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A Yoga Love Letter – Guest Blog with Lindsey

Lindsey is one of my very best friends. She is also one of the fiercest, strongest, hardest working, renaissance women on the planet – as most of my friends are (cultivate that tribe ya’ll).

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I am always this excited to be in her presence. 

She runs a silly, sweet, and thoughtful blog, Hey Y’all it’s Lindsey, where she makes DIY so accessible and fun.This girl knows her oils and her crafts and I have every intention of following her Mini-Mala Tutorial before the year is out.

She is also a brilliant photographer who has been running her business, King’s Things Photography, in Mid – Missouri for several years and is just simply Killing It. The things she has been doing with nighttime shoots and star-y skies have been taking my breath away.

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Seriously ya’ll! She’ll travel. Hire her.

 

 

Anyway, I love her. I love collaborating with her. And I love any excuse to work less. So I asked her to write a guest blog for me. (And she totally fell for it, what a dummy.)
I left my request pretty open-ended but offered a few suggestions like how she’s cultivated her home practice, how to incorporate essential oils into a yoga practice, or if she had any cool yoga-ish crafts up her sleeve. But what she sent me was So Much Better.

Now I’m a pretty weepy individual anyway, but these words from my  dear friend had tears rolling down my cheeks as I sat outside Starbucks drinking my tea.
Her honesty and her love struck me and I know we’ve all felt exactly like she does here.


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A few months ago, Melody asked me if I would consider writing a post for her blog and I, of course, jumped at the opportunity. I love yoga, I love Mel, I love writing. This would be fun!

 

But then…

 

I sat down to write the thing and I felt a wave of  fear immediately crash into my chest. Who the hell am I to be writing anything about yoga?? I maybe do 15 minutes of mild stretching every morning, most days I can’t even touch my toes in a forward bend and you can almost always bet that savasana is the longest, most enjoyable part of my practice. I’m pretty sure Mel’s Tykes are more advanced yogi’s than I.

 

How on earth could I justify contributing to a freaking yoga blog?? I panicked a little and, instead of writing anything, I found myself staring blankly at the empty word document in front of me for hours on end, watching the cursor sharply mock me. “You. Are. An. Impostor,” it blinked, “a fraud.”

 

I was just about to give up, pick up my phone and text Mel that I couldn’t do this, when suddenly I heard her voice ring out loudly in my ears:

 

“Yoga is about being present, Linds. You just have to show up somewhere. Anywhere.That’s it. That’s yoga.”

 

I paused, remembering the first time she told me this. We were sitting in a park on a beautiful Summer morning in Kansas City a few years ago, drinking coffee and catching up. At the time, I had a fixed image in my mind of what yoga was supposed to be: perfectly toned bodies, outrageous flexibility, fancy classes, expensive gear. Basically I thought it was everything a fitness magazine wants you to think Yoga is: a dreamy, healthy lifestyle that always seemed just a bit out of my reach.

 

So when Melody told me yoga was something far simpler than that, that it was something I was already doing, I was a bit taken aback. I asked her what she meant.

 

“We’re practicing yoga right now,” she said. “Our phones are away, we’re enjoying this beautiful day, giving each other our full attention, being fully present with each other.  This is yoga. This right here.” She explained that yoga is not meant to turn you into a health and fitness super hero (though this can be a pleasant side-effect);  it is first and foremost designed to help you be more in-tune with your body, your self and the world around you. It forces you to stop, focus on what it is you’re doing, and breathe.

 

This was an epiphany moment for me. I could do those things! At the very least, I could breathe, right?? So, maybe yoga wasn’t so far out of my reach after all. The lesson stuck.

 

So, lets fast forward back to me and my panic-induced writer’s block and the origin of this post. Remembering Mel’s lesson, I decided that instead of giving up I would put the phone down, close my eyes, take a deep breath and take a moment to be present with the task at hand. And in that moment I realized what I could do with this post. Instead of using it as a platform to gab about Yoga According to Lindsey (because seriously…who wants to read that?), I have decided that I’ll use this time and space to write you a yoga love letter.

 

You read that correctly: this post is a love letter written directly to you, my dear sweet reader friend. Because I know you. You hesitate to go to a yoga class because you’re not good enough or flexible enough or strong enough. Or maybe you don’t have enough time or can’t find the right yoga outfit or you can’t afford the fancy mat. Or maybe you’re afraid you’ll feel out-of-place in a yoga class or that you, like me, feel like maybe you’re imposter here. I feel this way all of the time, friend. All. of. the. time.

