age gracefully: what you need to know about yoga for seniors

Yoga is for everybody, and everybody.

No matter your age, there is a yoga practice for you! Beginning a yoga practice can be intimidating for anyone, but it can be especially tricky for those with mature bodies. However, with the benefits that yoga for seniors provides, make it worth practicing.

Anti-Aging Benefits of Yoga

Practicing yoga does a lot for the body as you age, not to mention what it does for the mind. As a yoga teacher, I have noticed that some of my most dedicated students are over the age of 50. These same students tend to be the ones that tell me what a difference they feel in their bodies after just a few weeks of regular practice. It’s easy to feel the difference!

Retains youthful glow.

Read the full article I wrote for beYogi.com HERE! The article shares benefits of yoga as we age, contraindications, and poses to practice!

 

Chanting, Ganesha, & the Magic of Yoga

Something amazing happened. Unknowingly, I took my first step onto the path laid out for me. 

 

I was maybe 21 or 22 years old. I was married to someone who had been keeping big secrets from me since the very beginning. My heart knew something was off, but my head couldn't figure it out. Knowing that you're being lied to, but not having any proof or any reason to believe it is a tricky situation. I was in love. We were riding this roller coaster together. Big highs, and even bigger lows. Sometimes I felt like I was losing my mind. Like pieces of me were getting lost along the ride. I floated on.


I don't remember how I found it. But somehow I learned about a group of yoga teachers that taught all donation based classes outdoors.  I found this great teacher and I went to her classes really regularly. Sometimes I was the only one who showed up. It was my therapy.


Those hours spent doing yoga in the park made me feel sane. They helped me see that there was so much more out there. And that it was okay to want more.


One day after asana practice she taught the group the chant to Ganesha. I had never chanted before. I had no idea who Ganesha was. I'd seen pictures of him before, but I never really knew who he was or what he represented.


She explained that Ganesha was the remover of obstacles. He is depicted with the head of an elephant and the body of a boy. His ears are large, for listening. His belly is large enough to digest any problems, any obstacles, anything that we can't stomach alone. He is often depicted riding a mouse, which symbolizes how light he is - free of any attachments to weigh him down.


Chanting felt... natural, but also other worldly all at once. I felt like this weight had been lifted. And it felt good.


Chanting opens up the most beautiful space around everything. This space is always there. Sometimes we forget because we're so focused on what's happening in our minds. When we chant, the sounds bring us back home to that space within.


After that very first chant to Ganesha, I had a strange almost out of body experience. Maybe not out of body, but certainly out of mouth. I went to the teacher after class to thank her and give a donation, and something strange came out of my mouth. I asked her where she trained to become a yoga instructor. I told her that I had been thinking of becoming one myself.


In fact, that thought had never crossed my mind. I felt like I had just lied to her. But to my surprise, she told me that she knew that I would do it. That I would become a yoga  instructor. Her faith in me gave me faith in myself. I let the thought linger. 

 

That night a friend of mine who is quite psychic read my tarot cards. The message could not be more clear. The cards told me that I was stepping onto my life path - the path of a healer. They told me to follow through with the thoughts that I had been having.

 

Sometimes signs are subtle. Sometimes they're so subtle that we may miss them. Other times, signs are neon

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reminiscing. missing.

I missed my grandfather today. I wished he could've been here in Barcelona with me. To show me the places he knew. That were his.


I've always felt that Barcelona was mine. Not mine in a possessive sense. In the way that a certain style is yours, or a habit. Barcelona was mine.


But today I had that sense that he was missing. This city where he had grown up. Where he had lived. That was his. Here I was just reminiscing about every day I'd spent here, without him.  Without him as a guide or a mentor. And now he was missing.

 La Rambla de Catalunya, Barcelona  

La Rambla de Catalunya, Barcelona  

set yourself free.

So humbled.


One of my students today shared with me after my chair yoga class that she cries in closing meditation every time. She lost her son to a car accident in January and she takes care of her sick husband at home. She has nowhere to cry. She hasn't been able to grieve.


I could see her pain. I could see her confusion. She almost wanted to stop coming so that she wouldn't cry.


Two other women noticed her crying and came over to comfort her. These are the two self appointed "chairmen" of the class (it's chair yoga, get it?). And it just made me realize what an amazing little tribe I have. They support each other, they laugh together, and for many of them that class is the highlight of their week. And the three of us just talked with her about what was going on and reminded her that it's okay to cry, and why it's healthy to cry.


We release things when we cry. When we bottle up emotions they cause tension in the body, and sometimes they can cause some very real harm.


Crying sets your pain free.


Human beings are not meant to carry the heaviness of emotions with us. We're meant to feel them. Process them. And then, let them go.


And in doing so, we set ourselves free.

