Yin Yoga Practice

As a full-time Yoga Instructor I am always looking to expand my own knowledge and understanding to better serve and lead my clients and students. Today I came across this beautifully done 1  hour and 12 minute Mindful Yin Yoga practice lead by Jennifer Raye, a practitioner of traditional Chinese Medicine and Yoga Instructor out of British Columbia, Canada.

Wow. In her words: “May we bring the benefits of this practice out into the world so that we not only benefit but all those that we are in relationship with also benefit.”

I’d love to hear how this practice affected you.

Namaste.

Scars and Imperfections: vulnerability and courage

ovarian cancer scars

For a long time I have been embarrassed by all the scars I have on my belly. I have actually felt shame that I didn’t have the super flat and amazing abs that I had all my life, pre-cancer and that we see in so many pictures. Last night, as I was watching a video of myself doing yoga on my paddleboard, I saw my scars and imperfections for what they truly are: beautiful, and a deeper healing is setting in.

I wouldn’t be alive today if these scars weren’t there.

These scars are an ever constant reminder of the hell I went through as a stage 3 ovarian cancer survivor, getting a 5 pound tumor removed, then 50 tumors removed, then a hysterectomy, then a hole in my colon, getting an infection, then being attached to a vacuum for 6 weeks, then a 12 hour surgery to remove more tumors and organs, then an ileostomy bag, then, and finally, freedom. These scars show the story of hardship and trials, pain, and tears of not only me, but my family and friends. I have wanted to get as far away from those memories as I could, for a long time. I have slowly faced them as I have been able. This is my next step in the journey: showing them, being vulnerable and open, facing fears, and inviting in even more healing.

I have prayed for them to dissipate. I have tried all sorts of creams and wraps and detoxes and exercise and yet, they are still there. The mountains and valleys, the craters, and holes, the lumps of fat displaced from all the surgeries, the crevices of stiff scar tissue that try to hold me back.

Today though, I am making the choice to see that these scars also tell an incredible story of hope, of courage, of the power of prayers and support of family and friends, of medical staff who were creative and revolutionary; all these people who believed. These scars do tell of the ugliness of cancer, the evilness of disease, the destruction of surgery, and yet, there is a beauty in them: the power of human ingenuity, God’s miracles through our work, that our thoughts of limitations are only in our minds, that truly anything is possible, and that there is beauty in imperfection. These scars show the story of where I have been, who I am today, and in my story, I wouldn’t be where I am, doing what I do, without them. So, I embrace them.

I know that I will continue to walk out this journey called life, every day. Today marks a new one though, and I’m setting up a marker.

Hope exists. Nothing is impossible. Keep moving forward. Fail a lot. Have the courage to stand back up again, and maybe, just maybe, we can change the world through our courage.

Thanks for reading and loving.

Namaste.

I am drinking my green smoothie (today made of organic mandarins, banana, mango, beet greens, lettuce leaves, spirulina powder, and water) and pondering professionals. I’ve just returned from my chiropractor and saw my massage therapist yesterday. I taught a (land) yoga class this morning and read an article by a doctor about the value of good nutritional supplements. As a professional yoga instructor, I need to keep my body in the best condition possible in order to do my job well, but even if I were a lawyer, an engineer, a secretary, a librarian, a custodian, a chef, a wife, or a mother, I would still need to keep my body in the best condition possible in order to do my job(s) well.  

I told my chiropractor today that I felt “freer” after seeing my massage therapist yesterday. I have been incredibly happy with my chiropractor and seen incredible results through his work. Yet, even though I practice yoga nearly everyday, there are still some things that only a professional massage therapist can do. Even though I eat green smoothies every day and eat organic 95% of the time, there are still some things that only a holistic health coach can help me see. I told a friend last week in a conversation “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Professionals are trained and paid to be good and to know their stuff. Now, of course, not all professionals are good at what they do or have the right answers for you and your needs, but that is where you as a powerful person come in and make changes if necessary. I’ve heard it said that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results.

How are you feeling? What are you doing that could be changed?  Is your life style helping you to be the best you, you can be? I encourage you to make a change if needed, step out: one foot in front of the other, and be open to different possibilities. You don’t know what you don’t know and there are a lot of professionals out there that are ready to help you be the best version of you possible.

Here’s some of the professionals I use:

Chiropractic: Dr. Rob Smith http://reddingvitalhealth.com/

Massage: Sally Holt http://www.yelp.com/biz/sally-bethea-holt-the-complete-retreat-redding

Health Coach: La Salud http://www.lasaludorganics.com/#!health-coaching/ct4x

May your day, week, month, year, and lifetime be full of health, allowing you to be the best you possible! Here’s to you and yours!

Namaste.

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)!

