What to wear for winter SUP and SUP Yoga

On Water Yoga February 7, 2016: OnWaterYoga.com

Here in Redding, California, I hold SUP and SUP Yoga classes year-round. The weather is pretty great, with us living in the second sunniest city in the country (according to US News), and on the days that it is cloudy or raining, I’ve got some adventurers who still want to come out, so we do! The question is then, what does one wear in the colder, wetter, fall, winter, and even spring months? Here are my suggestions:

  1. NO COTTON: if you are a hiker, backpacker, camper, or general outdoors man or woman, you probably already know this. The standard line is “cotton kills.” When cotton gets wet, it stays wet and takes a long, long time to dry. This is very unpleasant on a colder day and one where we are so close to the water. Nearly any other fabric is better: silk, wool, acrylic, linen, polyester, etc.
  2. LAYERS: wear any stretchy, non-constricting, athletic clothing, in layers. When paddling and doing yoga on a paddleboard, you will get warm, and you can always remove your hat or gloves or outer jacket and set it on top of your SUP, under the bungees, or with your lifejacket, then reapply when you need it again/cool down. Do keep in mind that when buying outer layers, you will want them large enough to accommodate all the layers you have underneath, so you may want to size up and down depending on how close to your body the layers are. Some things I suggest to bring and have with you:
    • gloves/mittens
    • beanie, ball cap, ear warmers/headband, or hat of some kind
    • surf booties, wool socks, waterproof socks, or a non-cotton slipper of some kind
    • fleece lined yoga or running pants
    • long johns to layer underneath a pair of yoga pants, or double up on your yoga pants and wear two at a time
    • rain pants (nice to have and slip off and on as needed)
    • light rain jacket (buy this in a slightly larger size so you can wear layers underneath, and for freer movement)
    • long-sleeve and/or short-sleeve shirt, or tank top
    • bikini top and bottoms (yup, with that sun, sometimes ALL the layers come off and it’s nice to soak it in!)
    • you could always get separate wetsuit pieces: top and bottoms, and wear them as needed; here in Redding, we haven’t needed it in the 5-years I’ve been teaching, but in San Francisco, they use these. All. The. Time.
    • outer layer jacket or light down jacket (one that allows movement)
    • fleece or middle layer jacket
    • vest (perhaps the best option for yoga: with the thermals and fleece underneath, the vest allows unrestricted movement for yoga and paddling!)
  3. BRING A DRY CHANGE OF CLOTHES: in 5-years, I have only had 1 student slip into the water in the winter (up to the waist), so I can’t promise it won’t happen, and even if it doesn’t, sometimes water splashes onto your SUP and you get your knees wet or you step into the water, accidentally, as you are loading your SUP and your ankles get wet. So, it’s nice to have that dry pair of clothes waiting for you in the car as you load up. OR bring a dry bag with you on your SUP and put in a few extra layers and have a dry space to put them when you take them off as you warm up.

You can get a good idea of what I and other’s have worn during SUP and SUP Yoga, in all seasons, with this video here.

Winter SUP Yoga is not only possible, it’s FUN! It’s an invigorating experience that charges you with energy and refreshment. The long winter months can get rough, but you don’t have to suffer indoors. And, perhaps my favorite thing about the cooler months on the SUPs, no one else is on the water (well, actually, yesterday during my cloudy, 50-degree On Water Yoga class, there were two fishing boats on the lake, and a ski boat with a slalom skier! He was wearing a wetsuit and we laughed as we did Acro yoga on the SUPs and said: “What we are doing is tame in comparison! That water has to be in the mid-50’s!”)

Come on out and enjoy the great outdoors with SUP and SUP Yoga, year-round. Adventure awaits those brave enough to experience it. (Stable SUPs do make a substantial difference. If you are unsure about your board or wonder which one to purchase or rent, read my blog about the different SUP styles here.)

SUPing March 27, 2016: OnWaterYoga.com

La Salud Body Wrap

A few days ago a friend asked me, innocently enough, “What are you going to do about it?” referencing the sporadic recurring pain in my leg from an old skiing accident. I’ve thought about this question a lot over the past few days and wanted to share what I have been doing because, really, most people probably don’t know how one recovers from 3/4 of a broken lower leg and an ovarian cancer death sentence. I mention the cancer because they are inextricably linked to the pain and debilitation I am experiencing now and am recovering from.

