This past Saturday, as I was sitting in ATT
, I received an "anniversary email" stating that I've now been teaching at Tranquil Space
for 2 years. TWO YEARS!
It's crazy. I can't believe I've been teaching--or "living the dream"--for so long, and I feel amazingly lucky to have been able to spend my time and energy doing what I love over the past two years. Thank *YOU* for making my life as a teacher so full and for supporting me on this journey!
Anyways, that's not the point of this post :) Once I realized how much time has flown by since I started teaching, I began to reflect (of course) on how much my life has changed since I made the leap and quit my "corporate" life. Although I've already shared "5 Fun Reasons to Teach Yoga
," and have also spoken in numerous posts about how much I adore my job and why, one of the aspects that I haven't talked about as much is this--for me, one of the most beneficial parts of the job is simply the absence
of sitting at a computer all day long, or as my ATT teacher from the past weekend, Megan Davis
calls it, practicing "computerasana" (which I love!). Let me share a little picture that Megan
used in her presentation this past weekend:
Um, how horrifying is this image? I know you may be thinking, "oh, that's an exaggeration, I don't look like that when I sit at my computer," and yes, it may be a slight exaggeration--but ultimately, it is definitely a depiction of what many of us do all day long at our desks. Is this how the human body is supposed to function? I don't think so...
If you haven't already seen them, there have been tons of articles lately talking about how bad sitting is for the body. I've written briefly about it before
, but since I am *slightly obsessed* with this topic, I wanted to pass along a few more interesting pieces about it:
Image via Horacio Salinas for The New York Times
-Is Sitting a Lethal Activity?
from The New York Times Magazine
. Quote from this article: Sitting, it would seem, is an independent pathology. Being sedentary for nine hours a day at the office is bad for your health whether you go home and watch television afterward or hit the gym. It is bad whether you are morbidly obese or marathon-runner thin. “Excessive sitting,” Dr. Levine says, “is a lethal activity.”
-Stand up for Fitness
from The New York Times Sunday Review
-Too Much Sitting Linked to Shortened Lives
Scary stuff, huh? Now I'm not saying that my life as a yoga teacher has set me free of this sitting--I still spend a couple of hours in front of the computer each day, blogging (obviously!), sending (what feels like) thousands of emails, and doing my Studio Director work, but I've definitely cut my sitting time in half, and I can tell that it has made a huge change in the state of my body. I'm not in as much pain anymore (granted, I still have pain, but it's a different kind and comes from a different cause!), I'm not as mentally exhausted or fried at the end of the day, my eyes don't hurt as much, and my neck and shoulders are a lot less crunchy.
So what can we do to improve our seated lifestyle? As I've said before, you can practice chair yoga
, but if that's not very realistic for you, all of the experts agree that one of the best things you can do is just stand up. Even if it's just for 5 minutes every hour (or better yet, every 20 minutes...). Take a phone call standing up. Walk to the water cooler, restroom, or to a colleague's office (instead of sending an email). Just stand up and fold foward for a second. Whatever you can do, just break up your sitting. Give your body a break, and spend just a few less minutes sitting each day. From what I've read, it can make a HUGE difference.
And with that, I'll close with a final thought--another thing I learned from Megan Davis in ATT this past weekend:
The head is heavy, and it is supposed to sit on top of the cervical spine (in space). The average human head weighs 12 lbs, which is a lot for such small vertebrae to hold up. But, for every inch forward that we move our head (i.e. skeleton practicing "computerasana" above), the neck has to hold double the weight. This means that if you hold your head forward of the spine just 1 inch, your neck is now having to hold up 24 lbs. If you move your head forward 2 inches, to see your computer screen better, your cervical spine is now supporting 48 lbs. Do you think that's healthy for these small little vertebrae? No, no its not.
So check-in with your posture at your desk. Set a timer on your phone. Whatever you do, get up, move around, and give your neck (and body) a break!
Or, if possible, quit your job and become a yoga teacher
Guess what? CrossFit DC
was featured on the radio
here in DC yesterday (and again this morning), and Ben and I make an appearance in the story! It's a fairly short segment, but I think it's really well done and that it's lots of fun to hear a bunch of my CrossFit friends--and my coaches--on the radio. The other cool connection here? The story was done by one of my fellow Tranquil Space
yoginis, Emily Friedman. Totally unprepared, I just walked into class last week, and there she was with all of her equipment! It's a small world here in DC--especially in the fitness community ;)
Anyways, if you haven't heard the story yet, you can take a listen here.
