Letting Go Of Who You Used To Be

Upavistha Konasana, or wide legged forward bend.

Upavistha Konasana, or wide legged forward bend.

As we grow, age, adjust our path in life, etc, we change. Sometimes it’s intentional, sometimes it’s not. But either way, it’s more or less inevitable as we go through life. When I was 16 and competing in junior Olympic gymnastics, I could do splits (hanumanasana, in the yogi world) at angles of over 180 degrees; I could do “pancake straddles” (upavistha konasana, but with legs at nearly 180 degrees and chest flat on the floor) relatively easy. Suffice it to say that at 40 and not in competitive gymnastics, neither of these is the case any longer. In fact, I often feel like I’m about to pull my groin going into these poses, along with poses like triangle and countless others. Because my body, my life, my activity level, and the type of activities I do have changed.  And I don’t love that it hurts, because who wants to feel like they’re pulling their groin muscles on a regular basis. But I also have learned not to compare 16 year old competitive gymnast me with 40 year old “more likely to be a competitive napper” me. I’m joking about the nap thing, kind of, but the point is that my life has changed a lot, as has my body. And that’s ok. Our bodies can change for so many reasons. Or lives can too. So does how comfortable we feel in various yoga poses. And it’s all ok. It doesn’t mean we can’t make yoga goals for ourselves (like not feeling like we’re pulling a groin in triangle pose, for example). Goals are great, as long as they’re set with the right intention. But trying to force ourselves into poses that don't serve us in this stage of life (or this week or at this moment) simply because we used to be able to do them a certain way probably only makes us feel worse, physically and on the whole, than just adjusting to what works for us in the moment, and starting from there. 

It works the same way in life. There are many areas in life in which it’s easy to think of how I “used to be”. And in certain circumstances this can serve as an inspiration or motivation. For instance, if we used to feel more confident (a “used to be” that I visit in my own life often) - we know we can experience that, that we’re capable of it, and maybe that inspires us to keep building our confidence, keep focusing on our own worth, making positive changes for ourselves. But often, our “used to be”s do the opposite - they make us feel like we’re less now because things have changed. And this can become a slippery slope. As in yoga, trying to force ourselves into something we used to do or be that doesn’t work for us now can be painful, and do more harm than good. Thinking less of ourselves because we aren’t where or who or what we were in our 20s (or whatever age) simply holds us back. It keeps us in the past, instead of looking at the opportunities that we have here, at this new stage of life, and where we can go from this point forward. 

And sure, I’d like to have more energy like I used to, and not feel like I’m pulling my groin in triangle pose.  But honestly I wouldn’t want to be the same person at 40 that I was at 20, or even 30. It would mean I’m stagnating, that I’m not growing and learning and maturing and gaining new perspectives. And hands down, I’ll take growing and learning and maturing and gaining perspective over being able to do a full split or a pancake straddle or the perfect triangle pose any day. 

Letting Go of the "Full Expression of the Pose" - In Yoga and Life

Pavritta Konasa - I have no delusions of being able to grab my foot with my top hand, and that’s completely OK. This is  my “ full expression” of the pose at the moment.

Pavritta Konasa - I have no delusions of being able to grab my foot with my top hand, and that’s completely OK. This is my “full expression” of the pose at the moment.

In yoga, you’ll often hear the phrase “full expression of the pose”. It’s a phrase that I’ve both caught myself saying, probably because I’ve heard it so often that it sometimes slips out, and also a phrase I don’t love and try to correct when I accidentally say it. The “full expression” basically means “how the pose looks if every arm/leg/foot/hand/body part” is where yoga guidelines, or at least that particular yoga type, indicates it would be. (Very rough translation of the phrase, by the way). And I get that there have to be some guidelines that indicate what a pose ideally looks like, as it gives a starting point, helps us to work into proper alignment, and provides us with an image of what we’re generally trying to make our bodies do. Without this, it would virtually be a game of Simon says, telling people where to put this arm and that leg, which obviously is not what we’re aiming for in teaching yoga. But we also talk often in yoga about meeting yourself where you are. About there being no right way to be a yogi, about it being a process, about it being for everybody and every BODY.  So I don’t love the idea of saying “be fine with wherever you are right now” and then following it up with “and here’s how it should ideally look”. (Note: obviously if someone is doing something unsafe, that’s a different story, as safety has to be a priority). 

So with October’s theme of letting go, I’m inviting you to let go of this idea of the “full expression of the pose” as we’ve traditionally used it in yoga. Instead of thinking of the full expression of the pose as this ideal version of a pose where everything is perfectly aligned, what if we think of it as “OUR full expression of the pose” at this moment. Like for me, right now my full expression of Pavritta Konasana (revolved wide legged forward bend) pictured above, does not involve my top hand reaching anywhere near my flexed foot. Sure, I could maybe reach closer to my foot if I contorted my body and focused on hand to foot at all costs, but it would involve me crunching my ribs/belly/everything else, instead of opening up the chest and side body. I’d be missing the intention of the pose, the reason we do this particular asana in the first place. So, at least for the time being, the version pictured above is my full expression of the pose. And in fact, if I allow the “full expression as it is to me” to be a bit of a fluid or moving target, it helps keep me more motivated to continue to work in the pose. Instead of trying to get to some ideal, I’m working on small adjustments in my body that, over time, might help me feel more comfortable in the pose and adjust as needed to my body and what serves me best on any given day. It allows me to truly meet myself where I am, instead of “meeting myself where I am but really aiming for xyz.”

And we don’t just do this in yoga; we do it in life. A perfect example is the novel I published this past summer. It’s my first novel, and I’m incredibly proud. Still, at first, whenever anyone said something like “Wow you published a novel!” I would reply with a joke like, “Well,  I mean, it’s self-published, so, not like they could turn me down really….”. Basically, I concluded that I wasn’t the “fullest expression of a published author” because of the publishing route I’d taken. And in doing so, it dismissed all the work and creativity and effort I put into it. It dismissed the fact that I have a novel on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, that I have a paperback with my name on it that I can hold in my hands, that numerous friends and family ordered and read and enjoyed, simply because I didn’t view it as the “fullest expression” of being the author of a published novel. But several months into having my book out in the world, I’ve let go of this idea.  Now, when people ask me who my publisher is, I give the name of the company I used to self-publish. If they ask further details, I tell them about it, and I’m happy to tell them it’s a self-publishing company, not because I’m diminishing my accomplishment, but because I am a big supporter of both the company and the self-publishing industry, because I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. I want to share with others that it’s not one size fits all, that there’s not one “fullest expression” of being a published author, and to perhaps encourage them, if they’re thinking about publishing their work, to consider all “expressions of the pose”, as it were. 

