I made it! I made it to a beach. I was able to recharge my mermaid soul in the magical waters of Holbox, MX. I swam with whale sharks and social distanced with flamingos, saw the bioluminescene and the Milky Way, it made my life! Maybe I’ll get to take a group of my friends there next year…putting it out there. Yoga retreat 2021!? Someone asked me if wearing a thong was part of the next retreat, ya know, fearlessly stepping out of your comfort zone. Maybe haha?! It was very empowering to channel some fierce feminine energy on Isla Mujeres in my first thong bikini, even more empowering to post a beautiful picture online. I’ll fully support you strutting it if you feel called to! Before I left, I was able to finish the YTT manual! So excited to share it with others. I’ve poured my heart and soul into this training and know it will be transformative. As of 7/27, there’s 1 spot left. If you feel called to be in this class, message me! Let’s make it happen!
I can think of 20 other things to do before I pull my laptop out and WRITE. It’s like a process for me too. I feel the urge to write, I create the time, I pull out my laptop, then I hear the dryer *ding*… I need to put the clothes away. As I’m putting them away, I notice there’s dishes in the sink that I would feel sooo much better about if I just did them real quick, so I do. And while I’m in the kitchen, I start to feel hungry, so I make a snack. Then my daughter hears me and wants a snack too, but she wants something different. As I’m cooking, I’m checking my text messages and responding back to clients. Might as well check Facebook too since I have my phone in hand. Now I have a private session booked for the evening, great! But I really should go clean my car because I had planned to do it later and they’ll be closed after I get done and I’ve totally been putting it off for daysss. 1 hour later, I’m back, sweaty, showering, ready for a nap. ANDDD now my phone is ringing. After I take the call, it’s time for me to head to the office. No writing got done. BUT my laptop is now out for me to try again tomorrow. Like seriously, thing after thing I’ll put before actually writing. Distractions pulling my attention away. Maybe subconsciously making myself busy because I don’t really want to share? I know I need to though. Someone needs to hear what I have to say. Since my last blog post, I’ve connected with a young woman in the UK who also had mesh and had been researching yoga and found 721. I pray before I write. I trust this will reach whoever needs it.
My Why. Part 2-
Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, Bipolar, Manic. These are words we hear pretty regularly, especially right now as we see Covid-19 unfold. We just witnessed Kanye publically go manic to take this talk mainstream media. Most of us know someone in our immediate family or have experienced these personally at some point. I know these are all labels that doctors have given to me and prescribed me medication for. There was a time in my life that some would even tell me that I had a mental disability. This is something that I am careful with my words about and will not own. Not because I want to deny it’s real but because I don’t want to give it any more energy than it already has over me. We talk about those powerful I AM statements in yoga (ex- “I am so broke.” < “The funds are not available at this time.” “I am bipolar” < “I am experiencing a lot of emotions right now and feeling like I could hit someone with my car.” lol butttt fr.) I will not claim these labels that people have given to me starting at around age 14. I was heavily medicated and over prescribed for many years. But that was it, it was never acted on to get to the root cause, only medicating the symptoms and usually with negative side effects.
I struggled in earlier years. Most of the time my childhood was not stable or safe. I raged with anger and pain and didn’t know how to let it out in a healthy way. It was only when I said, “ENOUGH. I’m taking control.” did things change. I started looking at my diet, reading about gut health and the connection to mental health. I created boundaries and stability in my life. I researched different plants and herbs, medicines that have been around for 100’s of years like Kambo and Ayahuasca. I found yoga and different kinds of meditation. Who knew that my sweaty gym yoga class could have such a profound effect on my mental health?! Why was I crying during practice? I had gone to stretch! Was I *gasp* crazy?! Aren’t we all a bit? We channel this energy in different ways. Sometimes we don’t know a healthy way to release what’s pent up. When we’re squeezed, we’re put under the slightest pressure, whatever is on the inside is going to come out, right? We go to yoga class and our teacher pushes us out of our comfort zone, we don’t think we can do one more chaturanga or relax deeper into a pose, then it happens, we have a release. We soften our shoulders that have been carrying the weight of the world, we unclench our jaw that has been waiting to run our mouth and pop off, maybe we cry in half pigeon. Releasing not only stress hormones in your tears but letting shit in your emotional life go. THIS IS YOUR SAFE PLACE. THIS IS YOUR HEALTHY OUTLET. This is also your connection to Source. I’ve really gotten to know myself and love myself with the help of my yoga and meditation practice. Your practice creates the space for you to physically move things around in your body, get the extra energy out, so that you can be quiet and still in your body and really listen to what is coming up.
I remember the day my dad died, it was a Thursday. Part of the stability I had created in my life was a routine of going to take a yoga class every Thursday morning, no matter what. In class that morning I felt weak. I hadn’t been sleeping well for the past few weeks, I was low on energy, low on fuel. My yoga sister, Laura, was next to me that day which wasn’t the norm. I remember her breath being so powerful. If you know her, you know she’s powerful. I cried to her after class. I think my soul already knew of my dad being near death. After leaving the gym, I felt like I should stop by the hospital to say hi to my dad before my lunch meeting (honoring my intuition.) I never made it to lunch that day. I truly feel that because I got my practice in that morning, because I had that safe place to feel my fucking feelings, I surrounded myself around strong people to help bring me up when I was feeling low, I was able to handle emotionally what life was throwing at me in a healthy way. I know during trying times, I hear my teacher’s voice in my head saying, “Focus on the breath. You will get through this. If you feel like you’re about to fall, try taking a deep breath. The breath is going to keep you there. When we go to the future we can experience anxiety, when we go to the past we can experience depression. The breath keeps you present.” Taking what you learn on your mat, off your mat. Real life yoga.
