Sometimes when things feel hectic, wild, and crazy, you just gotta step outside and look up. It can be that simple, where fresh air and palm trees is all you need.
Take a mindful moment.
Leave the stresses, give your mind and body a true break. And then go back as you were with a refreshed perspective. One that is less inclined to have a knee jerk reaction. Where you will also be more thoughtful in your work and interactions.
Physically, your breath rate will decrease and it might even feel like you've removed a weighted vest. Cognitively, your thinking will be clearer. Emotionally, your mood will be lifted. Spirits? Well, those will feel restored. And how about that once impossible to solve problem? It will now feel possible.
Who should practice mindfulness?
We all benefit from mindfulness. It’s no longer just for the yogis, this is for corporate executives, bankers, athletes, store clerks, scientists, surgeons, your mother, your brother, this is human work.
When we approach our lives holistically from an open mind perspective, the world truly shifts around us. No matter one’s background, we are drawn to grounded individuals. And we are grounded when we are mindful.
I’ve experienced firsthand the personal growth that follows this adoption of a mindfulness practice. My introduction to this way of conscious living was in an academic course at Skidmore College. We practiced yoga, mindful eating, walking meditations, and so on. In any case, it was my very first introduction to the practice of being intentional in the way I live.
What followed was years of working in the hospital and academic research world, many years of yoga practice and teaching, and more schooling than any one person should ever go through. I’ve learned a lot about the body and brain, and the way they work together.
And as complex as my research work can be, one simple truth is that we can all implement effective mindfulness practices, right now.
1. Step outside, look up. 2. Hold that image in your mind. 3. Take several deep breaths.
Taken together, the sunlight or starlit sky, the breaths, the fresh air, the pause in your routine, will calm down your nervous system, your mind and body. Even if you can’t pause and step outside, hold an image in your mind. Make the vision as complete as you can, imagining all the sensations of the moment. Breathe into it.
In a time where we are all cooped up inside, this simple break is even more impactful. I love the work of my friends at Yoga Ed., who bring these practices to life in an accessible way for children.
I shudder to think about the unknown impacts from shelter in place orders and virtual classrooms. I know we are all doing our best, but let’s be better. Implement a mindful moment in your day.
The fall semester begins next Monday, I am teaching academic courses and I will definitely be implementing some mindfulness practices in teaching.
Personally, I crave those mindful moments. My husband is always joking with me about how I enjoy silence. Don't get me wrong, I love music, but I need pockets of silence in my day too.
Chaos breeds opportunity. Cheers to the year 2020, and the growth mindset mentality.
I am out of my academic conference bubble, with a very unconventional piece for you today. Well, sort of, in content yes, but in the thesis of my message no.
Be your best, now.
This should always be what we are striving for, but COVID-19 has reinforced this message more than ever.
As a public health professional, I feel it's my duty to share some information with you. It seems like a massive public health oversight that known behaviors to promote a healthy immune system aren’t being discussed. We are bombarded with only disempowering news. Day in and day out, we hear COVID is on the rise, no vaccine is ready yet, more deaths due to COVID, and yet no where in the flood of negativity is there a positive takeaway.
And yes, a positive thread of news shouldn't simply be included for mood and morale balancing purposes, but there are actual steps we could all take today to improve our overall health. COVID aside there are behaviors that foster a strong immune system. These practices are even more important right now, considering that we are all living through a pandemic.
What does the data say?
The evidence is more and more tipping towards the second theory of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality, which is the ‘immunologic collapse’ of the host’s protective system, or the failure to control unrestrained viral replication and dissemination with direct host cytotoxicity. Support for this theory emerged based upon observed progressive and profound lymphopenia (I will explain below, keep reading), often to numbers seen in AIDS.
What are these terms? Lymphocytes?
White blood cells are an important part of the body's defense system. They fight infections and play a role in inflammation, as well as in allergic reactions. Lymphocytes exist in both the blood and the lymphatic system.
There are three different types:
B lymphocytes (B cells) produce antibodies.
T lymphocytes (T cells) recognize foreign substances and process them for removal.
Natural killer cells (NK cells) directly attack and kill abnormal cells such as cancer cells or viruses.
What is lymphopenia?
This is a reduced amount of white blood cells in your blood. During an infection, such as COVID-19, white blood cells attack, attach to, and help induce the production and secretion of chemicals that help fight the virus. An important pathogenic mechanism of COVID-19 is impaired immune competence.
