Yay for Friday! Such a joyous day of the week for us all! And crazily enough, we've also made it to the final Friday of March...April, and thus spring, and then summer, are right around the corner. Insane.
So, as always, lets take a moment to slow things down and look back on the past week. What small things brought you joy over the past 7 days? My simple pleasures are below...
"Serpentine" by Chris Bathgate
Guess what? It's almost time to make my April class playlist! And one of my must-adds for this next playlist is the following song by Chris Bathgate, a musician from Ann Arbor, Michigan (also where my brother is in Law School!). Anyways, I don't know much about Mr. Bathgate, except that I love his voice and really enjoy this song...I hope you think it's as great as I do! Listen below:
See: This GORGEOUS iPhone case
from SSC Photography's etsy shop
I'm in love with this case! I saw it on Pinterest
, googled it, finally found it on etsy, and purchased it right away :) Isn't it inspiring? My old, hand-me-down case from Kimberly
is looking a little ragged these days, so I think this new case will be a perfect way to add some pizazz to my life, just in time for spring. There's just something about peacock feathers, you know? Anyways, if you're in the market for a new case I totally
recommend you check out this etsy shop--all cases are made from the photos of a very talented photographer. They're also really inspring. Happy shopping!
Homemade Thai Peanut Sauce
Feeling like we were in a rut cooking-wise, Ben and I pulled out some cookbooks on Sunday night in order to figure out what to make for dinner. We decided on a stir fry, and after much back-and-forth, picked a "Thai Peanut Sauce" recipe from my Vegetarian Meals for People On-the-Go
cookbook. Needless to say, it was amazing! Want to make it yourself? Ingredients are as follows (just combine in a saucepan, stir & heat for 8-10 mins, and voila!): 1 can coconut milk, 1/4 cup tamari, 2 Tbs peanut butter, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1 clove fresh garlic, 1 tsp onion powder. Pour over veggies, a protein, and rice, and you're done! Yum :)
Smell: Unaccustomed Earth
by Jhumpa Lahiri
Sadly, since I've been sick, I haven't had much of a sense of smell this week :( So, I thought that this would be a nice time to share another simple joy--my most recent great read. This book is by Jhumpa Lahiri, the author of one of my favorite books, The Namesake
. It's a collection of short stories about family life--specifically the family life of families who have deep ties to India, but who have settled in the United States. It depicts a lot of the struggles of belonging to two very different cultures, and the struggles that many children of immigrants face when dealing with the pressure from both their parents and their new identity. Beautifully written, but often very sad and real, the short stories in this book kept me extremely interested. I definitely recommend this book--and all of Lahiri's work!
Touch: Kleenex with Aloe :)
After rubbing my sad little allergy nose raw this week, one of my friends recommended I pick up some tissues with aloe. I believe the direct quote was, "once we went Aloe, we never went back." She was so convincing that I finally bought some up yesterday--for my nose's sake--and she was right! They really do make a big difference! My nose has been a lot happier since then, and I'm looking a little less Rudolph-y every minute. I wish I could find a recycled/green tissue that was as soft as these new tissues are! It's sad that all of the recycled tissues are so rough...
So there you have it! My week in small, sensory experiences. See? Even when you're sick all week, there are still plenty of things to enjoy and appreciate ;)
I hope your weekend is full of simple joys!
P.S. I finally got some meds yesterday and am feeling a LOT better. Thanks for all your sweet "get well" wishes!
Image via Pinterest.com
Image via Pinterest.com
image via www.kindovermatter.com
Image via weheartit.com
Image via Pinterest.com
Okay, so I know that this post may seem totally random. I mean, balloons?
But, after one of the longest, most sleepless, coughing-est nights of my life in recent history (yes, I'm still sick!), images like the ones above are much-needed in my life today.
When I'm sick, the needy, childlike side of me comes out--and what brings a child more joy than colorful balloons, flying high? So that's what I'm going with. When I came across a balloon image on Pinterest
last night, and it immediately lifted my spirits, I decided that we could all use a little childlish joy infused into our lives today. I hope these images bring you a sense of lightheartedness, as well!
Sometimes, images or songs or words or videos make us happy, even though we have NO idea why they do. My philosophy? It's not always about the why--sometimes, it's best to just enjoy and stop asking so many questions :)
Anyways, today I've finally
decided that everything else MUST be put on pause so that I can take care of myself and try and get healthy. What did I say on Monday when I first started feeling sick? Oh yes, SLOW DOWN
. So today, I'm finally going to listen to my own advice and lay low...