Just like Kayne, I really feel that people who do reallyyyyy big things or are super creative do think differently. It’s about where you channel it, how you use it. Healthy or hurtful? I’ve found tools that can support me to keep me more balanced. Happier. Experiencing less stress. Not going 0-100, I’m ready to burn your house down as an immediate reaction or stay in bed for a week not showering. Rather, being able to take a breath (even if it’s just 1 deep one,) and responding to a situation from a place of Love. I’m not saying taking pharmaceuticals is bad. I’m saying that yoga, meditation, and nutrition have shown me results of healing and supporting my mental health. Getting to the root. Doing the work. Breaking generational curses and severing toxic cords (look up cord cutting meditation online or ask me about it.) I think it’s really important to talk about mental health, especially now. The world needs yoga & meditation more than ever! I read something the other day online that said, “Just because someone carries it well, doesn’t mean it’s not heavy.” We all have very heavy shit we are facing. Even your yoga teacher who seemingly floats into class and lives in a happy bubble of love and puppies lol. If your foundation is firm, you have tools in your tool belt, you’re better equipped to handle what life throws at you. You’re stronger than you think, I promise.
I can confidently say yoga helped me physically and mentally. What really surprised me, was the spiritual experience I got out of my gym yoga class. I was exposed to many different religions growing up. My mother’s family is Catholic, my step father Jehovah Witness, we attended a Lutheran church. I went to a Pentecostal school. I was adopted by a Morman. Married a Seventh Day Adventist, we attended a Methodist church. After my divorce I felt like I was absolutely promised to hell. I knew I was a good person but I was very confused. I studied world religions in college, my first encounters with Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism. I fell in love with philosophy. When I first entered YTT and heard my yoga teacher pray protection over class, I was even more confused. I thought we were learning how to teach yoga?! Was this another religion?! I actually didn’t know my teacher very well before taking his YTT. How could God be involved in yoga?
If you know Joseph Stingley, you know he perfectly blended the spiritual and the physical without saying much. Teaching a secular, sweaty yoga class and creating the space for people to have their own spiritual experience. As a teacher, I started praying before my class. During my class, over my class, for my class. Asking to be a vessel of God’s work. Letting others feel Love through me. I try not to give advice to my students and am quick to say I’m not a doctor. Just as Joseph taught me, the answers are always in stillness. That’s when we can hear God loud and clear, when we create the space. God, whatever that looks like for you. Maybe you call that voice Intuition, Universe. For me, God is everything. In everything and of. God is Love. I am God, made in the perfect image. And I say that with no ego. My yoga practice is a moving meditation, a church, a time of fellowship with Source, connecting Body. Mind. Soul.
I’m excited to start YTT training, I’ve even more excited to share I am starting training to become a facilitator of Kambo. This is something I’ve been working with and now feel it’s time to share it with others. Another tool. I look forward to telling you more about it soon! Please like, comment, message me privately if you want to chat. I'm here for you. How can I serve you?
With all my love (since it’s really all we are,)
Day 38 of quarantine here in DFW, I’m ready to teach group classes again. I miss you. Thank you everyone who has financially supported the donation based virtual studio. This is something that I’ve talked about for two years and have really worked hard on, especially the last few weeks. Putting out videos regularly with my girl Brittany, what a fun project this has been! I’m truly grateful to have it so well received. If there’s something that you’d like to see, LMK! I know these are weird times we are living in, I’m telling you NOW more than ever it is SO important to take care of yourself. When life feels hard, you hit your yoga mat harder. That doesn’t have to look like a sweaty flow, maybe it’s more restorative or you can even just lay in stillness. Maybe use this time to create a dedicated space in your home for you. For meditation, for yoga, reading, journaling, prayer, whatever. If you need any tips or ideas, HMU.
I recently launched the 721 Yoga Fall 2020 Yoga Teacher Training! This is something that has been sitting with me for a bit. I knew when I quit lululemon I wanted to move away from group classes at the gym and focus on multiple destination retreats a year along with Yoga Teacher Training's. I’ve been working out details, securing the venue and guest teachers. I’m really excited with how it’s flowed together and the support & encouragement I’ve seen. Enrolling in a YTT program you really have to be ready and open for your life to change in every possible way, for your highest good. I truly believe this is going to be transformative for all who attend. If this is something that interests you, please reach out!
I go back and forth with this blog, being a resource vs too personal. I never want to dump my shit on my students. I’m here to serve you! BUT, when we are vulnerable (…which ISN’T easy,) we allow others to be. It’s relatable. I wanted to take this time (since I have A LOT) to get real personal, especially with those of you that may not know me too well or haven’t known me long. I want to share my WHY of yoga. Why do I practice and how did I start? In short, Body. Mind. Soul.
I tell people I got into yoga because I had a surgery that left me in a lot of pain and my physical therapist recommended I try it. What I don’t share is that whole story.
