Mini Photo Shoot with Lucie Wicker

Hello!  Long time no talk!

I wanted to share with you an exciting opportunity I had to work with a Boston fitness photographer by the name of Lucie Wicker.  For those of you living in the Boston area, you may be familiar with Lucie’s work, she has shot Jennifer Phelan, Lauren Hefez, and my mentor, Andrea Isabelle Lucas.  I have long admired Lucie’s work, and the way she captures these fitness personalities and creates beautiful images.

As I mentioned before, my home yoga studio switched owners, moved to a new location, and added in a barre program.  With all the changes, the new owner, Andrea, decided to have a photo shoot to showcase the new space, and some of the teachers, and some of the loyal students.  I was lucky enough to be invited, and I even got to bring my mom along for the class section of the shoot.

I got to take part in the group class shoot, and I also got to have a mini portrait session with Lucie, and her stylist, Keely, from B.Fetching.  The most exciting part was being styled by a professional stylist! I really felt like a celeb. :)

Keely gave us some tips for what to wear, how to style our hair and makeup, and to make sure we had clean, neat nails, or painted nails.  I brought along a few outfits, and Keely helped me pick the super fun, bright, and very “me” outfit I ended up wearing for the portrait session.

Right before the shoot, I learned how to do king pigeon pose, so I was able to do that for one of my photos.  I know that yoga is about the journey to the pose, and not the destination, but I love to have photos to show my personal progress in my practice.  King Pigeon is a pose I never thought I could do, until I eliminated all the “can’ts” out of my practice and started actually trying advanced poses.

Now I have this beautiful photo to remind me that anything is possible, and physical boundaries exist only in my mind.

In other news, this is the last weekend of my Barre & Soul teacher training!  Check out my website to see my schedule as I will be teaching some community classes for a $10 cash donation!

 

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Discovering barre & soul

For a while I had convinced myself that I was only a yogi.  I was a one dimensional yogi who only did yoga to stay in shape, and I didn’t need any other forms of exercise.  I got core strengthening, stretching, heart opening, and a cardiovascular workout on my beloved yoga mat.  I had deactivated my gym membership, and devoted myself to my yoga practice.

One day after core vinyasa, my yoga teacher (Andrea Isabelle Lucas) announced that she was taking ownership of my home yoga studio, and she was bringing in the barre.   I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little skeptical.  My studio was called “B Yoga Center” and that meant yoga only!  Except Andrea wasn’t just bringing in the barre, she was bringing in the soul too, and that made all the difference.  After trying one of her first barre & soul preview classes, I was hooked.

I decided to look into this whole barre craze, so I tried a few other methods of barre.  I noticed a big difference between the other methods and barre & soul.  Andrea’s butt kicking method made barre fun and “feel-good,”  something that I hadn’t found in many other barre classes.  It’s a lot more likely that I’ll take a class where I know I’ll laugh and learn something new, than just a regular barre class.  Other barre classes I had taken seemed to drag on, and I would be staring at the clock wondering when the torture will end. Yes, I was getting a very good workout, but I wasn’t enjoying myself.  I also sometimes felt like there was a disconnect between the movement and the desired effect.  Some moves seemed to be only working my hip flexors, and that’s not an area I want to contract! I work hard in my yoga practice to lengthen those muscles, and undo the damage from sitting.

In other barre classes, I wondered where was the yoga mentality of not pushing yourself past your limit?  In Andrea’s classes, I know I have the option to rest when I need to, and I know I’ll be getting a stretch break between sections.  I also get a chance to play in barre & boul classes when we work on arm balances, my favorite part of the class.

I took my first barre & soul class in October, and since then I have noticed that my yoga practice has gotten stronger, my arms are more toned, and my butt is a little perkier.  I’m certainly not complaining about those side effects!  Next week I start my 5 weekend 100 hour teacher training to become a barre & soul teacher.  I truly believe in this method of barre, and I’m so glad I decided to expand my horizons and give it a try.

