How Yoga Teacher Training Changes Lives

Westside Yoga Teacher Training Graduate Liz Jin shares her story of transformation!

Contrary to popular belief, Yoga Teacher Training is not just for people who want to teach yoga. It is a comprehensive course that is designed to pride a broad view of the power of this practice, perfect for anyone who wants to understand the fundamentals of yoga, as well as those who want to teach the practice to others. Topics covered include anatomy, physiology, pose alignment, energy management, philosophy, and much, much more.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my YTT experience lately, as we prepare for our next 200 Hour RYT yoga teacher training Westside Yoga, this fall. I will be co-leading the training with Rebecca Galla-Jones, along with some of our experienced teachers, and some very special guests from our yoga community.  Preparing for the course, and talking about it with our students, has reminded me that YTT was the beginning of all of the major health transformations in my life.

When I first got into yoga, almost 20 years ago, I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. I was recovering from a life-altering car accident at the time, and was living with a lot of chronic pain. My first yoga experience felt impossible–everything hurt and I had to rest a lot. But I did what I could, and I was shocked that, afterwards, I felt less pain.

There was also this happiness thing. After class I felt happier, and more hopeful, than I had in quite some time. Maybe ever. I left that first class knowing that I would do this practice for the rest of my life, and I still feel that way today.

Back then, though, actually practicing yoga was really hard. I struggled a lot, but it was something I just knew I had to do. I added yoga classes to my weekly routine, never missing a Tuesday night class. As my gym added more classes, I put those on my schedule as well. I also started practicing in the mornings at home, with videos and TV shows. As I grew more comfortable on the mat, I was sick less often, and I had a lot more energy.

Daily yoga practice was life-changing. I noticed that the more I practiced and studied the meaning of yoga, the more the pieces of my life fell into place. I felt more confident, more empowered, and more ALIVE than I had ever been. My friends could see the change in me, but it was hard for them to understand what had happened. The power of yoga is difficult to put into words, and much easier to understand in practice.

Unfortunately, there were few easy ways for people to practice yoga back then. One day I had this funny thought: “If no one else is going to teach, than maybe I should.” It seemed ridiculous, to say it outloud to my husband: “I think I should be a yoga teacher”. We both giggled the first time I mentioned it.

But that thought turned into a calling I could not deny, and THAT is why I walked into LA Fitness and applied to be a yoga teacher. They didn’t care that I had never taught yoga before, and I didn’t care that the class only paid $17. It was just something I felt I had to do; it gave me purpose.

So…it was 2001, when I taught my first class, and there were no RYTs, no Yoga Alliance, and certainly no standards for yoga teachers. The manager at the gym didn’t take me seriously at first–at least not until I started filling my classes, and the members demanded more yoga on the schedule.

My Tuesday and Thursday night classes grew quickly in the months that followed, and it was exciting, but it also made me even more nervous about my teaching. Am I teaching this right? What if someone gets hurt? What if I get fired? My fears grew, week over week, so when I saw an ad for YTT in Yoga Journal Magazine, I jumped at the chance to get certified.

I applied to Peachtree Yoga Center in the summer of 2002, and began training that fall. I’ll admit I was intimidated at first, but it was clear that the struggle was there to serve me. Those long weekends of training added more to my life than I ever could have imagined.

It was during YTT that this practice really came alive for me. I discovered why yoga makes me feel so happy (samadhi, or bliss, is actually one of the eight disciplines of yoga), and learned new ways to add yogic techniques to my life. As I embraced yoga philosophy, and applied it to my life, I figured out how to control my migraines without medication, and finally got off the painkillers I had taken for years. I learned how to breathe more effectively, think more clearly, and be more of the person I always hoped to be. It deepened my faith, and made me feel like everything really is going to be ok. Most importantly, YTT gave me the background and confidence I needed to teach others in an effective and inspiring way.

