De-bunking Limiting Beliefs About Yoga

yoga quotes

To everyone who needs a little motivation to get on the mat. Let me deliver a little PSA: Do not be discouraged by the photos you see of super flexible yogis upside down with their toes touching their noses. Yoga is NOT about how it looks on the outside (though most of westernized society has turned it into a “look what I can do” acrobatic spectacle). Yoga is about so much more than that. More importantly than the exterior is the interior; the way your unique body FEELS on the inside & accepting what your body can do as well as its limitations.

Yoga in the west has become highly commercialized; the mass media has twisted it (no pun intended) it into something it is not, thus robbing it of it’s scared essence.

It’s not your fault if you think your not flexible enough to do yoga because according to the way the west has presented yoga to society, it’s essentially a sport, “something be good at”. The “yoga” images perpetuated by the media delude one into thinking that in order to practice yoga one should be capable of twisting one’s body into a pretzel and standing on one’s head on the first go.

Wrong.

The practice of yoga involves practicing and cultivating acceptance. Which encompasses acceptance of your body and how it is in the exact moment (including it’s limitations). The progress you may wish to achieve comes with time, lots of time, maybe not even one lifetime.

Most of these super flexible yogis you see plastered all over the internet are athletes, dancers and models. Sure they may also be yogis, but many devoted yogis are the ones you don’t see in the media.

And I fully recognize that I am a guilty of contributing to this yoga ideal I speak of and probably sound hypocritical.

I’ve thought about this a lot – the contradiction of reducing a scared inner yoga practice to snapshots of your body in poses that you then share with the world…

So I just want to put it out there that though you may have seen a photo of me or someone on social media in a pencil straight headstand, know that there have been hundreds of imperfect ones that just didn’t get photographed.

Just like all of the photos we see in the media…they’re created to give off a specific image, a message and most times they’re well constructed illusions. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of the progress you’ve made. But recognize that our culture  has an obsession with flaunting picture perfect “easy, breezy, woke up like this fabulousness” which is usually not the case at all. There’s so much behind a snapshot. Smiling faces do not equate happiness, fancy yoga poses do not equate perfection.

So this is something to think about yogis. If we do want to post those asana poses, should they come with a disclaimer so as not to deceive those who don’t know so much about the entirety and the complexity of yoga? Or is it simple…just don’t post at all?

I’m interested in hearing thoughts on this…yogis, millenials?

Also..If you’ve made it this far thanks for reading.

Happy practicing & Happy Wednesday 🙂

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Buen provecho!

The Art of Positive Self-Coachmanship: Runners Edition

It’s eleven days before I embark on my first half marathon which I’ll be running next month in Guatemala. I just started “training” – I’m not so sure you could call it official training of any sort, since I’m not following a set plan or guide – I’m just kind of self-training my body; trying to do what feels right. I have not been running as frequently out here in Guate; I’ve let weeks pass in between runs…which is not typical of my New York self. However, after realizing that the half marathon is less than a month away, I knew that it would be in my body’s best interest to resume running; I had a brilliant first-run-back two days ago…but today’s? Euf..what a doozy.

I want to talk about “bad runs” – no, not the kind that take place in the toilet or elsewhere – I’m talking lousy runs on the pavement or wherever you run that just don’t feel so good to your body – though I’m sure every runner has experienced both. There’s nothing more frustrating for a runner than not being able to muster up a decent level of enthusiasm, energy, or positivity to save their life..or run. 

Today I set out on my run weighed down by heavy feelings. My intuition, who is a genius by the way, predicted that this run wouldn’t be so great. I had decided to forgo my stretching before – which was not wise since my muscles were still somewhat sore and not sufficiently stretched out from my run two days prior. Throughout my run I just couldn’t seem to wipe the fog from the windows of my mind; the fog was thick with excuses. It was the middle of the afternoon; the sun was beaming hot, I hadn’t eaten breakfast, I just drank expresso coffee for the first time in a long time. All of which were valid- or at least semi-valid excuses – but the root cause of my bad run was my failure to listen to my body and my intuition first and foremost. I should’ve held off until I felt physically ready and was in a better head space…

The tricky part of making it through a bad run is continuing to feed yourself positivity and encouragement even when that’s the last thing you feel like doing. If you need to slow to a walk to make it up the hills, you must avoid, at all costs, beating yourself up over it and continue to inhale positive encouraging words and exhale all that doesn’t serve you on this run. In order to be a good coach to anyone, you must first know how to coach yourself in a way that serves you best. You must push yourself positively and encouragingly while maintaining respect for the feedback your physical body is giving you.

Being a good coach, especially to yourself is tricky. We’ve all heard the expression, “be your own biggest fan”. As cliche as it sounds, I believe in it; not in the egoistic sense, but by mastering the art of positive self-coachmanship which can allow you to access a deeper level of love, care and respect for yourself and all you do..big and small.

When in Guatemala: On Poop, Men, and Sweaty Zumba

I am going to bring gallons of water back from Guatemala to the US and sell them on the weight-loss market.

Poop out over 50% of what you eat! 