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release through yoga.

So humbled.

One of my students today shared with me after my chair yoga class that she cries in closing meditation every time. She lost her son to a car accident in January and she takes care of her sick husband at home. She has nowhere to cry. She hasn't been able to grieve.

Two other women noticed her crying and came over to comfort her. These are the two self appointed "chairmen" of the class (it's chair yoga, get it?). And it just made me realize what an amazing little tribe I have. They support each other, they laugh together, and for many of them that class is the highlight of their week. And the three of us just talked with her about what was going on and reminded her that it's okay to cry, and why it's healthy to cry. 

We release things when we cry. When we bottle up emotions they cause tension in the body, and sometimes they can cause some very real harm.

Crying sets your pain free.

This made me feel so grateful that I get to do this work and hold space for people. I get to be a part of their emotional healing journey. 

I cant imagine devoting my life to anything else.  

 

sacral chakra & creativity

I've been wanting to write a blog about each of the chakras for a long time now, but not anything formal or even informative.  I just wanted to write the first thing that comes to mind about each. What I've written below actually wrote itself yesterday. It's about creativity. Which is exactly what I think about when I think about the second chakra. 

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But first, a little about the second chakra.

The second chakra is the sacral chakra, or svadisthana. The element of the sacral chakra is water.

Flow. Movement. Emotion.

 Amorgos Island, Greece  

Amorgos Island, Greece  

Imbalances here can show up as bottling emotions, or being overly emotional, intimacy issues, repressed sexuality, or issues with addiction. It can also show up as writer's block, loss of creativity, or a loss of authenticity

My svadisthana mantra is "Creativity flows through me like water." And some days it's, "I feel, I'm in touch with my emotions, I'm in touch with my sensuality."

So below is what I wrote yesterday about living a creative life. I felt like it was appropriate to share along with this. Hope you dig. :)

Writing can me to tears.

Reading about writers writing gives me butterflies. It's something that I know is mine. I can feel it in my blood. It rushes through my veins like words rush onto a page. 

I feel this way about teaching yoga. Sometimes I feel this way about painting too. 

You don't have to stick to one calling. You can have all the callings you care to. I nourish my inner creator every time I step on a yoga mat, every time I pick up a paint brush, every time I write.

Sometimes I feel like I don't do it enough but the truth is, I just do it when I feel inspired. And sometimes that's five times in one day and other times it's five times in one year. 

The reason I'm writing this is because it asked to be written. But also because I want you to know that you have permission to create whatever your heart desires. 

You have permission to become anyone or anything that you choose. You do not have to stick to the path you're on.  As human beings we are truly blessed with the ability to create. And we do it every day. We create style when we get dressed. We create culinary art when we cook. We create so much more than we give ourselves credit for.

 And that inner artist in you is begging to be recognized. Just to be acknowledged. Then maybe inspiration will flow to you too. And if it doesn't, just play. There is nothing wrong with making art that isn't "good", whatever that means. It's the process that counts, the journey if you will. The act of making the thing, not the thing itself that is important. 

This is our gift. 

To create. To be inspired. To play. To connect with our divine. Our inner creator. 

This is the magic that exists within each and every one of us. 

Whether you choose to accept the gift, or not is your choice.

This is a public promise to myself that I will write when I feel inspired. That I will paint when I need colour. I will move when my body asks me to move. I will live creatively, because it's the only way I can. This is my soul pledge. 

This is a formal invitation to join the movement. There is enough room for all of us. There is enough inspiration to go around for everyone. Will you come create with us? 

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7 days of meditation - post challenge

Ten days ago I challenged myself to meditate twice a day for 7 days. I have not had a regular meditation practice in the past and I have always known that I needed one. I used to think I didn't have time or a good space to meditate - I had a lot of excuses. Those excuses seemed really valid at the time. I had this image of myself in my head with tons of free time and a beautiful meditation cushion in a spare room with crystals, a bronze statue of the Buddha, and palo santo burning. So not necessary. I meditate right next to my bed. Sitting on a yoga block, nothing fancy. When I have time, I meditate for 20+ minutes and when I don't, I meditate for ten. Simple. I do find that I am easily distracted so for me I need something to listen to or mala beads to keep me focused. I used guided meditations from the Mindbliss app and just put headphones in. 