I will keep you updated as my barre & soul training progresses!

 

Have you taken a barre class? What are your thoughts?

 

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Catching Fire Themed Yoga Class

Hello!

I recently discovered the Catching Fire Soundtrack, and was so inspired by the playlist, I made a sequence for a yoga class to go along with it.  I taught a full 75 minute class to the soundtrack (playlost below, and available on spotify), with a couple rearrangements and a few added songs, and it turned out great.  I decided to make a video of a shortened version for people to practice along to at home, for those who can’t make it to my class.  The class incorporates strength building poses (Warrior II and III) and bow-and-arrow inspired poses such as upward facing bow(aka wheel), dancers pose ( aka standing bow), and bow pose (the belly down back bend).

I hope you enjoy it! I know it is a little speed, so for future videos I plan to  s l o w  it down a little.  Let me know your feedback and comments!

Also a HUGE thank you to my boyfriend CJ for editing and filming.  This would not be possible without you, CJ! Thank you for always believing in me and encouraging me to go after my dreams.

 

Enjoy!

 

Songs in video:

“Atlas” by Coldplay

“Mirror” by Ellie Goulding

“We Remain” by Christina Aguilera

“Angel on Fire” Anthony & the Johnsons

 

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My Dream

Hi friends,

Happy New Year’s Eve!!

With the new year approaching, it has got me thinking about the things I want to accomplish in the future.  I actually starting writing this post last week, but I let fear stop me from hitting “publish.”

I wanted to share with you my dream, in hopes that by saying it publicly, it might have a chance to grow from a small seed in my mind into a reality.  Whenever I think about my dream life, fear shuts it down by saying “you’re not good enough to do that”, or “there’s no money in that” or “there’s already too many people doing that” and so on.  When fear rules my mind, nothing seems possible.  But then I remember that….

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? “- Marianne Williamson

So here it is, my dream:

I want to lead yoga retreats around the world.

That is my dream.  Phew, that was really scary to type!  And, as a step towards it, I am not going to spend time trying to justify it.  :)

Here’s my plan:

Just like how we find our “full expression” on the yoga mat, I can do the same with my dream.  First, I need to find the ground beneath me, and remember what is supporting me.  Next, I need to plant the seed, and let it take root by watering it and nurturing it.  When it’s the right time, it will grow and become a reality.

I hope you will join me in 2014 be dreaming big and bold and choosing to believe in yourself instead of letting fear make the decisions!

 

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Year End Stuff

Hi friends!

Can’t believe Christmas is over, and we are coming to the close of 2013.

I’ve been thinking about this quote from Grey’s Anatomy:

“..it’s not so important that it’s happy ever after, just that it’s happy right now.”

I’m happy, not every moment, but a lot of the time.  Of course, I still stress about things like money, student loans, driving in the snow, a messy apartment, my weight, how I’m ever going to be able to buy a house/pay for a wedding (no we aren’t even engaged)/get a dog, you know… all the normal things that I want in life.  But I sometimes stop and think that I do actually have all my needs covered.  I am not lacking any of my basic needs, I have my health, and I have CJ, and my family, and CJ’s family, most of them living within 10 miles of us.  I’m incredibly lucky and loved.  But I still occassionally forget (the important stuff), and need to remind myself that no, I don’t need those $90 yoga pants, or a certain number on the scale, or even an expensive engagement ring  in order to feel complete.  This takes daily reminding.  I’ve learned enough about myself to know that when I start looking externally for material things to fill a void, that I need to stop, drop, and remind myself of all the things in my life that I have to be grateful for.

Thinking back on the year is always fun, especially this year, which has been “transformational” for me.  2013 was the year I became a yoga teacher, which has been life changing in almost every way possible.  I think one of the things I like most is how it serves as a avenue for me to  really be able to give to people.  When teaching yoga, I can give them a workout and a really nice stretch, but I can also give them less tanglible things like support, space, love, encouragement, and permission to move and feel (which we think we need sometimes, even though we don’t!).

