spotlight

Who I Want to Become A Yoga Teacher For

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I was at the salon getting my hair chopped off.  Every few years I decide to cut all of my hair off and go short.  It's like a cleansing.  Also, I start Yoga Teacher Training in a couple of weeks and I don't want to worry about how fucked up my hair is looking after 532 hours of yoga.  I mentioned this to my stylist and she was really excited for me but she also said "I have this weird thing about yoga." I asked what she meant by that. 

She goes on to tell me that she's been to a few yoga studios in the area (not the one I go to) and always felt uncomfortable because she's a bigger girl.  She felt like she was being judged for her size, stared at, and she never felt welcomed.  I knew E X A C T L Y where she was coming from. I told her that that attitude is the reason why I want to teach yoga.  I've been there a lot, I still am sometimes.  Sure, there may be an asshole or two who may be like "What are YOU doing here??" but screw em! Clearly they are there for the wrong reasons and are miserable deep down. YOU SHOWED UP! And that should be commended for.  Also, I honestly don't believe that people really care about what you're doing, it's all in your (and my) head.

I told her that I have my own worries becoming a teacher wondering "Who would want to take a class with someone who looks like me??" and she said "I WOULD!!"  That is who I want to be there for:

  • The plus size woman who hides in the back of the room so no one sees her. 
  • The older person who wants to try something new for the first time but is intimidated by the younger people around them.
  • The man who is curious about yoga but is afraid of being laughed at by a room full of women. 
  • ANYONE who has ever felt like an outsider, not accepted, alone, unloved, ostracized just for who they are and need to get out of that dark place. 

Yoga helped me out of that dark place and taught me to love the things that my body can do and see how strong I really am. I still have insecurities but I feel better equipped on how to handle them. I just hope I am given a chance to share that with others. 

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Will Yoga Help Me Lose Weight?

Will Yoga Help me Lose Weight

This question comes up a lot in a yoga Facebook group I belong to.  I also had someone ask me recent what kind of yoga they should do to lose weight - so I'm gonna answer this today, I think....I'm gonna try. 

We live in a society where we want to lose weight quick and easy with as little effort as possible so we try diet pills, wrapping our stomachs in seaweed or plastic wrap, and drink some weird liquid that will supposedly help burn off fat. Yeah I've tried all of that stuff - except the seaweed and plastic wrap.  Because the truth is, I was lazy and didn't want to give up the food I love.  This was before I started yoga. 

Yoga is more than just stretches and holding poses, there are several different types of yoga practices where some are more sweat-inducing than others.   While there are actually Eight Limbs to Yoga, I am only talking about the Asana (postures) limb of yoga.  When I talk about "Yoga", I'm only referring to the movement and poses.  Ok! Moving on!

The way to weight loss is increasing that heart rate and you can do that with Power Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga or any style that is heavy with Vinyasa Flow (lots of movement, less pose holding) but I'm not sure if it raises your heart rate enough to see a significant amount of weight loss. You'll definitely burn some calories, gain flexibility, strengthen muscle but it also can relieve stress and calm your mind.  I watch enough of the TLC show "My 600 lb Life" to know that a lot of weight loss struggle has to do with your mental abilities and gauging what your body craves.  So yoga helps the mind, which will help you through your weight loss journey.

Everybody is different, and weight loss is different for everyone.  Some people can do it with just yoga and a plant-based diet alone. I am not switching to a plant-based diet and I'm not gonna "give up" foods that I still love - #notsorry. Even though I currently practice Baptiste Power Yoga and sweat off buckets after every class, I know that I need more cardio than this yoga practice can provide so that's where the spin and boxing come in.   I always hated cardio and never wanted to do it until I found something that is fun and keeps my brain engaged.  

Can yoga help you lose weight? Yes! It is still movement and beats sitting on the couch for an hour, how much you lose and how soon? That all depends on the amount of work you put into your physical practice. But if you go deeper into your yoga practice, it can help you shift your eating habits and change the way you think about food.  Your mind becomes more in tuned with your body and what it needs. Eventually, you may crave less junk food and more water, fruits and veggies.  This continues to happen with me where I lose the urge to eat certain foods, it just happens organically. 