Part 1- Body
In 2007 I had a surgery. I was experiencing urinary incontinence. When I would laugh, sneeze, run, or even unprovoked I would pee my pants a little. So embarrassing but I tried to make a joke out of it. This was super uncommon for someone so young who hadn’t had a baby but something that most women in their life will experience at some time, which is why I think it's important to share. At first my OB had me try some prescription pills for a few months that ultimately didn’t help. After a (“super high tech”) q-tip and cough test, he determined that surgery was the only fix but there was a “New, super easy, outpatient procedure. The corvette of implants on the market. A hammock inserted under the urethra to hold it in place.” Me being 20 with pretty little guidance and without getting a second opinion, blindly trusted my doctor and had a TVT-O mesh implant. A what? A piece of plastic mesh (like netting made of fishing line) inserted through my vaginal wall to act as a hammock under my urethra creating scar tissue to ideally hold it in place with metal anchors to my inner thighs. I woke up from the surgery in EXTREME pain with numbness in my right leg. I was assured I was okay and sent home with pain pills. After a week at home I called an ambulance to take me to the ER because I felt something was very wrong. They told me I had an infection and gave me antibiotics and more pain pills and instructed me to follow up with my OB. After a few weeks, and still in pain, my OB said I probably had nerve damage from the surgery because it’s a sensitive area and I was given pain pills, muscle relaxers and antibiotics but that was it. This was my new normal. I knew something was wrong with the implant but I didn’t know exactly what. After the surgery I was told it was permanent and there was no taking it out. I started to see a pain management doctor who did nerve cauterization in my back multiple times and kept my prescriptions filled. Nothing helped much and it seemed like I just needed more pills as time went on. In 2013 I started seeing a new OB. After explaining my medical history, the surgery I had had, and the pain that I was STILL IN, he wanted me to get urodynamics done. A super invasive and scary test but it showed what I had been feeling all along. That the implant was too tight and it was causing multiple problems, including pain and reoccurring infections. He referred me to UTSW.
One day while scrolling on Facebook, I saw an article in the Dallas Observer about a local lady who was suing Johnson & Johnson for the same TVT-O implant I had. The article not only talked about her experiencing some of the same things I was, but it named my freaking implanting doctor as hers too! The more I read, the madder I got. My doctor had sold me a product that he said was safe but it hadn’t been tested in humans before despite having FDA approval. He had also not been formally trained to perform this surgery. AND he was getting a fairly large financial kickback from Johnson & Johnson for every mesh implant he sold to women. His office at Baylor Garland conveniently flooded and all his patient files ruined and he claimed early onset Alzheimer’s during trial when faced with lawsuits over mesh implants. Long term studies had not been done on mesh and there was no exit strategy if for any reason there was an adverse reaction and the implant needed to come out. After more research of my own I read about people getting autoimmune disorders from plastic implants. Why? Because plastic isn’t supposed to be in our body. Our immune system will constantly attack it trying to rid the body of this foreign invader, eventually wearing our immune system down and thus making the recipients of these types of implants highly likely to develop autoimmune disorders.
My doctor at UTSW was great and very knowledgeable. She did a partial removal that got most of my plastic out and instantly I was a million times better. I did go to UCLA to visit one of the few doctors in the world who said he could do a full removal of the metal anchors but my insurance changed to an in state only plan before I could schedule a surgery with him as he had a very long wait list. I trust this happened for my best interest because it was a very dangerous procedure that had a high risk of doing more nerve damage. Before and after the partial removal I had at UTSW I started to see a pelvic floor therapist 3xs a week. This was really hard for me, physically and mentally. Over the course of our meetings my therapist used biofeedback, a device with electrodes hooked to difference muscles to measure a contraction, to show me how tense my muscles were as I “rested” then we did a few stretches and I used my breath to consciously relax those muscles and the device would show that yes, my muscles had been able to relax with simple breath and movement. This was to help train my mind and body to notice how I carried stress in my body and that I had the power to release it. Near the end of our time together, my therapist recommended I try taking a yoga class to continue these types of stretches on my own.
From 2007 to this point I had gained and lost 100+lbs so the gym was nothing new to me. I thought shoooooot, I had previously been running, doing Zumba and weights, yoga would be easy. Plus it seemed like just stretching for old people ha! My only experience of yoga was my mother doing the same VHS flow in our living room every morning, I thought it was weird and totally laughed at her then. But I went to a class at Fitness Connection Garland and put my mat in the very back of the room, I turned to the lady next to me and said, “I have no clue what I’m doing, do you mind if I watch you?” Neither of us knew at that time that she would end up being my boss at Youfit and hiring me as a yoga teacher later but that’s another story of serendipity. TBH, halfway through that class I wanted to leave. I thought, “Amber, what the fuck did you get yourself into this time?!” ha! It was HARD! I was dripping sweat, I was shaking. I saw other people in the room and they looked so peaceful, I wasn’t enjoying it. Then we got to that mini naptime at the end, I was confused and looking around the room. This had never happened in any other group fitness class I had taken. My immediate reaction was to leave. I’m not burning calories or stretching anymore, class was over. But I didn’t. I left feeling great and I couldn’t really explain it. I continued going to Rodney’s yoga class every week, I looked forward to it and could feel it in my body when I missed.