I don't think I've changed much in the past week but there are a few little changes that I've noticed. When I wake up feeling hungry or sleepy, if I meditate right away that hunger and sleepiness subsides. I have been making myself a little ginger tea, apple cider vinegar concoction (it doesn't exactly taste good but it's healthy!), and while I wait for that to cool down (procrastinate drinking it?) I do my morning meditation. I don't know if meditation makes my hunger go away or if it's the anticipation of drinking vinegar, but somehow it works. (**Side note: I have been intermittent fasting so when I first wake up I don't eat right away and the hunger struggle is real**)

Another thing I've noticed is that my meditation practice is different every day. The first three days I felt myself totally blissing out quickly, but then other days I would fidget and check the time and overall struggle. I've seen this in my yoga practice but it never occurred to me that this was also true in meditation. I am slowly teaching myself to be more compassionate to myself on those fidgety days and I'm doing my best not to get attached to the blissed out days. Nothing is permanent. 

The last thing that I became more aware of has been my emotions. Lately I've been (mostly) seeing my emotions as they bubble up, rather than having a reaction and then noticing the emotion. I still react even when I can see that it's just an emotion/thought, but there is a little space now between the moment I see that emotion rise and the moment that I react to it. My work then is to make that space a little larger. My intention is to see thoughts and emotions as they arise and then mindfully choose how I will respond. I am actively practicing this when I drive. Driving in Florida can be exceptionally frustrating, and since I've lived here I've developed my own little strain of road rage. There's a whole lot of "really?!"s and "could you not?"s. But it isn't doing me any good, so I aim to change that. Because changing my perspective is a lot easier than explaining to everyone in my state how I would and would not like them to drive to suit my needs. 

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So to wrap it up, if you don't already have a meditation practice I highly recommend starting one! If you need somewhere to start check out the Mindbliss app! Let me know in the comments what type of meditation you like to practice, and if you don't meditate let me know why not! 

7 day meditation challenge.

So today is day two of my 7 day meditation challenge with myself! I have not been a good meditator in the past but I have always wanted to start a practice. Like anything, I am starting small. I just got the Mindbliss meditation app and my goal is to meditate twice a day. I am only halfway through day two so things are going well. I've been doing a chanting meditation in the morning or early afternoon, and a calming meditation before bed. These are short meditations, 20 minutes or less.

I am posting this to keep myself accountable. The Mindbliss app has meditation journeys, which are several meditation sessions that go together. I chose a 7 day journey, and I'm hoping that after the 7 days I will find another good journey to keep me meditating regularly. I tend to be constantly moving, striving, and doing. The only stillness I am really comfortable in is savasana and I honestly think that is because I worked for it in my practice. So my intention is to find comfort in stillness, and to learn acceptance. 

Today I woke up late so I didn't meditate first thing in the morning, I waited until I got home from teaching my first class. I am also experimenting with intermittent fasting (which I will post about once I've been doing it for a bit longer) so when I got home I was pretty ravenous and normally would have just eaten everything in the house. But instead I meditated. During my meditation I felt aware of the sensation of hunger but somehow detached from it. I was able to meditate with a clear, open mind. And then when I was finished I took my time preparing a meal rather than just devouring whatever was quickest. I'm not saying two whole days of meditation made that difference, but maybe it helped me to change my mindset. I'm definitely interested in seeing where the next seven days will take me. 

If you have a meditation practice or are interested in starting one tell me about it in the comments below! 

Namaste <3

awakening in amorgos: a yoga retreat in greece

 Morning yoga in Amorgos  

Morning yoga in Amorgos  

I am so beyond excited to announce that I will be hosting a yoga retreat on the beautiful Greek island Amorgos! The retreat is this August 19th-26th, 7 nights! Each day will begin with an energizing yoga practice and end with a blissfully relaxing yin practice. The rest of the time will be spent soaking up the sun on the beach, exploring the island and getting immersed in Greek culture, relaxing in the spa, or taking excursions like cave exploration or boat tours. I am truly so grateful for this opportunity to share this transformational trip with you!  

 Amorgos, Greece

Amorgos, Greece

Join me on this week long journey of discovery. Explore the beauty of Greece, while diving deep into the depths of yourself. Leave behind your commitments, your schedule, your to-do lists, and all of the busy-ness of your daily life. Embark on a journey into your soul through your yoga practice, meditation, and allowing yourself to simply be.

 Amorgos, Greece

Amorgos, Greece


This retreat will include daily yoga, meditation, plenty of sunshine, clear blue waters, renewal in the spa, and free time to explore the beauty and the culture of the Greek island of Amorgos. Give yourself the gift of rejuvenation, self discovery, and peace. Take these things with you off of the island and learn to hold this peace within you during the chaos of daily life. 

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I hope to see you on the island! Click this link to reserve your spot! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me at yogawithadriana@gmail.com! 

 Amorgos, Greece

Amorgos, Greece

full moon vibin'.

Still feeling the energy from this past full moon in Leo and lunar eclipse. Things are happening, things are changing. Eclipses are like opening a gateway. They totally shift the flow of things until the next eclipse. Change is always for the better, even if it doesn't feel that way.