Now it's back to bed for this one...I hope to be healthy by the time I write again!
Now this is something I never thought I'd see...a comic strip about yoga! And the coolest part about it? It was created by one of my students! At his wife's (and maybe his doctor's?) urging, Mike started practicing at Tranquil Space
in late December. Now, three months later, he's a member and a regular yogi. He and his wife come to classes together all the time (my dream with Ben!) and it's been great to see his practice develop so quickly.
So anywho, Mike has an online comic strip
and has recently created a yoga series. It's amazing because it definitely captures what I think a lot of guys go through when their wives/girlfriends/significant others drag them to their first yoga class (which we teachers know, happens extremely
A few of my favorites are below--you can click on each comic to enlarge, or view the full series on Mike's blog, Wicked Off Kiltah
And notice how he's making another "foamhenge" in the last comic...the next time he's in class, I'm going to have to check and see if he always does this ;)
Fun, isn't it? In my mind, there's always room for more laughter in yoga.
Thanks for sharing your experience and creativity, Mike!
Image via lululemon.com
Over the past few years, I've found it very interesting to watch the emergence (and takeover!) of Lululemon
--as a business, a brand, a part of the community, and a logo worn by the majority of students in my classes. Before I go on any further I have to say that I am
a fan and a convert--because although their clothes are crazy expensive, I find that quality, appearance, and comfort-wise, they are the best yoga clothing line. They fit better than other brands, don't get in the way when practicing, are more comfortable, and honestly, make me look better than other yoga clothes (yes, I'll admit it--I like the way they make me look! Their tucking and lifting techniques really work! Does this make me a bad yogi?). But, I feel that I can justify spending $100 on a pair of yoga pants, because they're my "work clothes" and these days, they're basically all that I wear (when I put on jeans on the weekend Ben usually says something like, "look at you, all dressed up!" Haha!).
Similarly, I have a relationship with the people who work at the local Lululemon store, and I find them all to be amazing people--they all love yoga and fitness, and are passionate about being a part of the community and about giving people good service. So, without going into a review of the brand or a long-winded discussion on their business model
(which is VERY interesting, one of the reasons they're so popular, and definitely worth looking into if you aren't familiar with it!), I do want to point out something that came up a number of times in my Yoga & Body Image Survey
that I put out a few weeks ago.
After reviewing the results, I found that Lululemon was the only yoga brand that made an appearance in the comments section--and, the brand name was mentioned 11 times (!). For the most part, it was mentioned as a reason that students feel self-conscious in yoga classes. A few examples/excerpts are below:
- "I think the tight fitting Lululemon clothing constantly makes you aware of how you look."
- "I think, in general, the industry/media excludes men, women who don't identify as white, and anyone who doesn't look good in Lululemon clothes. Since when did we all have to wear spandex (or be around people who do) to do a physical/spiritual activity? :)"
- "...It does take a while to build strength and realize that strength and practice are more important than how you look in your Lululemon outfit. "
- "I read somewhere that nearly every woman who practices yoga wears Lululemon and whoever wrote that is right."
- "Makes me self conscious esp if everyone is head to toe in Lululemon!"
- "I feel like there is a correlation now between consumerism and body image issues, especially with boutique brands like Lululemon, who I don't feel is very inclusive to those with larger bodies. It seems like nowadays you must get the gear to do the classes!"
- "I tend to notice if I'm the only one not wearing clothes from Lululemon. :)"
Interesting, no? I think those of us who practice at studios know that Lululemon has become a "uniform" of sorts in classes, but why has this brand name become a way to make people feel left out, or self conscious if they're not wearing it (or even if they are wearing it, since the majority of their clothing is fairly tight!?). Someone even commented that at times, yoga classes can feel like "Mean Girls." This is not yoga!!
But is it Lululemon's fault, for creating a product that people like, and want, or for creating a successful business model? Is it our fault, for being "mindless consumers"? Is it inherent in our culture to want the "right" brands, no matter what the activity? I don't know the answer, but I definitely think that it's worth thinking about...
So what do we do? I think the first step is becoming aware of it. Since I, too, wear Lululemon, I want to think about the message that I may or may not be sending to my students. Have we as a community let our yoga classes become so materialistic that people are spending time being conscientious of their clothing, instead of letting go and dwelling in their bodies? Or is this just human nature? I know that I have compared myself to other people in class on a number of levels, but I don't necessarily think that the clothing is to blame. I think it is also a broader societal issue. There's no doubt that as a culture, we have tried to "brand" yoga in many ways, but are we causing harm the the inclusive nature of the practice?Something to ponder.