I was really trying to educate myself and take my health into my own hands at this point in my life. I was reading on autoimmune disorders, specifically fibromyalgia since there had been a diagnosis of that before, and how I could support my body naturally. What foods caused inflammation and mucus in the body? My mom is a superrrrrr out there hippie who has always preached about herbs and holistic healing so I started to research down that route. The information is always there if you seek it. I also spent time connecting with other women online who had had this same surgery and learning how I could best educate and help to prevent others from going through what I had. I knew that meant I would have to speak out about this really embarrassing issue I had and it wasn't going to be easy.
This is female genital mutilation and human experimentation for big pharms financial benefit that isn’t being talked about by mainstream media because it’s owned by the same people profiting. This procedure is still being performed and pushed by doctors (who are still getting financial kickbacks for selling it as safe when there are many pending lawsuits.) Looking back and with the information I now know, I should have had a second and third opinion before surgery. I should have had urodynamics and pelvic floor therapy first. I should have done a google search of “polypropylene mesh implant” (hernia mesh is the same material.) I shouldn’t have even been a candidate for this surgery. Look, we could “should” all over ourselves all dayyyyyy but that won’t get us anywhere. I did the best for myself that I knew how at that time.
As a yoga teacher, I’ve learned that we store our emotions in our body. You cannot separate the spiritual from the physical. If you have something going on in your mind, in your life, in the spirit realm, it will manifest physically in your body. I had been storing fear, guilt, shame, trauma in my body from my childhood that was causing my original issue. My muscles were constantly tight and contracted in this area. Had I gone to pelvic floor therapy or been introduced to yoga first, I might have learned that despite hearing all the time about tightening and strengthening muscles, it is in fact beneficial and necessary to relax and soften too. Stepping out of that fight or flight mode. I use the example in my classes of receiving a massage. Have you ever received a massage and about half way through you realize you’ve been clenching your butt cheeks the whole time? Or you’re driving and you’re gripping the steering wheel with your hands, your shoulders are inching up towards your ears? We do this unconsciously all day long. This experience opened my eyes to so much truth that I might not have seen otherwise and led me to where I am now. The practice of yoga has taken away most of the pain in my body, I no longer take prescription pills, my diet has changed to less inflammatory foods so that helps too. I’m mindful of my body and ask her what she needs. The physical practice of yoga can be done anywhere, anytime. You don’t need music, a fancy studio, or expensive pants. Yoga means union or to join. The breathe to the body. The spiritual to the physical. It’s one of the very few practices that almost every doctor will recommend because every body can do yoga. I hear all the time, “I’m not flexible!” Doesn’t matter. There are different modifications you can take. Yoga meets you where you’re at and the poses are never the goal, just the vehicle.
Part 2- To Be Continued
What a time to be alive. I wish I was in quarantine on a beach. Seriously. I tried to make it out but my flights were canceled haha. I’ve said this before that some joke it’s like I have a direct line with God (psstt, I do. You do too.) but I recently asked for time to dedicate to my next project that requires some computer work and boyyyy, did I have it delivered! I have plenty of time to write and get creative with almost everything shutdown and I’ve had some things on my heart that I want to share.
Our yoga retreat last month! What an experience. This is something that was about 3 years in the making and really pushed me out of my comfort zone as a teacher. I didn’t go through a 3rd party to organize or market it, this is something I did just from connections I had made while traveling myself and wanting to support people I had met. Planning events remotely isn’t new to me, for several years I planned dozens of really large running events around the states but planning events in another country, in another language, by myself… is a completely other level. There are so many moving pieces and things that could go wrong, I felt A LOT of pressure from start to finish. Nothing about it went perfectly smooth yet everything was perfect. I had an ask of my students, friends, family and staff going on the retreat to go with the flow. I know I say this all the time but I really mean it. Yes we had an itinerary and plans but I explained that I trust whatever happens is happening FOR us and not TO us. That we are being gently guided to exactly where we were supposed to be, when we were supposed to be there. Whether that looked like a long wait, a change in dinner plans, a class time adjusted, whatever. Before we all got on the plane, I prayed with the group asking for protection over all of us, for Divine guidance, Divine timing and Divine interactions. I trusted that the retreat would go well because I put in the work. Even the factors I had no control over, the weather, the flight changes, actions of others. I had asked, through the entire planning process, for God’s help. I did my best, as The Four Agreements tells me to. It wasn’t easy, it was a big financial risk, and FUCKKKKK what would I of done if the timing of it was just two weeks later?! Nobody plans to have airports shut down, borders closed immediately around the world, orders to stay home. Yet, everything worked out exactly the way it was supposed to. Originally I wasn’t doing this retreat solo, I wanted my teacher there. That was the plan but not The Plan. I would of never done this on my own. Why? FEAR. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of not being “spiritual” enough. Fear of sucking. Fear of failing and so on. My teacher retired a few months after the launched of this retreat and let me know he couldn’t be part of it. I don’t know anyone else better at pushing me out of my comfort zone and asking me to face my fears. I’m grateful for the experience with everyone and I’m excited to plan some other destinations when things calm down. What about a yoga and surf retreat on a private beach in Ecuador? Dreamingggggg.
