When I was 13, I received a copy of Christie Brinkley’s Outdoor Beauty and Fitness Book. I was set. In one book, I had the complete guide to everything I needed to know to be just as dazzling and breathtaking as Christie Brinkley. I followed her advice for cutting up bananas and freezing them as a snack to satisfy my sweet tooth. I did her exercises religiously and followed her beauty advice on how to lighten my hair with lemons. What could go wrong? I was totally sure that if I followed Christie’s advice, I would have all the tools I’d need to become a sexy, confident woman.
Fast forward a few years and moves, college and grad school, and I eventually lost track of my beauty bible. It was okay though because I found Billy Blanks and Tae Bo. I could kick and punch my way into total body fitness.
By my 30s, I wasn’t nearly as quick to fall for a quick fix, but I was influenced by yoga teachers, medical mentors, and people who seemed to me to have it all together. I was sure that if I could be more like them, I could be a better mom, wife, and friend. Looking back now, I realize I didn’t trust myself. I wasn’t connected to my physical body or my intuition. Being a mom to two young kids, I was completely focused on their needs, care, and wellbeing. I didn’t have time or energy to listen to and interpret the messages my body was sending me. It was easier to listen to people like Christie and Billy, people who knew the steps to success. I ignored symptoms of allergies, stress, and fatigue—signs my body was using to tell me it was out of balance.
It’s taken nearly a decade of my 40s (my favorite decade, by the way) to connect to myself. What changed? Why do I now listen to my own inner voice? I can’t point to just one thing, but I believe meditation, yoga trainings, health coaching, nutrition training, and not working all night shifts in the emergency department have supported me on this path.
When I was a new yoga teacher, I labeled myself alignment-oriented. I knew exactly how a posture should look and I would cue ad nauseam to get students to create that posture. After almost 10 years and many hours of teaching and observing different bodies with different injuries and stories, I’ve come to see alignment as what works in the body within reason on any given day.
I no longer hold on to rigid ideas that are tethered to the word “should.” I have a running joke with Becky Kuhl about burpees. After doing them for 15 years, burpees don’t feel so good in my body. In fact, I really don’t like them at all. So I modify when I need to and I take pride in that. At this time of year, I make many life modifications. I may go to bed at 8pm. If I’m not teaching a 6am class, I don’t go to yoga at 6am. I make sure my eating, self-care, and exercise are aligned with what supports me, even if someone I respect tells me to do something different.
As we head into late fall and winter, I can’t encourage people enough to listen to their bodies about sleep, food, movement, and even the company you keep and connections you make. It doesn’t matter what your most inspirational yoga teacher, health guru, accomplished outdoor athlete, or business person eats, drinks, or does to their body or puts in their hair for highlights. It’s wonderful to have teachers, mentors, and guides on our personal journeys, but we don’t have to take others’ words as scripture when our true or best selves may be compromised.
“We are always looking outward, listening to our teachers who come in with their own problems and limitations, and we ignore the most supreme teacher within ourselves. The only way to evolve, to progress, to truly practice, is to listen to our inner teacher.” ~ Prashant Iyengar
In light and love,
I’m so excited about our spring Wellness Challenge focusing on gut health. I like to offer challenges in the spring and fall because these are powerful times for change. In the winter, I’m super busy with parties, out of town guests, holiday feasts, après-ski events, and what seems like a million birthday celebrations. In the summer, I want to play. I’m enjoying the green grass under my feet and the sun on my face. I’m losing myself in the long days and the ripe watermelon. I’m watching my goats be goats. I’m not thinking about nutrition, meditation, journaling, and deep introspection.
The premise of this challenge is to cultivate a healthy microbiome by increasing the good bacteria in our gut. Over the course of a brutal flu season marked by respiratory and secondary infections, many of us have taken antibiotics, Advil, Prilosec, and other medications that deplete our healthy bacteria. Being busy and under the weather can put us into food ruts where we’re choosing foods that don’t serve us best. Putting in long hours at work or taking work home with us can send us to bed reading emails or perseverating about projects, decisions, or discussions with coworkers.
We know that many disease processes begin with low-level inflammation in the body and a leaky gut, or deranged microbiome. Anxiety and depression along with autoimmune, heart, and inflammatory bowel disease all have this origin in common.
