New Journey: Yoga Teacher Training

I have always loved yoga, ever since the first time I accidentally stumbled upon it while at my dad’s house alone, watching TV before school. It was like 6am and my dad had already left for work, and it was too early for me to go to school, so I was just flipping channels on TV when I found this one station (The Oxygen Channel), and saw some people doing this weird exercise that I would later come to find was yoga. It looked interesting, so I began to try some of the poses. I’ll never forget the joy I felt while hanging upside down in the living room. I was 15. I’d found something to grab onto that totally changed my way of being, and I began practicing nearly every day after that.

Ten years later I started Bikram Yoga and fell in love all over again, and for the past five years my practice has grown stronger and stronger.

Now I’m 30, and doing my 200-hour yoga certification. Fifteen years later, I’m still just as curious as I was as a little teenager. I just started my training over the weekend and at first I was very nervous, one because of the money, and then two, because it’s a LOT of work. We have to do this daily meditation using mala beads and a mantra given to us by our instructor. Mine is pretty intense. The first day I did the meditation, I felt HIGH, like I was either drunk or just ate like ten weed brownies. The feeling made me almost sleepy. It’s weird. But it was this feeling of wholeness, completeness, like there was nothing further I needed to do. I swear it opened me up. I went to my Bikram class immediately after and was able to do so much and go super deep in certain postures, even though I hadn’t practiced in a week.

The training calls to me. I feel as though it is necessary right now, to heal, to grow. My mantra essentially is about coming back to the self, that which remains intact after everything ends. So essential to me right now. After all the things I’ve been through, relationships, jobs, things that we think define us. That’s not who we really are.

So the training is pretty intense. I have to read six books, meditate daily, practice daily, and actually log in 80 teaching hours, all within 10 weeks. Heh, if you are in the L.A. area, I can give you free yoga! I’m going to be practicing with friends and family but I’m totally down to practice with people I don’t know. SO…HMU if interested.

Of course I will share all the things I’m learning. It’s challenging for me not to write about what I’m excited about and is changing my life and helping me heal myself, and inevitably others. That’s what I choose to dedicate my life to: healing and love. There is nowhere else I need to be.



Meditation & lunch in a Koreantown church

Today I started a new job with Aids Project Los Angeles, located in the heart of Koreatown. I had been in a weird head space for a full 24-hours due to a recent breakup with an old love I tried making a relationship with. Even after meditating, I still felt weird. So I hadn’t really been eating and it was lunch time and I couldn’t imagine putting food into my body, so I kinda just sat there with my feelings, in a business courtyard right alongside Wilshire Boulevard. I looked around, debated calling my best friend, but decided to just sit down and feel what I was feeling. I started thinking about food and eating natural.

I just couldn’t imagine putting heavy food into my body like carbs because I knew that if I ate carbs, they would make my pain go away and I might miss this feeling that I have and not learn anything from it. Food has always been something that has helped ease my pain. Growing up I ate because I was sad. I dated because I was sad, but yesterday I decided that I wasn’t going to use food to feel better after my breakup. I was going to feel exactly what I was feeling and if I got hungry, I was going to eat something healthy and nourishing to my body. I had dinner with my best friend yesterday at our favorite Korean restaurant, but I only ate the vegetables, light broth, and tofu. It was so funny. He almost spoon-fed me because I couldn’t bring myself to eat, but eventually I was able to and I felt better.

So today at the APLA office, I began thinking about my late uncle Paul, who had HIV and kept himself alive for so long because he ate healthy and meditated. I knew that the universe was speaking to me, saying, that this was a way to deal with my pain and trauma. So after a while, I snapped out of it and began thinking of what I could eat that would be healthy. That’s when I saw a lady selling fresh fruit. Perfect. I got in line and began rehearsing in my head what I would order in Spanish. My Spanish isn’t so great but everyone thinks I speak Spanish because I look Hispanic (And I am), but I’m very Americanized.

So I managed to order a large plate of fresh fruit, topped with lime, chili, and a little salt. It was perfect, all I needed. I thought about where I wanted to eat this and saw a Catholic church across the street. I sat on the steps in the shade and slowly savored the fresh fruit, thinking about what nutrients each piece had and how I was actually getting protein from the coconut. After I got full, I decided to go into the church. I sat down in the back and closed my eyes, and began to meditate. I began to say to myself, “Heal. Release. I am loved. I am guided. I am safe.”