Looking back now, YTT was, by far, the most empowering experience of my entire life. It opened my mind and my heart to possibilities that I never would have considered otherwise. Ask anyone you know who has completed YTT, and I expect you will hear the same.

The truth is that yoga is for everyone, and this training can help everyone. No matter what you have been through or what you are facing, learning how to apply yoga to your experiences can improve your life. They say that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Yoga is the teacher, and it will call to you when the time is right. Answer the call, and give yourself the gift of becoming a true yogi.

We are thrilled to be leading Yoga Teacher Training on the Westside of Atlanta this fall. The course will run from September 8, 2016 -December 17, 2016 at Westside Yoga, and students of all levels and backgrounds are welcome. Feel free to contact me if you are interested, and I’d be happy to help you get started. Or if you just want to follow our adventures in YTT, like us on Facebook and find us on Instagram.

Much love,

Amber

 

Photo by Jamie Annarino at Westside Yoga

 

 

100 Days of Crazy Healthy Week 11

Welcome to Week 11 of 100 Days of Crazy Healthy! By now, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed, bored, or discouraged with this process–and that is totally normal! It’s not easy to transform our lives! Practicing yoga every day, and changing our diets brings up our stuff–the emotional barriers that get in our way. To overcome these feelings, remember to stay in the present moment, and make one choice at a time. It all adds up, so even if you slip a little, remember that you can get back on track quickly, by recommitting to the program and believing that everything is possible.

For Week 11, we will add backbends to our daily yoga practice. This habit should take you approximately one minute each day. Choose one of the three poses below, and practice each for 10 full breaths, three times in a row. Full backbends are best practiced after sun salutations, standing poses, and twists, but remember that you can always use less intense backbends as stretches throughout the day. An example would be standing tall, stretching arms up with palms facing each other, and bending back slightly to stretch upper back only.

As always, feel free to contact me if you have questions! Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

Namaste~

Amber

Daily Habits For Week 11

1. Upon waking, scrape your tongue from front to back with a spoon, or tongue scraper. This will remove the ama (toxins) that have built up in your mouth over night. Rinse your mouth with water, being careful to not swallow any of the water, and brush your teeth afterward. Read more about the powerful practice of tongue scraping here.

2. Drink 12 oz. of warm, filtered water, before consuming food. You may add lemon or lime to the water if you would like.

3. Enjoy quinoa with fruit and nuts, or a crazy healthy smoothie, for breakfast every morning.

4. Practice 5 B series Sun Salutations, moving intentionally on each inhale and exhale, as shown in the photo from Week 1. Don’t rush, and don’t think about anything besides the breath and the pose. This will feel difficult, if you are new to yoga, but reject this idea in favor of doing the work. For those who have practiced yoga before, doing 5 Sun Salutations every day may feel boring–do it anyway and trust the process. Play the music you love, or use my playlists on Spotify. Make it a moving meditation. Changes will happen on such a deep level in your body, that you won’t even be aware that you are being transformed. It’s a beautiful thing! It is preferable to practice in the morning before showering, but this may be done at night, if necessary. Do whatever it takes, to complete this task every day! Don’t allow yourself to crawl into bed at night, until it is done. It takes me exactly one minute to complete a B Series Sun Salutation, using full inhales and exhales, and it should be the same for you, so this is a 5 minute exercise.

5. Practice 3 minutes of core work every day, comprised of 100 bicycles, 20 toe touches and 6 plank exercises, as described in Week 3. The bicycles may be broken up into 5 sets of 2 or 2 sets of 50–doesn’t matter as long as you do 100 each day. The same is true for toe touches and planks…break it up if you can’t do them all at once. This may be done after sun salutations, or any other time during the day. No matter what, don’t go to bed at night, until you have completed this work.