One thing I echoed on the retreat is the importance of getting still. EVERY SINGLE DAY. Whatever that looks like for you. You want to sit in lotus, do it. Want to lay down, sure. Eyes open or closed, IDC. Sit down, shut up, and get still. I am SO firm on this with my students. It’s like brushing your teeth. I don't want to talk to anyone before I’ve brushed my teeth in the am, I also don't want to talk to anyone until I’ve gotten still. You don't have to do 20+ minutes or even find complete silence just taking time to connect, to check in, to listen to what’s coming up. Set a timer on your phone and breathe. Anywhere, anytime. That’s it. That’s all I’m asking. It’s that simple. I prefer the morning to really set the tone for my day. When things come at me from left field or when shit feels heavy (like now!) I take several breaks a day to get still. This helps me to be able to respond rather than be reactive to situations probably out of my control. I do some life coaching and business consulting and when I meet with people my number one questions is, “How’s your daily mediation practice? “I usually get excuse after excuse of why it’s nonexistent or too hard, haven't had time. We want others to solve our problems and do things for us when really we have to take accountability too. We have to do the damn work, face the fears, do the uncomfortable, make the changes and most importantly persevere. It’s probably not going to be easy. The answers are ALWAYS in stillness. 3 minutes in stillness is going to do more for you than 3 years of a physical practice. I know it looks cool on the gram but yoga isn't about headstands and physical flexibility. Though what you learn on your mat, I encourage you to take off your mat. Real life yoga. Finding calm in the storm. Peace among chaos. Love over fear. 20/20 vision on abundance vs lack.
I want to touch on the current situation surrounding COVID-19. When I was in Yoga Teacher Training, my teacher asked us to generate an income outside of a yoga studio for our final. Some loved it, some thought it was silly because they weren’t trying to be teachers, a lot felt bad for charging for their service because they weren’t experienced. I felt all of the above. BUT, I made a post on a free networking app called Nextdoor to my neighborhood to host a donation based yoga in the park class. My first class I ended up collecting about $80 and I connected with a lady that wanted to do a series of 3 private lessons in my home that generated even more money. I knew immediately I wasn’t meant to teach in a studio. For me, it didn’t make sense to work for someone else and only make $20-45 per class if I could make more on my own working less hours. I also knew I didn’t want the responsibilities of a yoga studio myself. The model (and risk) of monthly memberships vs rent for a brick and mortar space in DFW didn’t really sound profitable, plus the finances were not available to me at the time. Over the last three years I’ve built the 721 Yoga brand myself, and I’ve built it somewhat rebelliously without Yoga Alliance. You probably haven’t heard of Yoga Alliance but it is a governing body of yoga in the United States for the last 30 or so years. I never registered with the program after my teacher certification (though I could have and still can,) because I didn’t see the value in it and they ban certain verbiage like using the word “healing” when talking about yoga. For me, I can’t separate the two. Yoga Alliance is marketed as a nonprofit database to list teachers to get gigs easier and you have the option to buy liability insurance with them. They require you to pay every year to stay registered as well as log your hours of teaching and continued education. Most yoga studios hire only teachers who are registered unless you have experience. Note, the difference between registered yoga teacher and certified yoga teacher- really just letters after your title that don’t mean much to anyone outside of the yoga community who otherwise just know you as a yoga teacher. Some of the most notable teachers from around the world are not certified with YA and actually feel strongly against it since there's no governing body within them to enforce their regulations or monitor that schools and teachers are continually meeting standards. I encourage all my teacher friends to research it before registering. I’ve never needed it and found insurance independently. This past week when YA asked that yoga studios nationwide shut down to slow the spread of COVID-19, I saw so many of my friends and teachers scrambling to figure out how they were going to make money if they couldn’t teach at studios. I sat in stillness with gratitude for my teacher who really prepared me for this. Who encouraged me to think outside of the box. I’m so excited to see studios turning virtual overnight, teachers going live on Facebook and Instagram, we are seeing our industry evolve. Praising lululemon who held me accountable to my goals and building the 721 Yoga virtual studio last year so I’m not scrambling trying to figure our how to do it now. I’m thankful to rent space in a doctor’s office and not a studio or a gym because we are still open. I’m also thankful for my clients I see privately on a regular basis in my home or theirs. Though I am feeling a strain as business slows in the events industry, as we all are adjusting and taking things day by day, I’m in a good place. I’m using my extra free time to build what’s next in my business and to continue to chase my goals… including being engaged… and a beach. Ugh, I wish I was on a beach frfr. Now is the time to use your imagination on purpose, think outside of the box. We can not stop the waves of life from barreling us down, shift keeps happening and it feels a bit scary. How can you roll with this? Evolve. What's next for you? How can I help you? We are in this collectively and we are not being led by fear.
