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.

 

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Meditation Challenge

I like regimented things because I’m anything but. I’m a total free spirit, messy, spur of the moment kind of girl, but when I actually make a commitment, I’ll follow through to the end.

Over the weekend I attended a yoga teacher training and as part of the training, we of course did yoga and meditated. I am a regular yoga practitioner, but not a regular meditator. I’ll meditate when I get really stressed out and have no choice but to close my eyes and attempt to shut my mind up.

Meditating this weekend felt absolutely magical. It’s like real medicine. I’ve often heard that some of the brightest minds meditate, like one of my favorite comic writers/storytellers, Grant Morrison. I admire his work so much and I think that it’s probably meditation that has allowed all those crazy, out-of-the box ideas to flourish and become raw, new, thoughtful stories.

When I write I try to organize my thoughts before I even start writing, and sometimes I get really caught up in the outline, so much so that the story isn’t allowed to breathe or have a mind of its own. I think with meditation, a project is given the freedom to be what the universe wants it to be, not what I want it to be, or what some editor thinks it should be.

So my new challenge to myself is this, to meditate for ten minutes every day, for oh, maybe a month? Think that’s enough time? Yea. A month.

I meditated this morning for ten minutes and asked myself these questions that I’ve heard from the Course in Miracles: Where will you have me go? What will you have me do? What will you have me say and to whom?

I know the meditation is working already. I feel a bit more directed in my day.

Hands in the Garden: DIY Composting

I am typing with dirt all over my fingers and hands in this very moment because I started my very first compost!Yesterday was my first day interning in a school garden. I will be working there every Wednesday until April. I decided to get involved with a program called Enrich LA to learn more about gardening and get involved in my community. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while and it feels really amazing to learn about gardening and teach it to children. Honestly, I didn’t feel like getting up yesterday morning. It sort of feels like when I go to yoga. Sometimes I don’t want to go, but once I get there I have no regrets and am always refreshed afterward.

When I got to the garden, the kids were in awe over some green caterpillars that were just chillin on a plant. I assisted the Garden Ranger with a bunch of things like passing out squiggly worms to all the kids, guiding them in the garden, and answering questions. The kids sang Happy Birthday to seeds they planted and got to taste a Sorrel plant. Being in the garden feels like magic. There is always something to learn, plant, pull, water, understand. It’s a beautiful mystery and I love every moment, especially with children because you get to teach them these mysteries and wonders and they are just so excited about everything. I didn’t grow up understanding much about gardening, but once I became the one in charge of the garden in my house, I feel grateful to have this time to understand and appreciate all gardening has to offer about life, love, and patience.

So next week, the kids are going to be learning about composting and since I hadn’t known much about it before, I decided to jump in and make my own. I wish my camera was working so I could show you. I basically raked up a bunch of leaves, pulled out some unruly grass and weeds, added soil and water, and I think that’s it for now. I’ll be learning more as I go. There’s nothing like just jumping in and doing it and getting my hands dirty. The garden relaxes me and reminds me that life goes on, the world keeps spinning, no matter what you have going on in your own mind/world. There is just so much to do, see, learn, and grow from. No time for worry or sorrow. Just love, work, and growth.

The power of goodbye

There can be a real fear in letting go of something or someone you have held for a long time because you don’t know if you will ever find it again or be alone forever. There’s a real comfort in our bad habits that end up becoming learned behavior. We really get upset because we accept things that we know in our hearts are not what we want and resentments build, cancer forms, and there goes your life.

I was in a relationship for six years that wasn’t right. I went to Arizona because I wanted to see if I could live without him and I could. I told myself that I didn’t want to let go of the relationship because I had invested so much time and I loved him. I thought that the harder something was, it was worth the time, worth fighting for, so I held on and got more and more angry, accepted more and more.

But in all reality I was not happy. I knew what I wanted in a partner and as much as I had thought I had convinced myself that what we had was okay, it really wasn’t. Time or marriage wouldn’t have changed that. I know that now. I knew it then. I knew it from the first Christmas when he didn’t make time for me. We were always meant to be friends. Just friends, writing partners, not lovers. And we finally agreed to let it go.