I was lucky to hold a Reiki circle on the night of the full moon eclipse with six women. There was definitely a divine feminine energy in the room. The Reiki felt so powerful I could literally feel it swirling through me so much so that my body swayed with it. It felt like a surge. My dreams ever since have been so strange, vivid, and have seemed so real. 

The next eclipse is in August, which is the same month as my retreat in Greece. I feel like for me this shift was into a make-it-happen lioness kind of energy, and the next one will be very much a harvest and enjoy the fruits of my labour kind of vibe. Leo deals with career and money. It is very much a high energy, get things done, and financial flow kind of sign. After Reiki, I usually like to vibe out and become one with the couch, take a bath, or just do something chill. But after this particular circle I got home and started journaling, writing, getting my act together. Totally not typical. This shift couldn't have come at a better time. Forever grateful for divine timing. 

If you've been feeling this moon share your story in the comments! And if you're interested in coming to Greece either leave me a comment, or email me at yogawithadriana@gmail.com! 

Wishing you all a transformative moon cycle! 🌙🌕🌖🌗🌘🌑🌒🌓🌔⭐️💫💛

 Ardha Chandra Chopasana

Ardha Chandra Chopasana

how yoga teacher training changed my life.

One summer I started a journey that would change my life completely. I was 24, freshly divorced, and I had no clue what I was doing. I planned to go away for three months. I grossly over packed.

This was my first solo trip overseas. In fact it was my first solo trip anywhere. I wouldn't be alone the entire trip though, my sister was meeting me halfway through the trip in London.

 La Rambla, Barcelona 2014

La Rambla, Barcelona 2014

The first three days I spent wandering Barcelona in search of my soul. Enjoying this new freedom I'd never felt before. I walked the familiar streets I'd visited before, and some new streets I'd missed in previous trips. Streets where my grandfather grew up, where my mother spent so much of her youth, where I would put my pieces back together and learn to feel whole in solitude. And just as I had started to get my bearings and feel at home again in Barcelona, I flew off to Sevilla.

It was very hot waiting outside at the airport in Sevilla. The heat was dry, just like my home in the desert. I was sitting on a bench waiting to be picked up, listening to pieces of conversations in Spanish. I saw a girl in yoga pants, with a yoga mat. She looked like a hippie and was clearly doing the training with me. We started talking and became fast friends. We'd later discover we were roommates and our nickname throughout training would become "the twins".

 Kayaking in Tajo del Aguila  

Kayaking in Tajo del Aguila  

Each morning was spent in silence. We were up before the sun and silently we would make our way to the yoga shala for morning meditation. Meditation was difficult for me. I hadn't yet developed a sitting practice. I learned to listen. I would listen to the animals outside, the chickens, the cats, the dogs, the peacocks, the horses. I heard them all. I could hear sounds in the kitchen and the occasional buzzing of bees. The silence was never truly silent.  After meditation we would take a short break  and then come back to the room for an energizing yoga practice. Sometimes practice was an hour and a half, sometimes longer. Each day I grew stronger. Each day I learned a new pose I had never before attempted. Each day I was surprised.

 Suryalila Retreat Centre, Villamartin, Spain  

Suryalila Retreat Centre, Villamartin, Spain  

Finally we broke the silence in our breakfast groups. At first these groups felt like just a fun way to get to know people. But as training went on I understood that truly these groups were a form of therapy. Within a week I was sharing pieces of my soul with complete strangers over tea each morning. It was with this group of new friends that repressed memories from my youth came back to me. I pieced together a part of my story that I didn't understand with people who I had only just met. I know it sounds cheesy, but I found myself again. It was such a relief to finally understand why I had so much pain in my heart, why I had acted out and rebelled so much as a teenager. It all made sense. I gained a renewed sense of purpose and I finally began my healing journey. A journey that I am still on.

 Ruins near Suryalila  

Ruins near Suryalila  

I remember walking through the hills, hiking to the tallest peaks, climbing through untouched ruins overgrown with tall grass and wildflowers without ever knowing what used to stand there. I remember roaming through endless fields of sunflowers, exploring the countryside, and making connections that I still hold close in my heart. I remember cool mornings walking barefoot across the property in the dark. I remember the sweat that dripped onto my mat, and the feeling of tears streaming up my face into my hair in wheel pose.

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This training didn't just teach me the names of poses in Sanskrit, or the history of yoga, or anatomy, or how to meditate. I learned the truth of who I am. Parts of myself that had been hidden finally came to the surface. I discovered my own path. I began a healing process that I didn't quite know I needed. This was my beginning. This was my rebirth.

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staying zen through the season.

The holidays can be a stressful time, especially if you're traveling. Airports are packed, traffic is heavy, and literally every store looks like the apocalypse is coming. So in a sea of chaos, how do you keep your calm? Here's a few simple tips that help me out!