Since I’ve been meditating, I’ve become more in tune with my deep rooted pain from childhood, you know, the kind of pain that we all carry our whole lives and may not really realize affects us still, but does. I can almost see my pain and trauma and it’s rooted in my stomach, deep in my gut and lower back. Every day I grow closer to healing that pain. Meditating is like the lifeline to God, and I know and feel that the more I meditate, the more I can trust myself and be true to what I’m meant to do here. All I know is that it has something to do with giving back to the community, to being intuitive and empathetic, connected, because that’s who I am. That’s what I have to give.

I must feel what I feel right now to break through and create some real shifts in my life. I give myself permission to feel and know that I am safe.

Focusing on what you want rather than what you don’t

It’s official. I am returning to Los Angeles in two weeks and I am determined to see this experience positively and focus on what I want rather than what I don’t.

I came to Phoenix last May with a head full of Louise Hay and Gabby Bernstein. I had affirmations programmed on my cell phone that went off sporadically throughout the day to keep me focused, positive, and in a good head space and that is exactly what I cultivated here.

I am extremely grateful to have found a wonderful Bikram studio full of amazing teachers that inspired me and pushed me to grow in my practice. I was ready for it and I met the challenge. I am extremely grateful to have found a job that was flexible and allowed me to make enough money to get me out of loan default!

I got out of loan default and landed a job back in L.A. within the same week. If that’s not destiny, I am not sure what is, which is why it’s made it easier for me to read the signs around me.

As doubtful as a Libra can sometimes be when making decisions, I feel that returning to Los Angeles at this time is the right decision. Yesterday I put the two-week notice in at my job and at the yoga studio.

Keeping a positive mind set and focusing on what I want rather than what I don’t want is essential. There was so much I wanted to move away from when I moved out of L.A., but now I will be returning, I have to keep the positive head space I cultivated in order to maintain my sanity and peace of mind rather than go back to that place I was in full of fear, doubt, and worry.

I’m basically moving back to L.A. to help my 80-something-ish grandmother that my recently deceased uncle used to care for.

I will embark on a new project that I will include in the blog, about assisting my grandmother through the use of natural, healthy food. I was a bit discouraged last time I visited because she told me a salad I made was “Too healthy,” and I thought to myself, dude, I’m moving in with you soon and this salad isn’t really even that healthy compared to the other things I make. My grandma is a strong antagonist, but every good story needs one and I care too much about her to back down. I have to give it a shot. Quality of life is my mission and it’s never too late for anyone, even an 80-year old woman hopped up on pain killers.

I will keep telling myself: this experience will be a good one. I am going to make the green shakes every morning and raw salads for lunch and do my best.

And regarding my yoga practice, well, I’m probably going to go back to the downtown L.A. studio, because it’s the closest to me and everyone knows me so it will be a smooth transition although I’ve been toying with the idea of trying a different yoga studio that’s not Bikram…

We’ll see. I just want to try new things, new studios. I was at Bikram downtown L.A. for three years and I just want to keep with the theme of trying new things.

I am keeping and cultivating a positive head space. Focusing on what we want is essential. You get whatever you focus on, negative or not. The mind is a muscle and will grow whatever it is you feed it. We are that powerful as human beings. It’s exciting to know that you can get whatever you want, but we have to keep our heads held high, full of the good stuff and good people.

First Advanced Bikram Yoga Class

Sometimes all it takes is someone to believe in you to get you motivated to do something you never thought you could do.  I have had the pleasure of practicing under a great instructor, Nicole, at my Scottsdale, AZ Bikram studio who encouraged me to go to Advanced class. I read that Advanced class is for teachers and competitors, and I’m neither, so I didn’t think I’d ever be able to go. Deep down, I really wanted to because I love yoga so much and I want to do it all. I mean, I’ve been practicing for almost three and a half years. It’s hard to say you are “good” at yoga because it’s all about the process. Someone who takes class for the first time in their life and isn’t flexible can be considered good because it’s all about how focused you are, how you breathe, and that you try.

At my Los Angeles studio, all you had to do was be invited by a teacher to attend advanced class, so because I was invited by a teacher, I thought why not. Last night after I practiced, another teacher asked me when I was going to try advanced class and I thought, okay, I’m going to do this.

So today I did. I went in with a clear mind. I didn’t know what to expect and it was great because it’s nice to be a newbie again. Advanced Bikram is a whole new world. It requires a different kind of strength and is way more physical because many of the poses require upper body strength. The beginner Bikram series is more focused on back and leg strength and flexibility, not so much arm strength. I’m hooked and pumped because I’m sore in different parts of my body. I feel strong, like I’ve opened a new door in my life and in my practice. I feel blessed that my studio offers Advanced classes at all. I’m here for a reason. I was ready for this. Now, I just have to keep going so I can get stronger in my upper body and do some headstands or at least half a headstand against a wall.