One night not long after, I had a really good cry, felt it deep within my heart, like something was being ripped from me, you know the way you feel when you get sick and are detoxing something nasty from your body. The next day, you feel great. That’s how I felt.

I can honestly say that I feel better with letting go of my long-term relationship. Thirty and all. I mean, it can be scary to be a single, 30-year old woman with no kids but I feel lucky. I have no baggage.

I think of that line from the Fleetwood Mac song, “Landslide,” that goes: “I’ve been afraid of changing because I built my life around you.” I was so afraid of letting go before for that very reason, but not anymore. There is a real power to letting go, saying goodbye, closing doors, and maintaining mystery in the future. At least I have yoga, so far the real love of my life.

Youtube Yoga

I am so excited that my grandmother has finally started doing senior yoga. Living with an 80+ year old woman I am better able to understand what life is like for a senior. When a person is in pain, they don’t like moving, much less getting into a car to go somewhere. But some days are better than others, like Tuesday when my grandma said she wanted to go to the gym but couldn’t drive herself and everyone had to go to work, myself included.

I started thinking, what she would do in the gym? My grandma uses a cane and I’ve never seen anyone with a cane in the gym. I could see if maybe she wanted to go the pool, but she said she felt like lifting weights. Even on the lowest rung, some of those weights are still heavy and we really didn’t think it was a good idea because my grandma doesn’t really move. Lifting weights would probably make her so sore she wouldn’t want to do anything for days and days. So I played around with the main television and figured out how to get streaming internet. I found a senior yoga video that was about an hour long. So everyone left the room and just let her try it. It’s pretty cool because she just sat in her chair the whole time moving her body. Hey, it’s a start. She said she was sore the next day but she wanted to do it again because she liked it.

I hope that this has inspired her to show that it’s never too late and you don’t have to go anywhere to exercise. Youtube has been amazing for providing that. I love to remember that Youtube is a valuable resource for people to learn and share valuable information rather than just entertain masses with dumb crap.

Long Distance Love

I have been in Arizona for almost one year. I came here last May and started this blog. It’s been really awesome and I almost don’t want to go back to Los Angeles because I feel very detached from all prior worries yet still full of love from my best friends and family. It’s strange. I didn’t think I would feel that way coming here because you know, you leave your home state and city that you’ve lived in your whole life and go somewhere new with no expectations, so you don’t know what you are getting into. But somehow I made it through nearly four seasons of Arizona, including one hell of a summer.

Coming here last May I just jumped right in with an open mind but of course made sure I rooted myself in my yoga practice. I have to say my yoga practice has kept me going and vitalized. And wherever I go, it’s one thing I cannot live without.

I guess I’ve been feeling a little weird about leaving this place because I cultivated a beautiful peace, learned and discovered so much while being here: Kombucha making, blogging, detox dieting, A Course in Miracles, growth in my yoga practice, and even a more disciplined writing practice, and truly enjoying the company of myself.

I absolutely love, love, love being in solitude. It’s how we introverts recharge. We can be around people sure, but being in solitude is how we get that energy back. So I’m really grateful for this time that I have because I get to think and be with myself.

And a word on long distance relationships, hey, I did it. I’m doing it. It can be done. It’s hard sometimes but for the most part I recommend it if you are thinking about marrying someone. If you can live without that person and still be in love, then that’s a great thing. My relationship actually grew stronger while I was away because I got more focused on myself rather than whether or not my relationship was going anywhere, but we talk nearly every day and I don’t even trip when we don’t because I know we are busy with good reason. I give him the space he needs to get it together and he gives me mine. No jealousy, no expectations, no worries.

People are unhappy in relationships when they don’t like their own individual lives.

Doing long distance gives you the time you need to focus on you and what you need rather than worry about what the relationship needs or lacks, or whatever. I’m in my late 20’s so I have a lot of girlfriends who are either getting married, or wanting to get married and sort of worried about it. I think when you stop worrying about all that mumbo jumbo and focus on yourself, then it’s not an issue. I always ask myself whenever I’ve worried about marriage: Are you really where you want to be in your life?

And then I say, no and it immediately snaps me out of that and I just go back to my life, and remember, oh yea, I have goals, duh!