Well, another month has almost flown by. The fact that this is the last weekend is April is mind-boggling, but we won't dwell on that today, now will we? Instead, lets focus on those simple pleasures that we all experience throughout our daily lives. What brought you happiness over the past week or so?
My simple, sensory joys are below...
"Johnny and June" by Heidi Newfield
Ever since seeing Walk the Line
, I've been intrigued by the story of Johnny and June Carter Cash. Yes, it's kind of crazy and parts are really upsetting, but they also had a wonderfully passionate love for one another, and the music that they made together is magical. So, I obviously enjoy this song (one that I've been listening to all week long!), "Johnny and June" by country singer Heidi Newfield. It's all about how she wants a "love like Johnny and June," a passionate, fiery relationship--even if it's hard and rocky along the way. Very romantic :) Listen to the song below!
A close-up of one of my sketchbook pages...
My completed sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project
Whew! I finally finished my sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project
, just in the nick of time, as they're supposed to be postmarked by Monday and I'm in training ALL weekend long. But, although I did procrastinate a bit here (not because I wanted to, but because I've just been so
busy!), I had an absolute blast working on my sketchbook and am really excited about the way that it turned out. I'll share some images from it soon, but the most exciting part is that once they receive it, it will be scanned and exhibited in an online gallery (which I'll also share!), displayed (forever?) in the Brooklyn Art Library
, and at least one of my pages will be included in the The Limited Edition Book Series
. I'm excited to see how it all comes together!
Sliced oranges after CrossFit
Remember when you played soccer or some other team sport when you were younger, and parent's were assigned snacks to bring after the games? And remember when people brought cold, sliced oranges as the snack? I do, and it's such a yummy memory that I wanted to reenact it yesterday, so in honor of Ben's birthday
, I brought sliced oranges to CrossFit for a snack after class. It made me really happy to eat them after working out so hard, and they were also extremely delicious. I think this may become a new tradition!? I guess there's a reason parents always brought oranges, huh?
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies baking in the oven...
I hardly ever bake, but every once in a while, I can make it happen, and yesterday was one of those days. Again, in honor of my dear Ben's b-day
(I told you I love birthdays!), I made oatmeal cookies with chocolate and peanut butter chips--and let me tell you, they were good. But, the smell of the cookies baking in the oven was almost
as amazing as sneaking a taste of the batter (shhh!) and actually eating a cookie. And sweet Ben, he really gobbled those cookies up when we came home in the evening, so the effort was definitely worth it ;)
Touch: KT Tape
My newest obsession = KT Tape
. Seriously. For all you athletes, yogis, and runners out there, if you have any injuries/issues, you MUST try this tape. My new chiropractor
(who I think I've already mentioned, and who is great!) put this tape on my back this week, since I was experiencing a bit of pain for quite a few days before I saw him, and I kid you not, this stuff if magical. I woke up Thursday morning with absolutely NO pain, and spent an entire day not even noticing my back/hip-area, which hasn't happened in quite a long time. It was crazy!?!
How does it work? It's pretty interesting, and you can read all about what it does here
So see? Sometimes the smallest things--or moments--can bring us joy, and I think it's really wonderful to reflect on these things at least once per week (if not once per day!). Otherwise, life just flies by and we never get a chance to appreciate everything that we're able to experience in our day-to-day existence...
I hope that your week was full of sensory pleasures, and that your weekend is FULL of joy :)
Um, you know those really annoying people who are OBSESSED with birthdays?
I'm one of them.
I love birthdays. I'm not that into my own (don't hate it or anything, but am not insanely excited about it, either...), but I absolutely adore other people's birthdays--especially the birthdays of those I love dearly.
So, today's post is all about celebrating Ben, who was born 29 years ago today :)
Here are a few images from his day thus far, which I think may help to illustrate just how much I love birthdays...
Birthday banners = super festive and fun! I'm obsessed with banners.
A few of his gifts! They were all set out, but I only let him open 1 before leaving for work and made him save the others for our celebration tonight.
The card that I gave him. To put it in context, take a look at the cards that I gave him for his past two birthdays, below...
We keep these on the fridge because they make us really happy :)
And balloons! Which obviously, I also love...
Here he is! How cute is this little guy?
Ben's birthday = makes my heart smile :)
Can't wait to celebrate with CrossFit
(are you surprised?) and dinner tonight.A takeaway for all of my readers?