 

1. Go with the Flow

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Sure, you have plans. But get ready for them to all go out the window. Things get cancelled, people run late, and it's all fine. When plans change, you have the choice to stress over it or to go with it. "Be water, my friend" has been my mantra lately. It's a quote from Bruce Lee. When I feel myself getting stressed, I think about how water flows around obstacles rather than ramming into them. I highly recommend listening to the Bruce Lee podcast all about this exact quote and how to apply it, not only during the holidays but anytime you find yourself facing a conflict.

 

 

2. Give Yourself Time & Space

Try not to expect the world to run according to your plans.  Leave some space in your schedule for longer lines, heavier traffic, and delayed flights. Get to the airport two hours early. You know the lines will be five times longer, why not be ready for it? If you think you're taking a quick trip to the grocery store, think again. Plan for parking to take longer, expect longer lines, and don't be disappointed if your five minute trip takes 25 minutes.

 

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3. Use Aromatherapy

Carry some essential oils with you. You can buy roll on essential oils at Whole Foods, Sprouts, or through doTerra. Lavender is wonderful for soothing anxiety and also helps you sleep. I like sandalwood as well which is great for grounding. Peppermint is energizing and great for days when you need a little pick me up. Roll some onto your wrists and take a few deep breaths in.

 

4. Practice, Practice, Practice

Honor your daily yoga and meditation practice. If you have to shorten it, that's perfectly fine. But make sure that you take the time for yourself. My family can attest to the fact that I am not myself if I haven't practiced. Tame the beast. Practice yoga.

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5. And Practice Some More

This is also an incredible time to practice your off the mat yoga. Catch yourself when you're not in the moment. Practice ahimsa, compassion, towards everyone you interact with. And yes, that means the woman behind you in line complaining loudly about where she has to be. A Buddhist monk once told me a story about how he was in Target and the line was quite long and someone a few people behind him was complaining out loud to herself about the line, the employees, anything she could find to whine about. So he asked her if she would like to cut him in line. It probably made the difference of a few minutes. But after that she stopped complaining. Sometimes people don't know how they sound. They don't realize they're making things worse for everyone around them. And you have the opportunity to be compassionate and allow them to experience compassion. Do it with kindness. It's too easy to get sucked into that stressed out mindset. Notice when your thoughts and your body get pulled into unnecessary suffering and anchor yourself back into the moment. Be with your breath. Feel your feet in your shoes and the sensation of clothing on your skin. Get grounded and find stillness within yourself. This is your living yoga practice.

 

I hope you all have a super chill and magical holiday! I'd love to hear from you! Share how you keep your cool during the holiday season with me below in the comments!

natural deodorants that don't stink.

Let's face it, deodorant is pretty bad for your body for a multitude of reasons. It contains several different carcinogens, such as parabens and aluminum compounds which are both linked to breast cancer, as well as silica, talc, and triclosan. A lot of deodorants also include propylene glycol, which is a neurotoxin that can cause liver and kidney damage. So why the heck do we keep swiping it on every day? Because we want to smell pretty. And that is totally okay.

I sweat a lot. Like it’s basically my job to sweat. Not only do I teach yoga, but I also teach Pilates, Barre, RealRyder Indoor Cycling, POUND, and sometimes Bootcamp. I usually teach more than one class per day, sometimes three or four. I absolutely love what I do, but I honestly need deodorant. I would be super gross without it.

When I first switched to natural deodorant, I’m not gonna lie it was not so pretty. My sister is really honest with me and she told me to switch back immediately. I assumed that if one didn’t work, none of them would. And after two weeks of smelling pretty rank, I went back to my old deodorant.

About a year later I tried again but with a different brand, and same thing. It didn’t work. This happened a few more times, but finally after trying seven different kinds of natural deodorant I finally know what works for me. So I’m sharing my experiences with natural deodorant so you don’t have to smell yourself in downdog! Of course what works for me, may not work for you. But these are my honest reviews of everything I've tried! Hope it helps you find your happy pit place!

Jason Nourishing Apricot Deodorant Stick

This was the first brand I tried. I know because it’s still sitting mostly unused in my bathroom cabinet. I’m not saying this one won’t work for you, but it definitely didn’t work for me. The ingredients do also include silica, which is a carcinogen. I’d say this one stinks.

Tom’s of Maine Long Lasting Unscented Deodorant Stick

This was the second brand that I tried. It also didn’t work. Sometimes I even thought that it was making me smell worse than I would have without any deodorant. The first ingredient in this is propylene glycol, which is a neurotoxin that may cause liver and kidney damage. I’d have to say, this one also reeks.