Considering the recently published data on COVID-19 and the immune system, shouldn’t we be reading about ways to proactively bolster our immune systems? The reality is we may get COVID. Hopefully not, but if we do, we all want to beat it, right? We want our body to be in peak form, so we have the ability to fight the virus, right?
Immune System Strengthening 101:
1. Get enough sleep.
2. In the words of Michael Pollen, “eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Personally, I eat a lot. It is all veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, legumes, etc. If you splurge on non-plant foods, follow the ‘not too much’ rule of thumb.
3. Drink water, a lot of it, often, and especially first thing in the morning.
4. Exercise. Light to moderate exercise seems to do the trick.
5. Related to #4, stand up every hour. We are all on Zoom every day, which makes it easy to stay seated and not move. Be sure to get up and walk around every hour, do 30-seconds of squats or push-ups, or if all you can do in the moment is stand, stand! Avoid sedentary behavior, standing up will help move lymph, facilitate blood flow and muscle contraction.
6. Get your vitamin D. There is already evidence associating optimal vitamin D levels to better COVID outcomes. We need vitamin D, always, but especially right now.
7. Calm the nervous system. Practice yoga, meditate, sit quietly, journal, etc.
8. I am not a huge supplement advocate, but it is a good time to take a multivitamin, just in case you are missing something from your diet.
My thesis also happens to be my life mantra: be your best, now. Love yourself like you love your family and friends. I can help with a few items on the list above, if you want to join me “live” tomorrow for my Sunday Yoga Flow, I would LOVE to see you!
P.S. email me for the recent publications on this topic.
Happy August, oh my, we have made it so far in this quarantine struggle. I hope you are staying healthy, happy, and are making the most of this time. True story I have about 1,000 blog post ideas these days from muscle cramping to the benefits of downdog for shoulder health to the benefits of apple cider vinegar for overall health, but most of my time is spent hunkering down and writing all about the brain for my dissertation.
In my Goal Chaser Series this Summer, one of my students asked me what my goals were, and truthfully, they are all academic this year.
Mission: write the damn dissertation, publish, and graduate!
In other news, I am presenting next week at the American Society of Biomechanics Annual Meeting. The conference was supposed to be in Atlanta, GA but it is now virtual, thanks COVID-19. I am really excited to attend, and even more thrilled to present.
I am presenting my work on a processing paper I’ve written with some colleagues. It is actually quite technical. Initially, I thought it was beyond the scope of my knowledge, but I am grateful that I challenged myself to learn the intricacies of processing.
Here is the gist: I processed the biomechanical outputs of two of the “hottest” variables (knee adduction moment and dynamic knee varus angle) on the same nine patients in four different ways. One of the processing methods yields wildly different outcomes compared to the other three. Clinically, this is confusing.
Why should anyone care, you say?
The paper speaks to the need for authors to specify their data processing methodology, because processed one way it would appear the surgery was a huge failure; however, processed the other three ways it appears the surgery was an immediate and long term success. Because with total knee arthroplasty, clinical decisions are made based on the outcomes of biomechanical analyses, it is actually some important work!
Don't researchers always think their work is important though?
Don't worry, I am not oblivious to this truth. Needless to say, my mind is deeply steeped in the research world right now, I will let you know how the presentation goes! In the meantime, I am still recording yoga classes, but have run into a minor YouTube upload hiccup. If any tech readers want to lend a hand, I am all ears! Hopefully, I have more classes for you soon! It has been fun hearing from those of you who have taken my online classes! I definitely recommend the Foundations Yoga Class for beginners! I will include the link below.
As always, if you would like to join me “live” tomorrow for my Sunday Yoga Flow, I would LOVE to see you! It is seriously the best start to the week, sweating out all the worries on the yoga mat. Looking forward to tomorrow's big exhale.
P.S. this is a photo of me with all of our 31 retroreflective markers on as we were going to collect some pilot data.
Happy Saturday! Admittedly, my academic year has already taken ahold of my schedule. With it, I feel a lot of stress to get things done. I know I am in good company with these feelings. Which is why I wanted to reach out to you and share what I do to spark productivity and maintain happiness in busy/hectic times, enter my non-negotiables list. That's right, my tip is to make a list. Figure out what it is you need in your day in order to live into the best version of yourself.
I have a few non-negotiables, that I know I need in my day. I fit them in, no excuses, as it is better for myself and all of those around me!