Wrapping up my Bali experience

It’s over! What a trip it’s been. I am exhausted right now, understandably because Bali is 15 hours ahead of Redding, so I’m used to being asleep when I’m awake. It kind of hurts, to tell the truth, how discombobulated I feel. I was hoping to not sleep during the day so that I could reset myself, but I took a 2 hour nap yesterday and probably will do something similar today. I’ve slept for about 4 hours each night since returning. 😦

I went a little long on the video but with it being the last one, I wanted to share more of my experience and thank you for coming with me! I am still processing what happened during the 25 days in Bali. I think I will be forever processing, actually, and I will write more here about my revelations here in the future. I haven’t yet settled back in Redding life. I think that is partially why I haven’t been sleeping straight through the night either. I’m glad I took 4 days after the trip to explore Bali, relax, and reintegrate into more of a “normal” life. Four plus hours of yoga a day, on a tropical island, with no concerns other than classwork and which buffet food item to eat isn’t my normal and I’ve been doing that for 3 straight weeks from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm nearly every day. It was glorious. Now, I get to reintegrate into my normal life, and, as a new person. I am thankful for grace. Thankful that my friends, my family, my students, and my God give it to me, and that I am really learning to give it to myself. I am perfect. That is probably the biggest thing I learned while at the yoga training: that no matter how much growth I get to do, no matter how many silly mistakes I make, no matter if I offend people, no matter how happy or sad I make myself or others, I am perfect. This will be something I meditate on for years to come. I hope that you know how perfect you are as well. Just. As. You. Are. You and I couldn’t be any more perfect! Right here, right now, God doesn’t make junk. How wonderful. How mysterious. How magnificent. You and I are whole. Oh the complexity of it!!! And the simplicity.

I think I’m going to take that nap now. Bless you. Thank you. See you soon.

xoxo

Bali Yoga Video: Day 25: yoga, market, stickers, Celeste and Jesse Forever

Radiantly Alive Yoga Studio was again my playground this morning. I took the RA Vinyasa class and the Core Yoga class for 2.5 hours of yoga delight. My thighs are sore from it and it’s great! I really enjoy taking other instructor’s classes so I can 1. Enjoy and not think about sequencing or leading, 2. Learn new poses, music, sequencing, cues, adjustments, etc. and 3. Because I just love yoga! After, I again had a kombucha at the Bali Buddha Café along with a salad and a raw cocao mint dessert. I am sincerely going to miss these $5 raw meals.

This video is of the Ubud Market which I strolled around after yoga and lunch. I was on the hunt for an I love Bali sticker which a friend had told me a stall at the market had. After about 30 minutes of sweating, wandering, asking, and not finding any, I prayed. Within 5 minutes, I found it, of course. I’ll be sticking it to my SUP paddle. It was really nice to wander around the town and see some new sights.

The roommate Joey and I just finished watching the movie “Celeste and Jesse Forever” and I really liked it! I’m pretty particular with my movie choices, as my good friends know (documentaries and real stories are my favs, although a good romantic comedy is a good choice too), and I was pleasantly surprised about this one! What I really enjoyed about it was the characters were so real. I have definitely been in both Celesete and Jesse’s shoes: breaking up with the guy and then it dragging on and on with no clear boundary while we each date other people, hurt each other, say really awkward and selfish things, but what was so great about this movie, was that it ended so maturely. Even with all the stupid choices they made, hurtful things they said, wrongs the did, they moved on. It wasn’t easy but it was beautiful and they both became better people because of it. (The yoga references were great too. ☺ ) I think this is such a testimony of the power of God. No matter how immature we are, no matter the bad choices we make, no matter how we may hurt others, He is good and the best will come to us if we are open and change to make room for it. There is so much more to this but as a whole, love wins.

May you know that you are not defined by your choices. May you know that you have a choice. May you know that goodness always wins. May you know that you are loved, regardless. Thanks for reading. Tomorrow I fly home. Namaste. Xx

Bali Yoga Trip: Day 24: yoga all day long

It’s been a great day! I spent most of it at the Radiantly Alive Yoga Studio and the Bali Buddha Café. I took 3 classes at the Studio (Hatha, Roll and Release, and Fly High) and ate raw pizza, a raw food platter with spreads, kombucha, and raw chocolate pudding dessert. I spent maybe $11 on all that raw food and 2 kombucha’s. Ah-mazing!

I felt a bit like Julia Roberts in “Eat Pray Love” today. If you haven’t seen the movie, Julia visits Bali (Ubud even, if I’m not mistaken), as part of her journey to find herself, discover more about life, and do things that she’s always wanted to, all by herself. I brought a book with me, Richard Branson’s “Losing My Virginity,” and read it at the Café in between classes. I met and talked with some of the other yoga students (one was even from CA) and explored a few of the shops near the studio. It started down pouring with rain at around 4:00 pm and I thought it would be over by the time my class ended at 6:45, but it didn’t. I walked back to the home stay in the steady rain covered with only a shawl. I got pretty wet but happily refused taxi’s and enjoyed living in the moments. It’s been a great day: one of slight uncertainty, one of adventure, one of exploration, one of trying lots of new things, one of meeting some great new people, one of exploring new yoga classes and areas of my body, one of testing limits, one of prayer, one of raw food eats, and one of lots of love, not to sound cliché. I am planning on doing something similar tomorrow. I want to try the Radiantly Alive Vinyasa Flow class tomorrow and follow it with the Core Yoga class. We’ll see how I fell after tonight’s Flying High class. I might be a little sore from it.