 

But the beautiful thing about yoga is that you don’t need the perfect body or the best gear or the most expensive class to practice (because goodness knows I have none of those things). You just need a few seconds, a deep breath and a moment to be in the room with yourself or with the people around you. It’s because of this that I am able to show up and practice every day.

 

Sometimes my practice includes my yoga mat, other times it just means I leave my phone in the other room while I have dinner with my boyfriend. Or that I walk my dog without my headphones so I can enjoy the silence of the trail early in the morning. Or I take a few seconds to sit quietly with my coffee in the morning before I dive into my to-do list for the day.  

 

The point is your yoga practice can look however you want it to look. It doesn’t have to come out of a fitness catalog or a magazine. Your only requirement is that you do what Mel taught me to do way back in that park in Kansas City…show up, be present, and breathe.

 

That’s it. That’s yoga. You can do this.

 

Love,

Linds


Lindsey my girl,

Thank you so much! Your words always touch me so deeply.
Let me know when you are ready to start that spin-off blog, Two Broke Hippies.

I love you.

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Everyone else,

Have you ever felt this way?
How do you incorporate Yoga into your daily life?
What helps you overcome the fear?
Also, go check out Lindsey’s blog right now. This is my 3rd time linking it in this one post, so you have no excuse. She’s also on Facebook and Instagram and I promise she is worth the follow.

I love you too.

Read With Me

My favorite Beginner Friendly Yoga Warm-Up

This is my very favorite seated spinal warm up.
It is perfect on its own or at the start of your practice.
Typically I run through this sequence either before or after my meditations. (And sometimes both!)

 

 

First settle in and take a few deep breaths into your belly and your heart, centering your energy and finding a bit of calm.

 

 

 

Then on an inhale breath, reach arms up overhead. Think about lengthening your rib cage out of your hips and creating energy all the way up to your fingertips. On your exhale, lower your right hand down to the mat and reach up and over for a side body stretch.

 

 

Don’t forget to take the opposite side.
Feel free to move on your breath from one side to the next, or to hold the side body stretch for a few rounds of breath. If it feels right on your neck, you can look up to the ceiling  – past your top elbow.

 

 


 

Next, find a seated spinal twist on each side. Continue to ground down through your sits bones and to reach tall through your crown. Do your best to twist from your lowest ribs, and not from your shoulders. Then turn your gaze over your back shoulder.

 

 

 

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Give yourself another long reach over head and come into a forward fold. Allow your tailbone to stretch backward and your collarbone to stretch forward and then let your head and neck relax. While you are here, see if you can feel the stretch along your spine as you inhale – feeling your ribs stretching out and away from your spine.

 

 

Take a moment to switch the cross of your legs, taking your opposite ankle in front or on top.  Then re-settle into your seat and get ready for some movement through your neck and throat.

 

 

 

 

Interlace your fingers behind your back and reach your knuckles for the floor. Allow your right ear to fall to your right shoulder and feel the deep stretch across the left side of your neck. If you would like to deepen the stretch, pull your fists to your right hip.
Take a few breaths, feeling your ribs expand wide like an accordion, then repeat on your left.

 

 

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Keeping your fingers interlaced, reach your hands down and away from your body and let your head drop back, lifting your chin to the ceiling. Let your inhales fill up your chest, broadening across your collarbones.

 

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Then release your hands and drop your chin to your chest. Keep your shoulders stacked right over your hips and your bellybutton lifting upward. If you want to take this stretch a little further, rest your palms on the roundest part of your skull. Make sure not to pull or tug at your head, simply rest your hands and let gravity take care of the rest.

 

If you like after this, you can take a few neck rolls and shoulder rolls if it feels right.

 

 

 

 

Coming back into your spinal twist add a deeper side body stretch by reaching your back arm up and over your ear and stacking your shoulders over your thigh. Do your best to keep the rotation in your torso and open your heart toward the ceiling, while keeping your sits bones rooted to the floor. (A lot to accomplish, I know.)

 

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Lastly, give your self one more big beautiful reach to the sky and forward fold again. You should feel this stretch in your opposite hip since we reversed the cross in our legs earlier. Just like before, lengthen through your spine and feel the movement of your breath as it travels up and down your back.

 

 

Once you are done, give yourself another few moments to take any movement that feels natural and good and maybe close your eyes down for a few more deep breaths.
Notice how your body feels now, and set an intention for your day.