6. After practicing your core work, roll over to your stomach, and practice poses to strengthen your back, as described in Week 8. Stretch your arms forward, and legs straight back. Lift your right arm and left leg, lengthening forward and back, and hold for 20 breaths. You may break this into 2 sets of 10 breaths if you wish. If you feel pain in your lower back, lower your arm and leg until you feel balanced. Remember, it doesn’t matter what the pose looks like, as long as you are meeting resistance and breathing into it. Lower limbs to the ground, and repeat on the other side, also holding for 20 breaths. Next, lift both arms and both legs at the same time. Try to relax the lower back, and let the hands and feet lift as they reach. Note: the photo above shows the pose performed with palms facing the earth, but I prefer to practice these poses with palms facing each other. Both are correct, so you may decide which is most effective for your purposes.

7. Eat raw or roasted veggies with a healthy fat for your afternoon snack, as described in Week 3, or substitute a green juice, as described above.

8. Practice Pigeon Pose, for one full minute on each side, as described in Week 5. Remember, the more you move your front foot forward, the deeper the stretch. Find your edge, and breathe into it. The back leg should be straight back behind you, and the hips are level.

9. After practicing pigeon on both sides, practice Cobbler’s Pose for one full minute. Keep your back flat, and reach the heart forward, for maximum effect. You may use your elbows to press into your thighs, to deepen the stretch.

10. Eat a vegetarian soup or salad for lunch. Prepare it (or order it) with the intention of maximizing your nutrient intake, as described in Week 4.

11. Practice twists for 30 seconds on each side (about 10 full inhales and exhales). As you twist, keep your mouth closed, inhale through your nose, and allow your inhales to fill the belly. As you exhale through your nose, draw the belly back toward the spine. Think about what is happening internally as you twist: the movement in the spine is creating more space in the body, and your breathing is applying gentle pressure to your internal organs, to improve how they detoxify your body.

12. Practice backbends for 10 breaths, three times in a row. Choose one of the poses below. Remember that back bending compresses the vertebrae, so it is essential to move slowly and with intention, keeping length in the spine as much as possible. Length is created by grounding through the foundation of the pose, and creating lightness and extension in the upper half of the pose. Also,   take care to keep the lower spine and butt relaxed at all times.

13. Find daily inspiration to keep fighting the fight on my Facebook page. And remember, you can do this! It may seem too difficult to some, and too simple to others, but either way, trust the struggle.

We can do hard things, so trust the struggle. I’m always here to help, so please don’t hesitate to email your questions.

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100 Days of Crazy Healthy Week 5

How did you do with the first four weeks of 100 Days of Crazy Healthy?

For the fifth week of our health challenge, we will continue with our commitments, and add hip openers to our yoga routine.

Hip openers are essential for creating balance in the body. Our hips carry a lot of emotion and stress that can become toxic, if not released. Daily hip openers help us stay grounded during difficult times, and can prevent injuries and falls that can become problematic as we age.

These poses can feel more painful than other stretches, because they endure a lot of impact every day. Remember to breathe deeply, and quiet the mind, to get the most out of your hip openers. The more the mind and body resist, the harder it becomes to open the hips.

Daily Habits For Week 5

1. Upon waking, scrape your tongue from front to back with a spoon, or tongue scraper. This will remove the ama (toxins) that have built up in your mouth over night. Rinse your mouth with water, being careful to not swallow any of the water, and brush your teeth afterward. Read more about the powerful practice of tongue scraping here.

2. Drink 12 oz. of warm, filtered water, before consuming food. You may add lemon or lime to the water if you would like.

3. Practice 5 B series Sun Salutations, moving intentionally on each inhale and exhale, as shown in the photo from Week 1. Don’t rush, and don’t think about anything besides the breath and the pose. This will feel difficult, if you are new to yoga, but reject this idea in favor of doing the work. For those who have practiced yoga before, doing 5 Sun Salutations every day may feel boring–do it anyway and trust the process. Play the music you love, or use my playlists on Spotify. Make it a moving meditation. Changes will happen on such a deep level in your body, that you won’t even be aware that you are being transformed. It’s a beautiful thing! It is preferable to practice in the morning before showering, but this may be done at night, if necessary. Do whatever it takes, to complete this task every day! Don’t allow yourself to crawl into bed at night, until it is done. It takes me exactly one minute to complete a B Series Sun Salutation, using full inhales and exhales, and it should be the same for you, so this is a 5 minute exercise.