Trader Joe’s Unscented Deodorant with Cotton

This one isn’t technically natural, but I bought it because it is paraben and aluminum free. It still contains propylene glycol, and steareth-20 which are both carcinogens. I honestly didn’t hate this. For normal everyday activity, it held up. But when it came to teaching a Bootcamp, hot yoga, or a spin class, I just couldn’t use this. Depending on what your average day looks like, this may not be a bad choice for you - however considering the ingredients, you may find one even better.

Coconut Oil

Yup. Just coconut oil. I met a woman at a yoga festival who said that was all she used. And she totally didn’t smell bad so I thought I’d give it a whirl. For an average, chill day this is totally fine as long as you reapply every five hours or so. But if I work out at all, or am out in the sun for too long, it won’t cut it. Maybe this is oversharing but I feel like it gives me a very weird smell, not like body odor, but just weird. And the oil gets on your clothes and is kind of messy. But overall if you’re going all natural and you don’t sweat much, why not try it? You probably already have coconut oil in your house anyway so it’s a great, cheap, and sustainable option.

Primal Pit Paste Lavender Scented Natural Deodorant

This was the first brand that I officially switched to. It really works. The ingredients are totally all natural, it has a nice light lavender scent, but of course, there’s a catch. It is made with an aluminum free sodium bicarbonate - baking soda. This may not affect you in any way, but my skin is sensitive to it and it gives me an itchy, red rash. I put coconut oil on first and that makes it less bad, but I still get a rash from it. If you know that your skin is sensitive, this may not be for you. It definitely works though, so it’s worth a shot!

PiperWai Natural Deodorant

I like to live on the edge. So I test drove this one for three days at Coachella with no back up plan. This could have ended really badly, but luckily it didn't. PiperWai did not let me down. Not only did I not smell, but I also didn’t really sweat. It uses activated charcoal to absorb moisture. And best of all for me was that it didn't irritate my skin!

Way of Will 02 Natural Deodorant Tea Tree + Pumpkin Seed

I love this stuff. It has coconut oil and shea butter which feels amazing on your skin. The tea tree and peppermint oil make it smell amazing, and the peppermint oil is also cooling so it literally feels refreshing to put on. My skin is sensitive, but this one doesn’t give me a rash or bother me at all. It actually feels good. And, most importantly, it works - even for my sweaty lifestyle!

make noise.

You know what's really healing? Music.

And also hitting things with drum sticks.  

I've always loved music. Can't say that I've met someone who doesn't. What you're listening to at each stage of your life is an indicator of what you're feeling. Who you perceive yourself to be. And who you'd like to believe you are. Sometimes music gets us through some heavy shit. Sometimes it says the words we can't. Sometimes music speaks to our souls in ways nothing else does. And rocking out just makes you feel better.  

I don't consider myself a musical person - like at all. But I definitely went through a stage where I idolized Meg White and wanted to become a drummer. And today that dream came true (kind of).  

I just became a certified POUND Pro. And if you don't know what that means, that's cool, three months ago neither did I. Pound is like tapping into all of your teenage rock star dreams and just setting them free. It's a work out that uses lightly weighted drum sticks. It has some elements of Pilates, strength training, and cardio. Honestly I did not for one second feel like I was working out. It was fun and flew by. But now I'm sore and actually sort of dreading how sore I'm going to be tomorrow (just kidding I love that feeling). 

Back to the music. Music does strange things to our brains. In a good way. Singing and speaking are not processed the same in the brain - which is why people who speak with an accent are able to sing without one.  "Numerous studies have proven the powerful brain boosting, stress-relieving effects of drumming. The rhythm of drumming permeates the entire brain to improve focus, increase higher-level thinking and decision-making skills, boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, decrease chronic pain, anxiety, and fatigue." Drumming has also shown positive effects on people with Parkinson's and ADD. 

If you happen to see a POUND class near you I definitely encourage you to check it out! Unleash you inner rockstar! Get out there and make some noise!

feelin' so thankful

I am back home for Thanksgiving and I am feeling oh so thankful. I wrote down a gratitude list of a few things I'm grateful for right now. Gratitude practice is linked to feeling more grateful spontaneously - and the most grateful people are also the happiest. One of my teachers once said that gratitude is the fast track to happiness. It's true. When you pause and just think about all that you have to be grateful for, any heaviness that you may have been feeling just drifts away. I always feel so much lighter and better when I remember these things. I encourage you to keep a gratitude journal, or write a gratitude list, or even write a thank you letter that you may or may not send out. This is my gratitude list: 

