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Gratitude Class Sequence

The first Monday of every month, I teach my two night classes as Gratitude Classes. Each student gets a little card and a marker with write *one thing* they are grateful for this month: person, place, situation, anything. Obviously, we all have infinite things for which to be grateful: the ability to breathe and walk, our family and friends, our health and well-being. But for these classes, I ask students to please think of one thing they are extremely grateful for and would like to meditate on during practice. They write that down on the card and keep it face up in front of their mat.

(A) = Anjali mudra

Props: 1-2 blocks

  • · Sitting in Sukhasana, drawing each arm straight across the body, then patting yourself on the back, then Gomukhasana arms

    • o “You’re all used to hearing ‘Namaste’ at the end of yoga classes, and saying it back to the teacher, but how many of us really know what it means? The root Sanskrit words ‘nama’ ‘as’ and ‘te’ literally translate to ‘I bow to you.’

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      More complexly, ‘the Divine in me bows to the Divine in you’ or ‘My soul honors your soul.’ It is said as the palms are pressed together in prayer position, called ‘Anjali mudra.’ A mudra is a hand position that carries meaning with it, such as palms up, palms down, or forefinger and thumb pressed together. It is believed that just placing the hands together in Anjali mudra holds the same meaning as saying the word ‘Namaste.’ There is an even deeper significance to the word ‘Namaste’ of great gratitude—the Divine within you honoring and being grateful for all that is Divine in the Universe. Depending on your specific beliefs, that could be absolutely everything that exists. For today, we are just going to focus on gratitude for one specific thing: person, place, situation, anything. Obviously, we all have infinite things for which to be grateful: the ability to breathe and walk, our family and friends, our health and wellbeing. But for this class, please think of one thing you are extremely grateful for and would like to meditate on during practice today. Write that down on the card in front of you and keep it face up in front of your mat. If you’d like to keep the object of your gratitude private, feel free to write or draw something only you will understand. I am planning to make this a Gratitude Class on the first Monday of each month, so next month you will get the chance to do this again with one of the other things you’re grateful for. And of course, you can always meditate on gratitude anytime you practice. Throughout class, we will be doing a number of poses with traditional arm positions, and some with Anjali mudra. I will either say ‘Anjali mudra,’ ‘prayer position,’ ‘hands at hand center,’ or just ‘Namaste.’ Feel free to say it back anytime you’d like to, or remain silently with your own gratitude.”

    • o Injuries, adjustments, honor the Divine in you by honoring your body and resting if you need to in Balasana

  • · Cat/Cow x 5; Opposite arms and legs stretched out

  • · Curl toes, press back to AMS; flow through to Tadasana (A)

  • · ½ SNA with Tadasana (A) x2; SNA with Tadasana (A) x2

  • · SNB with Utkatasana (A) to low lunge – 2nd side; regular SNB to high lunge (A) – 2nd side; SNB with Utkatasana (A) to Virabhadrasana I – 2nd side

  • · Regular SNB to Parivrtta Utkatasana – 2nd side; to low lunge (A) – 2nd side; vinyasa to high lunge – 2nd side; vinyasa to Virabhadrasana I (A) to Parivrtta Parsvakonasana – 2nd side

    • o Grab blocks if used for Side Angle and Triangle

  • · SNA with Tadasana (A) to AMS to Virabhadrasana II to Utthita Parsvakonasana to Utthita Trikonasana (right side)

  • · Turn feet for Prasarita Padottanasana (A)

    • Move block to other foot while down there

  • · Turn to back (left foot front) for Virabhadrasana II to Utthita Parsvakonasana to Utthita Trikonasana (left side)

  • · Vinyasa then R foot up for Virabhadrasana II to Baddha Hasta Utthita Parsvakonasana to Baddha Hasta Utthita Trikonasana

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    (right side)

  • · Turn feet for Prasarita Padottanasana A

    • Move block to other foot while down there

  • · Turn to front (left foot front) for Virabhadrasana II to Baddha Hasta Utthita Parsvakonasana to Baddha Hasta Utthita Trikonasana (left side)

  • · Vinyasa back up to Tadasana (A); Vrksasana balancing on LEFT foot (A)

  • · Left foot back for Parsvottanasana; left hand down for Parivrtta Trikonasana

  • · Step left foot back up to meet right. Balancing on left foot, wrap right foot over for Garudasana (left arm on top). Unwind to Tadasana (A).