4. Practice 3 minutes of core work every day, comprised of 100 bicycles, 20 toe touches and 6 plank exercises. The bicycles may be broken up into 5 sets of 2 or 2 sets of 50–doesn’t matter as long as you do 100 each day. The same is true for toe touches and planks…break it up if you can’t do them all at once. This may be done after sun salutations, or any other time during the day. No matter what, don’t go to bed at night, until you have completed this work.

To perform bicycles, lie on your back, and bring your right elbow to meet your left knee. Move intentionally, and on the breath, exhaling as the elbow reaches toward the knee, inhaling as you release the crunch. Count every time you reach the right knee to left elbow. Do not let the knee come forward of the hip.

To perform toe touches, lie on your back, with legs straight. Stretch arms overhead, and then lift feet and hands to meet each other, keeping arms and legs straight. Move slowly and intentionally, and take breaks as you need them. Always exhale as you crunch and inhale as you release.

To perform planques, begin in Down Dog, then bring knee-to-nose, knee-to-elbow, and knee to opposite elbow. Shift your hips forward to bring shoulders over wrists. Hold each for 20 breaths (or two sets of ten breaths each), and make sure you do them on both sides of your body.

4. Drink a Crazy Healthy Smoothie for breakfast each morning. Crazy Healthy Smoothies are balanced meals, prepared with awareness and intention to fuel the body. We include pure fruit juice, sweet and sour whole fruit, greens, healthy fat, and protein, for an energizing start to our day. It helps to think about smoothies from an ayurvedic perspective: how many flavors can we fit into one meal? Mixing sweet and sour fruits with bitter veggies, pungent nut butters, and spicy herbs (think ginger and cayenne) can help us start the day off feeling energizing and ready to tackle the world. Learn how to make Crazy Healthy Smoothies here.

5. Eat raw or roasted veggies with a healthy fat for your afternoon snack. Some examples would be celery with almond or peanut butter (organic if possible), bell pepper strips with hummus and organic olive oil, asparagus roasted with grape seed oil and sea salt, spring mix with avocado, lemon and sea salt, or roasted sweet potatoes with grape seed oil and sea salt.

6. Eat a vegetarian soup or salad for lunch. Prepare it (or order it) with the intention of maximizing your nutrient intake. Consider Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutritarian Food Pyramid (below) when making your choices.

7. Practice Pigeon Pose, for one full minute on each side. Remember, the more you move your front foot forward, the deeper the stretch. Find your edge, and breathe into it. The back leg should be straight back behind you, and the hips are level.

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8. After practiing pigeon on both sides, practice Cobbler’s Pose for one full minute. Keep your back flat, and reach the heart forward, for maximum effect. You may use your elbows to press into your thighs, to deepen the stretch.

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9. Find daily inspiration to keep fighting the fight on my Facebook page. I will share quotes, and ancient wisdom to support the habits we are creating.

You can do this! It may seem too difficult to some, and too simple to others, but either way, trust the struggle. Don’t think, just do. I’m here to help, so please don’t hesitate to email your questions.

Learning To Fly

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Looking back now, twenty years into my crazy healthy life, it’s clear that being healthy is more of a journey, than a destination. Small choices add up over time, and before we know it, we feel stronger and happier than we ever imagined. I was reminded of this yesterday, when, after many months of unsuccessful practice, I finally figured out a difficult pose on my yoga mat.