Here is my non-negotiables list:
1) morning oil pulling - once you start, you can't go back. it feels so clean and rejuvenating. ultimate reset. 2) journaling - anything, free flow, check in, let it out, inspire yourself. 3) coffee - need I say more? sometimes I do hot chocolate (yes, even in Hawaii). 4) healthy food/plenty of water - all the fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, I eat a lot. 5) vitamin D from sunlight - enter endorphins, energy, essential vitamins, circadian rhythm reset. 6) outdoor running - cardiorespiratory health, fresh air, and that vitamin D (again). 7) yoga - moving my body every day of this life, because I want to maintain my ROM and feel good, always. I also like to get that lymph flowing, blood flowing, and again, endorphins. 8) standing up every hour - typically included - 30-60 seconds of squats (true story, even at 11pm. last stand hour of the day, you get me?). 9) time with my Derek - this one, is so important. I love him dearly, but we are both busy people. we are better together, and quality time with him makes me better, period. 10) quiet time with candles - is there anything quite like a dimly lit room with a delicious smelling candle? just the imagery of this brings me inspired peace. 11) reading in bed - generally reading everything these days, I ended up purchasing kindle unlimited over quarantine.
These are my resets, this is what I need.
While I didn't intend to make this list in the chronological order of how my non-negotiables fall in my day, it ended up following the actual order. To be clear, I know I will be okay, if one of these 11 items doesn't happen. However, I generally hit all of these in a day, or at least try to. One day per week, I don't run, but I usually have to push myself not to run!
I've communicated this list to my husband, he knows this list as well. Which is helpful, because he can check in with me when I've been sitting at my computer all day and say, 'hey, did you get outside yet?'
Different from the "shift-list"
In the goal chaser series I lead, I have the students make a "shift-list" - they write out effective ways in which they can shift back into living their values. We all go 'below the line' at times, meaning we lose sight of our values in a moment (ie being short with someone) and we are reactive. It might be that we are thirsty, tired, in need of alone time, you name it.
Write your own non-negotiables list - you are that important.
Shift-list aside, I am suggesting that you write a list of non-negotiables. In other words, this is not the list to get you to shift when you need to be pulled back above the line, but rather, this is a list of your essentials. You want to check these boxes everyday - they are preventative. Your list will help you stay restored. Make your own list, because each of us will have different items.
The older I get, the more effective this list has become. It's a really helpful tool, a non-negotiables list. A composed list signifies that you know, and love yourself enough, to honor what you simply need in order to show up fully in a moment, again and again. I hope you can make a list that has you jumping out of bed in the morning, for real!
I would love to hear from you! Feel free to reply to this email and share some of your non-negotiables with me.
Everyone loves a twisting class. I want to share some thoughts on the practice of twisting with you. I definitely don’t want to make baseless claims that lack scientific evidence, but for teachers and students alike it is always an interesting practice between trusting what you feel in your body over what the Western medical evidence for yoga benefits might reveal. There is a major lack of research in this area, at least on a larger scale. I studied yoga benefits in grad school but only for a small cohort of around 30 yogis.
Let’s dive deeper into the topic of twists: the alignment, benefits, contraindications, and myths.
What is physically happening in a twist? The action of twisting, rotates the spine and helps to stretch the muscles throughout the back body. A safe twisting practice will help to restore the spine’s natural range of motion. If we don’t continue to practice finding our spine’s natural range of motion, we could, not surprisingly, lose some of that mobility, our joints may harden or even fuse. The supportive muscles around the spine can also become shortened, however, if we practice daily twists we can hopefully maintain full mobility and function.
There are some really important fundamentals of twisting, and the most important is the action of lengthening the spine before adding any physical rotation or twist. The inhale breath coincides with the action of lengthening so as to create space between the vertebrae. When there is little space or length between vertebrae the spine may slump or have a pinching sensation. Additionally, the sushumna nadis lies along the spine, our major channel of energy flow, through all 7-chakras or our "bulbs" of energy. If there is a stop in the flow of our energy, it’s no bueno for our state of mind, we might feel our energy levels drop, or even our mood. A twist on your yoga mat will help you lengthen your spine and eventually create space between the bones, so that our energy can flow more efficiently through our sushumna nadis. The immediate benefit from a twist is energy as we safely lift and decompress the vertebrae.