I'm not here to say that yoga is an easy way to lose weight. Like with anything else, if you want to get real results that will last, you have to PUT IN THE WORK and stick with it for the long haul.  You will start to feel the difference along the way and feel more confident about yourself. You might even become less concerned about losing weight and more about just feeling energized and healthy!

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Can't Sleep? Meditate

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After experiencing the sudden loss of a loved one last month, my mind has been hyper-obsessed with health and wellness.  Some of my habits need changing and one of them had to do with my sleep.  All the yoga and other workouts I did weekly was not helping me get a good night sleep.  I would fall asleep with no problem, but find myself waking up two hours later and either stay awake or fall back to sleep only to wake up a couple more times.  It was frustrating to the point where I dreaded bedtime, can you imagine? NOT wanting to go to bed because you knew it was gonna be another shitty night?  

I tried drinking a glass of wine earlier in the evening, that sometimes worked but mostly did not. I started taking Tylenol PM.  For a while it seemed like the Tylenol PM was working but it wasn't consistent.  Then I learned about the side effects such as messing up your kidneys.  I was responsible with how much I took every night, but I'm always nervous about what kind of long term damage I'm doing to my body.  That's why I never experimented with drugs and quit smoking 15 (!!!) years ago.  So damn, I was starting to think that maybe I should stop taking these pills that only sometimes helps me sleep.  What else can I try?

I recently brought meditation into my life and it has become a two-time per day (morning & bed time), daily practice.  A friend told me about Yoga Nidra for sleep and how I should give it a try. Using the Insight Timer, I found a few guided Yoga Nidra for sleep sessions and they were okay but some were kind of long and I've grown to like my meditations with background music.  Let me tell you, there are some great guided meditations for sleep and I've bookmarked a bunch.  I listen with my earbuds in so when I'm done (or if I wake up), I have to take them out and put my ear plugs in but find myself falling right back to sleep. It's become my regular routine and I can't go to bed without meditating first, even if it's only for a few minutes.

I'm happy to say that after doing this every night for the last several weeks, my quality of sleep has improved greatly.  I might still wake up but not as much as I used to, and I'm feeling more rested overall. I credit this all to meditation and not adding any foreign substances to my body.  There are so many benefits to meditating, not just for sleeping but being awake too. Meditation not only brings stillness, but it can also lower your stress level, improves overall health, increase your energy, taps in to your creativity, and bring some clarity to your mental well being - which makes sense, I mean, how many times do we lie awake in bed with a zillion thoughts racing through unable to sleep?

There are so many different ways to meditate, there is a style for everyone.  Meditation helps you to slow down and observe whats going on around you and how you respond to it.  In this current political climate, I think we can ALL use some meditating to help us step back and collect ourselves before we react to something.  

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Love and Acceptance In Your Forties

I wrote this in my private journal yesterday afternoon and felt compelled to share it here in case it might bring comfort, hope, reassurance to someone who is currently in a dark place hoping to get out of it.  Maybe it won't take you as long. It's never too late.

  Accept_forties

It took a really long time to get to this point, most of my teens and twenties, part of my thirties living like this. For many, many years, I hated who I was. I was so insecure, so unhappy. I carried so much anger and sadness. That's what initially drew me to Yoga, hoping it will change me and it did but it didn't come quickly.  It wasn't until I got to my 40s to feel comfortable in my skin - accept every extra pound, every dimple, every scar. To really get to know who I am, what I am made of, and who I am capable of being.  I am strong, beautiful, smart, witty, funny, weird, and open. My silence just means I'm observing, listening, taking it all in. I don't need the attention, I know where my support comes from. We go through the shit we go through so we can look back and at it and say "Oh....that's why." There's something to gain from everything.  I'm still getting used to not being angry or sad all the time. Instead, I'm replacing that energy with yoga and working out - which has saved my life, and saved me from more unnecessary pain. It's opened new opportunities to experience, new people to meet.  I write this now with a heart full of contentment, compassion and acceptance of the person I've become. Looking back at who I used to be with some regret that I let that person carry on that way for so long. Don't worry about the time wasted, I'm looking forward to what the next part of my life has in store - older, wiser, confident, loved.