If you have any thoughts on this, feel free to share :)
Also, a BIG thanks to all who filled out my Yoga & Body Image Survey
. I was overwhelmed by the honesty, quality of written responses, and experiences that were shared. Of the 80 people who completed it, 88.8% said that they had struggled with body image issues, and 96.3% said that their yoga practice had affected their relationship with their body. I was extremely moved by the many ways that yoga has helped people to embrace their bodies, and it made me so thankful and happy to be able to be a part of this amazing practice.
I'll be sure to share more results as I formulate and write my thesis. Thank YOU for your contribution!
Image via whisperedinspirations.com
"For fast acting relief, try slowing down." -Lily Tomlin
Well, it seems to be that time of year again. The time that comes once per season, and especially in the spring and fall, when my body tells me to slow down. And when I don't listen the first time? It gets sick to force me to slow down. Funny how the body does that, isn't it? So, after an enjoyable but jam-packed past few weeks, my body is shutting down on me, and now, I have no choice but to listen.
This past weekend, I was in Advanced Teacher Training
Friday-Sunday, and on Saturday night when it ended at 8pm, a few of us jumped in our cars and headed over to TSA
to teach and participate in a 108 sun salutations event from 9-11pm. Poor planning by those of us in ATT? Yes, probably, but we were so excited and wanted to fit it all in, so we did! About halfway through the 108, my body started giving out. My back was aching from sitting all day, my on-again-off-again wrist injury started flaring up, and my recent shoulder tendonitis started getting hot. I began to feel a little dizzy from my allergies/head cold and from sheer exhaustion, so I spent the last 30 sun salutes or so doing my own thing, resting in down dog, childs, fitting in some pigeon, etc. Yes, I did slow down there (and still had a BLAST at the event!), but it may have been too late for my body...
Sunday morning I woke up feeling a little sick, and everything has gone downhill from there. I'm headed to the doctor this afternoon to nip this thing in the bud, but all of this got me thinking-- why do I do this every spring? And every fall?
Each year at this time, I run my body to the ground doing things I love, working, and packing my schedule chock-full. I looked back to this time last year, and found the evidence in a blog post from March 31st, called "Slowing Down Amidst the Spring Frenzy."
I was having these exact same urges at this time last year (!!!). So when will I learn my lesson?
I hope sooner, rather than later, and am going to work very hard this week to take care of my body.
Image via slowdownnow.org
Do you, too, suffer from spring overexertion? Do you allow the excitement of springtime to push you to overcommit--even if you want to do everything on your schedule--and in turn, pay the price physically?
If so, put your foot down NOW. Schedule a "me" day, or a staycation
, and make some time to take care of yourself and relax.
Need a little help figuring out how to do this? Take a look at the thought experiment below, from the article "How to Slow Down Now (Please Read Slowly)"
by Christopher Richards
: Try this thought experiment. If you took tomorrow off and spent it by yourself, what would your day be like? How would you feel? For this experiment you’ll do nothing of practical value. You won’t use it to get things done. Just thinking about your day, what will the early morning be like? Where will you be at mid-day? Can you describe the place you imagine yourself to be? How do you anticipate your feeling at being alone?
And then, if you can, take a day off and do these things. Write down everything that came to your mind during this thought experiment, and really do them. Don't try to get anything done--this isn't a catch-up day, it's a day just for YOU. I'm planning on taking a staycation this coming Saturday, and I hope you'll join me.
Because really, what's the point of life if you can't enjoy it?
Ready for SJOTW? I know that I've already shared a lot of my sensory pleasures this week, with my posts on both inspiring images
and my trip to Nashville
, but I still have a few more that I want to explain in depth, so here goes...
What made you smile over the past seven days? I hope you found some time to stop and appreciate the small things in life :)
I know you've already heard it
, but I had SO much fun listening to country music in Nashville last weekend. This was 100% the best thing I heard all week, and I've been listening to a lot more country music since I got back to DC. It's funny, though, how much more authentic it feels when you're driving around in Nashville and passing people wearing cowboy boots and hats...anyways, you can listen to one of my new favorites below. It's "A Woman Like You" by Lee Brice
--a fun song that to me, just epitomizes country music (plus, I love it because he mentions yoga in the song! Woohoo! Yoga has made it into a country song!). Take a listen and let me know what you think ;)
Again, I know that I've told you how much I loved this
--but lets talk about it for a minute. I really don't think there's anything
as fun as seeing a live band. Plus, for some reason EVERYONE looks cooler when they're on stage. Do you agree? I mean, there were guys in these bands in Nashville who I would never be attracted to otherwise, but once they were on stage singing country music, I was totally smitten. I mean, there's just nothing that makes people more attractive than seeing them sing their hearts out on stage! So yes, I developed a few crushes in Nashville ;) And dancing, singing aloud, and being a part of and energetic and happy crowd = amazing.