The Lemonade Cleanse Day 5

It’s the halfway point and things are good for the most part, but last night I started to get really hungry and I started to think of freshman year in high school when I kinda starved myself for around a month. You know, little girls (and many boys) growing up in America, and even more so in Los Angeles, are heavily influenced by warped depictions of women (and men) in the media, so I think a lot of us go through stuff like this at least once in their lives.

I wasn’t alone in my starvation either. My friend Lena joined me on the quest. We both had attended private intermediate schools and were all of the sudden thrown into a public school setting where we didn’t feel like we fit in, but we had each other. We were two naïve little fourteen year olds that didn’t know any better.

She was nearly six feet and gorgeous, Armenian, and totally normal in body weight. I was pretty normal too and only about 5’4″ but I had been told I was chubby a great deal of my life because I came from a narcissistic and vain family. I don’t remember whose idea it was to stop eating, but we started doing it and loved it for a while because we were losing weight. I would basically just eat a little bit of fruit and maybe white rice here and there. I didn’t know jack about health. All I knew was that whatever I was doing was working and I was losing weight. And then one day Lena told me that her parents got so upset with her for starving herself that they made her sit down and eat steak and she nearly threw up. It was then that I realized that maybe what I was doing was wrong. My family wasn’t going to tell me what I was doing was wrong because they were weight obsessed and anything that worked was fair game. After that, Lena stopped starving herself and so did I. Eventually my weight stabilized and I accepted myself for who I was, somehow. I thank Lena and her family for reminding me that starvation is stupid.

I think the lemonade cleanse can be viewed as a deprivation diet because you aren’t eating, but you aren’t essentially starving yourself unless you don’t drink enough lemonade. And that’s what happened to me last night. After some reflection, I realized I only drank about six glasses throughout the day when you can have up to twelve. I’ve gotten to this point where I’m not really into the lemonade as much. It’s really tasty but I find myself not even feeling like drinking it but I have to remind myself that it’s the way I get the nutrients and if I don’t drink enough, I’ll get hungry like last night.

So I made myself go to bed early and I slept in today since it’s my day off. After having enough lemonade today, I feel way better. My energy has restored and I rejoice in knowing I only have five more days to go. That’s really not that long. I feel strong and I know I am doing something to benefit my insides.

I don’t view the lemonade cleanse as a means to losing weight because it’s not recommended to drink only lemonade forever. For me there’s there’s a whole lot more to it and it’s mostly about cleansing.

Master Cleanse a.k.a. Lemonade Cleanse Preparation

It is Lemonade Cleanse eve for me tonight as I just finished a cup of laxative tea in preparation for the storm tomorrow. The night before you start the lemonade cleanse, you drink an herbal laxative tea and as I drank my tea, I had some thoughts.

I have sort of been dreading this day but also looking forward to it for many reasons, which will become clearer to me as I embark on my second stab at this long overdue cleanse. The Master Cleanse is one of the most spiritual things I’ve ever done because it helps you get really clean in the body and as a result, other parts of your being involuntarily become clean.

If it hadn’t been for my Bikram Yoga community in Los Angeles, I wouldn’t know about the Master Cleanse, the benefits, and that there are other people who do this and don’t die. The reason I am doing a documentary is because when I first did the Lemonade Cleanse back in February, I was searching for anything I could get my hands on that would give me support, guidance, and advice about the cleanse and there wasn’t much other than a few articles and the Stanley Burroughs little pamphlet book, “The Master Cleanse with special needs and problems.” The book serves as the guide for the cleanse but it’s such a small book that I found myself reading it over and over again every day during the cleanse to make sure I was doing it right but I think what I was really looking for was something to read, a testimony of what it would be like. So this is my testimony of what this cleanse is, why I do it, and how it feels every single day for nearly 10 days. I might go a little longer depending on how I feel.

So these are just some of the thoughts I am having tonight but in all, I am looking forward to cleaning myself out again. It’s a great way to reset the body and just in time for my birthday at the end of the month.