  • · ½ SNA

  • · Vrksasana balancing on RIGHT foot (A)

  • · Right foot back for Parsvottanasana; right hand down for Parivrtta Trikonasana

  • · Step right foot back up to meet left. Balancing on right foot, wrap left foot over for Garudasana (right arm on top). Unwind to Tadasana (A).

  • · SNA to AMS. R foot Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana (raised with (A)) then folding – 2nd side.

  • · Gomukhasana. Twist out to other side; Ardha Matsyendrasana III

  • · Baddha Konasana (A); Janusirsasana; Marichyasana – 2nd sides

  • · Shoulder stand (possible with wide legs/mod: legs up the wall); halasana

  • · Jathara Parivrttasana; Ananda Balasana; Savasana

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.”

Maya Angelou, Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.”

Meister Eckhart

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.”

Alphonse Karr

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive- to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love-then make that day count!”

Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

“Grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress. The disposition toward gratitude appears to enhance pleasant feeling states more than it diminishes unpleasant emotions. Grateful people do not deny or ignore the negative aspects of life.” – Robert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough

 

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Why Private Yoga Lessons?

Ancient masters of yoga understood the importance of individualizing each yoga experience to meet the needs of their pupils, as yoga was once taught directly to one student at a time. These days, we have classes packed full of up to 40 students in some studios, with barely enough room to breathe, much less ground yourself. The teacher doesn’t have the space or the time to go around the room adjusting that many students.

A private yoga class allows for a much more intimate gaze into your practice and is an invaluable tool for yogis of all levels. When you work with a yoga instructor in independent private sessions, the teacher is better able to help you experience the full benefits of yoga in a safe and personal way.

For new students

Some new students may be fearful of joining a public classroom environment, especially if you do not know what to expect from a yoga class. In a private setting, your teacher can focus completely on you and make sure you are learning the basics, gaining confidence in your practice, and of course being safe.

For more experienced students

Experienced students also see great benefit from private yoga classes. When you’re working one-on-one with your instructor, you can address your specific goals and work on areas or poses of individual interest. Private yoga sessions can deepen your practice, perfect your posture alignment, and can help you develop a balanced home practice. They can also be a great opportunity to learn about yoga philosophy, meditation or breathing practices.

There are innumerable benefits associated with regular yoga practice. Take your body, mind, and soul to the next level by trying out private yoga lessons!

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Everyday Yoga

I have a confession to make. Ever since I began Yoga Teach Training in January 2013, my teacher put a huge stress on performing daily Sādhanā, or practicing yoga every single day, even when we weren’t coming to class. During my training, I was working insanely long hours, commuting, and was just tired of my life situations, which helped me to make excuses for why I wasn’t practicing daily. Excuses have long been my friend (or enemy, depending on how you look at it), giving me myriad reasons not to do something I actually want to do.

Not only are the excuses my issue, but also the concept of “wanting” to do something. When manifesting anything into your life, the idea is to create your thoughts in present tense. “I do yoga everyday” instead of “I want to do yoga everyday.” “I’m so proud of myself for doing yoga everyday” instead of “why do I have such a hard time getting off my ass to do yoga everyday?” Bringing the focus back on the positive side of life is something that we can all benefit from, but in many of our experiences is “difficult” to do.

In my time as an adult, reflecting on myself and what makes me tick, I’ve discovered that I deeply benefit from some kind of accountability when undertaking tasks that have been difficult for me in the past. When I was working out with a partner, I found myself to be much more consistent than when I was working out by myself. As another example, I started 100 Days of Happy 31 days ago, posting a picture with the hashtag #100happydays every single day on Facebook. There’s something about all of my Facebook friends, be they best friends, family, or acquaintances, holding me accountable to finish out all 100 days.

