In my experience, using yoga stick figures as part of my teaching toolkit is the easiest and most effective way to communicate with my students and myself! The stick figure system takes a bit of practice, but once you get comfortable with it, you’ll experience so many benefits. I've learned stick figures from my teachers, and I also recently took an online stick figures course that I highly recommend (more details on the course below)! Here are some of the reasons I think EVERYONE needs to use stick figures!
OK NOW WHAT?? HOW DO I BEGIN MY JOURNEY WITH STICK FIGURES??
I’m glad you asked! All you need is someone who knows the system RELLY WELL to teach you. In order to be effective with stick figures, you want to practice them, use them all the time, and have someone teach you the system!
I highly recommend this online course at omchantress.com. It is easy to follow, and Flissy gives you all the tools and techniques for the effective use of stick figures! She provides practice sheet downloads and sample sequences, plus the course is in video form, so you can always go back and watch parts that you might need to refresh. Even after using stick figures for years, this course was very helpful for me in continuing to learn advanced techniques and hash out some of the trickier things you may not learn in your basic training. For instance, one piece that was especially helpful for me was her instruction on how to include all the different types of props for a restorative class! Her fun and sweet personality makes this course so enjoyable, and I think it includes all of the details you’ll need for basic and advanced use of stick figures!
I hope this has been informational for you, please let me know if you have questions about using stick figures or the recommended course above! Happy teaching :)
We all know how important it is to get enough sleep, generally. It’s our body’s chance to heal itself physically and mentally. It helps us prevent and recover from illness, have clarity in our minds, and let’s just be honest – be in a better mood! It’s a crucial part of our health and wellness routine, and we all know that! The question is, do we honor it?? Here’s my recent experience…
Dave and I generally go to bed at a decent time and plan to get about 7-8 hours of sleep. That’s our system as a couple. And as I’ve noticed with many of our routines, when he’s away for work, I throw out the system so I can get more done – I have a tendency to overbook myself with “STUFF” while he’s gone, thinking that since I’ll be at home by myself, I’ll have more time to myself and I want to take advantage of it. Sometimes this means staying up a bit later to do some bedtime yoga or an evening meditation, or sometimes it means packing on more work-related tasks: writing more blogs, working on social media strategies, reading self-improvement books, or designing new yoga sequences and playlists. Whatever the “stuff” is, I always assume that I have extra time to stay up late to get things done so that ultimately, I will feel more productive (key word being “feel”), and also be able to spend more time with Dave when he gets home without worrying so much about my to-do list.
Is it worth it? Am I REALLY more productive when I stay up later?
Recently, when Dave was at a training, I decided to stay up late (till 1ish) to get some extra work done and watch motivational/inspiring youtube videos before bed. Harmless, right? NOPE.
The next day…
Ya’ll, this was only after ONE NIGHT of breaking my routine, and going to bed a few hours later, thinking it would be beneficial. It completely screwed up my body physically, physiologically, and mentally. It was SO NOT WORTH IT.
Here’s how “being more productive for 3 extra hours” pushed me farther away from my goals:
SO… My new plan is that I’m creating a work-night bed time for myself, and am not going to use Dave’s work trips as an excuse to throw that out the window. Now of course things in life come up, and I’ll plan for that accordingly, but generally, I know I’ll feel better and be more productive if I can just stick to a routine!
Do you have a general bed time? Have you had an experience like mine where you noticed a ton of negative effects from even just one night of poor or less sleep? Would love to hear your experiences and comments below!
Be (and sleep) well :)
First, Congratulations on growing your family! What a beautiful gift to be creating life. Thank you for being here and taking responsibility for a healthy and safe yoga practice during your pregnancy. A consistent active routine is SO great for you and baby and will contribute to a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
I will start by saying that I have never given birth or been pregnant! The extent of my personal pregnancy yoga experience was when we strapped rolled blankets to ourselves during training to mimic modifying for a pregnant belly! So I give you this knowledge not from bodily experience, but from a deep trust for the ancient teachings of yoga that I’ve received. I have guided MANY moms through their practice safely and successfully through all phases of their pregnancy, and I’m honored to share my knowledge with you here today.