And so, whether it's an actual yoga pose, or an area in your life where you diminish your accomplishments because you feel it doesn’t meet the ideal criteria, I encourage you to let go of that “fullest expression of the pose”. I encourage you, instead, to focus on what feels good about what you’re doing, where you feel accomplished in it. And of course it’s great to have goals that you work towards, both in yoga and in life. But they should be goals that you want to work towards because you want to work towards them - not because someone else has decided that it’s the ideal point for you to get to, or that you’re not “fully there” if you don’t meet those expectations.

October Theme - Letting Go

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Last month, as I approached my birthday, I wrote about my theme words for the upcoming year of life. And because there are five of them, and that’s plenty to focus on, I thought I’d spend the next few months delving into each of them separately as a theme of the month (September already covered one, with the theme of (re)connecting). For October, I’ve chosen the one that I added in at the end, but that I actually think may be the most important. It’s almost certainly going to be the most difficult. And that theme is Letting Go. It seemed particularly appropriate as we move into the month that is so synonymous with fall and change of seasons, and heading into the last quarter of the year.  

Letting Go can cover numerous areas of life. Sometimes, it’s physical items we need to let go of - clothes that we haven’t worn in five years, items that no longer match our particular stage in life,  for instance (i.e. if you used to work in the corporate world and now teach yoga full time, you may not need 10 business suits). To me, this is the most straightforward of the letting go. You physically let go of an object by donating it, selling it, however you get rid of it, and that can often help us to mentally and emotionally let go of anything that was attached to it that no longer works for us. 

Other times, it’s letting go of relationships - whether they be with people, with organizations we’ve been a part of, with a job/position, or something else. It doesn’t mean these people or organizations or jobs or whatever it is are “bad”. It may just mean that they no longer serve us. Or maybe they serve us in different capacities and we have to let go of the old relationship to form a different one. Maybe we don’t see that person every day like we used to, but still reach out when we really need someone that knows us. Or maybe that organization we were in is still valuable, but in a different way.  

Often, it’s letting go of our own stories. It’s letting go of the guilt, the shame, the self-blame.  It’s recognize the negative narratives that we tell ourselves, over and over, for what they are - stories. They may be stories based in truth, or stories of what once was, but they’re stories none the less. They don’t have to define us. They may be our past, or even lingering in the present, but they don’t have to be the future. Letting go of them doesn’t have to mean pretending they don’t exist or never did (also probably not healthy). Instead, it means acknowledging them and saying “yes, that happened” or “yes I feel that way, but maybe that’s not the whole story” or “no,  that’s not true, it’s what someone else wanted me to believe, or what I’ve made myself believe because I’m so used to blaming myself,” and then, and this is the key, saying “and here’s what comes next”. And what comes next is that you don’t have to continue to blame/shame/guilt yourself. What comes next is learning from the situation, if it was in fact based in truth and not just a story you told yourself, and learning how to adjust course next time you come into a similar situation.

In yoga, letting go could be letting go of the image that you have to be/look/act a certain way to do yoga/be a yogi. It could be letting go of the negative things you think about yourself  when you can’t get into a pose that you want to. Maybe it’s acknowledging that something has changed in your health or your body and you aren’t able to go into certain poses like you used to. It’s letting go of the idea that you’re “not as good” because your health/body/practice has changed. Or maybe it’s the opposite. Maybe you keep telling yourself that you’re bad at (inversions, arm balances, fill in the blank) because you still hang onto the feeling of struggling with them in the past, even though in practice you now go into them regularly.

Letting go is tricky. I certainly haven’t mastered it. Far, from it. And this, in fact,  is why it’s a major theme of my year. For me, in addition to working on basically all of the above, I’m letting go of a decade. This past birthday, I crossed the threshold from my 30s to my 40s. And for many, this is a difficult birthday. For some reason, the 40s feels super “grown up”. It feels like you should have your sh...stuff together. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that quite honestly, very few people totally have their stuff together, and even those who appear to likely have a lot going on that I’m not aware of and certainly can’t judge. And so I’m using the opportunity of stepping into this new decade to allow myself to let go - of the negative stories, of the things I thought I “should” be/have/do by this point in life, of the pieces of my life that I’m white knuckle clinging onto, not because they serve me, but simply because I’m afraid to let them go.

What will you work towards letting go of this month?  

My Yoga Story

Photo credit: Elijah Northen

Photo credit: Elijah Northen

I’ve been running my yoga business and website for several months now, and I’ve been working on sharing my yoga knowledge, thoughts, goals, plans, and of course, the classes I’m teaching. But I realized I’ve started a bit in the middle of the story - I’ve started from the point of becoming a yoga instructor, and not from the point of becoming a yoga student (though please know, even as instructors, we’re still always students, and we’re always learning). I haven’t yet shared my full yoga journey, how and why I got to this point that I’m at now. I first began taking yoga approximately 14 years ago, so my journey is a bit long and winding, but I promise it’s all relevant. It has influenced my life and my path tremendously, and it has certainly influenced the direction in which I want to grow my yoga business, and so I felt it important to share.  

My yoga journey began at a time of major transition in my life. In March 2006, at the age of 26, I quit my full time job to open my own travel planning business. I was renting a storefront in Collingswood, NJ, not far from the town where I lived at the time. I was married, and the plan was that we would live on my (then) husband’s salary, and to put what I made in my business into savings until my business took off. We’d been putting my salary from my job into savings anyway, so this seemed like a solid plan. In January 2007, my husband and I separated and shortly after began the divorce process. Two weeks later, I learned that the owner of  the building where I’d had my new business for less than a year was selling the building, and had a cash offer for the full asking price. The prospective buyer wanted to terminate my lease and put a family member’s business in place. Within the span of 8 months, I was about to lose my marriage, my home (my ex husband stayed in it, I moved out), and my brand new storefront for my business (not to mention my health and life insurance and basically any steady income). The owner of the building was understanding, and seeing as I had been a good tenant so far, gave me “right of first refusal”. My family and I (but really them) had two weeks to come up with the full asking price in cash in order to salvage at least this piece of the situation. I, to this day, am not entirely sure how we (they) did it, but they managed to, and I was able to stay in my storefront. 

I spent six days a week in that storefront, and I loved running it. I had followed my dream and I was incredibly proud of myself, and what I was building. Still, I was now living alone, working for and by myself, and had stepped away from the majority of my friends group, as they’d been couple friends with my ex-husband. Suffice it to say, life was rocky, and I was questioning a lot about myself, and I was feeling a major lack of connection and community.