Taste: Fruit Tea
Have you ever had this? If not, you need to make some. I'd never even heard of it, but it's basically a staple in Nashville and I got it everywhere we went. It's just a mixture of black tea, pineapple juice, lemonade and orange juice--and it's delish. Such a fun and refreshing way to start the day, and I didn't even miss my tea from home at all! I think it also helps that it was about 80 degrees and sunny the entire time we were there, but still, it was a wonderfully springy treat. I need to make some at home this summer, but I have a feeling it won't be quite the same as it was in Nashville...
Smell: Spring is here!
Can you believe it? Tuesday was the first day of spring and it totally feels like spring has arrived (and has for a while now, actually). All of the flowers are blooming, the Cherry Blossoms are coming out, and there are some wonderful spring scents in the air. Yes, my allergies have already started acting up (thank you, Neti Pot!), but it's totally worth it to experience the warmth, the sunshine, and the happy faces on all of my students. Spring really does feel like a time of change, growth, and celebration, and I love the sense of excitement that I feel just walking down the street and taking it all in. Hooray for spring!
Image via beyondvitality.com.
Now don't get too excited--this eternally-injured girl isn't outside running for fun again--but a run was
included in our CrossFit
workout last night, and since it was SO pretty outside I decided to give it a try and see how it felt. And honestly, I don't know if it was the warm weather, my new shoes, or the "Pose Running" techniques that we worked on before the run, but I felt hardly any pain while running (and this is not the norm!). Running outside was perfect, and I loved feeling the warm spring air on my skin. I may never be able to go on long runs outside again, but if I can start to work in small distances here and there in a workout, I'll be happy :)
And do you know what I just noticed? None of this week's simple pleasures can be bought (well, I guess fruit tea can, and maybe country music, but they're not that
material). Interesting how that works, huh? It's a great reminder that most of the small joys in life come from just experiencing the moment...
I hope you have a wonderful weekend FULL of simple, sensory details. I'm back in Advanced Teacher Training
for the weekend, but will definitely share what I learn next week!
One of my favorite things about social media is the fact that it allows us to be exposed to TONS of inspiring images, videos, and stories on a daily (and even hourly!) basis. Every time that I come across an image that I find to be amazing in one way or another, I think, "wow! I love this! I want to share it!" So that's what we're doing here today :) A roundup of some of my favorite inspiring images that have popped up on my facebook
, and/or pinterest
feeds this week.
This = where I'll be living this spring. Perfect bohemian getaway (honeymoon spot, perhaps?). Via Pinterest.
Another artist posted this with the caption--"you wonder what I do all day in the studio? it basically looks like this." Um, same here, just not so elegantly!!! Via Facebook.
This just made me smile. And I think it's REALLY true. Via Facebook.
Vintage Salvador Dali and yogi. He was SUCH a weirdo, but I can't help but adore him. And nice wheel, lady! Via Pinterest.
I'm in love with this entire setup. Amazing and SUPER creative. Via rocknrollbride.com (spotted on Pinterest).
Again, just made me smile. Plus I really like the colors (surprised?) .Via Facebook.
Carrots that grew together this way. Cutest. thing. ever. Via Facebook.
Thanks to everyone who posted these amazing images this past week! They all made me smile for one reason or another :)
Now off to paint! I hope your day is full of inspiration (even if it's just from the interweb!).
A couple of weeks ago, after I posted about my love for photorealism
, a fellow painter suggested I check out the work of Tony Curanaj
. Obviously, I did, and she was correct--I'm amazed by his work. It's a lot more subtle, or quiet, than some of the other types of art that I usually share here, but I hope that you like it as much as I do. I'm primarily drawn to the backgrounds of his paintings--I love the wallpaper, the wood, the holes and cracks in the walls, the frames, the drips of paint. To me, these are the little details that make realistic paintings real
So check out a few of my favorite paintings by Curanaj
below. And please, would you look at the bumblebee in the first painting!?!??! I love it.
Thanks to Ashley for the recommendation!
Yes, these are paintings, not photographs. Interesting, isn't it? Even though his pieces include fireworks and gas masks, I still find them to be very calming, soothing works. How does he do that?
To see more of Tony Curanaj's
paintings, check out his website, here.