 

 

This is always my go to sequence for my early morning classes and with beginner students. What are some poses and sequences that you come back to again and again?

 

I’d love to see you give this simple but satisfying sequence a try and let me know what you think!

What did you like or not like? How did you feel? Did you take it on its own or before a stronger practice?
Do you know anyone who could benefit from beginning a yoga practice?
Share Away!

 

 

 

Read With Me

Yoga Fest TX – Find What Feels Good Road Show

I have been very lucky this year. (And a little unlucky, but why dwell on that right?).
So far this year I have been able to attend 3 different yoga festivals across the state.
Wanderlust in Dallas
Whole Lotta Yoga in Houston
and the Find What Feels Good Roadshow in Austin
Us Texans are so fortunate to live in such a big, beautiful, diverse state and that same energy applies to our yoga communities as well. I am especially grateful for these opportunities because, as you may remember, I recently made it a goal to spend a little more time focusing on being a student again.
Each festival was amazing and fulfilling in their own ways and I just wanted to chat a little bit about them here.

 

Last but not least, we have…..

 

 

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Just one week after Whole Lotta Yoga, I attended the Find What Feels Good Yoga Roadshow in Austin, lead by Yoga with Adriene (My very favorite YouTube yogi).
I can’t even begin to tell you what this practice meant to me.
This was my first festival/ workshop to attend solo. And by that I mean I knew NO ONE. I was brand knew to the space, the vendors, the instructor, the students, EVERYTHING. And it was so good.
It gave me a great excuse to head to Austin for the weekend. I have always loved Austin (and I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it had been at least 5 years since I was there).
I had made plans to stay with an old co-worker/ fellow Stephens Alum (and by that I mean, I made a desperate plea on Facebook for a couch to sleep on and she very kindly and promptly offered me her space.) And it worked out even better than I could have expected.

 

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I drove up Friday evening and we had an amazing night catching up and exploring her neighborhood. Saturday I went to coffee and breakfast solo and then took a class at Black Swan Yoga. After that we went hiking at the Green Belt and then went to dinner and out to Karaoke (I do not sing, but I love drinking and judging people.)

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But Sunday was all about yoga. This event was the final workshop in Adriene’s US Tour. She is from Austin and this was her welcome home celebration. And boy, did SO MANY yogi’s come out to welcome her home.
The workshop was at Fair Market in downtown Austin. The space is beautiful and open with a really nice lawn. We practiced inside and it seemed like the whole building just breathed positivity. I loved the high ceilings and exposed beams. There were twinkle lights and lanterns and beautiful old fans. It is certainly  the kind of space you could loose time in.

 

 

 

The line to get in was around the block when I got there (11:30 for a noon start time) but the crew was so well organized and friendly that you hardly even noticed. Once I got checked in, an “usher” led me to where I would set up my mat and got me settled. I thought this was so smart and a great way to maximize the space in the room. We were snuggled in close, but everyone still had plenty of room for the practice.

While we were being seated, the vendors from Young Living Essential Oils were passing out cotton pads soaked in grounding essential oils to aid our practice. They also had a beautiful booth set up where you could make your own bath salts. I made mine with a de-stress and muscle relief mix and used it that night when I got home. (And after 8 hours round trip in the car and a weekend of hiking and yoga, let me tell you, I needed it.)

 

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There were also booths set up from Thunderbird Bar, Dr. Vim’s Tea, and Goodwipes and every one of them was kind and happy to be there.

Our practiced started with a beautiful meditation on self love and community and how we use each to aid the other. Her beautiful words were exactly what I needed to hear.
After that we moved into 90 minutes of a feel good flow complete with jumping jacks and high kicks. I really loved her sequencing and re-iteration that we are all teachers and we are all students. Each and every one of us would lead and follow throughout the class and we were all there to support and nurture and receive and share.

She played Tom Petty and I cried through my sun salutations and final savasana. It was such a beautiful release.

 

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After our practice we enjoyed delicious and nurishing lunch with Holy Basil Tea by Dr. Vims, fresh juice by Juiceland and tacos from Tacodeli (all included in the ticket price). I could have eaten all the tacos. They were So Good.
Then the day was finished with live music by the Austin Band ATASH, an incredible world music band that “combines master musicians from around the globe to create a powerful, worldly original sound that inspires people of all ages and from all walks of life to dance and commune in a celebration of life!” – Their website does not lie, they created a very unique and beautiful sound that was the perfect way to round out the day.