A few months later, I noticed that a yoga studio was opening almost directly across from my storefront. I had gone to undergrad for Kinesiology/Exercise Science, had spent five years working in corporate fitness full time, and was generally active, but I had yet to try yoga. I was intrigued, and felt like it might offer a missing piece to my overall wellness that I felt was lacking. I was also terrified. And since I’m being honest, I’m going to be totally honest - I was most terrified that I wouldn’t be able to be quiet for 60-90 minutes during class - for an introvert, I’m talkative, and as I’ve explained, was a bit company-deprived. I pictured sitting there, not able to talk to my neighbors, 1000s of thoughts swirling in my head (because they tend to do that, especially during a rough time in one’s life), and I truly thought: I don’t know if I can do it. I also pictured everyone else doing perfect yoga sequences and me falling over my feet, not being experienced. Neither of these felt super appealing to someone who was already feeling lost and struggling with self-esteem and confidence. But still, I was drawn to it. 

I emailed the owners of the soon-to-be-open studio, and I introduced myself by way of being their neighboring business across the street that was also new(ish) to the area. They were super welcoming and friendly and encouraging. We built up a rapport. I felt a little more comfortable. It was still probably a year before I finally, tentatively, ventured across the street for an hour-long gentle class. I explained that I was new. They made sure to make me feel comfortable. I don’t recall if I tripped over my feet (probably), but I do know that even if I did, nobody laughed at me. Or even stifled a laugh or looked away or anything of the like. There were yogis of all levels there. I didn’t feel out of place or silly. The focus on the breath and the movement calmed me, and I had no problem not talking for the 60 minutes (if you know me, you know this is an exceptional feat). In fact, I enjoyed the time to connect with my body and breath and, wordlessly, with the others in the room. For the first time since my marriage broke up, and truthfully probably even before that, I felt connected. 

I continued to take classes, eventually trying vinyasa and yin and kundalini and basically every class they offered. Pretty soon I was going three times a week. I made friends. Like “outside of the studio” friends. Yoga offered me a place, and a process, to connect with myself and with others, to believe in myself, to grow my confidence and courage and self-esteem. To find a community. 

Fast forward to 2013. Lots of life happened in the meantime (that was super important to me, but isn’t necessarily that I need to write about here). After running my business for seven years, I did eventually have to sell my storefront - not my business, the building - but by then had established clients, so the building itself didn’t feel as essential. This time it was a business decision, not a decision someone was making for me.  I’d moved into Philadelphia and gotten a part time job to supplement my income. I liked the job and my coworkers, but I worked on a different floor than everyone else, and didn’t have a ton of interaction except within my immediate group. Once again, I was feeling a loss of connection. I admittedly hadn’t been as great at going to yoga (I don’t have any great excuses, honestly, I let myself slack), though I tried to keep up with it at home. One day, I was sitting at my part time job at the front desk, when who walked in but the owner of “my’ yoga studio in Collingswood. We hugged, and she explained that she taught a weekly yoga class at my office on Wednesdays.. I’d heard mention of there being yoga offered, but I had no idea it was her who taught it. It was enough of a kick in the rear to get me to clear my schedule Wednesdays from 4-5PM. I started taking yoga at my office  weekly. I got to connect with other coworkers - other yoga-loving coworkers at that - and we got to interact in a non-business-officey way. I felt myself connecting with myself more. Connecting with others. Even if for just one hour a week, I had this community.  Several years in, my original teacher had to give up the class, but in her place was another amazing instructor from the same studio. “My” studio. We continued to practice together weekly for the next several years. 

Fast forward to 2018. More life happened much of it exciting. Still, I was struggling. I no longer worked at this office, and missed the comradery of my yoga group. I was also going through a lot of personal stuff, struggling with finding my place in the world once again, struggling to connect with myself and my purpose.  I was again feeling a lack of community, of connection. I was (and am still) in touch with the second teacher that taught at my office. She posted that the studio, “my” studio, was taking sign ups for yoga teacher training They’d offered it for many years, and I’d just never felt the time was right. This time, something made me fill out the application. I got accepted to the YTT program and our first weekend of teacher training started the weekend after my 39th birthday. This felt serendipitous to me - I was going to spend the last year of my 30s coming full circle, doing yoga teacher training in the studio (though the physical location has moved down the street) where I first began my yoga journey all those years ago.  For the third time in 14 years, yoga was bringing me back to myself. It was connecting me to me, and to a community of some of the most beautiful souls that I’ve ever met, which I desperately needed. It helped me believe in myself, my abilities, my capabilities. It showed me possibilities and gave me hope. It still continues to every day. 

Over the past 14 years or so, yoga has offered me what I haven’t known how to offer myself. It has helped me through some of the worst times with my mood cycling disorder and my other chronic illnesses. It has helped me through personal and life struggles. It has helped me through a several-decade long battle with body image, not because of how it’s changed my body, but because it’s helped me see the beauty in what my body does for me, in what it is and does instead of what it isn’t and doesn’t,  in how connecting my breath to movement of my body in yoga, I have been able to get through so much.

I graduated Yoga Teacher Training in May 2019. I knew when I started teacher training that I wanted to teach (not all that go through training do), and to use yoga to help others. I want to use yoga as a bridge (no pun intended - bridge is also a yoga pose) to reach those who may be struggling to find connection, either with themselves or with a community. I want others to be able to experience the belief in self, the personal (internal) strength and quiet confidence that a yoga practice can foster over time. I want to reach those who might feel the nerves and fear I felt the first time I signed up for a class, who might think they aren't flexible or active or strong enough for yoga, to help them see that none of that matters, because they are enough just as they are. I want to bring yoga to those who might be, as I was all those years ago, afraid of literally or figuratively falling over their own feet. I want  to utilize yoga to give back, through yoga benefit programs and through helping others, as yoga has given me so much. Most of all, I want to make yoga available in a way that people can experience it not just a practice, but as a process, and to help them to feel how, with time, it can extend far beyond what you do on the mat. 

My Theme Words As I Step Into My 40th Year

As you undoubtedly know by now, because I've been posting about it regularly on every platform for approximately the last month, I'll be turning 40 in less than a week. I've been reading quite a bit about choosing theme words for the year, and while I know this feels like something traditionally done at New Year, entering into a new decade of my life seemed like as good a time as any to think about where I want to focus for the upcoming year. Plus, setting these focuses in September allows me to take the New Year, if I choose to use it as a marker like so many do, to assess where I am, and to make any adjustments I feel I want or need. Some people choose one theme word, but life right now (and always) seems so multi-dimensional, and I've got numerous areas in which I'm working to grow and refocus, that I thought I'd pick four. Turns out, I ended up choosing five (listed/described below in no particular order except the one in which they came into my head, which we all know is generally haphazard). Also, I didn't stick to a certain word type (noun, verb, etc). I simply chose what felt appropriate.