  • I have a family that I love, vibe with, and belong to. 
  • I have friends who are are so alike and so different in so many ways. They are loving, badass, interesting, funny, and they inspire me to be a better version of myself all of the time. 
  • Right now, I'm surrounded by mountains. Every where I look, there's just this incredible reminder of how great things take time. Beauty is all around us. This earth is awe inspiring and majestic and I am so lucky to get to be a part of it. The mountains also remind me of the fact that the view at the top is breath taking and it takes a climb to get there. We absolutely must do the work, because it is oh so worth our time - and, the work itself is beautiful and enjoyable as long as we stop and enjoy where we are every now and then. 
  • I am grateful for yoga. For too many reasons to count, but especially for inspiring me, for challenging me, and for keeping me grounded, centered, and happy. 
  • I have the right to choose what I do for a living. I have the honor and privilege of being born in a country with  running water, an abundance of food, and all of the creature comforts that I've grown so used to. If I get sick, there's a hospital nearby. If I want to go to school, there are great universities. I have access to the internet pretty much all the time (and I take advantage of it ALL the time). I have the ability to connect, share my thoughts, and research anything I'd like online without restriction. 
  • I have clean water to drink. Clean air to breathe. I can eat what I want - and I live in a place with organic food and so many vegan options, it's amazing. Not everyone has this so readily available.
  • I have a boyfriend who I love, and who loves me, He knows all of my shit. I know all of his. We have absolutely no boundaries with each other. I can say the hippiest shit ever, I can talk to him in all of the accents, and just be an overall giant weirdo. And he gets me. 
  • I am grateful for the sun. For warmth, for light, and for life. 
  • I have too many things to be grateful for to consolidate into one list. 

Tell me something you're grateful for in the comments! 

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play. every damn day.

 Seven Magic Mountains

Seven Magic Mountains

Do whatever it is that you are meant to do here. If you're a mover, move. If you're a shaker, shake. Whether you create masterpieces out of clay, paint, food, photos, words, or fabric - create. Wherever your path leads you, go there with all of your heart. If you're a builder, build something that you can be proud of. If you're a chef, cook something that you wish you could share with the entire world. If you're a dancer, move people with your movement. And if you don't know what your path is yet, think back to when you were young. What did you love to do for play? When is the last time you did that? When is the last time you built a sandcastle or made a snow angel? Or finger painted? And why not? Your path may have nothing to do with building snow men, but I'd be willing to bet if you let yourself get lost in play, you'd find yourself, find your path, and find your purpose.

Most animals in the wild have been observed playing. If you have an animal, you know they love to play. They've actually done studies on baby rats to study the affects of play deprivation, versus normal play on the brain and the results are pretty incredible. There have been a few different studies done. To sum it up, rats who experienced play deprivation did not possess the social skills necessary to be a functional adult rat, they were unable to differentiate appropriate from inappropriate aggression (appropriate as in normal rough and tumble play), and in another study they found that the play deprived rats had a more immature pattern of neuronal connections in the medial prefrontal cortex - which would basically mean that they would have had trouble socializing and integrating. Of course, we're not rats and our brains may not respond the exact same way, but there's definitely a correlation between play and overall mental health. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. 

From my own experience, I've also found that if I am at work trying to force a good idea or if I've been sitting and trying really hard to write for too long, nothing comes. I solve problems better, write better, and think more clearly when my mind is relaxed. Luckily for me, in my current job I go back and forth between teaching classes and doing actual "work" (teaching is my job, but it doesn't feel like it - it feels like play!), I get to go "play" for an hour and then sit back down and work on my projects. After I've "played", I'm more relaxed, which also equates to more focus. Play is inspiring. So when I sit back down to work, my mind isn't jumping all over the place. I nail down one thing at a time. There are of course days when I go in to work specifically to work on things I haven't had time for, and those days I am usually not teaching a class. I can honestly say that it takes me longer, I tend to jump from one project to the next without getting much done, and my mind feels like a bull stuck in a room with brick walls just ramming into one wall, backing up and ramming into another wall without making a dent in any of them. Once I notice that, it's time to get up and move. Take some deep breaths, take a little walk, stretch, do something. When I come back, I am almost always more focused and ready to get things done. 

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There is a really great book out there by Brigid Schulte called Overwhelmed: How to Work, Love & Play When No One Has the Time. And if you want to learn more about the importance of play and of balance I highly recommend reading it. It has totally changed my idea of how work should be done and I love it. I plan on rereading it if I ever start to feel overwhelmed again. Which, let's be honest, I probably will. I have almost always worked multiple jobs, and I definitely used to be a workaholic. Just working multiple jobs that were not satisfying or rewarding in any way. Things that I didn't really like but I was good at. I would put in long hours, I would always offer to stay late. I have worked 23 hours straight, slept 3 hours, and went back to work for another 16. Even now, I find myself wanting to say yes to every work opportunity that comes up and agreeing to take on more projects than I can logistically complete given the amount of hours I want to put in. So this is kind of a constant battle for me. Now it's almost harder because I love most of my jobs. I love being there and it's rewarding - but I find I have less time for my practice, less time to write, and less time to play. And at the end of a week, that's draining. 