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Be Willing To Come Apart

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The title of this blog post is the name of Law 2 from 40 Days to Personal Revolution by Baron Baptiste. When I was reviewing this Law/Chapter, I thought "Uh oh!"  I had a feeling I was gonna have to go to a place I didn't want to.

I'm a Type-A personality.   I'm very particular, I plan out everything, and everything needs to be done exact and if a monkey wrench is thrown in, I get frazzled or I just yell "#&@%!!!!!!!!" I used to punch walls until the last wall I punch ended up with a hole in it and poor Mike had to patch it up. 🙁That was embarrassing. The point is, I was never one of those laid back, go with the flow types.   I do feel like that is changing as I get older. 

Getting back to this law I was reading, I really had to look into what was holding me back from being my best self and this aspect of my personality was a part of it.  I can't control every aspect of my life and I can't lose sleep over it anymore.  Ever watch a Control Freak lose their shit? It always happens, because things never go exactly as planned, I know this...but I plan anyway without leaving room for flexibility or change. 

I'm learning that when you start to let go, that is when things start to fall into place.  Last Summer, when I was in the thick of purchasing my first home, I was sooooooo stressed out about everything - when do we close? How much do I need for closing? Can't they just tell me how much I need to close already? I need to be out of my apartment by the end of the month! What if we don't have enough money to pay for everything? This was my entire Summer.  Now I look back and everything went fine and I made myself sick for nothing.

That was a big lesson for me and was something I reflected on during this challenge.  I need to let go. Give up control to heal all the harm I inflicted on myself mentally and emotionally.  Let go of expectations and be open to what can happen.   Stop trying to make things happen but instead allow things to happen. I'm opening myself up to opportunities now that a month ago, I would not have considered (more on that in another post).    There are other things going on right now that have been unexpected and pretty upsetting but this new outlook is helping me get through it.  All of this recent self-reflection has totally shifted my way to looking at how I live life and the type of impact I want to leave on others.  

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Forty Days Later

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Forty+ days later!  I wanted to write a recap of the 40 Day Challenge in my last blog post.  I finished last week, I did it! I didn't drop out!   By about Day 20 I was considering it but I knew if I did, I would be really disappointed in myself, and I'm tired of being disappointed with myself. 

In addition to the insane amount of yoga I was able to fit in, I found myself feeling stronger, more confident, more self-aware and acknowledge the parts of me that needs improvement - not physically but junk that is taking up space in my brain.  The self-inquiry was the hardest part of this challenge, I really don't want to self-evaluate that much, I mean who does?? But it's necessary to do once in a while.

One of the things I learned is  that I cling to things too much, especially things that are no longer in my control.  I don't need to think about people from my past who I wish could see how much better off I am without them, who cares? And I don't need to plan every detail of my life.  It's okay to just be present, which meditation has helped greatly. 

I mentioned the Insight Timer app and oh my God, it has been life-changing! I went from a person who struggled to meditate on their own for five minutes, to meditating twice a day in the morning and at night.  So many bookmarks and teachers I follow now!  I continue to struggle staying asleep, some nights are easier than others.  The nightly meditations help. I really don't want to take Tylenol PM anymore, although that didn't always work either.  

Then there's also the community, I love my yoga studio!  I mean I loved it before but I have made more friends and connected with more of my fellow yogis, it's pretty special.  It's nice to go somewhere and be a part of a group that is so open, supportive and welcoming.  I look forward to doing more workshops and classes there.  Plus there's a group of us that's been taking Spin/Boxing classes in Beacon which I'm pretty obsessed with.

That's actual footage of me!  It's great to get my sweat on and move.  I've grown to like the cycling and my cardio is getting better. With Boxing, I still gotta work on my form but boy do I feel it in my arms and shoulders.  Plus my coach is A-W-E-S-O-M-E!  If you're reading this Eva, YOU INSPIRE ME!!

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A Year Ago Today

Year_ago_today

A year ago today (well, in just a couple of hours), things were pretty messed up.  I went to bed hardly able to sleep because I was so angry at this country and what it allowed to do to itself.  Last November was an emotional roller coaster.