Make some time to celebrate, thank, or think about someone that you love today--birthday or not, it's a great way to be overcome with gratitude and warm fuzzy feelings ;)
Have you seen the image above yet? I love it.
I'm not sure where it's from, but I know it's been circulating on social media for a while, and it definitely caught my eye.
I think it perfectly captures my mind when practicing--and probably the mind of many of my fellow yogis + students (although one cannot make assumptions!)...
This image speaks to me on an even deeper level this week in particular, as I've started to feel my "monkey mind" (jumping from one thing to the next, from tree to tree, never stopping to pause and take a look around...) come into full force over the past few days. Why? Because it's that time of year--spring--when everything gets kicked up a notch and life starts to tumble quickly forward, and I watch my calendar fill up well into fall. If this image was one of me next to Swami Balendu
, it would say the following:
"Address list for invites"
"Finalize groomsmen outfits"
"Order wedding rings?"
"Supplies for Artomatic
"Order frames for paintings"
"Order more prints and biz cards"
"Finish sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project
"ATT Thesis paper"
"Change blog sidebar"
"Buy wedding/shower presents for friends"
"Pick up Ben's dry cleaning"
"Ben's birthday Thursday"
"Drop car off at mechanic"
"Interviews, meetings, heaps of work..."
"Tackle overwhelming inbox"
And it could go on and on...
Does your monkey mind contain a similar list? If so, try writing it all out in this fashion. And then imagine yourself sitting in meditation next to Swami Balendu, and see that list floating above your head. Doesn't feel so good, does it?
In fact, it's very heavy. But I find that sometimes, just getting it all written down helps you to realize the following:
Eventually, it will all get done.
Nothing on this list is life or death.
Getting these things done is not worth missing out on what's happening in the present moment.
If we spend our days jumping from tree to tree, moving forward without looking around, we miss out what is truly important.
You can still take care of your list while slowing down and staying aware and connected. Yes, it's possible.
My goal for the week? To find *even just a moment* of Swami Balendu's ".........."
Now wouldn't that be nice?
After a long hiatus, I'm finally back with another painting update
/"breaking down the painting process" post. Why the long break? Because I was working on this commission (see below) and it's quite a large painting, so it took me a while to finish (!). So anyhoo, I'm finally done, the painting has been gifted to it's new owner (was a surprise gift!), and I'm ready to share what I've been working on :)
Read on for a glimpse into the painting process...
The first step? The commissioner (my friend, Sara) gave me a bunch of photographs to work from. We met, and discussed what she wanted. Then, I came up with this to-scale sketch, to give her an idea of what I was thinking, composition-wise.
Once she approved, I started on the painting. I did a blue underpainting (basically a sketch in paint), and then began adding the basic color blocks/shapes of the buildings.
From there, I began to add more details--the lines in the sidewalk, the bricks on the movie theatre, the flowers and fruits in front of the grocery store.
Then I just continued to add layers, details, and shadows (sorry for the glare in the corner of this pic!)...
And continuing with the details...you can see I started adding leaves to the trees, reflections in the windows, signs to the produce in front of the grocery, etc.
The finished product! The painting is 24" x 30."
So there you have it! I hope you find the progression as interesting as I do...I didn't always document the progress of my paintings, but now that I'm doing so, I find it really fascinating to look back at once I'm done :)
Speaking of paintings, I've added a couple of small mixed media pieces to my Etsy shop
, and am excited to announce that I'll be selling prints (i.e. affordable versions) of my work *very soon.* I'll keep you updated and let you know once they're available! As you can tell, I'm excited...
Hope you have an inspirational day!
Ready for this? I've decided that since I'm always sharing my favorite simple, sensory joys,
I should also break things down a bit and share not only my simple joys, but also my *guilty pleasures* (in the words of Merriam-Webster
, "something pleasurable that induces a usually minor feeling of guilt"). Because we all have them, right?
You may already know some of mine, as they have definitely been woven into some of my SJOTW
posts, but today, I thought I'd make it official.
So here we go...! What are your guiltiest pleasures?1. Reality TV.
Specifically, The Bachelor
, The Bachelorette
, and The Bachelor Pad
(basically anything Bachelor
-related!). I know it's really bad, and fake, and scripted, but what can I say? I love it. 2. Hiring a cleaning company.