I love to sequence twists throughout a yoga practice, but especially at the end of a more focused class, such as a workshop on back-bending or forward folds. Twists are neutralizing postures, as they engage your core, abdominals, obliques, and the synergistic muscles that support different movements of your spine, shoulders, pelvis, and neck. Twists are a whole body effort. Be very wary if you enter a twist without a long spine and or without steady breathing, it means that something is off.
Now for the piece I really want to cover, do twists really aid in digestion? You’ve probably heard in class after class, twists are “detoxifying,” “great for digestion,” “cleaning your insides,” or maybe even “wringing out your internal organs,” etc. Before or after a big food holiday, such as Thanksgiving, you will definitely see a twisting class up on the schedule. What do all of these claims actually mean? And are they claims or truth? Twists create movement through our torso, including, in and around our organs, so they do help speed things up in terms of digestion by encouraging our food along.
BKS Iyengar believed that twists are detoxifying because of the squeeze and soak action. The organs of detoxification and elimination are compressed pushing out old blood, when we release the twist fresh blood can flow in. This is widely accepted in the yoga world, but like many things in life, there is some healthy debate on this topic.
Others suggest that the concept of the ‘squeeze and soak’ action is not that accurate. “Twists do affect our mobility (movement of organs in relation to each other) and our motility (movement within an organ). However a number of factors are involved in stimulation of our organs” (Yoga Anatomy, Matthews).
It would be safe to say that twists help stimulate circulation to our organs, including our organs of elimination, which in turn can help stimulate our metabolism and rate of excretion.
Perhaps twists aren’t literally “wringing out the internal organs” just as in a backbends aren’t literally “opening your heart” but there is a grain of truth to both metaphors as we certainly feel energetic releases to the organs of that particular area and they can be helpful guiding metaphors for us on our mats, to deeply connect to the posture and its intention.
I usually start off every class by asking my students if they have any requests, and one of my students always says, “well, you know I am pro-twists, as always!” (I adore her). After a long day at the office, sitting, traveling, just living, here are some good reasons to insert twists into your daily life. Twists stimulate circulation, they create heat, release tension in the muscles of the spine, abdomen and rib cage which has a carryover effect of helping the other systems in the body work effectively.
There are countless twisting postures and they could be seated, standing, or supine. A supine twist stabilizes the upper body, therefore allowing the twist to happen through the lower spine by rotating the pelvis and legs. Be sure to draw your belly in and keep both shoulders grounded. In a seated or standing twist we must both ground ourselves and lengthen through the spine, draw your belly up and in so as to stabilize the pelvis and low back. If seated root down through the sitting bones and if your back rounds, prop yourself up onto a bolster, blanket, or block to maintain the natural length and curvature of your spine before adding in a twist.
Both students and teachers should be aware that different parts of the spine have different ranges of mobility. Knowing this takes some self-imposed pressure off of yourself that you “should be” somewhere you are not or quite frankly somewhere you will never be. Your body will tell you where you need to be, but if that isn’t good enough, know that anatomically your spine will have varying degrees of mobility. The lumbar spine rotates only about 5 degrees, the thoracic spine rotates about 35 degrees, and the cervical spine rotates about 50 degrees. Practice very mindfully, and work the whole spine into your twist, with all of its degrees of mobility, be patient and kind to yourself. Start with the low body, and work your way on up, allow your neck to twist very last.
If your body is restricting a movement, don’t force it, breathe, be present, listen to your body’s wisdom and adapt your posture.
There is also some debate about what is going on in the pelvis and hips in your twist. Some yoga instructors will say the hips should be completely level or if seated, that the sitting bones should be completely fixed to the floor in a twist. This would make for a deeper twist in the more mobile areas of the spine, ie thoracic. However, if you are doing this rather than just engage your quads, you must really draw the thigh bones into the hip sockets. Because the other school of thought is that it is easier on the SI joint to let the opposite hip to the side you are twisting lift slightly, and this is a much more natural movement for the body. As you know, hips are not only the largest joint, but it is a big area of injury for yogis. Twists are contraindicated if you are pregnant! Skip the twisting portion of class if you are pregnant. There are other modifications you can take if you are a mama-to-be!
If you are in a twist, aligned well, comfortable through the hips, shoulders, etc., you might be ready to deepen your expression with a bind. Twists open the back, shoulders, and chest nicely. Let’s cover binding on another day. Let your takeaways today be: listen to your body, breathe, lengthen through your spine before adding any rotations, and stay present.