A few general tips that we should really always be following (pregnant or not!):
Before I get into some “Do’s” and “Don’ts”, just remember to always trust yourself and how you’re feeling, modify for your own level, and obey what your doctor says. Be gentle with yourself and go with the flow – your body is going to completely change – tight things will loosen and loose things will tighten. Let it be and let your yoga be in service of everything you have going on. Yoga and fitness during pregnancy are going to help keep you healthy, strong, relaxed, social, empowered, and feeling great. You go girl!
OK let’s get super specific:
Here are some recommendations for how to prop and modify for common postures:
Support yourself with props for Savasana or lie on your left!
If you have particular postures you would like to know how to modify, let me know and I will be happy to add them in! Please come to me with questions, I want you to feel safe and empowered to continue staying fit during your pregnancy!
Wishing you a happy and healthy pregnancy!
Be well, xoxo
I hope everyone had a safe and fun 4th of July. I hope you were able to spend time with family and friends, and pause for at least a moment to be grateful for the many people that work tirelessly to keep our country safe and free!
I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom, and a lot about yoga, and particularly how yoga helps to create freedom in our lives. When you google the word “freedom”, here’s what comes up:
“the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint”
and then later…
“the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved”
So what does this have to do with yoga?
My teacher very often says that through the practice of yoga, we aim to “empty ourselves of ourselves”. Which can sound confusing, right? But what he means is that through yoga, we are undoing patterns, letting go of our “stories” that we have about ourselves and everyone around us, and acknowledging our conditioning so that we may be free of the lens that clouds our perception of every experience, and become free of our own suffering.
Have you ever felt like a prisoner of your physical condition, or your thoughts? Same!
When we are in physical pain or experiencing injury, isn’t it hard to focus on anything else? Or if you’re stressing about something, you don’t enjoy yourself in the present moment, right? And we get attached to these feelings and emotions and identify with them so strongly that we forget who we REALLY ARE – divine beings having a human experience! We think we are “injured Bob” or “stressed Nancy” – We think we are our body and our feelings and our emotions, not our Soul.
So in yoga, (if we are practicing appropriately for our own condition), we have an opportunity to free ourselves of physical patterns that don’t serve us, potentially heal injury, create new physical patterns that DO serve us, access and influence our nervous system through our breathing, and quiet our minds, or create better thought patterns. We have an opportunity to become free of our own suffering! How freaking cool is that? Freedom to move as we please (without pain), freedom to think as we please, and acceptance for anything that is unable to change (aka freedom of identifying as a victim of something that we may suffer from).
In my experience, it definitely takes work, consistency, gentleness, and dedication! Same as in this country, freedom doesn’t just appear – but it IS hiding in there underneath our stories and conditioning! We just need to uncover it and become “empty” of our identifications that are clouding our perception and enabling our victim mentality.
So tell me, how has yoga helped you reduce suffering – physically, emotionally, or mentally? How has yoga helped you to be free?
Some of you have read in my previous posts that I am passionate about stress management! Not too long ago, I was practicing yoga regularly, and thinking that this was helping me to reduce stress. In certain ways, it was! I was ALWAYS in a better mood after class, I was moving my body and stretching, taking time away from screens, doing something solely for myself, and experiencing feelings of joy that were directly related to practicing yoga. All good things.
What I didn’t realize was that the relaxing effect I experienced was surface level. I had reduced stress for that series of moments (whether it lasted for the rest of the week or only until I got cut off on my drive home from class…), but I wasn’t necessarily creating patterns of long-term change in my inner being. And I certainly had no idea that certain types of postures and breathing practices could actually CONTRIBUTE TO AGITATION.