I’ve been keeping track of all my teaching stats, and this year, I taught just over 100 hours.  I also taught 464 students (some of them repeats!). To me, that means that I had 464 chances to improve someones day by asking them to take a letting go breath or two, and that is something to be truly grateful for.  What an amazing opportunity!

2014 will be the year I become a Barre&Soul teacher, and I can’t wait to see how that will enhance my life.

I’ve got a pile of inspirational, spiritual, and heart warming books just waiting to be read.  I’m dreaming big and limitless this year.  Will you join me?

 

 

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Just What the Doctor Ordered- Rx Series at Equinox

Hello!

Long time no chat!

Today I wanted to share with you a really cool class I took at Equinox.  Equinox graciously invited me back in to take another class and review it on the blog.  I’ve visited the top of the line health and wellness club twice before, and I am always impressed, so I was really looking forward to going back.

My contact at Equinox’s marketing group invited me in to try a new class called RX series.  I’ve recently been adding barre classes to my workout regimen, and I’ve been left with aching muscles and tension in the neck and upper back.  As soon as I read the description below, I knew this class would be perfect for me.

“To reach your maximum potential, Equinox Boston introduces RX Series which prescribes the 3 “M”s – massage, mobilization and maximizing performance to revitalize the body beginning October 2013.

 

Designed by the Equinox Group Fitness team and Jill Miller, co-founder of Tune Up Fitness Worldwide and creator of Yoga Tune Up ®, this new 30-45-minute group fitness class combines self-myofascial massage, range-of-motion stretches and breath strategy to recharge and reset the system for your highest performance yet.  RX Series will benefit any athlete by adding restoration and recovery moves into their workout routine.

 

“RX Series strives to educate about the importance of self-care and gives students the tools to stay injury-free through guided self-massage sequences,” says Miller.  “The class demonstrates how performance is enhanced by regeneration while introducing breath, mindset and meditation.”

 

This unique class using Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls, yoga blocks and stretch straps helps to keep joints mobile and tissues supple so the body lasts longer and remains pain-free.  RX Series can be a supplement to anyone with an overworked or unconditioned body as it addresses aches, pain, tension and stress.  RX Series serves as a preparation for workouts or an active recovery solution following your workout.

 

RX Series is perfect for anyone short-on-time and provides an all-over body recharge for energy and balance, while complementing any existing exercise routine.”

 

Last Sunday morning, I headed in to Equinox to take the class. I was surprised to see that the class was only 30 minutes, but thankfully there was a yoga class right after so I stayed for that as well.  The two classes complimented each other very well!  I put my stuff in a locker, and entered the golden dome shaped room where the classes are held.  I was surprised to see a friendly face; the class was taught by Pat Donaher, who is an acro yoga teacher as well.  He assisted the  acro yoga class I dragged CJ to back in May.  I love the small yoga community in Boston!

Anyways, once I entered the room, I set up a mat (equinox uses red jade yoga mats) and was handed a pair of balls.  The teacher had us start out by rolling our feet on the ball.  The balls are meant to release tension, soften muscles, and ease pain.  I could feel things loosening up in my feet within the first few minutes.  I even noticed it helped my yogi toes spread wider, which is something I’ve been working on.  Yes, I do have a life.

Then we moved into “ardha savasana” which is a position reclined on the back with the feet planted and the knees bent.  We placed the balls on either side of the spine right where the neck and the shoulders meet (like the picture below).  We did some arm movements and then rolled the balls around a little.  It was super intense, but I could tell I’d feel better afterwards.  The balls are about the size of racquetballs, and I think they are made of hard foam.  They are not as squeezable as stress balls, but they do have a little give.  One important point was not to allow the balls to cross the spine.  You are supposed to keep one ball on either side of the spine, and from there you can roll up or down.

