every time, yet I never left the room. The final time I went I was so depleted of all nutrients in my body that driving was honestly dangerous. I got home pale and shaky and then finally asked “what the hell are you doing?”

Bikram is bad ass, but is mostly full of older people. As i was sweating my ass off in lulu lemon outfits i was laying next to 70 year old men in hanes underwear. The thing i love about Bikram is that it makes you so hot that you have no awareness of “cool,” you literally could care less about who’s wearing what (not like anyones wearing much of anything) around you let alone their body structures. People are generally old, over weight and wearing their cotton briefs with pride. I do like that vibe…honestly. I like when people let it all hang out (ok not all of it) I like when people don’t care about their surroundings or feel an obligation to look a certain way, what i don’t like is the 110 degree heat and feeling of impending death.

So that decision is made, there is not a 10 thousand dollar Bikram yoga teacher training in my future…and I can cross that studio off my list. Im still in the market for the perfect place to go everyday and practice yoga, but maybe just maybe Ill have to make it myself.

 

 

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.

Model Behavior

Going along with my obsession with all things celebrity, comes the media driven world of what my body should look like…this has lead to emulating “model behavior.” Ive been through all of the phases that it takes to look, and feel like a model. Wait hold the “look” Im about 4 inches too short and not nearly pretty enough, but I tried to walk to the walk (off the catwalk). The below five rules are what i lived by for a great deal of my 20’s.

  1. starve – you must starve there is no other way
  2. excessively exercise – everyday multiple times
  3. smoke – cigarettes seem to come with this territory
  4. coffee / diet coke (what thats not a meal you say?)
  5. when you show up anywhere always say “oh i just ate thanks though”

Now I’m 32…and to be perfectly honest still struggle HARD with what my body needs to look like. The media has murdered my self esteem, and brainwashed me into what is beautiful. Just this morning i weighed in, giving myself a month goal of how much weight i need to lose, and no its not a healthy 2 pounds a week.

I no longer smoke, drink diet coke, or say “i just ate” when i show up places. I don’t have the same eating disorder that i struggled with in my 20’s, however, same as the majority of women, i have an unhealthy relationship with food, and with body image. While it has gotten better as Ive gotten older, it doesn’t fully go away, its more of an internal fight for freedom from the images in my head. So as the quest for inner peace continues into this 32nd year of my life  I guess that I can be thankful that I have grown away from the five rules of my 20’s and gone into different rules for my 30’s, much less restrictive, they are healthier, and contain food!

  1. eat clean (no alcohol, sweets, bread, or pasta)
  2. exercise everyday

I don’t emulate model behavior anymore, and can see that I have improved. its important to see growth and to remind yourself that while maybe it will be a struggle for your whole life, it gets easier…it all gets easier, and maybe give yourself a break.

 

saying goodbye to celebs

Full disclosure – Im a huge fan of celebrity culture. I love perez hilton, the dailymail, and E! I know more about Madonna’s custody battle than I do about my cousins. I know more about Katy Perrys relationship status than I do about my grandmothers health…and I don’t even LIKE Katy Perry, I do like my grandmother!

My quest to grow and be better at being me, has taken to to this point…I have quit and I have quit cold turkey. Oh christ ok I’m lying, I have one loophole, I didn’t shut off my Eonline notifications on my phone, I only get an alert when something really big happens, AND I do not open the page. For two weeks I haven’t been on ANY gossip sites, read ANY celebrity news or looked at any paparazzi photos…this my dear friends is GROWTH.

After two weeks how do I untimely feel you ask? Well, I feel a little out of touch with my make believe friends, I feel a little lonely without them, I definitely have at least an hour or two of time on my hands to look up say cute puppies online instead of “stars they’re just like us!” ugh i feel dumb just admitting that.

Ultimately after 2 weeks I don’t truly miss any of them, and I will visit the important ones at the theater instead of caught off guard at the beach. I’m proud of this decision, and am really happy that I’m following through with it.

31 a year in review

As my birthday approaches I’m looking back on the past year…this one was one for the books. It was hard…there weren’t a lot of easy moments of 31, not a lot went right, not a lot went my way…that being said I’m certainly starting 32 out with a bang. A focus on myself, a shaky focus to be honest, but a growing and developing one. I don’t want to look at the last year and point out all that was wrong, I want to look forward to 32 and make sure I do all that is in my power to make it right. I want to continue to work on myself mentally, learning how to be still, how to meditate and how to give myself a break. I want to learn how to really love myself this year. In order to do that, I have to treat myself well. I get anxiety just reading what I’m writing…sometimes we don’t realize just how hard we are on ourselves until we try to be kind internally.

Thats my goal for my 32nd year, be kind..to others, and learn how to be kind to myself.