From March 5th through April 20th, we’ll focus on the following: practicing yoga four days a week; putting away electronics two hours before bed; getting eight hours of sleep each night; getting outside three days a week; meditating; avoiding sugar, processed foods, dairy, wheat, and soy; and cooking at home six days a week. Anyone who has done a challenge with me knows that it’s about exploration and learning, not hard-and-fast rules. Challenges are just like yoga: they vary and change depending on where you are in your life. Sometimes yoga is about more about the breath or learning advanced postures, while other times it’s about creating space for your monkey mind. Challenges can be reflections of our lives and they can inspire revelations, too.
The point of this challenge is not to be perfect. Don’t focus on doing it all. Some people will soak up the dietary information, some will be cultivating meditation for the first time, and some will be new to doing yoga four days a week. Others may not skip a beat and remember just one or two pearls of self-care tips. Even if you’ve done challenges before, something will resonate this time and stick. It’s just like yoga—every day is different and you never know when your crow might fly. Was it the cue? Was it your perspective? Was it the flow? Every breath, class, day, challenge is different.
Creating a healthy life is a journey. It’s not a sprint. It’s not about suffering through seven weeks, proving you can avoid Swiss cheese and a Fat Tire, and returning to “regular life” when it’s over. The challenge is about looking at areas in your life that work really well and shining a light on the dark corners you avoid. I learn so much every time I guide people through challenges, and I truly love these experiences.
If you seek self-improvement and you’re committed to self-care, sign up. If you’re traveling, have a tight work schedule, or not sure you’re ready for all the components, sign up. It’s free and fun to be part of a group working towards better health.
I can’t wait to get started!
In light and love,
I had a great holiday season full of friends, dinners, wine(s), and Ghirardelli chocolate squares. Sitting in front of my Christmas lights on New Year’s Eve, I vowed to get back on track. I was feeling depleted and sluggish from repetitive overindulging.
The romance of the holidays ended and the lights got packed away. The holidays were behind me along with my inspiration. So I did something I never do—I jumped on a diet. I believe in the principles and eating plan that guide this ketogenic diet, but I set myself up for failure. I was ignoring my true self—my physical and emotional feelings as well as my knowledge and core beliefs.
As if I needed more proof, I was actually excited about having to wait for my supplements to arrive. I had more time to eat, drink, and be merry before restriction reined me in. As I unpacked my chocolate and vanilla bone broth protein formulas, ketone tablets, meal plans, and shopping lists, I became uneasy. In my heart, I knew this wasn’t what I needed.
I choked down my chocolate bone broth with ghee and trotted off to teach my 6am Fire Series. Denial gave way to survival as I realized once again that, for things that truly matter, you can’t just “pop a pill” and experience immediate results. I also learned that it’s better to wait until after teaching in 105 degrees to put something new, different, or out of the ordinary in your body.
The issue, of course, was not the diet.
It was me.
Over my lifetime, I have come to recognize my pattern of thinking I’m not enough, of not trusting myself. Within six hours, I knew I didn’t need to radically change, add supplements, or pee on a stick to measure my ketones. I needed to go back to what I’ve learned in three years of nutrition and health coach training. I needed to believe in myself. I needed to center, dig in, and get back to my roots. With the trials of my first year as a yoga studio owner on top of my commitment to my crazy, active family, I lost my personal focus.
This incident, or kink in my journey, has inspired me to get back to what I know and to share it with folks at Rakta. February is Heart Health Month. To take care of our hearts, we need to reduce inflammation. In my Wellness Challenge, we’ll start with the two big culprits: SUGAR and ALCOHOL!
Are you still there? Do you need a minute to process? I know, I understand….
During the month of love and wine, chocolate and champagne, we’ll make choices to support our immune systems, break our sugar addictions, and examine our individual patterns around these prevalent inflammation offenders. By boosting our immune systems and reducing inflammation, we’ll create anti-cancer environments and make feeling good (even great!) the new norm. Fight Inflammation February—will you be mine?
In March, we’ll move deeper into gut health and supporting our microbiomes through other dietary changes. March 18th-April 20th is Rakta’s 30 (+2) Day Yoga Challenge with great locals deals to step into spring with new energy, strength, and balance. Look for more information about Fight Inflammation February and our Yoga Challenge at the studio and on Facebook and Instagram.
In light and love,