 

After lunch and hug from Adriene, I had to hit the road to head home. The drive was easy and beautiful. I listened to pod-casts and didn’t spend all my money at Buc-ee’s so I am considering it a solid win.

The whole weekend was pure love and that’s exactly the emotion I took away from the event. Adriene and her team created such a safe and welcoming space and her cue-ing was playful and heartfelt. I left feeling nurtured and cared for and reminded of the global love we all share.
She is such an inspiration and I feel so lucky that I was able to share my practice with her.

 

 

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So thank you Texas for all that you’ve offered me this year. I’m so lucky to call this great state home and to get to bend and breath my way around your 268,597 square miles!

 

 

I’d love to know more about any yoga festivals or events going on in TX in 2018, so if you know of any, please share the love!

 

 

Read With Me

Yoga Fest TX – Whole Lotta Yoga Houston

I have been very lucky this year. (And a little unlucky, but why dwell on that right?).
So far this year I have been able to attend 3 different yoga festivals across the state.
Wanderlust in Dallas
Whole Lotta Yoga in Houston
and the Find What Feels Good Roadshow in Austin
Us Texans are so fortunate to live in such a big, beautiful, diverse state and that same energy applies to our yoga communities as well. I am especially grateful for these opportunities because, as you may remember, I recently made it a goal to spend a little more time focusing on being a student again.
Each festival was amazing and fulfilling in their own ways and I just wanted to chat a little bit about them here.

 

So…. second up on the docket is….

 

 

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In October I went to the Whole Lotta Yoga Festival in Houston Texas.

It was SO. MUCH. FUN.

My friend Sarah and I went on a kind of spur of the moment decision and I’m so glad we did.
The event was sponsored by Whole Foods to benefit their Whole Planet Foundation and organized by Black Swan Yoga Houston which is an entirely donation based yoga studio with locations in Houston and Austin. It was held at Levy Park in Houston and was so accessible to all types of yogis. You had the option of offering a $20 donation (Or $30 which also gave you a tank top) and with that donation you received a Class-Pass for one free class at each of the 5 participating yoga studios. BUT, if that was out of your price range, you could attend for free.
Each studio offered a 30 minute practice and then between and during those there were also smaller group workshops for arm balances, meditation, acro-yoga, and dance. Then there was a section for vendors, food trucks, photo booths, and such, and Levy Park to explore.

This was certainly the most diverse and most accessible of the three festivals. I know this had a lot to do with the price point (free – $50 depending on your choice) and the structure (you can do anything for 30 minutes). We saw yogi’s of all shapes and sizes and walks of life and it felt like a pretty accurate representations of the Houston yoga community.

 

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Sarah and I got there bring and early (coffee in hand) and knew we’d made the right decision as soon as we walked up.
Levy Park is AMAZING.
There is an arts and crafts station, a lending library, ping pong tables, giant Legos and mats to build forts with, and a community garden (which you know is my ultimate weakness). We made a lap then went to get our mats set up and settle in.
We participated in the first 2 practices then decided to check out the market and vendors. Everyone was giving away samples and so were excited to share their passions and products. I got a free tank top, kambucha (I’m so obsessed with Live Kambucha and their new drinking vinegars – Austin Texas Baby!), Indian food, hot tea, wild flower seeds, and so many smiles.

 

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After our quick snack, we went back to participate in one more studio practice before making our way over to the meditation workshop. It was a Stillness Mediation lead by the Houston Meditation Society and it was so good. Our instructor started the class by reading a passage from The Velveteen Rabbit and I was hooked. He lead us through a shorter 10 minute meditation, then stopped for questions and comments, then through a much longer 40 minute mediation. Let me tell you- being still for that long is difficult. But it was so incredible to dive in and really analyze my impulses to see which were actual needs verses which were simply distractions. It was the perfect way to end the day and get us centered and ready for the trip home.

This event made me feel so inspired. The whole day my wheels were turning and my heart and mind were jumping from big idea to big idea on what I want for my career and my practice moving forward. I left feeling empowered and proud of what is being created and cultivated in South East Texas, and so excited to see what my role will be in that moving forward.