We worked our way down the back.  The middle of my back was the most intense point for me.  I often get pain here if I am standing or slouching a lot during the day.  It felt amazing to roll out the tension and make way for smoother muscles.

After the back, we worked out the glutes, and then moved to the most painful point, the IT band.  We placed the balls on either side of the IT band and slowly rolled up and down.  I don’t know why the girl in the picture below is smiling, because this is no walk in the park!

We were finished in 30 minutes, and I felt a sense of release.  It was great! I mentioned that I am into barre classes, and I find those incredibly painful, but this is a whole different type of pain.  Its the type of pain that makes you want to go back and try it again, it’s addicting!  After class, and even the next day at work, I kept thinking about the great release I got from the therapy balls on my IT band.  I googled them and found out a set of balls is only $12.  I could barely get my debit card out fast enough to order them!  I wish I could attend the RX series on a regular basis so I would know if I was getting into the right spots.  For now, I’ll just roll around on them at home until it hurts. :)

I can’t recommend this class, and these therapy balls enough!  I have a thera roll foam roller, but this works way better for getting into the muscles and fascial tissue deeper.  It might be the best $12 I’ve ever spent.

 

 

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A Win-Win

Hello friends,

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I’m at a very busy point in my life right now, and the thing that is keeping me going is gratitude.

When I began my yoga training, I had one goal in mind.  I wanted to be teaching 2 classes a week by the time I turned 25.  Since I completed my training in early July, and my birthday was early September, I only had 2 months to accomplish this goal.  I didn’t know if it would be possible.  I had no idea what the yoga job market was like.  I didn’t know if anyone would hire me straight out of yoga teacher training.  What I did know was that I LOVED teaching yoga.  I loved connecting with students, I loved sharing my joy with them, and I loved how I felt after teaching a class.

So, I started teaching weekly classes at Wakefield lake.  I had a dedicated group of 2-4 students who came every week.  I taught where I could, when I could, and who I could.  And I taught for free.  By doing this, I got valuable feedback.

I began to reach out to local studios, and I started to audition/demo for them. Starting this October, I will be teaching between 4 and 5 classes a week.

It happened.  I surpassed my goal! My Type A personality is jumping for joy.  Winking smile (Does the airplane picture make sense now? Get the symbolism?  My yoga career is taking off!)

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While yoga does teach us to live without obsessive goal setting, I find that there’s nothing wrong with knowing what you want and going after it, as long as you are giving back what and where you can.  I just started rereading Deepak Chopra’s “Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” and I was reminded of the idea of abundance.  Not just material wealth, but the flow of all good things to you.

In the book, Deepak states “The universe operates through dynamic exchange . . . giving and receiving are different aspects of the flow of energy in the universe. And in our willingness to give that which we seek, we keep the abundance of the universe circulating in our lives.”

For example, my good friend works for HomeStart, an amazing organization that places struggling Boston families in permanent housing.  As part of the organization’s yearly fundraising efforts, they hold a silent auction every year.  My friend asked me if I wanted to donate some private yoga lessons to the auction, and I agreed to donate 4 sessions.  A very generous lady won the bid, and ended up donating more than twice their value to HomeStart.  I was thrilled! It’s a win-win for everyone.  That is the law of giving and receiving in perfect universal order.

Smile

Namaste!

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Current Inspirations

I thought it would be cool to do a post to acknowledge some of the people and things that are currently inspiring me, with yoga and life in general.  Of course, this isn’t a complete list, but these people definitely deserve a shout out.  Some of them are close friends, some I’ve only met once or twice, but all of them inspire me to be fearless, bold, authentic, and honest.