We humans are interconnected in so many ways, not just spirit, soul, and body, but also with each other, God, and even further than that: the cells, muscles, ligaments, and tissues of our body’s are connected from one hip to the opposite hand, one foot to the same knee, the chest to the back, etc. Because of this beautiful dance that we have with each other, ourselves, and our Creator, there isn’t a single fix or cure-all for most people. Even the miracle stories we hear, whether they are healing, financial, or otherwise, have a backstory. For example, when the Holy Spirit fell in “tongues of fire” in Acts 2, the “and suddenly” of that miracle was preceded by “all joining together constantly in prayer” (Acts 1:14). Those “and suddenly” moments (Acts 2:2) happen, and they are miraculous, for sure, but there is more to the story and it usually involves patience. Patience is a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and one that is hard to live through, especially in our modern world of instant everything. As I grow in fruitfulness, i.e. patience, take what I’ve learned back to your own life and be fruitful and healed.

What I am in doing to recover from cancer and a painful old skiing accident:

1. Chiropractic: I have been seeing a Network Spinal Analysis chiropractor since October and for 6 months, saw him 3 times a week. You can check out my guy and why he’s amazing, here.

2. Massage: I’ve been getting it once a week to loosen the hold that the scar tissue has from surgeries (I’ve had 12), falls, accidents, and bruises. I’ve come to think of these two health care practitioners working together like this: my chiropractor is shifting my body structurally and neurologically and my massage therapist is kneading out the bumps in the road, so-to-speak, so that the whole system works better together.

3. Foam Roller: recommended by both my massage therapist and chiropractor, this helps to continue to release the scar tissue and myofascial tissue that has been bound up from all the surgeries and injuries. I use the blue Go Fit Foam Roller and have been really happy with it. I like that it comes with a little instruction book to show how to use it.

4. Body wrap: as my body continues to shift and realign itself, toxins that have been trapped and stored in my cells from the 13 weeks of 8 hours a day chemo, CT-scan contrast, narcotic drug pain relievers, pesticides, herbicides, pollution in the air, and even toxic emotions and bad choices, need to be removed. Some of the benefits of this wrap are: detoxification, growth and regeneration of new skin cells, it’s so natural it’s edible, reduces stretch marks, scars, and cellulite, empties and destroys fat cells. This above picture is me wrapped from the chest down with the wrap.

5. Essential oils: my massage therapist gave me a therapeutic blend of oils to reduce inflammation and it is seeming to help with some of the pain. I’ve been able to get to sleep at night without taking a pain reliever, which is good.

6. Yoga: it boosts immunity, allows for better sleep, and promotes overall better health. You can read more about it here and join me for classes here.

7. R.I.C.E: R = rest, I = ice, C = compression, E = elevation (above the heart). A long standing first aid application for injuries.

8. Nutrition: I eat organic, local, and take supplements to help my body perform at it’s peak. I take a daily multi called Thrive and have added the Monatau Extreme recently to help rid my body of the stored toxins from all the new adjusting I’m receiving from my chiro and massage therapist.

9. Dry brush: Before I shower, I dry brush my skin. Some of the benefits are: increases circulation and lymphatic drainage, tightens the skin, stimulates the lymph system to drain toxins, helps muscle tone, and rejuvenates the nervous system. I use a natural boar bristle dry-brush. You can get one similar to what I use here.

10. Castor Oil Pack: I’ve been applying this directly to my old break site in my leg and I’ve used it on the ileostomy and surgical incision scars on my belly. Benefits include: relives pain, decreases inflammation, detoxifies, it’s also been said to help with infertility. I use cold pressed and cold processed castor oil so the nutrients are preserved and wool flannel to apply it. Plastic wrap will help secure it in place. Learn more about how to apply it and the benefits here.

11. Prayer: Everything is possible to those who believe (Mark 9:23). Jesus told us to pray for God’s “will (to be) done on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10) and because there is no sickness or disease or pain in heaven, I am praying and asking for prayer for this to manifest in my life, and in yours. One of God’s many names is Jehovah Rapha, which means healer (Exodus 15:26).

12. Advil: when all else fails. I am not a fan of drugs, but when the pain is too incomprehensible and all my other efforts haven’t worked, I need a relief. This is a good point for many reasons: don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater; God gave us pain relievers; don’t abuse, stop using them and try other things first; this is not meant to be a way of life: your body is in pain for a reason and it’s a signal that something needs to change; being in too much pain is exhausting and not good either, the body needs a reprieve in order to mend and heal.

I don’t do all these things at once or even in the same week. Too much detoxification can be dangerous as well and your body can experience a detoxification crisis. Talk to your health care practitioner and get help with your specific situation. We are all different and it helps to be in community and on a team to be the best you possible. La Salud offers a Health Coach and is a great place to start.