It was such a good day and a lovely reminder that Houston really can be just a quick jaunt away if you have a good road trip partner, or a good podcast, or both. I loved getting to share the day with my good friend and it was really nice to be in a space that reminded me a little of Kansas City.  I really can’t wait to make this an annual event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read With Me

Yoga Fest TX – Wanderlust Dallas

I have been very lucky this year. (And a little unlucky, but why dwell on that right?).
So far this year I have been able to attend 3 different yoga festivals across the state.
Wanderlust in Dallas
Whole Lotta Yoga in Houston
and the Find What Feels Good Roadshow in Austin
Us Texans are so fortunate to live in such a big, beautiful, diverse state and that same energy applies to our yoga communities as well. I am especially grateful for these opportunities because, as you may remember, I recently made it a goal to spend a little more time focusing on being a student again.
Each festival was amazing and fulfilling in their own ways and I just wanted to chat a little bit about them here.

 

First up on the docket is….

 

 

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In April I attended Wanderlust in Dallas. This event is a Mindful Triathlon which includes a 5K, yoga practice, and group meditation. There are also mini workshops you can sign up for throughout the day. (I tried my hand at Aerial Yoga for the first time and it was so fun!)
I road-tripped to Dallas with some sweet yogi friends and students and stayed with one of my dearest college friends. Honestly, that alone would have been worth the trip. I love visiting friends and building relationships. And I’m always thankful that I know so many kind souls who are willing to offer me their passenger seats and couches.

 

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Now if you’ll remember, I sprained my ankle in February of this year and because I can’t manage to slow down even with torn ligaments, in April I still wasn’t quite healed. So unfortunately, I did not run the 5K. (I mean let’s be honest, I pretended it was unfortunate, I’ve never run anything a day in my life- my feelings were not that hurt.)

 

So while everyone else was running, I took that time to check out all the vendors- crowd free. This may have been my favorite part of the day. The quite energy, the calm, the beautiful blue skies to enjoy. I checked out all the shops, had some body art done, and meditated and journaled on my own. It was beautiful and private and a nice little re-charge in the middle of a busy weekend.

 

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Once the 5K was done and my friends and new community started to trickle back to the park, things began to pick up. I went to my Aerial workshop. It was really interesting and fun, but so so short. (30 minutes). Also we were outside and it was pretty windy, which turns out, makes it hard to control your silks. The poses and sequencing were fun, but difficult to navigate with a sprained ankle (I was especially worried any time I had to wrap my ankle around the silks). And unfortunately the wind made our final savasana pretty miserable for me. The instructor asked us to essentially cocoon ourselves into our silks by laying back and stretching them further than the length of our bodies so that we were laying horizontal with the silk surrounding us entirely. I snuggled in just as I was told, and then the wind picked up. I ended up spending the first few moments spinning steadily counter-clockwise until finally I got so nauseous I had to wriggle my feet out to touch the ground and eventually sit all the way up. Not exactly the way you want to feel leaving any yoga class, but especially not one where you know you still have 2 more hours of yoga ahead.

 

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After that I settled in for the 90 minute session with Chelsey Korus. We were smooshed together pretty tight, so it was a little hard to navigate, but Chelsey is a beautiful soul and an acro-yoga guru. Her Instagram is always filled with pure joy and inspiration (and maybe just a little jealousy on my part). ((OOOPS! Yogi’s aren’t supposed to admit to feeling jealous, disregard that.))
I really enjoyed this flow. She lead us slowly but surely into compass pose, which isn’t one I practice regularly so it was fun to push myself in a new direction. It was a sweaty and fun flow that got everyone moving and breathing and connecting to our neighbors, which are always my favorite things about outdoor yoga events.
Following the class was a 30 minute guided meditation with Enrique Collazo. I enjoyed this so much. Enrique introduced himself and discussed some of the work he has done and then lead us through a meditation. The elements combined to really allow me to dive deep. His voice, the music, the beautiful sun and warm weather. My heart and body were primed and he offered me the chance to finish out my practice beautifully.

 

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After the meditation was lunch, my girlfriends and I opted to get the picnic lunch with our ticket purchase and let me tell you, that was the most delicious Buddha Bowl I’ve ever had. (I mean I might have been biased because I was STARVING by then, but seriously, it was dang good). We did one final lap to the vendors and then we were on our way.
Overall I really enjoyed the day. It was certainly the biggest yoga festival or yoga event I’ve ever been to. It was well organized, everyone was kind, and the energy was uplifting and fun (though perhaps a little corporate – Adidas and Ford were the 2 biggest sponsors and their presence was very felt.)
But at the end of the day, I was so glad I made the trip. It was really beautiful to be a part of something so big and to be surrounded by so many yoga-minded folks.