After discussing daily yoga with my brother yesterday, he suggested I make my own count-up here on Yoga By Kat, to help keep me accountable for practicing yoga everyday. I’d like to invite you to join me, at any time, for any length of time you’d like. I’d suggest making a commitment to yourself of 30, 60, or 90 days of practicing yoga everyday. I will not chastise you if you don’t stick to it, or if you fall off the wagon. I will not keep track of you to see how you’re doing. But I will cheer you on and encourage you to keep practicing everyday, and to see what you can accomplish.

Use the hashtag #everydayyoga to post on Facebook or Twitter and share what you worked on each day. No pictures or description necessary, but of course encouraged!! Let your friends know what you have committed to, and let them become your accountability network! But under no circumstances should you judge yourself if you miss a day!! I encourage you to make your own rules for your Everyday Yoga Challenge, or you can use mine:

Kat’s Rules

1) There are no rules.

Again, in my experience, rules only set me up for failure. If I force myself to 1 hour of yoga everyday, that can’t be when I’m teaching, and has to include a handstand… well… I won’t do it. So my ‘no rules’ approach will allow me to do 10 minutes of yoga if I am not feeling well, or 2 hours of yoga including my class for the day. Just some yoga… everyday.

Let me know how you’re doing! Invite your friends and family to join you! Share your difficulties as well as your successes!

My #everydayyoga Day 1 will consist of my very first session with a private client today, focusing on hip flexion: low/high lunges, Warrior 1 (including some twists), Prasarita Padottanasana, and Pyramid. I also will be teaching my regular Vin&Yin class this evening, and we will focus on whatever my students tonight are looking for!! What yoga did you do today?

Namaste,

kat

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What Yoga is Right for You?

Want to try yoga, but not sure where to start?

Already a yogi, but want to try something new?

Use this awesome chart to find out which style of yoga is right for you right now!

Yoga Flow Chart

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Valentine’s Date Night

No plans for V-Day?

Join me and other lovely couples for a glorious evening of connectivity, romance, and yoga!

Since our first Date Night Yoga Workshop was such a huge success, we are answering your requests for more! Join us a week before Valentine’s Day for an early celebration of love and romance–the perfect way for easy-going couples to enjoy the holiday in a low-key yet beautifully passionate space. Being a person who has never been a huge fan of all the hype and craziness that goes with Valentine’s Day (whether I’m single or taken!), I’m really looking forward to this workshop not only for the students taking it, but also to celebrate with my partner in a way that is more “us” than spending a ton of money on a fancy restaurant and overpriced flowers! Along with yoga, we will be exploring breath (pranayama), touch, and various tantalizing tantric techniques to connect with your partner on a deeper level than ever before. With these various practices we will quiet the mind, reconnect with the body, and awaken our true loving spirit as two become one! From eye gazing and dark chocolate to partner poses and pranayama, together you will become harmonized and aligned as a synergistic team. Join us, as we open our hearts to blissful new relationships, both within ourselves and with our lovers. I hope to see you there! Please bring a yoga mat if you have one, wear comfortable clothes, and arrive 10-15 minutes prior to the start of class to prepare your space. Free gifts and snacks will be made available to all participants.

Where: True Flow Yoga Studio, Newport Beach, CA (address to follow with registration)

When: Saturday, February 8, 2013  4:00 – 7:00 PM

Cost: $60 per couple if registered by January 25; $70 per couple after January 25

How to sign up: In person with Kat, by calling 714.824.7878, or emailing yogabykat@gmail.com

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Yin-Reiki

Starting January 24, 2014–a NEW class at the Sanctuary!!

Have you ever had a Reiki treatment? Have you ever tried Yin Yoga? Whether you have or not, you’re in for a real treat with my new Yin-Reiki class!