I hope you enjoy this video of my Home Stay! I just tried to take a shower but the hot water lasted for about 30 seconds and as I tried to get the cold to make it warm, I lost all the hot. I’m planning to shower at the studio tomorrow. It’s actually a much nicer facility.

Until next time, may this inspire you to follow your dreams, to roll with what comes your way with childlike amusement, to try new things, and to talk to strangers. Namaste!

Bali Yoga Trip: Day 23: Candidasa to Ubud

From the ocean to the city, I’m now in Ubud now that my yoga teacher training is over. Ubud is a yoga mecca of sorts. There are lots of yoga clothing, statue, and accessory shops here (along side the surf and general tourist stores). There are several yoga studios and many, many, energy healing centers here. It’s a large city, much different than Candidasa, but yet, there are still the farms (rice, I think mostly) within the city and we ate the Café Angsa tonight that overlooks a rice farm. It was beautiful. I am typing this in my new room at the Indra Homestay, sharing a room with one of my roommates from the yoga training, Joey. Our friend Nicole is also here, staying in her own room. We were at a resort in Candidasa, Puri Bagus, with room service, pool, bar, restaurant, beach, cabanas, spa, etc. This place is much, much different. We are paying 10,000 rupia per night (which is a little less than $10) which should give you an indication of the difference, but, I LOVE it! I will definitely make a video of this place to show you. It is SO Bali! I’ll save the details for then.

My plan tomorrow is to go to the Radiantly Alive Yoga Studio in town and take 3 classes: either the Radiantly Alive Vinyasa class or the Hatha class, the Roll and Release class (using tennis balls and other props to release myofacial tissue in the body), and the Flying High Yoga class (described as “using the aid of gravity and the Hanging Yoga Belt, learn how to lengthen the spine and increase your flexibility. The hanging Yoga Belt is a fantastic tool to perform restorative inverted poses, and to intensify ground Yoga poses as well. It relieves tension in the muscles, elongates and decompress the spine, and increase flexibility.”) It may sound odd to have just completed a 200 hour yoga training and then go to a studio to take more yoga, but I love it! This studio has a special day pass where you pay 15,000 rupia (a little less than $15) and you can take as many yoga classes as you’d like for the day. After the amount of yoga I’ve been doing each day, 3 classes will be easy in comparison! I’m thinking it’s a good deal and I want to increase my experience with different styles, teachers, and make the best of my time here in the yoga mecca. ☺

From underneath the most powerful ceiling fan I have ever experienced, I say goodnight and Namaste!

Bali Yoga Video: Day 22: graduation

It’s been an emotional day! Amazingly good, difficult, hard work, fun, celebratory, inspirational, and encouraging are all words I would use to describe today. This yoga teacher training is like a boot camp for the soul and the body!

Today we had our morning meditation and it was revelatory for me. I read an email before meditation from a customer of my online store (www.LaSaludOrganics.com) asking about the whereabouts of her order. To make a long story short, I couldn’t be of much help to her because of the time difference and I couldn’t find out anything for her until Monday. I did what I could, emailed her back, but was still stressed about it and felt a burden to do something else. I came to meditation really needing to chill out. This was the perfect way for me to see the value and power of it! One of our instructors here said that we should not be slaves to our minds but we should instead be in control of thoughts and actions and know that we have power and choice. This morning’s email was a perfect opportunity to put this into practice and what a difference I saw and felt after 20 minutes of meditation! I’m thinking I will be continuing some form of meditation once I leave, tomorrow! Ahhh! Which leads me to this video: me graduating!

I am now an official Yoga Alliance 200 Hour Yoga Teacher! Along with graduation, to wrap up the training, our facilitators had us write words to describe what was the biggest thing we learned (I wrote that I am perfect, regardless of what “changes” need to still yet be made. I am God’s wonderful, beautiful, magnificent creation just. Like. I. Am.), we shared as a group what we would want everyone to know as parting last words, so-to-speak, we had a 2 hour “tell the person what you love about them” party, and then we ended the day with an incredible dinner out with dancing, a live band, then DJ, and Christmas trees! It’s the first big Christmas tree I’ve seen this year!

Overall this has been an incredible day: one of many tears, lots of encouragement, positivity, and hope. I am happy to say that not only am I stronger in my yoga asana practice, but I am also stronger in my spirit and mind as well. I’m looking forward to some assimilation over the next few days before I fly back to the U.S.

Until next time, Namaste! Xoxo