Spotlight Series Guest #1 - Leana Marshall, yoga instructor extraordinaire
1) If you can recall it, what is your memory of your first yoga practice?
My memory of my first yoga class was in Jackson, MS. It was a little locally owned yoga studio called Joyflow Yoga. I was terrified when I walked in. I remember when I walked in I got so many looks and stares. It made me so uncomfortable, but I went in with my yoga mat and was ready for class.
2) What brought you to the mat?
I was introduced to yoga by my doctor. I was in a car accident and I injured my neck and back. After lots of therapy, pain medications, many doctor visits, I went and searched for a holistic doctor. When I went to see him I was really sad and depressed because I was in so much pain. After seeing him a few times, he suggested I try yoga. I was very apprehensive about it. I honestly thought yoga was for white people and that it wasn't something POC (People of Color) did.
3) How did you feel before and after class?
When I walked in I was immediately intimidated. I didn't feel welcomed. I was nervous. Of course I was the only POC, but I ended up staying anyway. I could see people looking at me and watching my every move in class. It's almost like their stares were burning my skin. It was crazy. However, I didn't allow that to stop me. I enjoyed how warm the class was and I enjoyed the sweat and challenge of the class. It was hard but I refused to give up. After class I was exhausted but my mind and body felt great.
4) How often do you practice yoga? And what currently brings you to the yoga mat?
Pre COVID-19 I was practicing at least 3-4 times a week with other exercise in between. I do my best to get on my mat at least 1-2 times a week at this moment in my life. Currently, when I need a mental break from everything going on in the world, I get on my mat. Life is so heavy right now especially for POC. Yoga helps.
5) As a black female, how has yoga fit into your life?
In the past, prior to me diving into yoga principles on my own, I didn't really understand the spiritual practice of yoga. I was treated poorly in many yoga studios but I would always just sweep it under the rug and pretend my feelings weren't hurt.
Whew....now that my mind is stronger (thank God for growth) I always try to treat people as I want to be treated even if they are being an asshole to me. I will continue to be nice and kind and that's where the yoga practice comes in handy!
Mentally, yoga is so great for mental health. When I am feeling down and anxious, I do my best to try and get on my mat.
I truly enjoy the physical practice of yoga and how it makes my body feel after a great class.
6) As a proud advocate for LGBTQ+ community, in what ways has your yoga practice intersected with this mission?
The LGBTQIA community means so much to me. Often times, it's so hard for members of this community to feel welcomed in yoga spaces. As a member of the community myself, I always try to create spaces where everyone feels welcomed and included. This (and other reasons) is why I am such an advocate for inclusivity.
7) What role has yoga played for you in stress management?
Normally when I am feeling stressed out or overwhelmed, I know it's time to get on my mat. Yoga plays a huge role in helping me manage my stress, PTSD, and anxiety.
8) Besides being a mover and a shaker on the yoga mat and in the world, what hobbies do you have?
I love to do other workouts outside of yoga. I enjoy taking my mini poodle Bailey on long walks. I love being with my family and friends. I am enrolling myself into a Doula program this summer. (This should be exciting!)
9) How does yoga play a role in the way you show up off the mat?
Yoga plays an imperative role in ways I show up on and off my mat. There have been many instances in which I could have gotten so upset and angry about many situations that I have been in. But I always remember my yoga practice. (Not so much the physical but the spiritual practice). Always remembering the yamas and niyamas and how I can apply those principles to my everyday life.
Let’s face it, over this pandemic we have all succumbed to online shopping to purchase as much of our necessities as possible. In the spirit of shopping, I wanted to share with you some of my top Amazon picks for non-essential items, that are both very affordable and totally awesome (albeit, random).
As you might know, I try to live a minimalist life. Which means I don’t often go on spending sprees on Amazon, but these affordable products are all so worthy of sharing as they are truly some of my favorite purchases ever. All at a steal price. It also means, in an effort to avoid overconsumption, I practice, ‘in with one product out with another.'
It is also important to mention that I tend to buy less items on Amazon and opt instead to buy high quality brands (particularly for clothes). And as for body products, my general rule of thumb is that I stay as “natural” as possible. If I consume one of the top ingredients listed on a body product, even better!
With all of that said, these products still pass every test and are all LM-approved. Here we go!
