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10 Tips to Nourish Yourself – Part 1

How are you at taking care of, well, you? Are you caring for yourself as well as you could be or should be? I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I fall short of nourishing myself. After mildly injuring myself last week, I found myself asking myself those questions.

If we have a bit too much go-go and do-do in our lives, then we may find ourselves setting ourselves up for the opportunity for a bit of doodoo to land in our face, our lap, or on the bottom of our shoes. When that happens, life can become rather stinky. To help keep the roses smelling rosy and the air fresh and crisp (Don’t you just love autumn?), to find more balance and nourish yourself, check out these 10 tips:

1. Drink quality water.
A lot of seemingly unconnected symptoms may be connected to dehydration. Drink water and you may find yourself feeling better. A good rule of thumb, and this is just a guideline mind you, everyone has their own unique needs, is to drink 1/2 your bodyweight in ounces of water. This is different for those who use kg for bodyweight…in that case it’s closer to a 1:1 ratio. For example, if you weigh 180 lbs, a guideline is to drink 90 ounces water. Again, this is just a rough guideline. You may need more or less depending on your body and its needs. By the way, if it’s not clear, it’s not water, it’s food.

2. Eat quality, wholesome food from healthy plants and animals.
You are what you eat. If you eat diseased animal, you get diseased animal. If you eat diseased plants, you get diseased animal. If you eat pesticide laden food, you get a toxic animal. If you eat crap, well, you get crap. Got it? It’s not necessary to be perfect all the time. Who doesn’t enjoy a treat every now and then? I’d recommend aiming to eat well and healthy 80% of the time.

Three of our favorite nourishing foods (note, foods, not meals) are the following:

Not only are they nourishing from a nutritional standpoint, they are also what I would consider “soul food.”

3. Develop a relationship with your food.
Turn the TV off. Set the computer and iThingys aside. Put the newspaper, magazine, or book down. Disconnect from your disconnections and connect with your food and the people who may be sitting in front of or next to you. You may find yourself chewing your food more thoroughly, tasting what you are eating, getting more full sooner, and maybe, just maybe sharing a conversation. I would invite you to consider chewing your food until it is liquid or nearly so. As Paul Chek says, “Drink your food. Chew your water.”

4. Sleep.
That’s a shocker! Yes, we need sleep. Quality sleep. How well and how long you sleep for you (everyone has their individual needs), will impact your health and well-being. If you’ve been experiencing yourself short of temper, prone to emotional outbursts, facing difficultly thinking clearly, feeling sluggish in the gym…sleep, or lack thereof, may be a contributing factor.

5. Move.
In my opinion, don’t just move. Ask yourself why you are moving your body. What are you moving for? What are you hoping to get out of moving your body? Are you beating yourself up in the gym or doing endless hours of cardio? Are you burning yourself out? Maybe you need to slow down and invite more yin-like movements into your day. High intensity go-go, more, more, harder, harder, and faster, faster isn’t often what our bodies need. They need balance. If your life and job are super stressful, maybe stressing yourself physiologically is pushing you over the edge. Check out these videos by my dear teacher and friend Benny Fergusson of Cohesion Gym for a quick glimpse into this topic. Although I see it far less often, maybe you need to move more. If you’re finding difficultly finding balance, I invite you to reach out to a holistic movement specialist who can guide you to bring balance back into your movement and your life.

Click here for Part 2, after you watch the videos.


Confessions from a Recovering Asana Junkie – Part 3

If you missed Part 1, click here; Part 2, click here. I’ll wait…

I’d show up to each and every class with this desire to connect. I wanted to experience what the teachers were talking about – that physical asana is a means to connect to ones higher Self. But, I never felt it. I’d push and push and push to feel this connection, or I’d fervently pray, but all I felt inside was an empty shell of nothingness. That’s right. NOTHING.

You want to talk about a void? Well, there it was and I was trying to fill it with these false notions of connecting to something greater than myself through yoga. I was trying to fill the void with the deep, dark shadow emotions I was feeling. And, I was trying to fill it with a community that largely doesn’t see you, doesn’t reach out to you unless you are there in class. You see, I realized that a part of me would feel like I would not exist if I didn’t do yoga. So, I filled that void by making sure I would exist by showing up all the time.