I don’t have enough lemons at this time, but I’ll go shopping for them first thing tomorrow after I do my first dreaded salt water flush. Ahhhh. I got chills just thinking of it. I gotta look at it differently. Maybe I can pretend I am surfing back in California and I swallowed too much saltwater while getting wiped out in the ocean. I don’t mind getting wiped out at all because I love the ocean and surfing, so it’s definitely better to associate the saltwater solution with these elements rather than just drinking hot saltwater alone. I’ll give that a try tomorrow.

Fibromyalgia quest calling

My heart breaks when I come to visit my grandmother in Los Angeles. I had a conversation with her about food and health over the weekend. She suffers from chronic leg cramps and pain. She’s so upset that doctors prescribe her pills to deal with the problems she faces. The pills only provide a temporary solution that only lasts an hour in her case, but they in no way provide the solution.

My grandmother is one of the most important people to me in my life. She asked me to research fibromyalgia symptoms and solutions. Her doctors aren’t helping her. They are giving her pills but not providing solutions. Why haven’t they told her that she has fibromyalgia? Are they trying to keep her medicated so they can continue to make money from her pain?

I was very impressed to hear her knowledge about food and health. She seems to know a lot about food and what good nutrition can do to heal the body. I just wonder why she is still the way she is? Why does she continue to eat things that aren’t improving her health?

I think when people are in situations that don’t make them happy, such as the one she is in where she lives in an unfavorable situation, people get sick and stay sick until they get happy again. How do we become happy? When we take control of our lives and our health and stop being victims?

Well, in doing research I was able to find this resource, a study that proves that fibromyalgia symptoms were improved by using a mostly raw vegetarian diet.

I am completely committed to helping my grandmother improve her life and health. I love her with all my heart. She asked me for help. It’s not like I came into her home and said, hey grandma, I hear you have leg cramps and fibromyalgia, let’s get you on the raw food diet. No. She asked for help. There is a difference. People have to ask for it. You can’t make them do anything. But you can help them when they ask for it.

So this is another task at hand–to find recipes and a plan that can help my grandmother combat Fibromyalgia and chronic leg pain. I saw the light in her eyes this weekend. I saw love working its magic and I know she will get better with a little help from raw food and affirmations. I learned from Bikram Choudhury who once said:  “It’s never too late, it’s never too bad, you’re never too old, you’re never too sick to start from scratch once again, to be born once again.”

Day 21 of 21

Ahhh! It’s here. I think the theme of the day is “let it go.” I went to work today and on the way there some funky stuff happened. My car wouldn’t start so I had to borrow my mom’s car to get to work and on the way to work there was some road work going on that delayed my freeway exit and I forgot my work badge in my car so I couldn’t get in right away and was late. But you know what? I could’ve got pissed and angry, but I didn’t. I just told myself to let it go.

And in the spirit of letting things go, today is the last day of my Ani Phyo raw food cleanse. I’ve gone through 21 days of raw food shakes, soups, salads, wraps, nuts, seeds, miso, avocados, withdrawals, cravings, slip-ups, and will power. And now that this day is coming to an end, I now let go of this experience but remain inspired and motivated to continue eating this beautiful, tasty, nutritious food. Why wouldn’t I want to feel amazing beyond 21 days? I learned so much about my body and being in my body and what foods make my body feel really good and really bad.

During the last day of the cleanse, you can eat any shake, soup, salad, or dinner you would like. So I’ve basically used the ingredients I had to make the Banana shake, Easy being green salad variation, and tonight I plan on making the Kreamy Chipotle Dressing and eating that with salad and the cashew pate to go inside of a collard wrap with cucumber and avocado. I don’t have the scallions so I’ll just have to do without.

So now that the cleanse is pretty much over, what is coming next? Plenty. I’m going to Los Angeles two weekends in a row for my best friend’s birthday and a wedding so you know I may re-tox myself a bit. Just being in Los Angeles alone, re-toxing comes with the territory 😉 Just playing, well sort of. I’m not hating on Los Angeles and the pollution or party atmosphere since you’ll find that anywhere. L.A. is my hometown and I love it to pieces.  My favorite Bikram Yoga instructor Loren Cherrstrom used to say “detox to retox” and people in class would always laugh because anyone can relate to that. No one is perfect or shall I say, we are all perfect in our imperfections :). Good thing about Bikram Yogis is that it doesn’t take much to get us drunk or full. And toxifying yourself isn’t always alcohol related. We toxify ourselves by eating too much bread, sugars, processed foods or if you are in Los Angeles of NY, just breathing in the air. I may just do a little bit of that while I’m in Los Angeles but you know when I come back I’m planning another detox. And you know which one that will be?

The Master Cleanse a.k.a The Lemonade Diet.