1. Intentional. The number of times I find myself checking my social media, getting distracted by something unimportant, letting my mind become a runaway train into the land of "what if" and negative thoughts and so much else, without even realizing it, is a bit startling. I'll suddenly pause and realize my actions/tasks/thoughts are far from where I planned them to be. So many times on the drive to work or walking my dog, I don't recall how I got there. To clarify, I'm not sleep-driving or sleep-dog walking. I'm simply not noticing. Yes, I'm noticing the cars moving or stopping in front of me, I'm noticing my dog stop and sit at the corner and making sure it's clear before we cross. I'm noticing enough to be safe, but I'm not sinking into it. It could be a beautiful morning, sun rising over my neighborhood, flowers blooming, gentle breeze, birds chirping while I'm walking my dog, and I'm going over something in my head or planning my to do list or revisiting an argument or disagreement I had with someone from last week or stressing out over something I can do nothing about at 5:30AM while walking my dog. So my goal is to be more intentional. In my actions, in my thoughts, in my interactions with people, in my being present in the world around me. Social media checking is fine (and beneficial to my business, even). But I don't want to look up from twitter or IG or FB 30 minutes later and not even recall why I went onto the app in the first place. And I DEFINITELY don't want to be doing this while in the presence of friends, family, etc, who are actually there with me, being ignored while I absentmindedly scroll.

2. Growth. This year is a growth year for me in numerous ways. I'm growing my yoga business. I'm growing in the writing community, having just self-published my first novel. I'm also focusing on growing personally in numerous ways. I'm working on finding my voice and using it where appropriate (but not to drown out others). I'm working on recognizing dependent and codependent tendencies (revisited shortly here), and adjusting course. I'm learning how to work through parts of growth that can be difficult, triggering, painful. I'm working at recognizing my own faults and missteps and mistakes, and taking accountability, while learning NOT to take accountability and responsibility for other peoples thoughts, words, or actions,which are the responsibility of them, not me (in other words, I'm accountable for me, you're accountable for you).

3. Non-dependence. I'm not sure this is actually a word, either with or without the hyphen. Originally, I had this as independence, but that doesn't really explain what I'm aiming for. I already have a pretty independent spirit. I am generally not a conformist, I don't do things because they're "cool" or everyone else is doing them. I'm not easily swayed in my opinions or beliefs (other than about myself, and I'm working on that). But, as I mentioned above, codependency (i.e. supporting negative patterns with others by trying to 'make everything better', basically) and dependency (believing I'm not good enough/worthy/capable/don't know enough/others know better and therefore stepping aside and letting others take control, make decisions, etc) are both issues I've struggled with for years. So I'm focusing on NOT being those things. On learning those patterns and habits and how I get caught in them, and breaking those cycles. Hence, non-dependence. And to be clear, this doesn't mean I never accept help. We all have strengths and areas we're not as strong. I'm not going to refuse to let someone taller than me get something off of a high shelf when I can't reach because I "don't want to depend on anyone." We should all have people we can rely and depend upon when needed. It's about not doing so at the detriment to myself and others.

4. Reconnecting. Connecting is also my monthly theme for my yoga and wellness business, and you can read about that in my blog post discussing why I chose it. But basically, I've become disconnected. My introverted and social anxious nature lends itself to disconnecting from others. Depression doesn't help when it tells me that people don't really want to be around me, that I'm a burden, that people don't actually like me and that they're just including me or talking to me to be nice. So I'm working on reconnecting with others, and also, examining those connections. Are all the people I've been connected to still the people that I should be connected to? Am I hanging on to situations, people, that I don't need to, that aren't serving me (or them)? Am I staying around in groups, organizations, etc just because they're familiar? So I'm doing some re-examining. I'm also working on reconnecting with myself. Knowing who I truly am, deep down. Focusing on my core values, my personality type, my beliefs, my path and goals and dreams, my innate self, and getting back to that person. I'm working on not allowing fear or worry or others' opinions or values change that (or at least trying not to, as best as I can). I'm learning to be me again. And finally, I'm working on reconnecting with the world around me, especially in nature, through being present. Connecting to the earth, grounding.

5. Letting go. This was a late add, but I realized how important it was. I have held onto SO much. Guilt, shame, self-blame, self-loathing, regret, negative beliefs about myself, fears, that do not serve me. They often aren't even based in reality, in facts, they're stories I tell myself. And I can't ever move forward, ever grow, if I can't let these pieces go.

And so, as I cross the threshold from my 30s to my 40s, these are the theme words I'll be stepping into. These are the areas in which I plan to focus. They are not, of course, the only things I'll focus on, but they will help to guide me when I feel lost or confused or am questioning myself in my decisions and path. They'll help me to guide myself, both when I come to important crossroads, as well as while I move through every day life.

Thanks for taking this wild ride of life with me. Here's to 40 more years!

Cousin’s wedding in MN, so many early morning yoga/post yoga coffees, many amazing concerts, Overnight Walk & trip to Boston, the best shirt I own courtesy of a close friend, beach trips w/Grace, YTT, Yoga graduation. Just a few of the many amazing memories from my 39th year.

Cousin’s wedding in MN, so many early morning yoga/post yoga coffees, many amazing concerts, Overnight Walk & trip to Boston, the best shirt I own courtesy of a close friend, beach trips w/Grace, YTT, Yoga graduation. Just a few of the many amazing memories from my 39th year.

September Theme: Connecting

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Happy September! September is a particularly exciting month for me. It’s my birth month, and this year’s a big one - I turn 40! But that aside, I love this month for numerous reasons. It’s the start of fall. A time of transition - both in seasons, and in life. It’s the season in which we begin planning for the upcoming year. It’s a particularly earth-and-nature-focused season - leaves change color and begin to fall from the trees. We go apple and pumpkin picking. We take hayrides and sit around the fire pit with friends. It’s the perfect season for hiking and other outdoor activities that can be a little rough during the hot, humid summer. As it gets cooler, we put on more layers. We curl under blankets. This all feels super grounding,and I love it. 

For me, I also connect more with myself. Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s my birth month, and that always makes me reflect and look forward and look inward, and basically just look everywhere. It’s a time for me to think about what I want to do/be/experience in the next 365 days. It’s a time to consider what changes and adjustments I want to work on, what paths I want to explore. 

And so, my theme for the month of September is Connecting. Whatever that means to you. Maybe it’s connecting with your yoga/wellness practice(s). Maybe it’s grounding, connecting through the earth, whether that’s being out in nature or sitting in meditation or some other way. Perhaps it’s connect with each other, with friends and family. Or connecting with yourself. It may several or even all of these. 