As with all things, go slow, take your time, and enjoy the journey. I’ll be smelling the roses, come join me!

Namaste and God bless.

Why yoga is not what you think it is

Just now, as I was driving home from teaching my Vinyasa Flow yoga class, I was marveling at the “yoga high” that I and my students experienced and some of the open hearted conversations that came from it. It lead me to think about the (multiple) benefit(s) of yoga and how and why it began. As a good English major and journalism minor University graduate (should University be capitalized? ;), I wanted to do a bit of yoga history research to back up my idea for this blog. What I found was VERY interesting and my intention for this post went from “yoga was created to exercise and move the bodies of early Indian philosophical scholars, perfect for our mostly sedentary society today” to “the yoga that we know today looks NOTHING like what those early Indians started thousands of years ago and in fact, they probably wouldn’t even recognize what we do as yoga!”

The asana (the physical poses of yoga) practice that we do in yoga classes today was a minuscule part of early yoga. The 15th century book Hatha Yoga Pradipika outlines 15 yoga asana poses. That’s all: 15! The asana practice we know today was nearly never the focus for early students and it looked nothing like what we do now. Today’s yoga was developed from a melting-pot mixture of a 19th-century Scandinavian gymnastics program that served as the foundation for physical training in armies, navies, and schools, the 20th-century Danish system called Primitive Gymnastics, the desire of the early 20th century world, and India in particular, to gain national independence and in their minds this equated to stronger bodies in case a war broke out against colonizers, and a man named T. Krishnamacharya (1888-1989) who created a dynamic asana practice, intended mainly for India’s kids, that was a blend of hatha yoga, wrestling exercises, and modern Western gymnastic movement.

The yoga we know today is unlike anything ever seen before in (yoga) history; it’s a complete hybrid of tradition and innovation that demonstrates a God who cares deeply about (all) people and desperately wants to invade our everyday life. Yoga began with a focus on pranayama (breathing practices), dharana (mental strengthening), and nada (sound), and did not have many health or fitness aspects. The “yoga high” that I was referring to from this morning’s class, is a physical manifestation of the Great Spirit invading our physical beings. We are triune beings and as we continue to erase the lines between our body, mind, and spirit and put our full-self into purposeful activity (life), our experiences on plant earth will match our heavenly reality all the more. What a “high” it is.

If you want to read more about the history of yoga check out: http://www.yogajournal.com/wisdom/2610

Namaste!

Helpful emotion

It’s winter time and for me, this is the slower season in my work. I teach yoga classes on land/indoors, so those still continue, but my On Water Yoga classes and my hiking and Arthritis Foundation Walk With Ease classes take a break because of the weather. This gives me some much needed time to reorganize, reflect, dream, and set goals for the new year. It also gives me the time to work on self development more intentionally and today, I’ve been re-doing my La Salud website, which, strangely, is self development.

Today, my mom emailed me some pictures of myself from 2002 and 2003 when I just started and then was ending cancer treatments. I was extremely adamant, at the time, about NOT taking pictures of me because, honestly, I wasn’t sure I would make it through and I didn’t want to be remembered looking like death. On this side of cancer, it would be nice to have those pictures, but what I do have is still very telling. You can view one from this time at www.LaSaludOrganics.com under the Meet Audrey tab.

One of the many great aspects in re-designing my La Salud website is that it brings me face to face with my intentions of why I opened it. I’ve had to look hard inside myself and ask is it just to “make money” or is it to use the pain and difficulty that I experienced to help others? Honestly, at times, what I want to accomplish feels so daunting that I think, IT’S JUST TO MAKE MONEY!, but that’s not sustainable, nor is it the truth, and I know it and can feel it. I HAVE to better myself! I HAVE to push forward and study, learn, grow, and put in the time to learn why it is that I am doing this, how to best communicate that, and thus set goals and time lines for how to accomplish such tasks while really gripping the truth that this stuff doesn’t happen overnight, I will probably continue living in my friend’s pool house for awhile, walking through the cold garage to go to the bathroom and use the kitchen, shopping at Goodwill, and driving a 14 year old car. Strangely, as I continue to learn about myself and other successful people I’m not only settling into these truths nicely, I’m harnessing this temporary discomfort to better myself and, thus, others.