I’ve worked hard, to master standing poses, backbends, twists, and stretches. But, for years, I avoided arm balances that seemed “impossible”, such as side crow, peacock pose, and running man (Kaundinyasana). I didn’t think I would ever succeed.

It’s pretty easy for a yogini to avoid learning arm balances, because teachers always offer alternatives for those who don’t want to balance. Given the option, I took it. I was too afraid of failing, hurting myself, or just looking like a fool.

When I turned 40 in 2011, however, I decided it was now or never. I got serious about learning the arm balances. I sought advice from teachers, read about the poses online, practiced at home, and changed my mind about what was possible.

Slowly, but surely, I made progress. It became a game, and now I “collect” poses.

I make up my mind to learn a pose, and don’t quit until I achieve my goal. I flip through my yoga books, search photos on the internet for inspiration, and work on one or two balances at a time.

Sometimes it takes months, or maybe even a year. But I just keep trying. When I finally figure it out, I check it off my list, and look for a new pose to master.

In the past two years, I have collected ten new balances poses that I could not do before (photos of most of them are on the Facebook page for My Crazy Healthy Life).

Even though I have collected some really cool new balance poses in the past two years, there is still a part of me that believes I will never conquer all of them.

Kaundinyasana in particular, is one that had always eluded me, and I doubted I could master. It’s also a pose that you see pictured often in yoga magazines, which makes it seem like all the great yogis can do it.

So, of course, not being able to practie Kaundinyasana made me feel separate. Like I couldn’t quite measure up.

When I feel that way these days, I remind myself that anything is possible on my mat, with enough time and dedication, and I just keep trying.

I’m always glad I did, because eventually the poses click, as Kaundinyasana did yesterday. Like the pieces of a puzzle, it all came together, and I learned to fly in this crazy arm balance. It was such a surprise, and afterward I felt giddy for the rest of the day.

The most awesome thing about learning Kaundinyasana is that learning a yoga pose is exactly like riding a bike. It’s difficult, frustrating, and overwhelming for a while. Once you learn it, however, you own it for life.

I woke up this morning feeling profoundly grateful, inspired to learn another new pose, and feeling the need to share this story with you. I hope it reminds you that anything is possible. Keep making choices, and believing that you can be everything you hope to be, and one day soon you’ll find yourself flying in more ways than you ever imagined.

Namaste~

Amber

How To Create a Home Yoga Practice

HomeYoga660For many people, it’s really hard to practice yoga at home.

I struggled with my home practice for years, even after I earned my teacher training certification in 2002, and especially after I had kids. Every time I got on my mat, I would remember the laundry that needed to be put in the dryer…and the snack I forgot to prepare for my kids…and the trash I should have taken out…and on and on.

I finally realized that staying on my mat is difficult by design. The poses aren’t the work in yoga. They might stretch and tone my muscles, but the real yoga happens when I arrive on my mat, and surrender to the experience.

If you think you might be ready to practice yoga at home, remember that you don’t necessarily need books, DVDs, or podcasts. All you need to practice yoga at home is a quiet space, a mat, your breath, and a willingness to listen to your body. You can add a little music, too, if you feel moved to do so.

Here’s an easy way to think about sequencing your practice:

1) Warm Up

Sun salutations are a great way to begin a home practice (I recommend starting with 3-5 rounds). Move through the first round slowly, holding each pose for several breaths. Add in some stretches as you see fit. For additional sun salutations, listen to your body, and decide whether it is best to transition between poses with every breath, or every few breaths. There are benefits to both applications (read more about that here). Remember to always keep your mouth closed, and breathe through your nose.

2) Build Strength and Awareness

Next, pick 3-5 standing poses, such as side angle pose, triangle pose, chair pose, or any others you remember from previous experiences. Hold each pose for 5-10 full breaths. Find your drishti (focused gaze in front of you, or looking up) in each pose, and hold steady. Practice each pose 2-3 times.

3) Balance

Afterward, challenge your balance in tree pose, and dancer pose for 10 breaths each. Again, focus on your drishti.