Throughout September, I’ll be posting and sharing about connection. And because we’re each different, because we each connect in our own ways, I’d love to hear what makes you feel most connected, too! 

Don't Be Afraid To Take Up Space

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In yoga, we often remind people that it’s OK to take up space. In fact, we encourage that. On the mat, this often means making your Warrior stance wider, or letting your arms and legs reach to the edges of the mat (or beyond if there’s room!) in Savasana. The idea behind taking up space on your mat, in addition to making sure you have enough room for proper alignment within the pose, is that as humans, we often tend to shrink ourselves. As we walk through life, literally and figuratively, we’re constantly excusing ourselves or apologizing for the space we occupy, worried that we could be in someone’s (again, literal or figurative) way. We apologize for our differing perspectives and way of doing things if someone criticizes or critiques us. We apologize for being different in general. We apologize for asking clarifying questions or making requests that we have every right to make (be honest, how many times have you started communication with “sorry to bother you but…”? I know I do this constantly).  We apologize for anything that could be a minor inconvenience to someone else, even if the outcome is significantly higher stakes for us. Not only that, but when we aren’t apologizing, we’re making ourselves small. We say things like “I was just wondering if it would be OK if maybe…..”. Instead of owning that we have every right to make a decision or a request, we ask timidly ask permission, and even feel bad about asking permission. 

I’ve also noticed, at least in myself, this not wanting to take up space coming up in unexpected places. The other day, I noticed that when I write my affirmations each morning (and I do this every morning), for some reason, I try to squeeze each affirmation onto a single line, smushing my writing and abbreviating words to try to make it fit. Here I am, doing these affirmations for big dreams and goals that I hope to make into a reality, and I’m shrinking them onto one line, because …. I don’t know why. Sure, maybe it takes up an extra line or two and eventually that means needing a new notebook faster, and that could mean more paper aka trees. But realistically, one affirmation going onto the next line here or there is not going to cause a catastrophic impact. I’m simply used to trying not to take up space - even when writing out my biggest, boldest goals and dreams. I’m taking an action that is supposed to make me feel confident and in my space of personal power and I’m physically constraining it to take up less room. 

When we are afraid to take up space, literally or figuratively, whether in our speech or in our notebooks, in our requests , on our mat, when walking down the sidewalk (we have the same right as everyone else to be on that sidewalk and yet we constantly apologize for our presence in a crowd), or when we’re doing whatever we’re doing, it feeds the idea, even subconsciously, that we’re less. That we’re not worthy of that space.  Or that others are more deserving of it. But we are worthy. 100 percent. We are as worthy and deserving of occupying our space as anyone else. 

And so, I encourage you to take up space. Start small. If you take yoga, spread out on your mat a little more. When you write that email, notice if you can take out phrases like “just wondering” and “if possibly” and the like. For me, I’ve stopped trying to scrunch the dreams and goals of my morning affirmations onto one line to take up less space on the page. If it feels uncomfortable, I understand. I’m right there with you. But this month, my theme is all about getting uncomfortable in ways that help me grow. And as difficult as it can be to push past that fear, that worry, that feeling (it shows up in numerous ways) that so often holds me back, I know that each time I do this, I’m getting closer to where I want to be. 

My dog Grace, who’s never afraid to take up space on the mat (even when it’s not technically hers).

My dog Grace, who’s never afraid to take up space on the mat (even when it’s not technically hers).

August Theme - Getting Uncomfortable

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Happy August!  I don’t know about you, but it feels to me like this summer is flying by. I can’t believe it’s time for the August theme already, but it’s one that I’m excited about, in that  weird way that we feel excited when we push ourselves out of our comfort zone. I spent July focusing on being patient with the process, both in yoga and in life. August’s theme is a bit of an extension on that, because this idea of being in process feels super important and multifaceted to me, so I want to spend a little more time on it. This month, I’m focusing on getting uncomfortable. 

Before I continue, I’d like to make a few clarifications: when I say uncomfortable, I’m not talking about 1.) Pain/something that could be injuring you. Don’t force yourself into a yoga pose if it feels like you’re about to rupture something, and don’t force yourself into something in life if it feels like it’s legitimately not right. 2.) I’m not talking about letting other people make you uncomfortable (or making them uncomfortable, for that matter) in any type of inappropriate manner/way that feels wrong. I feel like this goes without saying, but I want to be really clear here. That is never OK. 

So with that disclaimer out of the way, I’m talking about the type of uncomfortable that pushes you out of complacency, or OK-ness. The kind of uncomfortable that makes you get really honest with yourself. The type that helps you grow, whether it’s in your physical yoga practice, or in life. The type of uncomfortable that we really know we should face but we put off because it’s easier not to, because letting ourselves stay comfortable doesn’t rock the boat and keeps everything status quo and it’s natural to want to stay comfortable.

Let me give an example: I am super uncomfortable speaking about my talents and skills. It feels like bragging, like I’m saying to people “look at me”, when I, in fact, strongly dislike having attention focused on me (exception: I’m fine when teaching, and I think that’s because I see it as guiding in a shared experience). But in order to grow my business, I have to tell people what I do. And I have to show them that I’m skilled at it. In the days of social media, I more or less have to post pictures, videos, evidence of me being good at it. I have to say (and show) “hey I have something valuable I can offer to you.” Whether it’s posting on social media to get people to come to classes, or it’s approaching a studio about a subbing or teaching position, or it’s posing my ideas for workplace benefit yoga to a company, I have to tell people about what I do and why I do it and how they could benefit from it.  Because I’m not going to get far in building a business that nobody knows about, or that doesn’t show potential clients the value that I can offer them. So I have to deal with getting uncomfortable. I have to share what I do, why I do it, how I do it, and my skill level/knowledge at it. I have to get past the self doubt and the impostor syndrome and the having attention on me (even from behind the screen of a computer or phone) because without clients, I won’t have a business. At least not one that’s sustainable as a part or full time endeavor. 