Needless to say, Trump has not disappointed me in his ineptitude and nonsense since he was elected.  I still can't stand the orange turd, probably more now than a year ago, and believe he is the BIGGEST EMBARRASSMENT this country has ever produced. 

HOWEVER

Things have changed in the last year, and I think the yoga helps! But seriously, today I am feeling better.  I went to vote last night and it was just a local election, no big offices were up for election, just local Comptroller, Town Council, Clerks, etc. It was the biggest turnout I've seen since I've moved here and I think I've been to all of the local elections where it's just me and Mike showing up.  I thought that was awesome!  

My Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds were full of people showing off their "Voted" stickers (I didn't get a sticker *kicksrocks*).   I was following the gubernatorial results in New Jersey and Virginia where they voted out Republican incumbents for Democrats. There were other elections where long time Republicans were voted out.  Not that I'm all "Wooooo Go Dems!!!" but it's nice to see a year later that a shift is happening and maybe the pendulum is already swinging back or at least evening itself out.  Hoping the backlash against Trump and his cronies continue to knock them out one by one.

Democrats have a really long way to go, they need a good PR company to come in and help them rebrand themselves because right now, other than being "Anti-Trump" they really don't have much else going for them.  Being anti-Trump can only last so far before people want some real substance, and they feel like that substance was lost while Obama was President, all flash, no substance.

There are some great stories that came out of last night, such as Danica Roem in Virginia and Andrea Jenkins in Minneapolis.  Both are the first openly Transgender women to win public office.  Not only that, but Roem in VA defeated Robert Marshall, an anti-LGBT jerk who had no problem referring to himself as "Chief Homophobe" and drafting a bathroom bill similar to the one passed in North Carolina (it didn't).   

There's also the moving story of Chris Hurst, who went into politics after his girlfriend was killed on live television, went on to defeat a pro-NRA incumbent.  And Hoboken, NJ just voted for their first Sikh Mayor, Ravi Bhalla who was labeled a terrorist by what can only be ignorant idiots.  The moral of the story is, I love it when people come together and give ignorance and hate  a big "Fuck you!"

And last, to end this on a funny note, check out the funny meme's "Me on Election Day 2016 vs Me on Election Day 2017":

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Life Lately - A New Home and LOTS of Yoga!

Newhomeyoga
I'm back! Well, let me not get ahead of myself.  I'm back to writing my blog.....today. No promises of how regular this will be, but I have good intentions! 

So much has happened since my last post in July. For one, I bought a home! I moved into my new condo with Mike at the end of August. It's only a few minutes from where we previously lived and it's bigger.  The whole Summer was a big stress-ball and there were moments trying to get a closing date just made me want to give up and keep renting. In the end, everything worked out and we're settling in nicely. I can't wait until we are totally unpacked, shelves up, and more furniture is purchased but overall, I love my new home. 

Speaking of being home, I've been spending A LOT of time at Firefly Yoga practicing several times a week.  It helps that they're so close to home. I've completely fallen in love with the practice again.  I've dusted off some of my old books. I just finished The Living Gita: The Complete Bhagavad Gita - A Commentary for Modern Readers and I'm now reading Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life: A Guide for Everyday Practice.

I started posting videos on Instagram doing a couple of inversions.  I figured a couple of things: 

1) I see too many videos of people in the gym lifting weights. 

2) Not to sound egotistical, but I like to see myself.  I like to see if my alignment is right.  My lower back has been giving me problems for a long time and I don't want to make it worse. 

3) Being a bigger, stockier, bulkier, curvier girl - whatever you wanna call it, I hope someone who is curious about trying yoga but is afraid because they don't have that "yoga body" will see it and say "Wow! If she can do it, why not me?"  I got a yoga body too! It's just not what most people think of at first. 

I still have those insecurities.  Recently, I stayed in the city and reserved a spot for a class at Lyons Den Yoga in Chelsea. I've never been there before but I heard great things about it and they teach Baptiste Yoga which is the type of yoga I've been doing.   I could not sleep the night before because I had SO MUCH anxiety of walking into a yoga studio full of beautiful, tall, fit NYC people and then there's me.  I hate feeling that, I thought I was over it since I've developed a stronger practice but nope! Turns out I had nothing to be worried about and I felt like an ass afterward for losing a night sleep.   