Yup. One of the wildest, craziest most effective detox diets I’ve ever heard of and tried. Now this cleanse is a real spiritual journey since there is NO EATING involved. This really is about cleansing not just the mind but the spirit and if you want to know more about it check out Stanley Burrough’s book “The Master Cleanser: with special needs and problems,” or “The Complete Master Cleanse: a Step-by-step guide to mastering the benefits of the lemonade diet,” by Tom Woloshyn. This diet I plan on doing in mid August for just ten days. There are some people who go 30 or 60 days. I don’t know about that one. Stanley Burroughs suggests doing the Master Cleanse four times a year rather than 60 days straight. He says in his book, “The Master Cleanser,” that it is recommended to do the cleanse a minimum of 10 days, so that’s what I’m going to do. 10 days, no more, no less. I already did this cleanse once back in February so I know I’m due for another one.

And I just want to say thank you to all the people who have joined me on this journey by following my blog. I have felt so inspired by your energy and interest in my writing topics. I am truly inspired to keep going because of you. It is my passion to share my research, knowledge, struggles, breakthroughs, and love of health with all who are interested.

Day 1 of 21

Oh damn, I think I’m going to do this differently by blogging when I get home from work as opposed to blogging when I wake up and have full aspirations to have a wonderfully raw, clean day. I woke up and worked out then prepped my soup and two shakes to take with me to work and didn’t have time to write, so I thought I would write when I got home. Actually, I didn’t even think of writing because I’m slowly finding myself wanting to fall off the wagon. The writing is keeping me strong. Usually when I get home, I feel like lounging around and doing nothing but usually eating something that I can chew and watching a movie or something just to unwind. But I decided not to do that. I really wanted to chew something when I got home today, but got inspired after looking on my FB to see my favorite Bikram Yoga teacher in Los Angeles had re-posted a blog by this woman who was inspired to blog after taking Bikram Yoga for the first time.

I thought, well, can’t forget about my blog and my aspirations now can I?

Because for the next month I will be undistracted by birthdays, visiting friends, or any other distractions that can deter me from my diet. I have nowhere to go, no one to see. I still haven’t figured out how to be social and raw at the same time, but I’m sure one day I will. I suppose it may have something to do with me being a natural introvert and not really liking to be out with people all the time. I usually eat or drink to distract myself from the situation I don’t like to be in. And that’s the best way I can diagnose my current situation with social interactions and raw food.

Well, maybe that will be the new affirmation. If I really want to change my behavior pattern, I can create a new affirmation that involves me changing my ability to be raw and social at the same time. So, now I will say to myself: I am willing to release the need to eat unhealthy food and drink alcohol when I’m in social situations. I’m fine the way I am. I stay raw.

Man, today I did some research on pasteurized milk because my mom didn’t know what that meant, and it inspired me to stay raw as well. Well, pasteurization involves basically heating up milk so that the germs will be killed and in doing so, the nutrients in milk are also killed so you aren’t really getting nutritional value due to the pasteurization process. Ughh. So, people can treat cows horribly and be dirty as they want because the pasteurization nukes out all the blood, puss, and germs that goes into milk. But we’d never know when looking at that white cream that people praise so much and depend on for sustenance.

I know I did. When I first became a vegetarian, I relied on milk and cheese for protein. I was 15 years old. I didn’t know a damn thing. All I knew was I didn’t want to eat meat anymore. But now as I am an older vegetarian, I’ve done extensive research and being vegetarian/vegan is not just about looking good or avoiding meat, it’s about animal rights and health.

Anyway, this is what I’m like in the afternoon. I write more. I’m more awake and since I’m not doing anything bad like eating chips or pizza, I’m writing about why I’m passionate about healthy eating and living. It is our responsibility to ourselves and to our environment to eat right and maybe one day everyone will get with it.

Maybe one day people will get sick enough that they choose to start eating right and change their lives. It all starts with imbalance. That’s why I got to where I am now.

Anyway, today is day 1 of my 21 day cleanse and I’m feeling okay. It’s been tough. They had pizza at work today and I sat there with my cold raw soup smelling the aroma of cheese and bread and sauce. And then I cleared my throat to remove the phlegm buildup I accumulated over the past three days while my friend was visiting and was reminded that I had phlegm because I ate pizza. Yup. Cheese will do that to you.

And I choose to be clear of phlegm and grateful for nutritional yeast and its amazing ability to have a nutty almost cheese-like taste.

I know I’m strong and I can do this. No distractions. No excuses.