I continued down this path until I broke. I broke myself. The container with which I was feeding my toxic shame, the container with which I was stuffing my shadow emotions broke.broken vase

I injured myself. Granted, yes, it was a physical injury, but that has been nothing compared to the immense inner wounding that I did to myself during the “healthy” practice of yoga. I kept practicing for a while anyway. I kept showing up. I still tried to fill the broken vase of my inner world with pain or with the intention that “all you need to do is send that part of yourself love and compassion.”

Bull crap. Sometimes, oftentimes, we need to allow ourselves to feel the pain inside of us, and

Unicorn-Poop-300x225express it. Sometimes we need to experience hating parts of our self so that we may in turn learn to accept our self, or accept the parts of our self which we cannot accept, so we may learn how to love ourselves. Sometimes, we need to step away from the picture and take a look at just how much of our practice is unconsciously filled with sugar coated shit and namaste’s that have become so overused that it now has the equivalent weight of “hello.”

There were so many times after this injury where I would try to continue practicing, but the pain I felt become too intense. Yes, there was a physical pain, but the emotional pain could no longer be held by the broken container within which I stuffed it, so it began to overflow. I stopped practicing yoga a few years ago and began my journey to healing myself. At first, all I wanted to do was yoga. If I wasn’t doing yoga, I wasn’t happy. If I was doing yoga, I wasn’t happy…isn’t that interesting. The last spontaneous class I took, a year ago, to test myself, revealed much.

I learned that the yoga asana I have experienced doesn’t support me, doesn’t support my body, doesn’t support who I AM. I learned that I could no longer listen to themes of a physical practice connecting us to Source. I stopped drinking the Kool-Aid, the alcohol of yoga, the cocaine of yoga. Parts of me experienced anger when asked when I would return to class. I don’t have an answer to that question. At this point in time, returning to a yoga asana practice or class would be akin to a recovering alcoholic having a drink, a recovering cocaine addict a hit.

Why share this with all of you? Perhaps my story will inspire you to look closely at your practice. Perhaps my story will plant the seed of awakening to the parts of yourself who may be in denial about the possibility of addiction through yoga. And, part of me is allowing myself to heal, to more fully accept myself, to more fully love myself, by sharing my story with you.

May I share something else with you? Each and every one of us is already infinitely connected. You don’t need to go out and buy fancy Lululemon pants. You don’t need to drop “namaste” like it’s the hottest thing since sliced bread. You don’t need to stop eating meat because you believe not eating it will increase your vibration and make you more enlightened. I invite you to be. Just be and allow yourself to experience your Self as you are. Here and now.

If none of this has a ring of truth to you, I would invite you to consider watching and experience this funny, not-so-funny, funny video “How to be Ultra-Spiritual” by friend and mentor JP Sears.


Confessions from a Recovering Asana Junkie – Part 2

If you’re just joining us now, please take a moment and read Confessions from a Recovering Asana Junkie – Part 1.

I was one of “those” people. Yes, I wore Lululemon pants. Not because I felt they’d make me a better yogi or grant me enlightenment, but because they fit. And, they lasted several years before wearing out. Maybe I’m in denial about some expensive pair of pants making me feel more spiritual.

Anyway, I was one of those people whom you would see in yoga class at least three times per week. I’d practice at home anywhere from 1-3 hrs. per day. I’d take every single workshop that I could. Part of me would hang on and hope to be included in the “Insider’s Club” so I could be one of the “cool kids” who got to hang out with the crew and chat about…yoga. I wanted to fit in and an unconscious part of me would do anything that I had to in order to feel connected and like I belonged.Outside-looking-in

Very rarely did I leave class with one of those post yoga glows. If I did, it was usually a physiological response resulting from my having moved my body through space and time. Yoga became my means of brutalizing myself. It became my means of beating parts of myself up. It became my means of reaffirming over and over and over again the toxic shame that I would never be enough as I am.