Having had cancer and facing death so intimately was difficult and it’s something I want to use to show people that this doesn’t have to happen. We are not helpless victims to commercial agriculture farms or large pharmaceutical companies. Nutrion-less conventional (typical supermarket) food is not our only option. Regular medical doctors and prescription drugs are not the only answer. We do not have to accept things as they have been dealt us or diagnosed. We do not have to buy into the marketing that we are so overwhelmingly inundated with on a daily basis. There are options that can give us the strength we need, show us the direction to take, and provide comfort when we need it most. It may not always be easy to decipher which direction to take, what option is best, and who is really comforting us, but this is all the more reason to practice these skills now while “the going is good” so that when the “going gets tough” we know how to navigate the path.

May my difficulty be your ceiling on which to reach ever greater heights and truths. May the cancer I experienced end with me and never happen to anyone else again. May life and hope and courage and strength be ignited in you as it is being cultivated and fanned in me. Really, we are all in this together. I’m happy to still be here to share and inspire. Let me know how I’m doing.

Namaste (all of me blesses all of you)!

Day 3 Video: Bali Yoga Training

I grabbed this video while there was still light during our break between sessions. Great day today! It started with silence until 9:30am and meditation starting at 6:30am. We had a quiet meditation (really casual, no instructions) for about 15 minutes and then another 15 minutes with Chris (one of the co-founders) speaking about being present. Following this was a 2 hour Vinyasa Flow yoga class with Basil (one of the yoga asana practitioners) where he would stop and as we held a pose, he would correct, speak about breath, alignment, why, and refine our practice. I’ve always loved Vinyasa Flow but today Basil described Vinyasa Flow yoga as jazz music and compared Iyengar to classical music. A great analogy to the free flow style of Vinyasa and makes perfect sense why I like it so much: I love the creativity and rhythm that comes out of Vinyasa, with, of course, the understanding of the basics and foundational tools, like a classical music piece. Vinyasa could not exist without the classics, but I so love to explore, experiemnt, and create from a strong foundation. Hello jazz music!

We next came back and Liz (the other co-founder) opened it up for Q&A for Basil, and then had us draw a line from “Day 1” to “Day 22” on an index card. Everyone’s lines were crooked and some curved with ups and downs. She used this to describe the experience that we would have over the next 22 days: that there would be high points and low points, etc. and that we should enjoy the journey no matter the place we are/were in. SUCH a great picture! We then learned about our group activity for the afternoon and our homework and were dismissed for our lunch break.

I stopped by the ocean, not intending to get in, but OH MY!!! WOW! That water is PERFECT! The temperature was just right and I played around for probably 45 minutes in it! I love the water….

We all met back up and shared in our group activity. It was a very vulnerable, open, and honest look at oneself where we would share answers to 4 questions in front of the class. Tears were shed, hearts were exposed, and everyone left encouraged from the honesty and life experiences so many have had, from rape to abuse to quitting full time careers to marriages and kids, to health and healing journeys. It was a profound moment that brought me closer to my fellow classmates and although we were supposed to end today with an hour restorative yoga class, we ran out of time and didn’t have a set routine tonight. Some of the girls and I played on our yoga mats as we talked more about our experiences and the awesomeness of our group.

SO much more than this happened, but this is a brief overview. I am headed to bed now, I can barely keep my eyes open right now…. Enjoy. See you soon. zzzzz…..

Bali Trip Day 2 Video

I’m here! It’s going to be a different place tomorrow, when I can see it, but what I can make out, this place is amazing! The people I have met already are so great. Everyone is excited to be here. This will definitely be unlike anything I have ever done before and that is exactly why I came.
I’m off to sleep now so I can start tomorrow well.
See you soon!

Travel, adventures, Bali, and yoga: Day 1

It’s happening! After all this time, preparation, anticipation, studying, packing, saving, and praying, I’m headed to Bali, Indonesia for a month long yoga training! The hardest part so far has been this blog, actually. It’s the new experience for me; one I’m happy to accept and experiment with though and at this moment, it’s helping me stay awake. I hope my $50 Mac “World Travel Adapter Kit” works or this may be the last of these videos….

Enjoy!

Instructing people who practice yoga

What an incredible day it is here in Redding! It’s perfectly sunny and 75 degrees, and it’s November 13th. I’m sitting in my backyard with a cup of jasmine green tea (organic, free trade, and non-chlorine bleached paper tea bags, of course, from Numi), overlooking the pool, and the open space park that backs up against it. I know, it sounds all incredibly glamorous, being that I am in California and all, but there are real, non-glamorous things here as well (a black tarp along the fence rustling in the wind, the random pool toys littered about, the knocked over flower pot, the large burn pile of yard debris, leaves all over, the pool lining tearing, etc), but like ALL of life, I choose to look at the positive, and celebrate it. All of course, without ignoring the things that need to be changed, cleaned up, worked on, etc.