Lose yourself in play for the sake of play. And if you're not sure where to start, take a painting class, go to an acro yoga class, or go for a hike. We all need a little play. And with busy work schedules, house work, and endless errands, we need it even more. Make the time, Schedule it. Consider it necessary for your own health and well-being. Because it is. And when you're feeling overwhelmed with the to do list,  don't ram your head into a wall - go play! The list can wait. 

 

together as ONE.

Today we got some harrowing news. My first reaction was fear and sadness. I felt betrayed by my country. But this isn't about me. This is about all of us together. Those who voted for Trump voted out of fear. Many Trump supporters may be racist, or sexist, or xenophobic but I guarantee not all are. It's not okay to just group them all into one basket, we all have our reasons. Many of these people have experienced economic hardship and they don't know what to do. They look to him for change because they are afraid. I can't pretend to understand it fully and I certainly don't support it but I do see where it comes from. I'm afraid too. Afraid for what the future will look like. It's as though we took two steps (terms) forward, and now we're taking ten steps back. How many more steps backward will we blindly take before falling off the edge? 

We have to remain hopeful. We have to believe in love and keep our faith in humanity. It's hard to see the light, but we have to trust the process and trust that the universe has our back. Maybe it's time for a total revolution? Who knows? 

As a woman, a Latina, first generation immigrant, and a sexual assault survivor, I took this news pretty hard. My grandparents left Cuba as political refugees with my infant mother. They left the country before it turned to total communism. Many people supported Castro when he was first coming into power. They were led to believe that they would have democracy. He was very persuasive at first. I believe many people are swayed by Trump in the same way. Hitler captivated people who were afraid as well. These leaders spoke to their fears and their blind patriotism. I believe Trump is speaking to that same part of people. I'm not saying he's going to become a totalitarian leader or start another genocide, I'm only saying that he's used similar tactics. 

Trump is just a symptom of that fear. We have to treat the root cause. What are we collectively afraid of? And what is the remedy? The only cure I know for fear is love. Unconditional, boundless love. The political party system separates us. Countries separate us. Religion separates us. We need to come together as a global community. 

A few years ago  I  was in Barcelona in this park called Parc de la Ciutadella.  I was climbing around and playing on this cool art installation that I thought was probably meant to be climbed on since it was in a park. This homeless woman was nearby making these giant bubbles, like human sized ones using two sticks with a string tied between them. She came over and yelled, "See, now you're breaking the law!" She told me how ridiculous it was that I could be fined for climbing on this structure. I think she was also probably trying to warn me a bit assuming I didn't realize I could get fined. We started talking about everything from politics to religion to how countries divide us. My friend asked her what nationality she was, she sounded British but we weren't sure. She got very animated and exclaimed, "I'm Globish!"

I loved that answer. And honestly that's all we all are. What country we comes from means nothing in the end. This Universe is vast and ever expanding. We are one global community, whether we act like it or not. I believe we will come together and I believe that the future is brighter than it appears right now. 

Today I am imagining a better world. I'm imagining a world where we come together as one... "Imagine there's no countries. It isn't hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for. And no religion too. Imagine all the people living life in peace."

 

 

 Christiania, the free town in Copenhagen.&nbsp;

Christiania, the free town in Copenhagen. 

stop building that wall.

What would it take for you to strip down your walls and just be you? Totally uninhibited. Authentic. You. 

At one point none of us had these boundaries and barriers around us. Children are born wild, carefree, and totally uninhibited. It's only as we grow older that we learn insecurities. How many years has it taken for you to build that fort around your heart? How may years did it take for you to install a filter between mind and mouth? Some forts and filters are good, no doubt. I'm talking about those filters that stop you from speaking the truth from your heart. The ones that make you stop chasing your dreams and settle for the logical choice. How many years will it take for you to knock them back down? 

Think back. Way back. Back to the very first time someone you loved hurt you. That day that you experienced your very first heart break was the day you laid down your first brick. And each time you experienced suffering, you laid down another. Each time you felt rejected, you laid down another. And each time you avoided pain by not speaking your mind or following your heart, you laid down another brick. Some of us are expert builders and we hide behind cold stone forts. We forget that inside that fort lives in our inner sunshine children, our innocence. 

When did we stop being wild? Trade your security for the rush of spontaneity. Just once. Do something for you - something absolutely ridiculous. Something that lights you up inside. Go explore. Travel. Go skydiving. Make art with every once of your soul. Take a trust fall. And know that the Universe will catch you.