Now let me pause and acknowledge a few general things:
HOWEVER, have you ever been to a yoga class at night and then not been able to sleep? Or noticed that you’re agitated later or the next day? Or experienced feelings of anger and irritability EVEN after an awesome class?
Our beings are so beautifully complex and intricate, and we respond deeply to energetics that we aren’t even aware of! We truly are designed intelligently. We not only pick up on the energy that is all around us, but the way we move and breathe profoundly influences our physical state, mental patterns, and physiology. So. Freaking. Cool. Right?
The ancient teachings of yoga provide principles for how to use energetics throughout our practice to influence the deep corners of our being in a powerful way. The effect you get comes from a combination of the chosen postures (Asana-s), breathing techniques and patterns (Pranayama), chanting if you practice that, and the WAY that you practice all of these things in relation to one another. For example, you can create energizing and nourishing effects from things like backbends and working with the inhale (we call this Brmhana – “BRAHM-hah-nah”); you can create calming effects from things like forward bends and working with exhale (this is called Langhana – “LONG-hah-nah”); or you can emphasize balance through a combination of the two (Samana – “sah-MAH-nah”). So to put it very simply, if someone is already agitated (or has a tendency toward that) doing a ton of backbends can drive you bonkers whether you realize it’s happening or not! Or for someone who wakes up sleepy every morning, doing a bunch of forward bends when you wake up is not going to support you energetically when you get to work – you will literally need so much coffee because you just told your body we are back in sleep mode! On the flipside, if you are like me and have so much trouble calming down (ever) and not being spastic at the end of the day, a Langhana practice in the evening can seriously serve you! We are all unique, so the energetic influence of our practice will affect us each totally differently, including at different times of the day. What’s so cool is that we can use this to our advantage if we approach yoga intentionally.
OK so getting realistic, what can you take away from this? 2 things.
Yoga is about YOU. The practitioner.
If you’ve ever felt funny after a class, I hope this has given you some basic education on why that might be. I invite you to observe how you feel after class! This stuff is super powerful and can really benefit us as individuals, but sometimes it could totally exacerbate your probs if you are going to a class that isn't appropriate for what you, specifically, are needing!
If you are a yoga practitioner and are interested in developing a personal practice catered to your individual needs, I’d be happy to help put you on an awesome yoga path that truly serves you! OR if you are a teacher that is interested in learning how to design sequences in a way that is energetically appropriate for your classes, hit me up!
Would love to hear your questions and comments! Please let me know if you’ve enjoyed this post.
One major life lesson for me over the last few years has been that consistency and diligence with smaller things is way more effective than major, lengthy actions that we take less frequently. The universe has given me tons of examples and nudges to prove this, but one very obvious series of examples for me are all related to stress management. If I am not ACTIVELY managing stress, then stress is ACTIVELY managing me!
Here are some ways to think about it: working out for 5 hours on a Saturday will not cause you to lose weight and keep it off; Meditating once for an hour does not create enlightenment (or if it does, you are TRULY blessed!); Gassing up the car once isn’t going to get you across the country. Same goes with stress – one beautiful vacation doesn’t “cure” us of the ongoing stressors of everyday life.