In yoga, it may be trusting yourself to try a new style, or a new studio, or a new pose (assuming you aren’t likely to hurt yourself or be in pain - please don’t hurt yourself!). In yoga teaching, it is, and I speak from experience here, teaching a pose you yourself aren’t super comfortable in. Yoga teacher confession time: I strongly dislike doing Ardha Chandrasana aka Half Moon pose. I might be the only yogi/instructor on the planet that doesn’t like this pose. It’s not because it scares me,or because I can’t do it. I can do the pose fine - not great, mind you, but fine. I just feel “off” in it. I don’t enjoy it. It’s like putting on an outfit that looks fine on the outside but it just feels eh and you can’t explain why. That’s how I feel about myself doing this pose. And, because of that, my natural inclination is to avoid teaching it because it’s easier to fill a classes with poses you personally love. But I also know that 1.) I can’t let my own feelings about poses limit what I offer my students and 2.) I’m never going to get more comfortable with it, practicing or teaching, if I don’t do it. So, my very first class after graduating teacher training what did I do? I put Ardha Chandrasana into my first standing flow. I made myself get uncomfortable. I made myself sit (or in this case, balance) with my uncomfortableness. And guess what? I’m OK. Nothing horrific happened. I got through it. Was it my finest pose instruction? Not sure, but probably not - it was also my first real class, so that makes it tough to tell. Was it passable. Yep!  Nobody ran out of the class or fell over due to unclear instructions or looked at me funny like I didn’t know what I was talking about. And I got past that first time of teaching the pose. I felt accomplished for doing so, and proud that I made myself go for it.

Life, and yoga, are like that. Often, it’s the poses and pieces that we most need to work on that make us the most uncomfortable. Because deep down, we know that when we avoid them, we avoid (potential) growth. And growth is scary, or at least it can be, because sometimes we have to be really honest with ourselves, and that’s not always the most fun time. 

Luckily, yoga offers us a place to practice pushing our comfort zone that’s relatively low stakes. Most poses have numerous variations and modifications that allow us to dip our toes in and get a feel for it. We have props to help us ease our way in when something feels physically or mentally uncomfortable (i.e. when we doubt ourselves, feel embarrassed, worry what we’ll look like, etc). There are beginner classes and gentle classes for those who may feel intimidated about trying yoga, or who may just want a less physically intense practice (note: I love gentle taking gentle classes myself!). And most of the time, whether you know it or not, there’s someone else in there also feeling uncomfortable, sharing in that same experience, even if neither of you know it. Maybe it’s even your instructor, teaching a pose they don’t love themselves, but value for their students.

So this month, I invite you to continue to be in the process, and to be patient with the process, by allowing yourself to sit (literally or figuratively, or possibly both) in the uncomfortable. Maybe it’s noticing when you avoid doing an unpleasant task by logging onto social media instead. Maybe it’s making excuses (oh I’m no good at that/don’t have the time/will do it later) when something makes you push beyond your usual comfort zone. Perhaps it’s an inkling to avoid teaching a pose you don’t love, or to suddenly need a bathroom break/drink of water/to step out of the room to cough/etc every time that pose comes up in a class you take. Whatever it is, take note. Even taking this pause, asking ‘why’, helps us to understand our uncomfortableness a little better. And the more we give voice to something uncomfortable, something scary, the less it becomes so. 

There Is No "Right" Type Of Yogi

One of the things I try to do on this blog,in my business, and in life in general, is to be real.  A major goal with my work in yoga is to break the traditional view of what a yogi has to be/look/sound/talk/dress/etc like, and to reach people that might not traditionally be drawn to yoga, who might feel intimidated by the traditional “yogi” image, or who otherwise might just not think yoga is for them. It’s one of the reasons I love the idea of workplace yoga (both as a teacher and a student) - you often get to reach those who might not sign up at their local studio, but who are willing to give it a try if it’s conveniently at their workplace, and if they know their are others who also aren’t super experienced at yoga. 

The thing is, there is no right type of yogi. 

You don’t have to have a certain body type. Yoga is about being present in your body. Not having a specific one. 

You don’t have to dress a certain way. Yoga doesn’t require $100 leggings and name brand tank tops.  If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen me post (non-designer) pajama yoga pics from my own practice in my living room. 

You don’t have to go to the studio x times a week (or at all) to be a yogi. You can do yoga at home (see pajama yoga comment above), at a workplace that offers it, in a park, basically anywhere that gives you the space and ability to do so. 

It doesn’t matter if you can touch your toes or do a headstand or anything like this. Yoga is a process, not a pose, and it’s about meeting yourself where you are at that time, on that day, in that moment. 

You don’t have to be all light and love and calm and harmony and happy vibes and only ever doing “yoga-like” activities. Two weeks ago I was rocking out to punk music at Warped Tour and loving every minute of it. I also spend most Sundays in the fall watching football (and occasionally saying not so calm things to the TV when my team is doing badly).  I have really bad days because I deal with genetic depression and anxiety disorders. I can be annoyed and annoying, frustrated and frustrating. None of this makes me a bad yogi, either as a student or a teacher. It makes me human. Same goes for you. 

I could give plenty more examples, certainly, but the point is, you don’t have to fit into any specific mold to be a yogi. And if you’re still really determined that there’s a way to be a “good” yogi and you want to achieve that, here’s what to do: Be a good human being. Do some yoga, somewhere, sometime. That’s all.

Me and my good friend and fellow concert lover, Cindy, at Warped Tour in Atlantic City.

Me and my good friend and fellow concert lover, Cindy, at Warped Tour in Atlantic City.

July Theme - Patience and Process

Happy July! I hope you had a fantastic June, and thanks for being part of my first full official month as a yoga teacher and business. As I’ve written about, June’s theme was growing. We were getting into summer and growing our gardens. The days were growing longer. We were growing our connection with family and friends as we move into summer/vacation/outdoor gathering/etc mode. I was (and of course, still am) growing my website, my yoga business, and everything that goes along with it. I also focused on a lot of internal growth. In June, I began working a lot more with intentionality. I began focusing on being more conscious of what was going on around me, what I was doing in the moment. I began paying more attention to input from my senses - sights, sounds, the feel of the environment, smells (not always the best focus!), really consciously tasting food. I also have been working to focus on one task/activity/item at a time. It’s tough in this society of alerts and pings and texts and everything else, and I’m not great at it, but I’m getting better at it, I think. 

For July, I decided to have a dual focus, because for me, they go together nicely: Patience and Process. I’ll be real - patience is a virtue…. That I don’t have a ton of. To be clear, I have patience with people. I don’t tend to have patience with myself, especially when it comes to process. I tend to want to teleport from starting line to end result, and I don’t give myself nearly enough credit for the steps in between. In yoga class, this could be the frustration of struggling to get my body to move a certain way. I’ll work and work at something, and it’s often tough for me to notice the small improvements, if I’m still struggling with range of motion or pain in a certain position and I have to get myself out of it. (Note: don’t stay in a pose that’s causing any pain that’s not a stretching kind of pain. Yoga should not be acutely pain-inducing!). 