Reiki is an ancient healing modality in which the hands are placed on or above the recipient, healing their ailments, aligning their chakras, and removing negative or blocked energy. Yin Yoga is a form of restorative yoga in which poses are held for 3-5 minutes, completely releasing all the muscles of the body. An incredibly meditative form of yoga, the idea is to come into a pose where you can be completely still, without moving or firing any muscles at all. I’ve been teaching Vin&Yin (half Vinyasa flow, half Yin Yoga) at the Sanctuary for the last 7 months and it is hands-down my most popular class. I love teaching Yin Yoga and introducing people to the meditative benefits of calming the mind through yoga, and I also love performing Reiki on friends, family, and students (who give me permission to do so during savasana). The blending together of Yin Yoga and Reiki is super exciting to me, and I can hardly wait to teach

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my first class! I really hope to see you there, ready to receive some healing and stretching!

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Yin-Reiki

In a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere, Yin-Reiki unites the two ancient healing modalities of yoga and reiki for your overall wellbeing. During this class, we will melt into deep restorative Yin Yoga poses, held for 3-5 minutes with the intention to stretch and strengthen the connective tissue in the joints, increasing flexibility and mobility. These relaxing poses do not require strain or struggle and students will leave class feeling tranquil and revitalized! With a combination of gentle Yin Yoga poses and Reiki healing treatment, Yin-Reiki is a perfect way to renew your body, mind, and energy. (See all of my classes..)

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Sshhhh-vasana… don’t “do”…

If you’re reading this blog, you are likely familiar with the concept of savasana.

Savasana is the last pose of [almost] every yoga class, allowing students to lay down, close their eyes, and rest after all that work. But it is so much more than just a nap after class…

SAVASANA (shah-VAH-sah-nah) [Sanskrit] : Corpse Pose. “sava” meaning “corpse” and “asana” meaning “pose”

Savasana is probably one of the most important parts of any yoga practice, culminating the entire physical practice and rejuvenating the body, mind, and spirit. It allows the body time to process information at the end of a class. At the same time, it is also one of the most difficult poses, calling us to release the many layers of thoughts, feelings, and emotions we’re subconsciously holding onto. Many times, we feel as though we’ve already released the tension, these feelings, or our stress, but these things are still present somewhere within our physical or mental self. Each time we come into savasana, we are asked to consciously and deeply let go–of everything. Every thought, every judgment (of yourself or others), every grocery list, every pain in the body, every emotional hurt. As we continue to practice the art of letting go in savasana, we will be able to return the body and mind to peace with a swiftness not yet known.

Savasana should conclude both your asana (postures) and pranayama (breathing) practices–ideally 5 minutes of savasana for every 30 minutes of asana or pranayama practice.

*lie flat on the back with arms resting naturally and comfortably alongside the body, but slightly separated from the body, with the palms facing up

*extend out the legs and let the feet relax off to either side

*close the eyes and relax the whole body, allowing it to feel heavy, and notice the weight of your body supported by the Earth

*guide your attention to the space between the eyebrows (your Third Eye Chakra) and relax the entire brow

*let the stillness and calm glide down your whole body, as you relax the jaw, the throat, the arms and fingers, the hips, the legs and the toes

*bring your awareness to the naturally occurring rhythm of your breath

*let go and experience the tranquility of savasana

Although you should continue to stay present and aware during the final relaxation, savasana is a time to not do anything. Just looking at the Sanskrit root words, savasana is a pose in which you allow your body to fall and rest like a corpse. It is a time to close the eyes, and completely and totally relax the body. You’ll likely have yoga teachers who will come around and assist students during savasana. Sometimes, it’s difficult to relax the head of the thigh bone in the hip socket, and your yoga teacher might hold your ankles and gently draw the legs out, softly shaking or swinging them side to side. Very often, a student has their head tilted to one side or the other, and the teacher might cradle the student’s head in their hands, put their fingers of the base of the skull and gently pull out to correct the alignment in the neck. Many times, students unknowingly have their shoulders drawn up the back and in their ears. The yoga teacher will sometimes tuck the student’s shoulder under and draw their arm down.