*Oh, and just so you know, "Still Lifes" is the correct way to write the plural of Still Life. I know, hard to believe, but it's correct grammar :)
Just had to share...
I spotted this refrigerator magnet while waiting in line at Whole Foods this morning and thought--OMG, that's me!!!
I had to have it, so I treated myself.
I think this little guy is a great reminder for all of us to work to stay present throughout our busy days--I mean, you really can't meditate while you multitask, can you?
But you can definitely try to stay mindful...
And don't you love it when the world speaks to you through magnets? I find that it happens more often than you would think ;)
Happy first day of spring
Image via manishtama.blogspot.com/
After a long weekend full of eating out and imbibing in a *few* celebratory adult beverages, getting back to yoga last night was absolutely delicious
. Of course it's always amazing to get in a full practice after a few days off, but it was even more wonderful last night because of the detoxifying nature of the practice.
As many of you who practice at Tranquil Space
may know, we've been working with twisting this month in order to prepare the body for our challenging "Asana of the Month," parivrtta parsvakonsana
(revolved extended side angle). Although it can definitely be intense to spend an entire month doing deep twists in class (and one must be mindful not to take these twists too deep!), it is also pretty wonderful to spend a month twisting, due to the amazing benefits of twists. In class last night I really could feel my body purifying itself a bit more with each twist--coming back into balance and sweating out the toxins from the weekend.
So what exactly are the amazing benefits of twists, and how do they work? The two most interesting & important benefits (in my opinion) are as follows... Twists are detoxifying:
You know when you've been cleaning up really dirty water with a sponge, and you need to rinse off the sponge, so you twist it in order to get rid of the dirty water and allow for the clean water to soak into the empty spaces? That's what we yogis think twists do to the organs in the body. As explained in the Yoga Journal
article, "Let's Twist Again
," "B.K.S. Iyengar describes twists as a 'squeeze-and-soak' action: the organs are compressed during a twist, pushing out blood filled with metabolic by-products and toxins. When we release the twist, fresh blood flows in, carrying oxygen and the building blocks for tissue healing. So from the physiological standpoint, twists stimulate circulation and have a cleansing and refreshing effect on the torso organs and associated glands."
Pretty cool image, huh? I honestly think I can feel this happening in my body when I twist. It feels amazing to come out of a twist (you know what I'm talking about, right?) and I think they are very energizing and calming. Omm :)Twists can help you maintain a healthy spine:
Another amazing aspect of twists? They help your spine return to it's natural range of motion. How often do we twist in our daily life, while sitting at a desk or walking down the street? Not much. The only time that I can think of that we actually twist is while driving, when looking over our shoulder to check behind us. So if you don't practice twists in yoga, and you're not practicing them elsewhere, your spine can begin to lose the ability to rotate correctly. Yoga Journal
explains that "many people lose full spinal rotation in the course of living a sedentary lifestyle...if you don't lengthen the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia (connective tissues) to their full length at least a few times a week, they will gradually shorten and limit the nearby joint's mobility. In the case of twisting, the limitation is usually in soft tissues around the spine, abdomen, rib cage, and hips. If you regularly practice yoga twists, there are some clear benefits to these same joints and soft tissues. Not only do you maintain the normal length and resilience of the soft tissues, but you also help to maintain the health of the discs and facet joints (the small pair of joints on the back of the spine where each two vertebrae overlap).
" Again, so important, right? Especially for a culture where so many people have back issues.
Our asana of the month. (Image via holyyogafoundation.com)
A few more great benefits of twisting?
-Twists can help to improve digestion and to stimulate the digestive fire.
-Twisting stretches and compresses each side of the chest, which can help to improve respiratory function. Similarly, practicing deep breathing while twisting can strengthen the lungs.
-Certain twists (practiced with awareness!) can help to relieve menstrual discomfort, fatigue, sciatica, and backache.
-Twists can help to balance out the body, aiding in decreasing stress and anxiety.
-Twists can also stretch out other parts of the body--depending on the twist, of course ;)
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and do the twist, baby ;) I know that's what I'm going to do!
And using this information as inspiration, my goal for the week = detox + get back into my healthy routine. What's yours?
PS. Be mindful of the lower back and neck when twisting! So many of us tend to twist in the neck or lumbar spine, since these are the bendiest/twistiest parts of the spine, but a twist really should be an even rotation throughout the entire length of the spine--if your thoracic spine (middle back) can't twist any deeper, don't put that twist elsewhere just to look "bendier." It's not worth it!
Now happy twisting :)