More often though, it’s the life process I’m not great with. For instance, in the past two months, I’ve graduated yoga teacher training, gotten my RYT-200 designation, secured a private client, gotten on a sub list at a studio, am scheduled to teach two donation based community classes for Charity at The Grant Building, and recently found out that I’ve been approved for a weekly benefit class for an organization, which I can’t yet share details of yet but am super excited about! And yet my brain is over here thinking that it’s not enough, because I haven’t miraculously in 1.5 months managed to start a full-fledged business that can pay the bills. Except that in reality, less than two months ago, I wasn’t even officially a yoga teacher!  

For me, it stems from a combination of anxiety and my general personality - the J part of my INFJ is associated with always planning for the next stage, always looking for the next steps, the next experience, the next adventure. And we can only really change so much about our inherent personality, so I’ll probably always be someone that works better knowing the plan, the next steps, working towards the next stage. But I’m trying to also help myself realize that the smaller pieces of the process, the baby steps, are still steps. They’re still part of that plan, that moving towards the next stage, and they’re necessary. And so I’m working on celebrating process, and having patience with it. It fits well into my intentional living focus, to notice all that’s going on right now, instead of jumping ahead to next, next next. 

I’ll be posting, blogging, sharing about patience and process throughout the month, both here and on my twitter and instagram. And if you’re up for sharing, I’d love to hear about the processes that you're working with and celebrating this month! 

This pose is a process for me, as you can see by my back foot turning in, and my elbow not quite hooking over my knee. And that’s all OK. I keep working on it. Sometimes it’s a little easier. Sometimes, I look like I’m taking yoga selfies in my pajamas with less than perfect form.

This pose is a process for me, as you can see by my back foot turning in, and my elbow not quite hooking over my knee. And that’s all OK. I keep working on it. Sometimes it’s a little easier. Sometimes, I look like I’m taking yoga selfies in my pajamas with less than perfect form.

Five Life Benefits I've Gained From Yoga

June 21st is both the Summer Solstice and International Yoga Day. Whether or not it was intentional that International Yoga Day coincides with the Solstice, it seems fitting. Afterall, we start many of our classes with sun salutations.

In honor of International Yoga Day, I thought I’d share some of my favorite things about yoga - both taking and teaching. Obviously, everyone gets something a little different out of yoga, even within the same class. These are simply the benefits I’ve most perceived, and I wanted to share them.

  • Space and time for myself. To clarify, I don’t mean that I always do yoga alone. I mean I carve out space for something that serves me. How it serves me (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, a combo of these) depends on the day, but each time I come to my mat, wherever I am, I’m making myself a priority, saying “this is my time”, and that’s something that I think so many of us do far too infrequently.

  • Community and friendship. This may seem opposite to point number one, but it’s not. The beauty of yoga is that often, it’s all of us carving out time for ourselves, together. But we’re all there, together, sharing in that space, that energy. Just be being there, carving out time for ourselves, we’re coming together and supporting each other carving out time for themselves.  And sometimes, this community blossoms into individual friendships. And for this socially anxious/awkward introvert, finding “my people” can be hard to come by as an adult. So I value both the community and the friendships immensely.

  • Balance. I don’t mean physical balance, though there’s plenty of that too, and they’re not my strongest suit when it comes to yoga. But more so, I mean the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual balance. My yoga practice encompases each of these, and it helps to remind me that often, daily life can get super lopsided. We’re focused intently on one aspect (work, having enough money to pay the bills, school, whatever it may be) and really, life is about balance. Yoga helps me to consciously bring balance into my life, even if it’s just for that time I’m on the mat. More and more, though, I’m noticing it off the mat as well.

  • Self-Compassion. I’m often incredibly tough on myself. In addition to my type A, perfectionist type personality, I also live with anxiety and depression, which often like to emotionally beat me up. They tell me a whole host of lies about my worth, my ability, my being. Practicing yoga, and teaching yoga, has helped me to be gentler with myself when needed. Yoga reminds me that it’s ok to rest, to pause and focus on breath, to take something more restorative or supportive when needed. It reminds me that it’s enough to try my best, even if it’s not the best I’ve ever done. There’s no perfect yoga, and there’s no perfect person, and that’s all completely OK.

  • Boundaries. I haven’t historically been great at setting boundaries. But especially during yoga teacher training, I had to. I spent the majority of my weekends in training, along with at least two classes a week, plus studying, papers, practicing, and more. I had to learn to say no to other things, or I wouldn’t have made it through. I had to say no to plans, commitments, activities that required more energy than I had. In yoga itself, I had to say no to certain poses when my body was taxed or my sciatica twinging, or when I just mentally needed the time to rest in child’s pose. I  had to learn to set boundaries in every aspect of my life, and now that teacher training is done, I’m learning that I’ve gotten slightly more comfortable with the concept. It’s an area in which I still have a way to go, but I’ve established the foundation, and that’s a great place to start.

Do any of these resonate with you? What benefits have you gained from yoga? I’m curious to hear. I love how yoga can offer us each our own unique benefits, and I Iove learning what it brings to others’.  

Yoga outtakes of myself and my friend Aly, who I met in Yoga Teacher Training, during a yoga photo shoot.

Yoga outtakes of myself and my friend Aly, who I met in Yoga Teacher Training, during a yoga photo shoot.

Growing Through Stepping Back

As I mentioned in my last couple of posts, my theme for this month is Growing. One of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is my growth while going through yoga teacher training. Of course, my physical practice grew - in my knowledge of the poses, teaching techniques, how to adjust and assist, what to look for in my own body when practicing - as well as the amount of times per week I was physically practicing yoga. While my physical practice and knowledge expanded in the way I expected, I found that my internal practice grew in the opposite manner - by learning to step back. To clarify, I don’t mean physically stepping back, as in into a lunge or Warrior pose (though there was plenty of that too!). I mean consciously pausing before going into a pose, or even a class, and asking myself “what would serve me best here?”

Throughout my youth, teenage years, and college, I was involved in competitive gymnastics. I was known as the team member that would generally just “go for things”, even if I more or less didn’t have a chance of landing it properly (the number of times I landed almost on my head or straddled the beam was startling). I loved challenging myself to do the toughest skills possible. I physically loved flipping around and I often felt more comfortable upside down than right side up. And this served me really well in competitive gymnastics, where you were awarded more points for more difficult skills, and more points meant higher scores, which meant placing higher in competition, qualifying to select competitions like State or Regional Championships, and qualifying to the next level. In addition, I was self-competitive (still am) and I always aimed to beat my own best, so even without all of the scoring and qualifying, I probably would have still gone for the most difficult skills.