…Too much for a tagline? Oh but Americans love a good weight-loss promise…

I’ve been in Guatemala for a week and I’m trying to maintain somewhat of a fit lifestyle; there have been some challenges. Like going running, for example. I’d do it more often, if it didn’t garner so much attention. I’m talking non-stop whistles and catcalls from men and boys. 

I would wear headphones in an effort to tune them out but unfortunately the only pair I brought with me are just too big and brightly colored (you know, the kind that cover your ears), and I fear they’d just draw even more attention.

Note to self: buy ear buds.

In other news, I joined a gym today. The machines would make any legitimate trainer cry…but ya know…got to take what you can get here. I actually found that I’m too tall, or just not designed properly to fit most of the equipment, especially the leg machines. I try to adjust them, but it just doesn’t seem to work.

I am kinda stoked to take a Zumba class next week…in Spanish amongst a crowd of middle aged women in a sweaty little room.

Unfreeze Your Brain: On Running in the Cold

The weather says 19 degrees. I say, I’m up for the challenge. So I fling myself out into the tundra (aka the streets of Brooklyn), and set out on a mission to warm myself from the inside out. I know I could just lounge by the radiator instead, and warm myself from the outside in, but where’s the thrill in that? 

When the real winter cold starts kicking in, I feel the change in the air–not just a physical shift, but an energetic shift as well. Sentiments, attitudes and mental states aligned with the bitter coldness of air. Some people, especially those who are very sensitive to the energetic climate may feel themselves absorbing this negative energy from the outside quite strongly. Extremely cold temperatures can feel unbearable and cause some people to expend a great deal of mental energy on their discomfort. This kind of thinking en masse manifests itself in the collective unconsciousness, thus affecting you, the individual. Your challenge lies is in tuning out and tuning in. Running during cold days/nights is excellent practice for strengthening the mind. 

I am aware, however, that it is quite difficult to ignore the intense feeling of your butt cheeks beginning to freeze over. But, even when you think you’ve just about lost all sensation in your cheeks, push forward! Tune into what you feel on the inside: your heart pumping, ,the ebb and flow of your breath, the expansion of your lungs, your feet as they meet the ground, the blood flowing throughout your muscles, warming them, propelling you forward. 

On my way up the Williamsburg bridge, however, something didn’t feel quite right. So I stopped running and instead decided to do an little impromptu workout sequence, beginning with side shuffling, alternating my lead foot. Once I reached the bridge’s plateau I switched to alternating front kicks. I tried to maintain a decent fighting posture, so it wasn’t as though I was carelessly flinging my legs upward. I did my kicks (about 200) across the bridge’s plateau. All while listening to the sounds of the night. My phone was half charged when I ventured out, but it just kind of gave up after a few minutes in the cold–must have zapped the life right out of him. So in lieu of music, I sang my workout playlist to myself…in my head. I’m pretty sure I have the majority of it committed to memory by now. Tonight’s selections consisted of 90’s JLo and 80’s hip-hop. 

When I got to the bridge’s downward slope (the best part), I ran and ran and ran. At the bottom of the bridge I did some stretches while the sounds of lower Manhattan traffic tickled my ears. I know that if you stay still for too long, the cold will inevitably slap you back into reality. So I started right back up the bridge.

A piece of advice for other runners is try to stay inspired. Inspiration exists all around you; if you’re keen enough you’ll find it anywhere and everywhere. One of the places I often pull inspiration from is the environment: graffiti, barbershops and cafes lining the street, dogs, pedestrians, bikers, skaters, homeless vagabonds, the sky…

It also helps to conjure up some mental inspiration–which I did on my way back up the bridge. I decided, in my mind, that I was racing with the older man next to me who was briskly pedaling to the top of the bridge on a City Bike. Determined to keep up with him, I didn’t allow myself to fall too far behind. We both made it to the top at about the same time; I’d say our win was mutual. I was also quite impressed by his stamina, given the fact that he was older and riding a terribly incline averse City Bike. I looked over and smiled as we parted lanes, but he didn’t seem at all aware of the victory we just shared…in my mind.

I’m also a strong advocate of sending positive vibes to fellow runners. Acknowledge a passing runner’s presence with a simple, encouraging look, nod, or smile says I see you. It’s like being member of the same tribe. Similar to (I’d imagine) the sense of connectedness between motorcyclists. Mutual mental support I call it. Actually I just came up with that. But damn I come up with a lot of phrases while I’m running—positive and encouraging. Training my mind to be my best coach.

Now for some necessary post-run selfies…

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Appreciate your body for all it allows you to do! I love my strong legs because they carry and support me every single day..at the very least! Instead of focusing on potential losses, let potential gains, I.e. endurance, mental & muscular strength, motivate you. Refuse to diminish yourself in order to fit dangerously narrow beauty ideals perpetrated by the mass media. “Losing, shrinking or whittling” any part of you away will not make you any more beautiful than you are now. Know your beauty, uncover your strength. #strongbody #strongmind #healthspo #fitspo #fitnessmodel #happysaturday #nyc #aagdollaphotography