I recently shared with you that 95% of my time was spent catering to my academic career. Writing, researching, reading papers, reviewing papers, meeting with students (masters students I mentor, undergraduate students, and fellow PhD students). Aside from all of this and the massive amounts of time spent conducting research in the lab, there are other details that aren’t permitted to be shared on social media and typically require 30% of my time, overall. I’ve decided that rather than strictly keep my Instagram account professional yoga business details, I am going to make it real. Much more real. By extension that means all things social (Facebook, Blog, and Newsletter) will all be more real. In other words, my Instagram account represents all of the social media avenues through which I share myself with the world.
Figuratively speaking, I am taking back ownership of this account. I will share with you the real process of all things beyond the yoga mat, which is simply life really, and frankly much more juicy and interesting. I will still share yoga announcements, but I am finding these perfect little IG squares to be increasingly incongruent with my own life.
With every passing year of my PhD program, I’ve moved further away from this perfect little yogi, who lives her carefree life, as she frolics this beautiful island. Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying the process (as best as a PhD student can), and I do love this island. However, in an effort to live my values, I feel the need to make a shift. I want to share a more authentic view of my life as I know it. A life in the present that looks very different than the life of three years ago. It is much more mature. It is much more scholarly. It is much more awesome.
Now, as I look at my feed, or where I’ve left it (I rarely post actual photos anymore), it has morphed into a stream of solely superficial shares. Partially, this was due to lack of time, but more likely it was reticence on my part to share the real struggle of life.
Recently, I realized that I felt totally detached from IG. I didn’t even enjoy popping in to see others photos. I was critiquing in my own mind what felt like inauthentic shares by others, yet, I look at my own shares and see that there is little representation of struggle or hardship. Additionally, what is present (mostly yoga) only comprises 5% of my life! I realized that the only way I would continue to use Instagram would be if I were willing to share an accurate representation of my own life.
When we are quick to judge others, it’s usually because we are also quick to judge ourselves.
So if you are reading this, and thinking, oh darn I just shared a non-deep post about an apple, you do you! My point is not that we should all strive for this vulnerability and be open to sharing, my point is that I was unknowingly uncomfortable by how my IG mirrored my own inability to effectively collide these two worlds (academics and yoga).
I am giving myself permission to share the details; because life is messy, hard, frustrating, but also beautiful, brilliant, and even spectacular in its mundaneness. I want to help my worlds collide and in doing so, share my process.
I want to add value. Be of service. Be a light. Be a teacher. Be a role model. And that starts with owning my own truth. It’s nothing radical or life changing, simply more real.
I no longer feel the same exhaustion of teaching thousands of yoga classes, I feel the brain the fatigue of staring at this computer. When I first became a yogi and IG was in its infancy, I was so raw and authentic in my sharing. Yoga opened my heart to a way of living that I had never experienced before and I was singing it from the rooftops, it was my own real life happiness and growth being depicted via these squares. I stopped this when the popularity of IG blew up, because it felt too vulnerable. And then I went back to school and I had a permanent excuse not to post! I told myself ‘I am a professional’ I can’t!
As you can see, with my stack of journal articles 5” thick, on most days I feel like my brain might spontaneously combust. Because I am pulled in so many directions, and this dichotomy of subjects/business was overwhelming me in its differences. I want to give 100% to each of the various hats I wear, as I know we all do. The reality is I am an academic and a yogi and a dog mom, navigating through real life struggles, and honestly ready to share this perspective. Spoiler alert, it is very difficult. But I hope to share some of my yogis tricks of the trade.
Writing the truth in my newsletter the other day - 95% of my time is spent on things other than simply yoga – I realized, it was no one’s fault for not realizing this but my own. It highlighted that I’ve only shared pieces of my life on this account with you, in a way that is wholly inaccurate.
Real talk – my academic life doesn’t care about my yoga business, and my yoga business doesn’t care that I teach and research at a University. I think my own inner frustrations at both sides not realizing this is ultimately what made me acknowledge that I have these two careers – side by side – but no one (other than my husband) knows about it!
I realized that I hold the key to making my own shift, to ameliorating problems, to living more authentically, to truly unlocking more happiness and growth.
In my teaching of yoga classes (see? I always have to specify if it’s academic or yoga teaching), I often share the struggles of academic life. But by no means do I share the nitty gritty, the daily grind, the sheer frustration (Why isn’t this analysis running? Ah there is a data entry error! Where is it? Not sure, let’s go through 1,000 files and find it.)! Likewise, in my academic life, I never fully share the role yoga plays in my life. Cue me sitting in a meeting thinking but not verbalizing, ‘well meditation would help calm the nervous system down.’ My IG account – as an extension of my life - will be that new living truth.