I had these thoughts today as I thought about what it would be like for me when I return to Los Angeles in the spring. I want to feel positive about my actions. I’m extremely grateful to be here right now. I just want to continue feeling positive about moving home to assist my grandmother because she needs the help.

No matter where I go, I am with myself and I will carry the love I worked to cultivate.

 

The Test

The Course in Miracles lesson for yesterday and today are similar. They involve vision due to the strong positive nature of the words. Today’s lesson is: “God is in everything I see because God is in my mind.” Yesterday was: “God is in everything I see.”
To practice the lessons, you are just supposed to look around you at objects, people, etc. and say the words, “God is in everything.”

Yesterday when I went to work I was working on some writing. I wanted to write about coffee additives like Splenda or Coffee Mate and how they are like poison, but once I started practicing the mantra, “God is in everything,” any negative thoughts I had immediately disappeared.  I wanted to go on a rant about the people who make coffee additives, but I couldn’t. God was in everything I was seeing. This world was full of God and love. I changed the direction of my piece immediately.

But yesterday I was TESTED. I was at my night yoga class with my least favorite teacher, an interesting bird with a huge ego who doesn’t address me by my name even though he knows it. I kept having to tell myself, “God is in this teacher,” “God is in this man.”

Boy, it was hard!  I had to constantly say it during Savasana, because normally I would roll my eyes when he talked or made any of the negative comments he would make regarding his philosophies in life about how people should be. I realized that I was being tested. If there are people we don’t like, they are reflections of what we don’t like in ourselves and we have to work even harder to love those people. I like most people, especially yoga people because they are generally good natured. This teacher is nice but awkward and a little fake and I think he means well but the way he comes off is negative, since he uses negative reinforcement. I guess I don’t like that because that’s how I grew up. Negative reinforcement was used on me and it didn’t work. I only ended up rebelling or rolling my eyes, so now I still roll my eyes as an adult when I hear it because I don’t find it effective. It leaves a stale air in the room.

But I must work hard to remember that God really is in everyone, because it is in our minds. This teacher is a reflection of parts of me that still exist and I must work hard to embrace and love, even though it may be challenging.

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 Ayurvedas and Banana-Honey Granola Bars

Banana-Honey Raw Granola Bars
Banana-Honey Raw Granola Bars

In practicing Bikram Yoga consistency for over three years, I have unintentionally learned so much about the body. You hear teachers say things like Prahna, Chi, Third eye, and Life force energy. When I first started practicing I was just like, okay, whatever, I’m here to stretch and sweat, but it rubs off on you and it makes sense after a while. Yoga has now become a great diagnostic tool to help me see what hurts and bothers me.

You would see it too if you were in class feeling nauseous and dizzy and all you want to do is run out of the room, and the teacher just tells you to stand there and be still and focus on your breath. This conditioning is teaching you to love to be in your body regardless of what you experience.

Anyway, I can’t talk about yoga enough because it has done so much for me but one of the best things it did was make me want to be in my body. It made me see and feel what improper foods did to my body while I was in class. And because of yoga, I am open to alternative medicine.

I am so passionate about alternative healing because I have been viewing how modern medicine has affected loved ones around me, from a suicidal friend to a heart attack prone father to a grandmother with fibromyalgia. I sat around seeing them in pain regardless of what doctors have prescribed them and it just doesn’t freaking work.

After a while I learned that I can’t push anyone because it’s exhausting. The only one I can push or help is myself first and foremost. Over the past three years I’ve healed myself from chronic cough, weight gain, urinary tract infections, bad knees, resentment, and anger issues, all my being open to alternative healing through food, yoga, and literally cleaning my mind of negative thoughts.

Earlier this year when I heard about Ayurveda, India’s ancient system of natural medicine, I was open to it and didn’t find it to be so hard to believe.

Believing in Ayurveda is just like believing what any modern doctor has to say about health and medicine or taking a pill because they say it will work. It’s an act of faith to believe that you can classify energies in the body. You can’t necessarily see it but you can feel it. I’ve sat in front of doctors who mostly want to get you out of their face by prescribing medicines to help you avoid pain. But our pain is an indicator of the real problem that if ignored, will only grow and grow.
So, there is something to recognizing your pain and accepting it.

In Ayurveda, they talk about something called “ojas” as the essence of life that represents the “core” strength of the body and inherent immunity; the seed of nourishment and creativity and vital energy that is stored deep within the body.