I know it's crazy when you live in a place that's 1000 sq. feet, but it is amazing and TOTALLY worth the $75. What would take us 4-5 hours literally takes them 1 hour. And they do a much better job!!
Worth every penny to avoid the fights about how dirty our place is... 3. BGR Sweet Potato fries--every Thursday night.
Yes, it's almost become a tradition. Every Thursday night, after CrossFit,
Ben and I go to BGR. We each get our respective burgers (their veggie burger is to die for!), and we split their sweet potato fries with rosemary + parmesan. I could eat them every day and never get sick of them! If you're in the DC area, definitely go there and try them...4. Taylor Swift.
I know that her music is geared towards high schoolers--or at least college kids--but I love it. So catchy and cute, and for some reason, it reminds me of a good rom com (another slightly guilty pleasure!). My love for Taylor kind of reminds me of my old love for Avril Lavigne
Pedicures I can justify, "for my job," but manis are a different story. I usually chip them in 1-2 days. My nails are short and I pick at my cuticles when I'm stressed or bored. I paint and do CrossFit and mess them up when I'm just walking around, being my clumsy self
and hitting my hands on things as I walk--but still, I love them. And every once in a while, I treat myself to one. Crazy, I know!!6. Bad rap music and/or bad top 40 music.
I know it's embarrassing--I really do--but I just can't stop loving it. I like to blame Ben, the Top 40 King of the World ;)7. Expensive yoga clothes.
I spend a lot of time justifying it, but the truth is, I'm addicted ;) You've heard it already
, so I'll save you the long-winded story, but, yeah...8. MAC Sheertone Blush in "Coygirl."
First off, I'm a blush addict. Always have been, always will be, and I blame it on my crazy pale skin. Anyways, ever since I discovered this blush in 2010, I've been a dedicated customer. And no joke, sometimes I put blush on 2-3 times per day, and I've only had to buy this blush twice since then--that's how long it lasts! It's the best. 9. Ice cream.
Enough said, right? I think this is a guilty pleasure for a lot of us. You could also just include "almost all desserts and sweets" here...10. Brides Magazine.
When I had just gotten engaged
, and was given my first bridal magazine, I kind of freaked out. I was like, what!? I'm not the bridal magazine type!
But, alas, I found out that I am. They really are fun to flip through, and yes, you really can get some great ideas from them. Do their "countdown checklists" freak me out every time I look at them? Yes. But still, a lot of fun!
So there you have it--a glimpse into my "dark" side ;)
Guilty pleasures are an interesting subject for yogis, since we talk so much about saucha (purity) and brahmacharya (moderation).
But in my own studies, I have come to the conclusion that as long as we indulge in our "guilty pleasures" sparingly--in moderation, with awareness, mindfulness, and understanding--that they aren't always a completely bad thing. But, when they begin to get in the way of our journey and/or our quest for our personal truth, or when they become a distraction from what truly important in life, then it's time to reevaluate...
What are your thoughts on this subject?
Image via sacramentoscoop.com
Happy Earth Day, one and all!
To celebrate, I wanted to share a really powerful quote about our relationship with the earth:
Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.
-Chief Seattle, 1855
A beautiful thing to keep in mind as we move through our daily lives, and a great reminder to be kind to the earth (!).
All things are bound together. All things connect.
Welcome to this week's edition of SJOTW! As always, thanks for joining me :) I hope that your week has been full of the simple pleasures in life, no matter how packed or busy it may have been. Is anyone else feeling the spring frenzy
coming on? I am, but I'm kind of loving it, too! There's just something about all of the activity in the spring that is really invigorating...
Anyways, read on for the small sensory joys that have brought me happiness over the past 7 days. What's made you smile?
"Wrecking Ball" by Bruce SpringsteenWhen my parents came to visit
a few weeks ago, my Dad brought me Bruce's latest album. My Dad is a TOTAL Bruce fanatic (I think we counted up that he's been to about 10 concerts in the past 10 years?), and he has been raving about how good his newest album is. And I have to say that after listening to it for the past few weeks, I would agree. Obviously I may also be slightly biased, since I was raised in a Bruce-loving household, but I really do think it's great. One of my favorite tracks is also the album title, "Wrecking Ball."
It's a beautiful song, yet still has all of the power, grittiness, and Americana feel of a typical Bruce song. Take a listen below and enjoy!
This street/guerilla art :)
Remember WAY back in the day when I posted about my love for street art?