Writing the truth the other day also felt damn good. It was like a big exhale. Because, here is the thing, I do think these little squares can be of service. I do love the platform it offers: to share a window into our own world with a simple photo and the power of words. These little squares are extremely helpful resources and sources of community.
Anyways, thank you for reading this far. I definitely plan to continue to update you with all things yoga offerings (and there are plenty!), but I want to invite you to join me on this new journey that is much more a balance of teaching yoga and navigating my way through the world of biomechanical research. I want to invite you into my world as an female academic, who practices yoga off the mat and in her life. I already feel excited about this new chapter. Maybe I should run a biomechanical analysis of the alignment of handstands? That would be fun! Any volunteers? See? I am stoked!
Lastly, HUGE mahalo to my Goal Chasers Summer 2020 cohort for helping me realize my own potential. I am hearing my own voice more clearly, trying to practice being above the line, living my legacy, and focusing on my values. I am so grateful to these women for being a part of this program that I offer. I said on the first night of lecture, that I’ve opened this work again because I myself need to DIG IN to the heart of the matter and figure my sh*t out. As we progress through the series, I keep finding more clarity, more ah-ha moments, and more hell yesses.
First I want to say thank you to each of you for being a part of my journey. As a doctoral student, I haven’t had the luxury of time in my schedule for the last few years. The unique opportunity to hit pause on my research at the end of my third year, was extremely unexpected, and initially, incredibly nerve wracking. Overwhelmingly, the pause has proved to be a blessing.
Beyond the regularly scheduled programming - my research in the human performance lab - I have been able to dive back into my work with you all. I have been able to apply a lot of what I’ve learned in my studies to all things movement and yoga with students of mine (you!). What has made this time even more special is that many of you on my mailing list don’t live here in Hawaii with me. I have been able to reconnect with so many of you, new and old students, friends from home, college, and friends of my friends!
And for this reason, I wanted to take a moment and say, thank you!! It has been lovely to “see” you on the yoga mat, to read your email replies, and really humbling to grow through this experience alongside you. Thank you for supporting me.
Lukewarm is no good. When I am interested in something, I truly go all in, and here I am. I’ve learned that the moments in my life where I feel my most vulnerable, are the same moments that become those pivotal moments of growth. My husband encouraged me for years to take my teaching online, but I never wanted to. I felt icky about Instagram influencers and I thought, no my students are here in Hawaii and I like to see them in person and I like to physically adjust bodies. I didn’t think online teaching, in any form, was for me.
In hindsight, I see right through this fixed mindset. Really, what was governing me was the fear of effing up! Embarrassing myself online. How irrational is that? To all of my yoga teachers reading, no one is going to care if you cue the wrong thing! Likely, they won’t even notice. Heck, go cue the right leg twice in Sun B for all I care (this is a yoga teaching joke). Additionally, I’ve taught thousands and thousands of yoga classes, teaching yoga is like brushing my teeth at this point.
My Dad has reminded me my whole life: “perfection is for the next life.” I used to wonder what this really meant, one of his many Dad-isms. The meaning of this Dad-ism lands very clearly these days.
Be vulnerable. Be real. Be a learner. Be humble.
So here is me letting go of perfect. I am working with the little free time that I do have, to try to hustle and offer you all that I can! I am juggling my academics and my yoga – because I want to! It has meant many late nights and early mornings, but I am so enthusiastic about this next step, it doesn’t even matter. I am so excited to take my yoga platform online.
Join me online, if you haven’t already! I have a YouTube channel, that I am now filling up with yoga classes. No more bikini handstand videos for this girl. I am making my channel official.
In the spirit of gratitude, I am so happy to share with you these two free yoga classes. I have uploaded these high quality classes to YouTube.
In addition to my Sunday and Thursday 8-9:15am classes, I will be uploading free classes to YouTube! Please subscribe to my channel, that way you will get notified if I upload a new class or video!
I would love to see you live on the yoga mat for a class via Zoom. In those classes, I get to see you and cue directly based on what I see you doing. I also love interacting with you and feeling the sense of community. Again, thank you all for showing up and being the most awesome community network. The links for Sunday and Thursday classes can be found below.