Yoga & Social Media

It took me a great deal of time and thought to decide on what I wanted to write about for my first 2020 post. Usually I try to start the year off with intention setting or invite you all as readers to join in on a new year reset yoga challenge. While these things are still happening in the background of my own personal life (Adrienne came out with another 30 day yoga playlist, if you haven’t checked it out, here it is: Home) I thought I would start this year with a different intention. I want to write about more challenging topics. Similar to my recent post about cultural appropriation, I was to discuss issues that matter to me that readers might relate to. Of course, I will keep bringing in posts about specific poses or yoga props, but I also want to dig a little deeper.

So for my first post in 2020, I want to discuss yoga and social media…

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Many of you might scroll through your favorite social media feed and find someone doing a yoga pose. Maybe it’s a celebrity sponsor of a yoga clothing company, maybe it’s your favorite yoga celebrity, or maybe it’s simply a local yoga instructor. Maybe you yourself have posted photos of yourself in yoga poses.

That is great!

Let me state very clearly, I’m not here to judge anyone for anything you have or will do on social media. If you post pictures of yourself regularly in yoga poses…great. If you don’t, that’s great too. What I want to discuss is what the intention is behind these posts.

I have noticed a trend in yoga instructors and yoga celebrities posting photos of themselves in advanced poses. I find accounts online called “Yoga Inspiration” highlighting a very specific type of yoga student or teacher showing off their skills in handstands, scorpion pose, and other advanced poses. So again, I ask, what’s the intention behind these? Is it truly to send inspiration to students around the social media world that they too can get there? If so, that’s great! If it’s to show off a skill you’ve worked hard to achieve, that’s great too! More often than not, I get the sense that this type of imagery creates an unrealistic idea of what yoga is. I also think that these images might actually discourage students because they may not be able to achieve certain advanced poses yet or at the same time as their peers and they may give up. Unlike many other activities, yoga isn’t just about achievement in the physical sense, it’s more (to me) about achieving alignment with yourself, mind, body and spirit. So I think to myself, what is the point of posting these images to show others what poses you can get into when the practice itself is about getting more in tune with yourself? I worry about the long term impact on yoga students as well as the yoga practice itself. I believe that yoga in the western society has already become warped and appropriated in certain ways and I don’t think social media is really helping.

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Now, don’t get me wrong, I myself have posted many pictures in yoga poses. My true intention is not only to inspire students and friends, but also to educate on what yoga might be good for or help with. Part of my recent journey has been to create more awareness and intention around my words and actions. So I’ve toned down on my yoga pose photos and tried to highlight life, the reality of it. I don’t want to promote myself and only my achievements. I want to promote the world and it’s beauty. Especially in these times.

So, I challenge you…the next time you want to post a picture of yourself in a yoga pose, pause. Ask yourself why…then decide whether you want to or not. The choice is yours and yours alone. No judgement, no foul.

Be well!

Giving Thanks

As Thanksgiving approaches. I can’t help but ride the wave of gratitude I see all over social media (hopefully this wave translates to real life). Usually, this time of year, I send out practices of gratitude or I feather asanas that will help with the post-feast fullness. This year, I thought I’d change it up a little. I want to express my gratitude to YOU!

First, I want to thank you for taking the time to read my posts. So much of my writing is based on my opinion and the reading I do on yoga. I appreciate your interest and you taking the time to read and share.

Second, I want to thank you for your interest in yoga. I truly believe yoga is a healing practice, a holistic practice, and it can save humanity. I appreciate your interest, at whatever level it is, in learning more about this practice.

Finally, I want to thank you for trying. Whether its only been once a year, once a month, or once in your lifetime, thank you for trying to do something that is positive and helpful for yourself.

So now, I open the door for you. Share with me or with whoever…what or who are you grateful for?

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Accessible Yoga – Yoga for EVERY BODY

When you think of yoga, what images come to mind? You might see a very specific type of person. You might see a specific race, size, shape, and ability of that person. Imagine you’re walking into a yoga studio, who do you see?

As I’ve started to discuss in my last post, the Westernization of yoga has created this image of yoga that strays very far from the roots of yoga. While there are stories of yoga being restricted to men in India, there are stories and there is a history of people of all shapes, sizes, and genders practicing yoga. Now, as yoga has become a financial commodity, it seems that the population practicing yoga has narrowed. This brings me to my topic today, accessible yoga.

We live in a world where there is potential for variety. Depending on where you live, there may be a variety of foods available, a variety of leisure activities, and a variety of people. So why has yoga in the west seemed to cater to one type of person? Accessibility is a huge issue…not just in yoga but in many realms of life. Access to healthy, fresh foods. Access to transportation. Access to healthcare. So why aren’t we talking about access to yoga? This is a multi-billion dollar company in the west and yet somehow we are limiting it to a very specific type of person for a very specific price point.