So when I started doing yoga, I was one of those people that always pushed myself to go into the “most difficult” version of the pose, giving myself the most physically challenging practice I could. If there was an option to flow or stay in down dog, I flowed. If there was an option to bind in a pose, I went for the bind. I went into wheel instead of bridge or supported bridge even if my back was like “hey there lady, go easy on me today would ya?!” It wasn’t because I was trying to show off or anything like that. It’s what I knew. It’s how I’d been trained. It’s how I had internally trained myself. Physical activities have always been a strong point for me, and so I pushed myself to physically challenge myself as much as possible.  

But as I moved through yoga teacher training, and my practice expanded in all directions (mentally, emotionally, spiritually, as well as physically), I noticed something - that urge to push myself to the limit tapered. I still challenged myself, but the challenge shifted a bit - instead of “can I get into the most challenging version of this pose”, it more often became asking myself “what would really benefit me most today?”, and challenging myself to stay with that answer, even if meant resting in child’s pose while others were going through a flow, or staying in supported bridge instead of going into wheel.  The challenge wasn’t always about what would physically serve me best, either. Often, it was the mental aspect. I needed to pause and breathe to help create inner space. Other times, I chose based on my energy level. Certain poses, like back bends, can be especially energizing. So if I needed more energy, I may go into a deeper back bend - not because it was physically more challenging, but because that energy served me in that moment (i.e. 6AM classes when I had a full work day ahead of me). If I did not want to ramp up my energy, say, in a later evening class where I’d be going to bed shortly after getting home, I chose something more restorative or supportive. I still love doing inversions (I really do love being upside down) but I do them because they feel weightless to me, like the stress of life is being literally flipped on it’s head, and help me mentally - not because of the difficulty level. And even here, I always ask which version of an inversion serves me best, before I take it (legs up the wall equals awesome inversion option!).

What I found, in taking this pause, was that my yoga practice grew. Not specifically in the physical sense, though it did help my joints and muscles and any injuries recover more fully, but my overall yoga practice. My practice that extends far beyond the mat. I learned that I don’t have to constantly push myself to the limit. That sometimes, what I need - my body, my heart, my mind, my soul - is to take a breather, to be kind to my body, my mind, myself, to know that even if I can technically do something, it might not be what serves me best. And as I’ve continued to practice this in my physical practice, I’ve noticed it in other areas too. I’m working on being kinder to myself, setting boundaries where needed, on listening to my intuition and my inner knowledge, and focusing on what it’s telling me in this moment. And for me, this, truly, is what yoga is all about.

Sometimes my left knee hurts in tree pose (Vrksasana) because I don’t have full flexion there. So I frequently now opt to keep my leg lower instead of forcing myself into it.   Photo credit:    Aly Gaul   .

Sometimes my left knee hurts in tree pose (Vrksasana) because I don’t have full flexion there. So I frequently now opt to keep my leg lower instead of forcing myself into it.

Photo credit: Aly Gaul.

Monthly Focus: Growing

I’ve been thinking lately about how to organize the content of this blog. My business/site encompasses numerous aspects, and I want to try to tie things together as much as I can, because I truly feel each of these areas interacts with the others in some way, or at least they all have the potential to. So I’ve decided that each month, I’m going to focus on a theme. Or at least I’m going to give this a go and see how it plays out (hey, you’ll find nothing but honesty here!).  For this first month, since I’m releasing my blog mid-to-late month, this will be the “monthly plus a week and a half-ish” theme (also known as the rest of May and through June).

For this month’s theme, I chose Growing. Quite simply, seems like it fits. I’m premiering this site and my business in the end of spring as we head towards summer, and spring is the season of growth. Additionally, I’ve spent the last 9ish months in Yoga Teacher Training, and if you’ve never been through yoga teacher training, I can attest to the fact that not only do you grow your yoga knowledge immensely, but there’s a significant amount of personal/internal growth as well. And of course, now that I’ve graduated and am starting my business, I’ll be growing that.

Growth can take so many forms. We can grow our food. We can help children grow. We can expand our knowledge, our interests, our skill sets. We can grow in relationships, friendships, careers. And we can grow within ourselves. We can delve deep and get to know ourselves better, become completely (but kindly) honest with ourselves about the good, the “not so great” (i.e. the areas we’d like to work on), the quirky, the beautiful, the messy, the quirky and messy and beautiful (side note: I think this is where many of us fall). Or maybe our internal growth is more subtle. Maybe every day we take five minutes to meditate or to be in alone in nature or to do something for someone else or to do something kind for ourselves or connect with another being or tap into our creativity. Maybe it’s this small gesture each day or each week that we don’t even realize is having an impact, and then one day we suddenly feel different, even if we can’t say exactly how. We notice a subtle shift.

However you choose to focus on growth, I’m going to be right there alongside you (figuratively, unless you’re taking class or doing sessions with me, then literally), probably doing some combination of the above. And of course, I’m always here to kick around ideas or inspiration or motivation. And if you want to focus on your growth through yoga or wellness or travel or writing or anything related to what I do here in my business, well, of course I’m here for that too!

Happy Late Spring!



And, We’re Live!

Welcome! Thank you for visiting my site. I thought I’d take this first blog post to introduce myself and share a little about who I am, my background, what I’m doing, and why.  First, a little about me. I’m more or less a Philly area native - I moved here when I was three, and apart from college, have lived here ever since. I currently reside in Philadelphia with my husband and our dog Grace.

So, what is it that I do? I like to say that I wear a lot of hats. Quite literally, as those who know me personally will attest to. But also in life. I’m yoga instructor. I’m a Travel Planner who has owned and operated my own travel planning company, Chimera Travel, for the past 14 years. I’m a health advocate, with a primarily mental health awareness and advocacy. I’m writer and am currently in the process of publishing my first novel. I’m a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor.

And so, I’ve decided to tie these all together on one site. I believe that each of these overlaps in their own way, and since I couldn’t find anything specifically that involved all of my passions, I’ve created it myself. I truly believe in total wellness - mind, body, and spirit, and I believe that each of us connect to these in different ways. It may be a physical workout or training session. It maybe yoga or meditation or another mindfulness practice. It may be through creativity and imagination. It may be through exploring a place that deeply speaks to us, connecting to other people despite differences in location and culture. It may be sharing our story with health struggles to motivate change or to help others who are struggling, working together to improve our opportunities for treatment and healthcare.

I’m passionate about each and every one of these topics, and I want to connect with others through each of them. And so, I’ve created my own business, in which I’m able to help others to recenter, reconnect, explore, experience, and express. I’ll be blogging about each of the areas, and you can learn more about the specific topics and services that I offer on the tabs and drop down menus at the top of the site. And of course, I’d love to connect with you on social media!