With all my love,
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said I’m going to sit down and write and couldn’t. I would start and erase it, thinking it wasn’t good enough to share, that nobody cared or that I was complaining too much. I think it’s really challenging to share things as you’re experiencing them. It’s easier to say you’ve gone through something hard and here’s how you fearlessly faced it and this was the outcome and lesson. It takes being super vulnerable to be open and remain open. I started this blog as a way to be engaged with my students more. To share a bit deeper than the small talk before and after class. I never wanted to be someone people looked up to. Especially in yoga! I’m actually pretty shy and quiet, though my friends would say otherwise… I think I overcompensate sometimes ha. People look at Yoga Teachers like they’re all Zen, Namaste, pooping rainbows and glitter every day. They float into class without a care in the world, maybe posting inspirational bs on social media accompanied by pictures in unrealistic poses. That’s not the case, I promise. I think it’s really important to break any stereotype that teachers have to be some type of way. Every day I get to practice what I preach. When you know better, it's your obligation to do better. The last few months I’ve been reminded of some great things as I faced seemingly endless challenges. I’ve had to be fearless in the pursuit of what sets my soul on fire. Trusting that the Universe will provide because there’s an abundance, right?!? And getting REAL specific on what it is that I want. Remembering if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hard no! The answers are in stillness. Trusting that voice that comes up, even when it doesn’t make sense at the time or sounds scary or really is just not what you wanted; listening. Coming from a place of Love. Even when someone crosses you sideways and you’re ready to go 0-100, real quick…real f’ing quick. Pausing. Taking in a few yoga breaths. Knowing that they’re reflecting some kind of pain they’re experiencing your direction and going back to The Four Agreements, you can’t take anything personally. Whew, it’s a practice. Every.Damn.Day. The last few months have really felt like a full circle of events for me (finding myself working in the running community again, my first love) and a closing of some chapters (my teacher, Joseph Stingley, retiring.) I’ve wanted to run away and have someone save me but at the end of the day, I’m forced to grow. Embracing the sway that happens… (Thanks, Eli!) I didn’t get where I am because things worked out according to plan. Life got really messy and I felt suffocated at times. Like I wouldn’t make it through the day with the pain I was feeling. Things felt like they were falling apart, and still do some days! I’ve seen miracles and trust I will continue. Someone jokingly said that it’s like I have a direct line with God and my prayers. It’s true though. I pray with purpose and I get real specific. I also am very mindful with my words. I use to say all the time that my life was a hot mess, putting that vibration out there. I’m telling you, your words are spells. What are you speaking into existence? When you are open and vulnerable, you allow others to be.
As we near the end of the year, I invite you to revisit your word of the year for 2019. How did it show up for you? I asked someone the other day at lunch what their word of the year was after listening to their recent challenges. Warrior. And this is what the challenges were making her. She laughed and saw where I was going. I asked to be engaged and gave it a few areas I’d like to see it manifest. I asked to be engaged with my students more, Universe said I got you. I roll deep with my yoga sisters too, no mean girls in this squad. I asked to be engaged in uncomfortable and sometimes controversial conversations... the Universe said here are these opportunities for you to uncomfortably speak YOUR truth. I asked to be engaged with a partner in life, the Universe said you have to leave the house haha. What's next for 2020? Your goals? Your word of the year? Let's get some vision boards going and maybe some sound baths with my friend Kenny before we wrap this year up. See you soon!
It’s been almost 6 weeks since I quit my job at lululemon, my comfortable and fairly easy full-time job with benefits, to commit more time to 721. That ‘What have I done?!’ feeling is justttttt starting to kick in, ha! lulu was exactly what I needed when I needed it, seriously but I’m happy to have a bit of my time back. I’ve been able to engage more with my students too which was a goal of mine this year. What I’m about to say might shock you. lululemon was my first full-time job, like ever. I know! I’ve been a serial entrepreneur working mostly remotely from home so this was a huge adjustment for me over the last 1.5 years. What a blessing in disguise. I had no idea how much I would need lululemon when I applied for a seasonal part-time gig that I thought would just be a good opportunity to market myself in the yoga community and get a discount on clothes. It ended up becoming so.much.more.
Everything happens for a reason, right? I had never been in lulu before. I walked into the NorthPark store to ask for an in-kind sponsorship of reusable bags for an event I was hosting and had started following their page on Facebook to give them a shoutout. I saw they were hiring for seasonal work and there was an upcoming group interview over a game of sand volleyball so I decided to check it out. It was super fun and a great experience. I ended up getting offered a position and was set to start the following week! Then, just like THAT, my world was completely turned upside down. My dad unexpectedly passed. We were incredibly close. Being the warrior (or weirdo?) I am, I decided to still start work. I sat there in a group training, the day after my dad died. Trying to hold everything together and not cry in front of them, I had barely got out of bed that day. I should of known during my interview when I was asked what my spirit animal was (spoiler- it’s a seahorse lol) that the training wouldn’t be conventional either. Had I of known what the day consisted of, I 110% wouldn’t of gone. I assumed I would be learning how to work a cash register since I had never worked retail and Black Friday was my first scheduled shift. Nope. Instead? We did a meditation, journaled and wrote down 1/5/10 year visions and goals. Yup, how did I find myself here?! Haha! What kind of company was this?? As much as it hurt, and I didn’t want to imagine my life without my dad, I knew I needed to take time to figure out what I wanted and where I saw myself now. My life was about to look very different. What started out as a part-time job turned to a full-time family and support system during a super emotional transition. My dad didn’t just unexpectedly pass, he passed without a will so it was a long and drawn out process. On days when I felt like I couldn’t give any energy out, I was forced to get out of bed, even if it was just to go fold stretchy pants. It got me up. It got me out of the house and around positive and healthy people. Something I probably needed that first year for sure. lulu held me accountable for setting and working towards goals, something I had never really done and they paid for me to take several workshops and classes that have added tools to my toolbox and have really benefited me personally, physically and mentally along with helping to grow my business.