Rebecca Pacheco (aka Om Gal)  is currently writing a book, and blogging about all things great and small in her life.  I admire her honesty, and she gave me invaluable advice when I had just signed up for teacher training and was too shy and insecure to even announce it to my friends.

omgal

Heather Waxman, the ultimate soul sister, who is currently working on her mediation album.  She wants to bring spirituality to people like me using her soulful voice, and musical talent.  I can’t wait for that CD to be complete!  She also recently quit her part time jobs to focus on what feeds her passion; coaching people.  I am inspired by every post she writes.

heather

My fellow YTT  graduates who inspire me DAILY.  It’s amazing to see us all on the other side of teacher training.  Especially Erin, who is teaching free classes every week at Charlestown Yoga, training for a marathon, and raising money for an amazing organization called First Descents.

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Xan, a first time mom and blogger who writes the most honest blog posts I’ve ever read.  Her blog makes me cry, laugh, and smile, and she makes me want to be a more authentic person.  Her  vulnerability is refreshing to read, and I am rooting for her on all the little victories of motherhood.  Please read her blog, and come back and tell me how many times you cried.

And finally, my yoga practice, because I always step off my yoga mat inspired.  I am amazed at how far I have come.  It’s totally ok to take a moment to acknowledge personal victories.  My yoga practice, which lead to my yoga teacher training (a life changing experience) has opened me up completely.  I’m so proud of the person I am today.  I truly love myself.  I learned how to tune out my ego, and tune in to my intuition.  I credit this all to my dedicated yoga practice.

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Who or what inspires you?

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My Practice Lately

My practice is extremely important to me.  Every day on my mat is different, and my body continues to surprise me.  One of the important lessons yoga has taught me is to treat my body with compassion.  I’ve learned that my body is not a machine, and it does not perform on command.  With that being said, I still strive to grow stronger,  more flexible, and more balanced.  The only way I progress with my practice is with more patience, compassion, and by bringing a clear head onto my mat.  Other important factors in my growth are my fearlessness and playfulness.  I don’t mean that I have no fear at all, but I keep the “fear of failure” off my mat (and I’m trying to get it out of my life completely).  I make a conscious decision to be playful on my mat, and not to take it so seriously.  It’s easy to get competitive on the yoga mat, but I work best when I am just playing around.  My favorite times are when no one is home, and I can just turn my music up and play around on my yoga mat.

I wanted to share some things I have been working on lately.

Headstand.  It took me 6-7 months to get where I am today.  I started with tripod, and now I have worked my way to basket hand grip or sirsasana a.  Being able to do headstand is very exciting for me.  I worked very hard to get there, and I’m really proud of my accomplishments.  One thing that helped me was that I never gave up on the idea that is was possible for me.  I used to think headstands were for people that were really “good at yoga” or really in shape.  Once I started to actually practice it, and it started getting easier, I thought “hey, maybe I can do this.”  That was step number one.  After I got rid of the idea that headstands were only for certain people, I started to progress more and more, and suddenly I was popping into headstand wherever I went.

Some tips:  I learned from Krista, my teacher for training, to push into the hands or forearms, and lift the weight off of the head.  This helped me a lot! It made headstand pain-free.  Pushing into the hands/forearms also helps when I am bringing my legs up.  It takes some of the corework out and distributes it to the arms/shoulders.   Another tip is to really reach up with the feet.  Pulling my feet up towards the sky and reaching through my entire body.  I heard that this tip helps with handstand too, but I have yet to tackle that.

Now that I can do this “advanced” inversion, I am wondering what else is possible for me.  I plan to work on forearm stand and eventually handstand.  Once I eliminate the idea that I can’t do it, and start visualizing myself actually in the pose, I know that I will be able to do it eventually.

Yoga is about the journey, and not the final pose, but it is fun to explore different poses, and discover what your body can do.  The real work is in all the behind the scenes stuff that you don’t get to see in the final pictures.