4) Stretch

Hip openers, such as pigeon pose, and backbends, such as bridge pose, are best saved for the end of practice. Hold each for at least twenty breaths (and don’t squeeze your butt).

5) Twist and Reconcile

Finally, it’s always best to finish with a twist and savasana.

This is an introductory approach to practicing at home, so of course you can substitute more challenging poses as you feel prepared. You can also add more sun salutations, to increase the intensity of the experience. As you grow in your home practice, you may also feel called to play with arm balances, inversions, and maybe even the poses on the cover of Yoga Journal magazine. Take your time easing into more challenging poses, and trust the process.

Before you know it, magic will happen, and you will look forward to your home practice more than you ever imagined.

Photo: http://www.mindbodygreen.com

Yoga’s Got An App For That

I am a creative type and a seeker, always evolving, always looking for the next best thing. It’s the reason I could never stick to a diet, and trendy workouts came and went quickly. Yoga, however, is a totally different story.

Yoga works for me because it is an extremely versatile practice, that can be applied in numerous ways that support my health goals. The possibilities within the practice are endless, and the experience can be different every time. I love this.

I also love yoga because it helps me control my weight, tone my body, and quiet my mind. I don’t need props, gimmicks, or diet clinics to stay in shape. It is wildly empowering to know that all I need to be healthy, strong, and content is already within me.

I didn’t come to this realization overnight…it took a while to embrace the possibilities of yoga. When I first started taking classes, it seemed like every practice was the same. But once I got past my initial resistance, I started noticing that yoga was subtly shaping my body, and my life. I became curious, and hopeful, about what might come next. And what came next was surprisingly awesome in every way.

I still feel that way, fifteen years later. There is always something more to learn and achieve on my mat, and that makes me hopeful and profoundly happy.

The reason yoga is so adaptable, is that it meant to be learned experientially, in a very personal way. The original yogis did not attend large classes…they taught themselves, or studied with a mentor. It’s pretty much the opposite of how yoga is taught today, which is why it takes longer for new yogis to see the value of the practice.

The best way to understand how to apply yoga to your life, is to experiment with a variety of approaches to the practice. Only then can you own your yoga, and use it to reach your goals. Here’s a quick and easy way to understand how you might vary your practice to optimize the benefits:

Sun Salutation B

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Flow through the above sequence once or twice, to get a feel for the asanas (poses).

Next, practice Sun Salutation B three different ways:

1) Make it a moving meditation. Align your breath with your movements. Inhale as you move into asanas with up arrows, and exhale as you move into asanas with down arrows. When you are done, close your eyes, stand with your hands joined at your heart for three full breaths, and notice how you feel.

2) Build strength. Practice the sequence again, but instead of moving with each breath, hold each pose for five full breaths. Notice how you feel after round 2.

3) Cultivate awareness. Practice the sequence a third time, but this time make the transitions just as important as the poses. Move with grace from pose to pose, and breath deeply. Make it as beautiful and flowing as you can. Then stop, close your eyes, and notice the energy flow in your body afterward.

Lastly, remember that savasana (corpse pose) is always the final pose of every practice. Make sure to take at least a minute on your mat in savasana, with eyes closed, and a quiet mind, to complete the experience.

My hope is that this experiment will demonstrate that yoga can be anything we want it to be. If we want to cultivate inner peace, yoga has an app for that. If we want to tone our bodies, there’s an app for that, too. And if we want to live our life with greater awareness, well, yoga’s got an app for that, as well.

Most of all, give yourself time to grow into the practice. Commit to at least six months of classes, videos, and/or books, and trust that there is value in the process, no matter what you ultimately decide about yoga’s applicability to your life.

Photo: http://www.devilintheflesh.net

Your Strongest Core, In 10 Minutes A Day

Summer’s right around the corner…which means that soon we will all be bearing a lot more skin. I don’t know about you, but I ‘m always more motivated to work on my core, when bathing suit season is drawing near. Especially after having three kids in three years.