Specifically, for "Guerilla Knitting?" Well, I saw my first DC guerilla knitting piece in Dupont Circle this week! It made me so happy that I had to stop and snap a pic--I mean, how fun is this? I think it's especially cute when people knit little sweaters for trees; it's such a sweet gesture and although I have no idea what the purpose of it was for this artist, in my mind it's a way to pay attention to, draw attention to, and care for a tree that would otherwise be ignored by your typical passerby. Plus, I love the bright pink here--very springy ;)
Image via robynwebb.com
Taste: Baked Sweet Potato
I've literally had baked potatoes three different ways this week--mashed, fried (sweet potato fries = my favorite thing in the world), and baked. Does anyone else love sweet potatoes as much as I do? I think they're good every way EXCEPT with marshmallows and brown sugar on them (they're sweet enough already!). And they're good for you, too! Good week.
Sounds gross, I know, but I've gotten fairly used to the smell of sweaty athletes through CrossFit, and last week's competition was so much fun that the scent was totally worth it ;) As I wrote on Monday
, this felt like the last competition of the CF "competition season" (if there is one?), and I was so glad to be able to spend the weekend with some of my favorite CFDC
peeps. I also had an amazing time just lounging around with everyone outside in the gorgeous spring weather in-between events; there's nothing like watching people give everything they've got, then go lay in the sun and eat while they prepare to do it again ;)
Image via etsy.com/shop/LuciusArt
Ben's freshly-shaven face ;)
Since you all have already heard so much about our facial hair roller coaster
at home, I had to share the latest--Ben shaved his long-lasting beard this week! It was so nice to feel his smooth skin again, and I'm counting down to this afternoon when he cuts his hair, because I feel like he'll finally look like himself again. Except for the fact that he had his beard for SO long that I honestly forgot what he looked like without it (!), and it's taken a while to get used to his hairless face again. Ever notice how when people shave their beards their upper lip looks really big? Haha! Anyways, the one thing I'm sad about is that now I can't get him this print
for his birthday (next week!) anymore...you win some, you lose some, right?
And with that, I'm off for a busy Friday--the start to a jam-packed, but very fun weekend. If you're in town and are a fellow TranquiliT
fan, stop by and see me at the TranquiliT Spring Trunk Show
at TSA tomorrow! I'll be hosting along with our wonderful Boutique Specialist, Patricia ;) Click on the image to the right to enlarge and read all the details...
I hope your weekend is FULL of simple, sensory pleasures. Don't forget to stop, reflect, and experience a sense of gratitude for the small things in life!
Although this image of upward facing dog is beautiful, think about what she's doing to both her cervical and lumbar spine! Eek!!! Image via kristiekahns.com
Can you imagine a yoga practice without upward-facing dog
, or urdhva mukha svanasana? Yeah, neither can I.
But, for the next little while, I'm giving up up dog. Sigh.
Inspired by my new Chiropractor (Dr. Moses
, who is amazing, btw!!!), who thinks there is hope for my body after all and that "we can get this healed up real soon," I've decided to take a holistic approach to getting better--which includes giving up poses that may be aggravating my injuries. One of the perpetrators? Upward-facing dog. At least I think.
So I'm mourning this pose. Not forever, but for now. I've already practiced without it twice, and I'm doing okay...
I've also made time in my schedule for daily icing of my lower back, tennis ball pressure point exercises (intense!), and trips to the Chiropractor for adjustments. Sometimes, you just can't ignore your pain--or your body--anymore, and you must
work to heal yourself. So that's what I'm doing.
My advice to you? If you're suffering from any sort of pain, or are noticing any sort of tweaking anywhere in your body when you practice, begin to really
pay attention--even if it's minor. What poses are causing the pain? Why might that be? Ask your teacher to look at your alignment, and see what could be causing it, or if there is a pose you should be skipping in your body. Upward-facing dog is a beautiful pose that can feel amazing, but for people who are super bendy in their lower backs (like me), taking a deep version of this pose, over and over again, can definitely put pressure on the lumbar spine and cause some issues over time. Just something to think about for those of us who practice almost every day. Yoga is healing and powerful and wonderful
, but it is still a physical activity with a number of repetitive movements--a very important thing to remember for our dear bodies.
So here's to a day of listening to your body!
Now I'm off to paint :)
PS. Please look at what I found when I was looking for a good upward facing dog picture (below). The caption read, "What's up dog?" I don't know why, but I think this is the funniest thing ever.
Image via piccsy.com