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My Hamstrings.  Like a lot of people, I have tight hamstrings.  Even with a frequent yoga practice, they still get tight.  For basically my whole life, I thought I was just “inflexible.”  I thought it was just a label I would have to wear forever.  I thought that some people where flexible, and some, like me, were destined to be inflexible forever.  One day recently, I had the realization that we all have muscles, tendons, fascia tissue, and  those things are made to move and stretch.  I realized that I am not destined to be “inflexible” forever, I can work towards opening them up.  Letting go of that old belief is the first step into moving forward and gaining flexibility.  Maybe my muscles take longer to open up, but I know they will eventually, and I need to treat them with compassion until they are ready.  I don’t want to force them to stretch, because, much like the rest of  me, they don’t like being forced to do things they aren’t ready for.

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If you compare the pictures above, you will see that in the picture on the left, my legs only have a slight bend, but my upper back is rounded, and my tailbone is not reaching up.  This is not a very functional downward dog.  In the picture on the right, my knees are bent, my back is nice and flat (spine is l o n g) and my tailbone is reaching up towards the sky.  The reason I am showing this is to show you that trying to have straight legs in down dog is not the best option for someone with tight hamstrings.  There is no shame in bent knees!  It took me a long time to realize this.  I thought that in order to do my “best” down dog, I had to have my heels on the ground, and my legs straight.  This is not true! The down dog photo on the right is much better for me.  The goal down dog is to lengthen the spine, and if your knees need to bend to get there, so be it!  Just do you.  Do what’s best for your body at that moment.

 

So that’s my takeaway: treat your body with compassion, appreciate what it can do, eliminate all self-doubt, and go practice!

 

Yogis, what have you been working on lately?  

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Weird Stuff I’ve Been Doing with Coconut Oil

Greatest blog post title ever, right?  I couldn’t think of anything more fitting. Smile

Let’s get to it!

Weird thing # 1: Putting coconut oil in my coffee.

I first heard about this last summer from one of Kelly Olexa’s vlogs and I thought she was crazy, but this week at Trader Joe’s the coconut oil was calling to me, so I picked it up.  Over the weekend, I tried it in my coffee and I was pleasantly surprised.

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The trick is to use a blender to get it all mixed in and nice and frothy.  Someone asked me if I had to melt the coconut oil first (coconut oil is solid at room temp) but I did not have to because my coconut oil had already liquefied due to my hot kitchen.  Coconut oil serves as a replacement for cream or milk.  It adds a lovely creamy texture to the coffee and a mild hint of coconut.  I added some sugar, and sprinkled the top with cinnamon.  It was pretty decadent!

Coconut oil is popular right now for a variety of reasons.  I love to try all the new health crazes!

Weird thing #2: Oil pulling with Coconut Oil. Read about it here.

I’ve been oil pulling every morning for 5 days now.  What is oil pulling, you ask?  Basically, it is using coconut oil (or other unrefined oils such as sesame or sunflower oil)  as a mouthwash and swishing it around your mouth for 15-20 minutes first thing in the morning.  It sounds gross, and to be honest, it kind of is!  The first day I did it, I had to fight the urge to spit it out of my mouth. Having a mouth full of oil produces a very strong gag relfex!  But once I resisted the urge to gag, I got used to it.

Now my routine is to wake up, walk to the kitchen and shove a tablespoonful of coconut oil to my mouth, swish it around for 15 minutes or so while I shower, and then spit it out into the trash so it doesn’t clog the drain (it solidifies!).  I read that the pulled oil becomes full of toxic pathogens so it is dangerous, and needs to be disposed of immediately.  This seems far fetched to me.  My logic is: If the toxic pathogens were already in my mouth, they must not be that harmful! But who knows….

After I spit the oil out, I rinse my mouth out with water, and then brush my teeth.  The first day I did it, I noticed that my teeth looked whiter right away, and after a few days, CJ noticed that they were whiter, too.  It also really helps to wake me up first thing in the morning.  I have noticed that my skin looks a little more glowy, but that might be a stretch.  I plan to continue on with the oil pulling, so I will update you on any more health improvements!

Have you tried coconut oil?  What health craves have you tried recently?

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