Stress will manifest in different ways. The body is always listening to our thoughts, and it reacts physically to stressful and negative thoughts, even subconscious ones. For many, the same physical condition will present itself time and time again, and for others, different physical reactions may occur at different times. The amazing thing about the body is that it is constantly speaking to us. It truly knows best, we just usually aren’t listening. When something doesn’t feel well, your body is literally telling you something’s wrong! It will start with little whispers, and if we continue to ignore it, it will eventually scream. Here is my experience with this:
The first time I truly realized my stress had gotten out of control, I had gone to see an alternative practitioner in the Boston area. I had been experiencing major digestive distress and I couldn’t wait to be diagnosed with something. I wanted there to be an excuse! I had already seen other doctors, who didn’t have answers, so I was hoping that this alternative practitioner would come up with something new. I even rattled off some names of digestive illnesses hoping it would trigger her to land on one of them. To my disappointment, she declined my suggestions and told me that I “had a stressed gut”. UM, WHAT? She gave me some suggestions on how to eat a little better (cut out deli meats and include veggies in every meal, to name a few), and sent me home with some herbs to try. But the main things she prescribed revolved around lifestyle changes and creating an ongoing plan that would help me manage stress. This included 30 minutes of exercise a day, even if it was just a walk, prayer and meditation (practicing mindfulness and staying connected with my higher power of choice), taking regular breaks at work, lugging less crap around on my commute to and from work, getting regular monthly massages (bless her freaking heart, am I right?), doing types of yoga that increased relaxation (we’ll get to this in a later post!) - basically general lifestyle changes to be more mindful and actively reduce stress. While I was a little bit pissed that she wouldn’t let me be a victim of a diagnosis, she gave me the gift of having to seriously face myself and my lifestyle. There was no pill to take. But there were small, simple shifts to make myself feel better. And I was grateful for my “stressed gut” for shining a light on the fact that my entire being was stressed. So I made a bunch of very small changes and helped myself.
Fast forward four years. I find myself super stressed from a fast-paced job, some impending major life changes, a series of taxing travel days, not getting enough sleep, in addition to probably a bunch of other stuff. Suddenly my right arm and the right side of my face went numb. Very different manifestation than my stress from my earlier twenties, but same idea. I had slacked on my stress management, let my demanding schedule get the best of me, and my body spoke up. Luckily, this time around I had even more tools at hand, including everything I remembered from my previous experience. I committed to practicing VERY gentle yoga, using mantras and resolves to live and move with ease, practicing some breathing exercises to help me relax, eating really well, sleeping way more, carrying around way less, and prioritizing exercise – basically all things that got pushed to the wayside when my schedule got more “exciting”. I was also lucky enough to have personal access to physical therapists AND yoga therapists, so I pulled out all the stops!
To sum up my personal trend, here’s the pattern:
So what’s the lesson here? Intensive episodes of stress reduction do not sustain freedom from stress for long periods of time. Heck yes are they super helpful, but in my experience, when I’m slacking on the smaller, consistent mindful lifestyle choices that aid in stress reduction, it is easy to forget that I’m not a superhero and that small amounts of stress continue to add up and eventually become an injury or some form of disease.
Do you also notice some kind of pattern like this?
OK, so what’s the plan? I want to offer you some tools to help get more mindful in your day-to-day, some options to add stress reduction into your regular routine, and a plan for if and when it does get out of hand. And I’ll share with you what I’m doing currently!
My current lifestyle is so different than when I worked a corporate job, but there are new stressors! Here are the things I currently do to keep my stress down:
When stress becomes more major, I add in the following:
So I hope this gives you some ideas of things to do daily (or most days) and consistently to keep your stress in check! They generally are not time-consuming! Here are a ton of other options that I have used in the past:
***In my opinion, exercise and healthy eating are non-negotiable, pick and choose from everything else!***
With regards to the work day:
Your emergency plan:
What I’ve learned is that stress management needs to be an active priority, not just something we do when things get rough. By making tiny changes to incorporate some of these stress-reducing activities into your regular lifestyle, you’ll become more mindful of when you ARE letting it get the best of you, and you’ll be more likely to keep yourself in check. Consistency is more effective than the amount of time you spend daily.
I’d love to hear your questions or comments! Create a plan for yourself and let me know how it goes!
Change is scary!! But it is so essential to growth!
Check out this Facebook Live I did with Actor and Inspirational Leader, Lucio Nieto, about how to embrace change and live empowered through times of major life transitions (big or small). We touch on:
Watch the video here!
I hope you enjoy our discussion. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments!