No matter how much I practice asana, the biggest challenge is always getting out of my own head.  I learned from that day and hope to go back to Lyons Den when I stay in the city.  It would be a nice balance to all of the unhealthy eating I do when I'm there. =D

I hope to get back to blogging again on a regular basis, this Summer was just ridiculous with the move that I didn't get a chance to really enjoy the Summer.  Now that Fall is here and it's my favorite time of year, I hope to bring myself back to some kind of normalcy which includes writing more. 

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My Introduction to Hot Yoga

Hot_yoga

It's been almost 3 months since I got back into yoga, hooray!  It's been great so far and I really wish I didn't wait so long to get started again.  Today I wanted to specifically talk about Hot Yoga which I started back on Friday, April 21st.  I mentioned in my previous post that the idea of "Hot Yoga" freaked me out.  I hate the heat! I don't like Summer! I'm clumsy, I'll probably slip on my own sweat and break my face. But Firefly Yoga in Fishkill is sooooo close to home.  I wanted to include more Vinyasa into my practice because I missed that flow movement and  it feels like a full body workout. 

I talked about signing up for a Power Vinyasa class, taking the class, and hating the class because I thought I was going to die from the heat, I was thinking negative thoughts about myself the whole time, but I couldn't stop thinking about the class afterward.  I've been back every Friday since - I went this morning!  It is just one hour but it is the most difficult hour I put my body through. 

I learned my lesson after the first class. I need to hydrate starting the day before, not just that morning.  Thursdays I am drinking water all day and peeing a lot.  When I went back the following week, I was better prepared for the heat and the mind games that may happen.  This time was better. I still took breaks when needed but I kept my mind on my breath and in each pose as I mentally cheered myself on instead of being self deprecating.  I was still super wiped out afterward but felt good.

In the weeks following, I can see a difference in my body.  Poses I struggled with the previous week were more solid the following week.  I know there will be weeks where my body will still struggle but these Hot Yoga classes have been more mentally challenging than physical - don't get me wrong, they are REALLY intense physically and sometimes my lower back just doesn't want to have it, but I see it as a real mind over matter practice. Plus my teacher, Noelle, is super sweet, it's hard to hate her lol!

Now I feel like I've turned into one of those Crossfit people who never shut up about doing Crossfit, except it's Hot Yoga.  I'm just so excited to have a regular practice and exercise routine again!

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RANT: Who Are These People?!?!

Rant

Recently I was watching footage of Trump's "Please love me because I'm a pathetic piece of shit" rally commemorating his first 100 days of being a pretty horrible President. I'm looking at all the people sitting behind him cheering him on.  First thing I always do is look for any minorities, you'll find one or two, and the token Muslim woman wearing the Hijab strategically placed at eye level. Next thing I do of is think, "How???" How can these people support this idiot? Do you hate diversity? Do you not want someone like me moving into your neighborhood just because of my last name? Do you want to go back to a time where women and other marginalized groups were not seen as equals to white men? 

It can't be, right? I know there's more to it.  You're hurting financially.  You're losing your job or home or your guns (Listen!!!! You're not losing your stupid guns!!!).  I keep reading articles trying really hard to explain to me who Trump voters are.  I know there's a difference between Trump Voter and Trump Supporter.  There are people who voted for him because it wasn't Bernie Sanders - which I think is a really dumb reason.  I understand you don't like Hillary Clinton, neither do I, #feelthebern didn't burn enough, stop whining and THINK!  But they didn't and instead threw a temper tantrum in the voting booth by voting for a misogynist, ignorant, immature, man-child.

It's only been a few months and while I'm not talking (writing) about it as much, I'm still pretty angry at these people. I'm sorry! I'm trying to understand your position but I can't get past all the ugliness he displays constantly and people are willing to overlook it.You have a problem with Stephen Colbert saying "Cock Holster" but not Trump talking about grabbing women by the pussy???  Not to mention the illogical executive orders, the discontinuing of programs that HELP people, how can you be okay with these things?  Have you felt left out? Forgotten? Do these feelings make you feel uncomfortable? Guess what, that's how many of us have felt for an incredibly long time. 

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