If I couldn’t do a pose, I unconsciously believed there was something wrong with me. If my alignment wasn’t perfect, I unconsciously believed there was something wrong with me. If I didn’t leave with this blissed out look and happy as a clam, feeling so connected to Source that I was flying on the inside, then there was absolutely, positively something wrong with me. I believed I’d never measure up and that’s exactly what my ego wanted. (Little did I know that that’s what it wanted.).

There would be times when parts of me would feel so angry that I could have screamed for days.images-2

There were times when parts of me would feel so sad and I would be hurting so much on the inside, that I could have cried and cried and cried for days on end.images-3

But, yogis are supposed to be calm, and zen-like. They’re not supposed to feel these tornadic waves of emotion. Nope, not allowed. At least, I didn’t believe so. That fit in perfectly with the part of myself that had become very safe and comfortable not feeling and not expressing emotions. Feeling and showing emotions? Geesh. That’s scary business!

If you’re teacher says it’s ok to cry on your mat, is it really ok? Let’s face it, the reality of someone hysterically sobbing next to you, while you’re trying to rest in savasana, isn’t always the most welcome activity. So, what did I do? I stuffed those emotions down inside of me. I knew how I felt – that maybe I would explode. Heck, there were times when you could physically see it! My face, neck, and upper chest would be red as a beet, with a distinct line across my chest showing the energy blockage. I felt on fire.

To make matters worse, I fell into the dangerous trap of intellectualizing my emotions. “I feel like I can’t move forward in my life. I must be experiencing Ganesh energy. I need to find a way around the elephant standing in my path.” Or, “I feel like I’m being broken down and torn apart…Om Namah Shivaya, Om Namah Shivaya…”. Or, “Why can’t I feel boundless love within my heart? Hanuman, help me please.” What?! You want to talk messed up – that was me. I rationalized my emotions. What did that do?

It gave me an out so I could continue to numb myself from experiencing the experience of feeling the intense emotions that I had consciously and unconsciously spent the majority of my life burying. Yoga become a tool, a means, my drug, my drink, to numb myself from the reality of my life. Woah.

Click here for Confessions of a Recovering Asana Junkie – Part 3.
Click here for Confessions of a Recovering Asana Junkie – Part 1.


Confessions from a Recovering Asana Junkie – Part 1

agoura-power-yoga-studio

You walk into a room, most likely with hardwood floors, soft bright lighting, perhaps some buddhist or zen-like paintings on the wall. Maybe Nag Champa or some other incense is burning. Krishna Das, Wah, or Snatam Kaur may be on in the background. You take note of the myriad of mats laid out across the floor with people vying for “their spot.” You notice the class is largely filled with Lululemon-clad women and a few men. Perhaps they’re stretching themselves out in downward facing dog or chatting with each other about some mystical experience they had and how it relates to a theme from yesterday’s class, or a Hindu god/dess…

images-1Class begins, perhaps with a meditation and centering, maybe with a chant, and almost definitely with three Oms. You are led through a sequence of poses that may or may not build up to a pinnacle pose, depending on which style of yoga you are practicing, or maybe you’re moving your body in a 100°F room to “detox” and become more limber. At the end, class is wrapped up with savasana, followed by the ever popular “namaste.” Maybe, just maybe you’re one of those folks who leaves class all blissed out with this incredible post-yoga glow on your face. After class, you and your yoga family head out to the nearest healthy eatery and continue sharing conversation that inevitably resolves around something having to do with yoga. After all, that’s all there is to life, isn’t there?

I have a confession to share with you. My name is Amanda and I am a recovering asana junkie. Yes, I was a yoga addict. What is an addiction? The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines addiction as the following:

“a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social, and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.
Addiction is characterized by the inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic disease, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission…”.

How does that invite you to feel? What are you experiencing in this moment? Are you uncomfortable? Perhaps you are thinking – how can something that is healthy be an addiction? Sure, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing, like eating that extra piece of raw cacao and maybe not feeling so hot afterwards, but addicted to yoga? How is that possible?

May I ask you a question? If you’re a “yogi,” are you addicted to yoga, not addicted to yoga, or are you in denial about your addiction to yoga? Hmm…

Click here for Confessions from a Recovering Asana Junkie – Part 2.
Click here for Confessions from a Recovering Asana Junkie – Part 3.