“What are you doing to manage and reduce your stress?” my doctor asked. “Yoga,” I lied. Probably one of the most humiliating moments of my life – when I realized I was the stressed out yoga teacher. And while I was practicing yoga consistently, I wasn’t using it to manage my stress. (Not all yoga is relaxing, we’ll get to this topic on another day).
We’ve all been there. We’ve all gotten to the point of overwhelm with our busy lives, tense and tight muscles that cause physical distress, and the ongoing negative chatter in our monkey mind. It’s part of being human. Even the people with all the relaxation and stress-reduction tools can fall into the overwhelm trap (I say this from experience!)
I want to go deeply into this over the next month or so – how stress management is a practice, and not a one-time thing. And we’ll talk about some things we can do consistently to acknowledge and reduce it. But first, here are a couple of quick ideas for when you need to stop overwhelm in its tracks NOW.
Step 1: Be totally OK with it. We’re not perfect, and nobody asked us to be (except maybe ourselves, right?). It’s a part of our human experience. Just acknowledge that you’ve let it get this far, and put yourself in check! Forgive yourself first, and then take action.
Step 2: Be grateful and appreciative. We all have junky days sometimes, but there are always blessings to count. Think of 10 things NOW that you are grateful for. (Don’t you feel better already?) **My husband always keeps me in check by asking “do you have a roof over your head, food in your belly, shoes on your feet?” I’m like… Oh yeah, good point :)
Other optional things that are super easy and will seriously help:
I hope this gives you some ideas. I want to seriously dive into stress management, but sometimes it’s a stress emergency, so these are a few things I’ve found can help. If you have questions, please let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear other ways you love to stop your stress in its tracks!
What if I told you that a minimal amount of yoga would completely improve your Crossfit results?
There are a lot of assumptions and opinions attached to BOTH Crossfit and Yoga, and it may seem like there is no overlap or even connection between the two. I'm here to bridge that gap. I recently found, through first-hand experience, that the two can seriously complement, even enhance each other. Keep an open mind as you continue reading my tried and true results with a Crossfitter and how it changed her workout and results for good!
This experience and these results reflect a program I designed for a particular individual who practices Crossfit regularly (4x/week), and our intention was to complement and compensate for her training. Our goals were the following:
We did 20-35 minutes of yoga per session, for about 10 sessions together. Her results blew me away.
Here's what happened:
Balance, flexibility, and increased range of motion were all reported by the student. She particularly felt she had much more control during full-body movements and lifting exercises.
But what stuck out to me most was her understanding of breathing! She went from years of holding her breath during Crossfit, to being able to figure out when, how, and why to breathe to support her exercise. She'd come to me excited about how she'd notice being back in her normal patterns of holding her breath, and then break down the exercise they were doing to see how it paralleled something we'd done in our yoga sessions together, and apply the same breathing principles. She said it would immediately improve her movements, increase her reps, and generally make everything more accessible!
So if you practice Crossfit, I dare you to try a yoga class, or better yet, private, individualized yoga - I promise you will see results, and fast!! Switching up your routine can be so beneficial, and it gets us out of our patterns. Always remember to modify for your unique structural condition and practice SAFELY - do your research on teachers before you commit to a class package. Find someone that knows their stuff. And keep up the great work, you rock for prioritizing your health and fitness, regardless of what type of exercise you do!
I'd love to know what you guys think, and if you have any questions about this post! Leave me a comment!
Happy February and Month of Love!!
So excited to share this couples yoga sequence with all of you! We were all put on this planet TOGETHER for a reason, so let’s celebrate love and friendship through the practice of yoga together! This sequence is safe for everyone, and will be fun to try with your sweetheart or with a friend. Plus it’s quick and easy, so they’ll actually agree to trying it! No experience necessary. If you have questions, please leave them in the comments! Please practice the postures in the order they are displayed. Enjoy!
**Always honor your unique condition – if it hurts, don’t do it :)
P.S. Major shoutout to Dave for being my yoga buddy and helping me demo this practice for you!