It was January 2011, and I was six months away from turning 40. The workouts I had been doing–a combination of running, walking, and the elliptical, with a little yoga mixed in–were not giving me the results I desired. My arms and legs were strong, but my core was weak. I decided it was time to reclaim my abs, so I would feel my absolute best by the time the big 4-0 rolled around.

My plan was simple… a 10 minute ab routine every day, no matter what. I refused to go to bed at night until it was done. I committed to do 100 bicycles, 100 sit ups, and a planque routine that consisted of 6 poses, held for 20 breaths each. Whenever you do core work, you have to do back work as well, so I would also strengthen my back with locust pose, held for 20 breaths, 3 times, each day.

It was not easy at first! I gave myself grace the first few weeks, when I realized I could not do complete sets without stopping. For example, I allowed myself to do four sets of twenty sit-ups at first, and eventually worked my way up to 100 in a row. When I was feeling really motivated, I would do the entire ab routine twice a day–once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

It takes about 6 weeks to start seeing results, but trust the struggle. Good things come to those who trust the struggle, and do whatever it takes.

Planques:

There are three planque exercises that are really effective. Knee-to-nose, knee-to-elbow, and knee to opposite elbow. Hold each for 20 breaths (or two sets of ten breaths each), and make sure you do them on both sides of your body.

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Photos: http://www.shapemagazine.com

Sit-ups:

Practice 100 sit-ups every day. Start with five sets of 20 continuous sit-ups, and eventually you will be able to do 100 in a row.

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Photo: http://www.womenfitness.net

Bicycles:

Same as above, 100 bicycles, allowing for multiple sets at first to get the job done.

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Photo: http://www.blairsburgmacfit.blogspot.com

Locust:

Hold this pose for 20 breaths each, for three sets. You can vary the pose by reaching arms forward, or out to the sides instead of back.

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Photo: Marty Sconduto for http://www.yogajournal.com

Make Your Life Extraordinary


“Make your life extraordinary” has been my mantra for the past fourteen years. Somewhere in my late twenties, I realized that regular just doesn’t work for me–I want more out of life. And so began my quest to become extraordinarily healthy. I traded in my running shoes for a yoga mat, stopped eating meat, and learned how to meditate. My new life was anything but regular. It also made me stronger, healthier, and happier than I had ever been before.

It was the late 1990s, and I was yoga and vegan, when yoga and vegan were not cool. No one joined in when I raved about brussel sprouts, and people looked at me funny when told them that a sugar-free, gluten-free, chemical-free, alcohol-free, dairy-free, and meat-free diet cured my migraines. I’m pretty sure most of my friends thought that yoga was for hippies. It made me feel alone in my quest for holistic healing.

Still, I continued on the path. I embraced this crazy healthy lifestyle because it felt extraordinary. Yoga healed my body aches. Raw fruits and veggies gave me energy. I slept better. My weight stabilized, I got sick less often, my skin glowed, and meditation made me feel extraordinarily groovy.

Nowadays, I can’t imagine living anything but this crazy healthy lifestyle. I call it crazy because the way I live is not normal by most people’s standards. I eat quinoa and broccoli for breakfast, and my kitchen is always a mess, because I am obsessed with inventing healthy recipes. I practice handstands in my living room, and stretch on the sidelines of my daughters’ soccer games. Our basement is an official yoga studio, where I teach yoga privates and group classes, while my kids are at school. It’s not regular by any measure…it’s wild, exceptional, and a lot of fun. And it’s definitely too good to keep to myself.

So, here is my invitation: join me as I share tips, recipes, and insights on this blog. Reject the notion that you must be regular, and check back often for inspiration. I’ll help you explore, experiment, and be extraordinary. Before you know it, you will be living a crazy healthy life of your own.