Ojas circulates throughout the bodily tissues and heart, sustaining the physical self, bringing clarity to the mind and balancing the emotions. When the body produces ojas, we feel blissful because both the mind and the body are receiving the nourishment they need.
It is believed that “ojas” is the first thing to be created in the body of all living beings and that each is born with a certain allotment of “ojas.” People can be born with a little bit of “ojas” or a lot and your “ojas” can be weakened over time due to stress, eating bad food, having too much sex, smoking, or drinking alcohol.
These are some of the many factors that can determine your “ojas” constitution, but luckily there are things you can do and eat to strengthen your “ojas,” and one of them is consuming pure foods such as almonds, sesame, honey, rice, and fruits.

One of my favorite books, “Raw Energy” by Stephanie Tourles includes a whole chapter of recipes that strengthen ojas. I thought that was real cool. And basically this post had started out as me wanting to share this great recipe that strengthens ojas and is a great breakfast food or snack.

The recipe I would like to share is the Banana-Honey Granola bars.
They are a good source of complex carbs, protein, Vitamins B and E, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, and magnesium.

So, just thought I’d share:

Ingredients:

  1. 1 medium, very ripe banana, peeled
  2. 2 cups raw oat flakes
  3. 1 cup raw almond butter or peanut butter
  4. 1/4 cup raw honey
  5. 2 TBSP bee pollen
  6. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  7. 1 tsp ground cinnamon coconut oil raw and unrefined

Directions:

1. Put banana, nut butter, honey, bee pollen, vanilla, and cinnamon in food processor and blend until you have a stiff, cohesive dough ball.
2. Coat a 9-inch square pan with coconut oil and oil your hands as well.  Pat the dough evenly into the bottom of the pan. Cover and place in the freezer for 24 hours so that the flavors can meld; the texture will become quite firm and chewy.
3. Cut into three 3-inch squares in each direction, then cut each square in half as well so that you have a total of 36 squares.
4. Store the squares/balls in a tightly sealed container in the freezer and consume within 2 weeks for the best flavor and texture.
Number of Servings: 36

The Lemonade Cleanse Day 8

Today I felt like I was seeing myself new. I felt that way once when I first starting doing yoga in high school. I remember after final savasana, I laid on the floor feeling my head and being like, Oh my God, I have a head, I’m in a body. Today as I looked in the mirror, I felt that way too, like I suddenly realized I was in a body and I saw myself fresh. I look a little different, smaller, more compact. I feel clear, more aware.

My sense of smell has heightened as well. Whatever food I smell is intoxicating even if it’s meat and even if I won’t eat it. I get excited to eat the first dish we are allowed to prepare after the ten days is up and that is a big pot of vegetable soup.
It’s basically any vegetables along with vegetable broth, a little salt and pepper, and all interested herbs. One of my favorite foods is soup. I absolutely love eating any form of soup. I got into Pho for a while but some of my favorites include lentil, tomato, and vegetable. I just can’t wait to drink a tasty broth and chew some soft vegetables.

This cleanse is a reset for your palate too. You find yourself craving only the best. The nasty suspects such as meat, dairy, and processed foods don’t seem as interesting after you spend 10 days cleaning up after them.

I bought some mint tea last night. Mint tea is another tea that you are able to drink in addition to the laxative tea. It’s very comforting and refreshing, and I think it aids the elimination process as well. After drinking it, I found the night time elimination process speeded up.

On a funky note, today I broke the mason jar I carry my lemonade in. I was sad because I loved that mason jar at first sight. I saw people walking around at a food truck event carrying these cute little jars filled with and exotic colored liquid and soon found that it was a food truck’s special lemonade. I had to get one and that’s where the mason jar came from. It had quickly become my favorite thing since it was so cute and useful. I’ll just have to go back to the food truck to get another mason jar or a store where they sell them. It was just too beautiful.

I also found a way to make the lemonade more pleasing, by drinking it through a straw. I bought these fancy straws from Crate and Barrel. I don’t know what it is, but drinking stuff through straws makes it taste better. It’s a mental thing.
Anyway, today’s been interesting. I look forward to tomorrow. Only two more days to go.