I have been teaching yoga now for 3 years! I can hardly believe it really. It was this month 3 years ago that I was asked by my pastor to lead my 25 person ministry team through a daily yoga practice while we were working with a church in Madrid, Spain. Wow. What a life changing trip, on so many levels. I had no idea it would lead me to where I am today, nor that I would fall more and more in love with yoga.

I taught one of my land yoga classes this morning and was talking with one of my students after class about his desire to teach. He used to coach sports and has some old injuries that make some poses and transitions very difficult or impossible. I asked him why he wanted to teach and heard a passion that is inspiring. Because of his background and experience he wants to lead, encourage, and inspire more men (and women) into the health benefits of yoga and knows that he can in a way that is unique and different than other instructors. It was a really great conversation and helps me remember why I started and show me how far I have grown and changed.

One of the struggles I have had as an instructor was the feeling that I needed to address everyone’s concern, everyone’s injury, everyone’s goals, and everyone’s problems. As I have gained experience, I have realized that I cannot, AND, I am ok with that. It is much like me looking at this yard: there is so much work that needs to be done here, but wow, it is still so beautiful, right now! It’s about trusting and believing that I am doing the best I can, keeping people’s best into consideration, of course, but also not taking things personally. It’s really not even about me! I have so enjoyed the practice of yoga for this reason: it has helped me to put into reality (practice), all the nice things that we hear at church, all the inspirational promptings we read in some famous person’s quote, all the incredible feats that we see in someone we admire. Yoga creates the opportunity to practice, in a safe place, so we can then carry this revelation out beyond the studio, or off the paddleboard. What a gift it is.

I pray a lot, as 1 Timothy 5:17 suggests, “Pray without ceasing” and have been striving to live my life as a continuous prayer (after all it is not feasible to be kneeling with hands folded and head bowed 24-7). Yoga has been the biggest vehicle by which I have gained progress in this goal. I pray for people’s lives to be changed and bettered through their interaction with me. I pray for the earth to be as wonderful as heaven (Matthew 6:10, Habakkuk 2:14). I pray for people to be healed. I pray for wisdom personally, locally, nationally, and for us all to take a stand for what is right, regardless of some short term discomfort we may feel. I pray for peace.

May my experience help you to choose the higher path, the better way. I could have easily gotten offended at my yoga student today because he gave me some great constructive criticism, but I chose not to. It’s getting easier each time because I am practicing. Like a physical posture/pose, yoga helps us to mentally grow healthier too. What are you choosing?

Namaste.

Why I practice yoga

I practice yoga because it brings me life, it brings me joy, it brings me peace, and it brings me healing. I practice yoga because it brings freedom.

I often come across naysayers to yoga, for a whole host of reasons, you can probably think of some right now, but the spiritual aspect of yoga is really what makes the whole exercise or practice so alluring for me. I am a Christian and in a world of Buddha and Hindi Goddess statues, I can get a lot of push back from what I am beginning to really understand are my own insecurities, fears, and lies. This is what I love about yoga: it embodies growth not only physically, but mentally and spiritually as well. Yoga allures and provides an opportunity to reach and obtain heaven on earth, a higher place, and an ecstasy if-you-will, in peace, love, and joy through all three aspects of ourselves: spirit, body, and soul (mind, will, and emotions). It is unlike any other form of exercise or even learning opportunity.

 I began my yoga practice 13 years ago and admittedly have been a weekend warrior for most of that time. I grew up doing gymnastics, cheerleading, and dance, but it was just after college that a friend invited me to a yoga class. That first instructor was so empowering and encouraging, she embodied what I now know yoga, and God, to be about: she planted a seed of hope and exploration that has shaped my practice, and life ever since. I see how my childhood activities prepared me for the physical asanas or poses of yoga, but those can come with regular practice.  We are all born with an innate hunger for the Divine and yoga allows us to explore Him, however inflexible we may be, IF we so choose. The seemingly paradoxical safe-challenge of yoga is unlike any other. It allows for our whole self to explore together thus creating a synergy found nowhere else. For me, yoga has become a transcendental way of growth in the Divine as I explore and now teach others the physical asanas, breathe, mental, and spiritual awareness that is inside a yoga class. Yoga has become a gift, which like God, is never ending and fully good. As with all things the depths of your personal practice is a choice. I like that and it is one more reason I practice yoga.