We all know the benefits of yoga. We all know that it can help with physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual healing. So why is this only available to certain people? Even studios and classes that are low-cost or promoted to “everyone” seem to only be taught or attended by specific people. Why? Simply put…accessibility. This doesn’t just mean being able to get to the yoga studio or being able to pay for the class. This means being able to do the poses comfortably, being able to do the breath and meditation practices comfortably. This lack of accessibility affects many populations, including but not limited to people of color (POC), larger bodies individuals, people who identify within the LGBTQIA community, people living with differently abled bodies, and people who may not speak or understand English well.

So what do we do? What do we, as yoga teachers and students do to make sure EVERYONE has access, in every way, to the wonderful practice of yoga? Well, I’m glad you asked.

Here are just a few of my tips to make your studios and classes more accessible (in no specific order):

  • Hire POC teachers
  • Hire larger bodies teachers
  • Hire teachers who identify as LGBTQIA
  • Provide classes in different languages
  • Promote chair yoga or accessible classes
  • Use props
  • Provide a variety of mat sizes and thicknesses
  • Do not use words like “full expression of pose” or “more difficult version”
  • Use words like “modification” or “adjustment”
  • Use invitational language
  • As a teacher, model these modifications and adjustments
  • Incorporate pauses
  • Allow students to decide what feels good for them
  • Use consent cards for hands on adjustments
  • Ask permission before using essential oils or scents
  • Attend/offer trainings for accessible yoga
  • Provide all-gender or gender neutral restrooms

This is not an exhaustive list. There are many more ways to make classes more accessible. Let’s start by being open and welcoming to EVERYONE.

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Flow Breakdown – Moon Salutation

Surya Namaskar, or sun salutations, are common in most yoga classes. Not so common in our yoga classes is the Chandra Namaskar, or moon salutation. The moon salutation flow was designed to honor the feminine qualities we all carry. No matter what gender identity you hold, there are masculine and feminine qualities in all of us. The moon salutation is a great way to ignite that feminine energy.

Here’s the flow breakdown:

  • Mountain Pose
  • Crescent Moon Pose
  • Goddess Pose
  • Star Pose
  • Triangle Pose
  • Pyramid Pose
  • Low Lunge
  • Half Split
  • Full Squat/Malasana Pose
  • Half Split
  • Low Lunge
  • Pyramid Pose
  • Triangle Pose
  • Star Pose
  • Goddess Pose
  • Crescent Moon Pose
  • Mountain Pose

Not only does this sequence open up the feminine energy within, it’s also great for women to do during menstruation or pregnancy. This is a great flow to honor intuition, nurturance, and receptivity…all feminine qualities that bring up our community.

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International Yoga Day

It’s that time of year again…summer sun and International Yoga Day! Mark your calendars…June 21st is International Yoga Day. What does that mean? Well…basically various cities and countries around the world take the day to honor and practice yoga! There will be plenty of events around the world, large and small.

International Yoga Day Top Events and Things to Do

Start your own at home yoga practice. Use International Yoga Day as an excuse to get a mat and start your own practice.

Find a studio near you! There will be plenty of events happening that day, so check out the schedules at your local studios. This is a great way to find a studio and teacher that’s right for you.

Meditate. Remember yoga isn’t just about the asana practice. Find a quiet moment and meditate on what you really want to get out of your yoga practice.

Go on a yoga retreat! Summer is a great time to travel, so find a destination yoga retreat and sign up!

 

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Yoga for Women (and everyone really)

March hosts International Women’s Day. In order to honor this, I thought I’d write about how yoga can benefit women and female identifying persons.

It seems fairly clear and straightforward, to be honest. Why do we think there are usually so many more women than men in yoga classes? Because women get it! They get the power of yoga. Maybe it’s because women areĀ generally more in tune with their feelings (physically and mentally), but it seems like the power of yoga is felt right away. And since women areĀ generally the ones taking care of children and the household, it makes sense that their self-care involves yoga, an activity that helps us deal with the madness that life can bring.

So let’s lay it out…why is yoga so amazing for women?

Well, here are just a few reasons:

  1. It reduces stress.
  2. It helps combat anxiety and depression.
  3. It increases positive endorphins.
  4. It eases pain and makes the body physically stronger.
  5. It empowers us to try new things and take risks.
  6. It allows us to remain calm in stressful situations.

So these are great things about yoga and guess what, they aren’t just benefits for women. Spoiler alert!!!!! Yoga is for everybody. AND YES – YOGA IS GOOD FOR EVERYBODY TOO!

So while March is all about empowering and expressing gratitude to the women in your life…yoga doesn’t have to be for women only.