Reflecting back, life handed me lemons during this time for real. Just off the top of my head- my dad passed and I spent months in lawsuits with family, I took on my first full-time job, I ended a fairly serious relationship with my boyfriend, my car was hit and totaled by a drunk driver, and I sold our house and moved into an apartment. All while running a business and being a mom. Thank God for my yoga practice! I know I can’t control everything going on, the good, bad, messy and painful things life throws my direction sometimes but I can control my reaction towards them. Knowing that everything is really happening for me and not to me is key. I’m thankful for my lemons. Seriously. I’ve grown so much with each experience. Every one of them pushing me to be exactly where I’m supposed to be right now.
Each day I take a few moments to get still, to unplug, connect with my breath, check in with myself and listen to what’s coming up. Multiple times a day. I also take time to journal. I write about whatever comes up, sometimes that’s just a few words other times I get very specific. This is such a simple yet powerful practice. Last year my car kept leaving us hanging. It had been a great vehicle but had over 200k miles and was falling apart faster than I could fix it. I wasn’t sure what to do, I knew I didn’t want car payments but didn’t have the funds available at that time to pay cash for a new car. Instead of focusing my attention on not having money for a car, I started journaling what kind of car I wanted. I did a visual meditation where I saw the car, specifically what kind and what color and I imagined it sitting in my driveway. It even had a big bow on it too haha! Four days after starting to journal about this, my car was hit and totaled by a drunk driver. It couldn’t of happened any better way. My daughter wasn’t in the car, I didn’t see him coming, nobody was seriously injured, he had insurance, it was the biggest blessing! I remember the day it happened someone asked me what kind of car I wanted, I started to hesitate and say I wasn’t sure, that I needed to wait and see how much insurance paid out (living in fear/doubt) but I quickly changed my response to, “I’m getting a black Ford Edge.” I put that very specific vibration out because I had already taken the time to figure out what it was that I wanted. I already saw it sitting in my driveway. And three weeks later, I went to a dealership by myself and looked at only one car. A used, black Ford Edge that I paid cash for and ugly cried as I drove it home, thanking God, the Universe, my angels, and my dad for all transpiring together to help me. I wasn’t asking for anything crazy, I needed reliable and safe transportation for my daughter and I and I asked very specifically for it. Driving home I heard my dad tell me, “Happy Birthday, baby girl.” And at that moment I realized why when I saw the car in my driveway during meditation, it had a bow on it.
I tell you this as an example. To encourage you to take time to figure out what it is you want. Write it down. Get specific on details! Do a meditation where you visualize these things. What does your ideal job look like? Relationship? Home? What does it feel like? Sit with it. Revisit your journaling, remind yourself to stay focused. In tune with the vibration of what you want. Make a vision board and hang it somewhere you’ll see it regularly. Don’t just reach for the stars when there are realms far beyond. Living in fear is an easy default, having faith takes courage. Use your faith on purpose. Live in practice. Do the work. If you need some motivation, reach out!
One thing I love about teaching yoga is that I am always a student. Every time I tell my students to stay with their breath, to stay present, that it's okay to be pushed out of their comfort zone, whatever, I am again telling myself. Reminding myself. Every time a student comes to me and asks recommendations for anything from deodorant to face wash, it makes me do a self-inquiry too. Am I being mindful in those areas of my life? Where can I improve? To follow up on my last blog post and my word of the year, engaged, I wanted to share some information on oil pulling and Sargassum.
I, like most Americans, didn't have dental insurance for a really long time, I went years without going to the dentist and if I needed treatment, it was done in Mexico due to the significant difference in cost. I had mentioned this to my teacher, Joseph Stingley, and he asked me to research oil pulling. Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurveda (the traditional medicine system from India) practice of swishing oil in your mouth like mouthwash every morning. I put a tablespoon of coconut oil in my mouth while I'm showering and split it in the trashcan after about 15 minutes. This is believed to kill bacteria, prevent cavities & gingivitis, help with bad breath, whiten teeth and detoxify the body. After, I brush my teeth with a charcoal toothpaste, then dip my toothbrush in baking soda and brush my teeth again with the paste, and finally I floss my teeth...sometimes up to 3x a day. I've talked about oil pulling already with a few students, I know it's a challenge to get used to at first but it's something I've practiced for a few years now and I've seen benefits. Last week, my daughter and I went to the dentist for a check up/cleaning and neither of us had cavities! The Dr. said keep doing what you're doing. I know every body is different but I wanted to share so you can do your own research. Most of the time when I mention oil pulling to someone, they have never heard of it.
Next I want to talk to you about Sargassum Seaweed and I'll tie the two together. You probably haven't heard of Sargassum, it isn't something new but for the last few years we have seen a significant bloom of this algae that is washing up on the coastlines from Cancun all the way down to Belize in record setting numbers. I'm talking about COVERING beaches! It's something I saw last July when I was down in Tulum and it really broke my heart. The hotels, restaurants, volunteers were endlessly trying to manually clean the beach, except that only resulted in HUGE piles of rotting, stinky, toxic seaweed with nowhere to go and new mats of seaweed washing in daily. You can imagine the negative impact this has on tourism, and their economy. At first I wanted to make a Facebook post about it, sharing pictures of what I had seen but then I thought of all my friends there. That make a living on tourism. I didn't want to hurt their business so I didn't post about it. Instead, I organized a yoga retreat to take some of my students and teacher to the place I love, that is being impacted and I educated them along the way. I talked to them about the importance of being mindful of what we wear in the water, what lotions and sunscreen we are putting on our skin, carrying a reusable water bottle and taking note that no restaurants there have plastic straws and don't really hand out single use plastics. Why is Mexico, a third world country, serving agave straws at restaurants and here in the United States we are serving plastic? It is because they are seeing first hand the impact of global warming. The sargassum is thriving in growth due to warming water temperatures and run off nutrients like fertilizers and feces. All of our waste here in the States running off into waterways, finding their way to the Mississippi River and into the Gulf. Yes, we have a responsibility in this. As these large blooms of seaweed wash in, it creates an extreme lack of oxygen in the water that is contributing to killing off the reef and marine life. Using heavy machinery to remove these piles on the shore will erode the beach and disturb the endangered sea turtle nests so clean up has to be done by hand. Sadly, there's just too much to do this by hand. The government tried to put barriers out at sea to prevent it from washing ashore but efforts failed. Business are suffering but most importantly our Mother Earth is trying to tell us something. We NEED to change. We HAVE to make a change.
Honoring our Mother all day, every day. When each of us do something small, it can add up collectively to something pretty significant. As I thought about writing a blog on oil pulling, it again made me do a self-inquiry. I'm trying to teach my students something, but in turn you have again made me grow. I noticed that yes my dental health is on point but also that I'm using plastic toothbrushes and A LOT of single use flossers. I need to change, I need to do better. I am not perfect but I will do better. I invite you to implement small changes too so collectively we can make a difference.
Where can you be more mindful in your single use plastics? What are some alternatives that you can share with me for toothbrushes and floss? I've included two really good, short videos below. I ask that you take the time to educate yourself on this global issue and mindful tourism. Where can you honor y(our) Mother (better) all day, every day?
7 Minute Video - Sargassum explained by George Buckley, Harvard University
Oh hey, new blog.. who this?! I've gone back and forth with the thought of a blog but honestly felt I didn't have the time to write. However, I really wish I didn't have social media but I know I need to stay connected and I have a lot to say... so much so that it never ends up fitting on social media so I end up just not posting. I figured a blog would be a good outlet, I don't promise it to be professional and flawless, pretty raw actually and probably not consistent. This is my way of staying engaged with my students, especially for those who aren't on IG or FB.
What is going on in my world? I’ve been a bit quiet lately but I wanted to share a few things that I’ve been up to. I’ll start with my word of the year and goals, did you make yours? If so, please share! This year I want to become fluent in Spanish. My Spanish is meh but not great. I need it to be great so I’ve committed to using Duolingo daily & lessons with one of my students (which I haven’t been successful with YET lol but Miles is holding me accountable every time she sees me on my phone and not on Duolingo.) So if you speak Spanish, make me practice when you see me! My word of the year is engaged. Yessssss, engaged! Engaged with a partner in life, engaged with my students more, engaged in uncomfortable convos and using my voice. I’ve been in the process of moving and selling our home. Super emotional for me, trying to tie up everything after my dads death 16 months ago, but we finally moved into our new pad and we LOVE it. Stop by and bring your fav plant! #plantmom Part of being more engaged with my students, I want to have some post yoga pool parties after my MW morning classes this summer! Ready to hang with my friends and catch some sun! I’ve also been working toward getting my Thai Yoga (Massage) setup and going, I know everyone’s ready for that! You can catch me leading a Massage Jam during the Soul Motivation 200hr YTT, still time to register! Maybe colab with my friend Kenny on some Gong events? Another retreat? A few ideas are being thrown around! How will I engage in uncomfortable and maybe controversial convo in 2019? From a place of Love and not fear. Sometimes I worry about what others will think. I fear their reaction to me speaking my truth so I stay quiet. Especially when it comes to holistic healing and medicine because everyyyyyyone has an opinion and we’ve been taught to listen to our western taught doctors instead of our bodies. I’ve shared some pretty “out there” things I do with my students. I share about skin brushing, oil pulling, I talk about plant based and alkaline diets, herbs like sea moss and bladderwrack and other plant medicines. I always encourage people to do their own research, every body is different, but I like to plant those seeds of holistic healing that have worked for me or that I’ve tried. Something I recently tried was Kambo. Anyone heard of this? Comment below because my friends think I’m weeeeeirddd haha. It’s a medicine I’ve read about for a few years now and I finally tried. Traditionally used in tribes before hunting to increase senses like vision, hearing, intuition, decalcify your third eye, clear chakras, it's also been used for pain relief from fibromyalgia and to support immune health. I had been seeking it for physical, emotional and energetic healing. It’s often used with rapeh and sananga. The whole process was intense for sure (imagine battery acid being poured in your eyes and lasting for a solid 5 minutes, your skin being burned for the medicine to enter the blood stream, purging... with the possibility of pooping yourself lol then habanaro chili pepper being blown in your nose to finish it off.) but my lovely new friend, Angela, made it such a great experience. I look forward to working with her more! Research it. Maybe we get a group together to go see her?!
Share your thoughts on this, the blog, your goals for 2019 and word of the year. Keep that daily meditation game strong, fam.