February – Let’s Promote Self-Care

Often, during the month of February, we find ourselves surrounded by messages of romantic love. We see candies and cards meant to express how we love our romantic partners. Sometimes we can find the candies and cards to express non-romantic love for others…family and friends. But what about ourselves?

Where are the candies and cards that we are allowed to give ourselves to say thank you, I love you.

Often we forget that the most important person in our lives is us. Me…I…these are important too. It’s not selfish to say “I love myself”. It’s not selfish to want to spend time by yourself doing what you want to do instead of making room to do whatever your partner, friends, or family wants. It’s not selfish to take care of YOU!

 

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Many people work in fields of service. From nursing, teaching, to therapy and social work…these are all fields where we give a little bit of ourselves to the people, communities we serve. How can we do this if we are not taking care of ourselves first? We are like buckets, if you will. We are happy when we are full energetically. So if we keep taking a cup here, a cup there…all these cups for others…we end up emptying out our own energy store. We need to replenish. That’s where self-care comes in.

Here are a few good self-care items that might help you replenish that energy you might be losing:

  1. Take a bubble bath.
  2. Meditate.
  3. Do some yoga.
  4. Go for a walk outside.
  5. Read a book.
  6. Take a nap.
  7. Watch your favorite movie alone.
  8. Make yourself your favorite meal.
  9. Ask for help or space.

These are just a few tips. Generally self-care is doing something you like that’s good for you. So it’s not eating an entire cake or bag of candy. It’s not ignoring things that are piling up on your to-do list. It’s doing something that you love that helps you replenish your own energy store so that you can go out and tackle that class of rowdy teens or that huge to-do list.

New Year – Let’s Dedicate!

A new year is always a good time to restart. It’s often a time of renewal, recommitment, and rededication. Many of us make resolutions to start working out more, eating healthier, maybe even drinking less alcohol. All these are great! It’s always great to dedicate yourself to YOU!

My resolution is simple. New year, same me. I am dedicating 2019 to ME!

One way I’m doing this is renewing my dedication to yoga. I am continuing my intention to practice yoga on a daily basis. That can be quite a daunting task. Most of the time when I wake up, I don’t want to get on the mat. I want to stay in bed and be lazy…especially on the weekends. I often need motivation to participate in a daily practice. That’s where YouTube and my favorite YouTube Yogi comes in.

Every January Adriene from Yoga with Adriene puts out a month long practice to rejuvenate a daily yoga practice. This year, it’s called Dedicate. What a perfect name for 2019??

Some of the videos are long, some aren’t. So far I’ve been able to find time to do all of them. I have to say, this has been a great way for me to keep myself accountable. After 20+ days, it will once again become a habit.

I wish you all the best of luck keeping your resolutions this year. I know I will do my best to keep mine. Here’s to another year, another 365 pages to fill in the book of life!

 

 

 

Yoga for Travel

When we travel, whether its domestic or international, often we feel fatigued and our bodies just want to rest. While rest is important, it is also important to move the body a little so that you can stretch out stiff areas and flex out tight muscles.

On long flights, its important to get up an move around. Sometimes we don’t have the luxury of doing a full yoga routine, especially on a 10 hour flight overseas. Here are a few things you can do in small areas, on the plane or off, to help you reduce stiffness and hopefully help alleviate fatigue.

  1. Walking meditation (up and down aisles of the airplane)
  2. Forward Fold/Standing wide legged forward fold
  3. Standing cat/cow
  4. Standing side stretches
  5. Malasana squat
  6. Crescent lunges
  7. Standing upper body twists

When you land at your destination, here are some yoga moves you can do to help reduce fatigue so that you can get right to the fun!

  1. Sun salutation A
  2. Standing side stretches
  3. Warrior series
  4. Chair pose
  5. Boat pose
  6. Headstand/handstand
  7. Supine twist

Hopefully these help you as much as they have helped me in my travels! Enjoy the holiday season and happy new year!

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A Month of Gratitude

When you think of November, what comes to mind? Fall colors, great food, maybe even family? Another thing that usually comes to mind is gratitude. Many folks use this month as a jumpstart to express their gratitude for the past year. Towards the end of each year we often find ourselves reflecting on the past year and thinking of all the good times as well as the bad. Setting yourself up with a 30 day gratitude challenge is a great way to focus on the good.

It doesn’t matter when you start, doing a 30 day gratitude challenge is great for any time of year.

Here are some great tips on expressing gratitude:

  • Be an active listener
  • Give out compliments
  • Write positive affirmations for yourself
  • Be thoughtful
  • Volunteer
  • Give a hug
  • Share praise
  • Journal on gratitude
  • Donate
  • Say thank you
  • Smile

Remember, expressing gratitude for yourself is just as important as expressing gratitude to others. Loving yourself is often more important too!

Have fun with this gratitude challenge and happy holidays!

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