savasana (1)When your yoga teacher adjusts your body during savasana, remember that  savasana is a time to not do anything!! There is no need to help your teacher pull your shoulders down as you puff out your chest, or to tilt your head back all the way onto the crown, overcorrecting the slight forward tilt of your neck. Nor is there a need to say ‘thank you’ when your teacher gives you a little help–the thought is nice, but your gratitude can be transmuted through your energy. Nor is there ever a need to open your eyes. If you hear the teacher walking by, just keep your eyes closed and let go! Now after a few adjustments by the teacher, you might get savvy to what it feels like to have a completely relaxed pelvis, tucked shoulders, and a neutral neck. In which case, your teacher might just do a little energy work or gently rub your forehead, releasing tension in the brow.

Savasana is your time to relax, turn off your listening, and let go completely. Keeping the eyes closed, ridding the mind of clogging thoughts, and letting the body be totally relaxed and heavy will allow you to deepen your practice and experience the myriad benefits of yoga and savasana. Some of the most well known benefits include lowering blood pressure, reducing headaches, fatigue and insomnia, and relieving stress and mild depression. If you have any of these ailments, I would highly suggest taking yoga (talk to your doc first!). If you already take yoga, bring these suggestions to your mat and see if you notice a difference in your experience post-yoga. And if you are a teacher, make sure your students are getting their adequate savasana!

Sources: one two three

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Extended Family Love

A family takes partnership, teamwork and unity.

I was lucky enough this last week to experience some of the most genuine, loving cooperation I ever have. Last Tuesday, I got some wonderful news: my application for a new apartment with my boyfriend Ryan had finally been approved! We made an appointment to sign the lease the next day (Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving), which was the very last day we could have signed the lease before December due to the holiday. I has been scheduled to work that Wednesday until 7 PM, but now that I was finally going to have another place to live, I wanted to spend some time in the new apartment. Desperately, I called my sweet coworker Kylie, who agreed to take half of my shift, allowing me to leave at 2 PM and spend some time with Ryan in our new empty home.

The very same Tuesday, my best friend‘s husband Luke came to San Diego and needed a place to stay for a few days. Although my brother and I were moving out of our apartment at the end of the month, we happily welcomed him into our disorganized disarray. On the night that he was supposed to come into town on the train into Orange, I received a call from my best friend saying that all the trains had stopped running for the night and Luke was stuck in Oceanside. Without a moment’s hesitation, I said we’d go pick him up instead of him having to buy a ticket for the Greyhound that wasn’t leaving for another two hours. I hopped in my car with Ryan and my brother Matt and we headed south toward Oceanside. When we picked up Luke, he was so grateful and we were all so hungry! We headed out for dinner and Luke was kind enough to treat us all to dinner for coming out to pick him up.

The very next day (Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving) Luke went to the gym to work out with my brother Matt, who is a personal trainer. I got a frantic call from Matt midday saying, “I don’t have Luke’s phone number!! He just left, but can you call him and tell him to come back and pick me up?! One of my tires is flat!!” So I hung up with Matt, called Luke, and he went back to pick up Matt from the gym. Later in the evening, I went to go teach my Pure Yin class at UpLift, and while I was gone, the boys went out and picked up frozen yogurt for all of us. We capped off our Thanksgiving Eve by kicking back to watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

(from Etsy.com)

(from Etsy.com)

On Thanksgiving Day, Ryan and I picked up a few things from his house in the morning, and then returned back to my house for me to Reiki one of my clients. While I was doing Reiki, Luke and Ryan made a trip to the new place to drop off some more of our stuff. Later in the day, Matt borrowed my car to go to dinner at one of his friend’s houses. The three of us then went to Ryan’s parents house for Thanksgiving dinner, as they graciously accepted both myself and Luke into their home for a wonderfully delicious dinner we all helped with. After dinner, Luke, Ryan and I washed all the dishes and returned the kitchen back to it’s normal pre-Thanksgiving state. One of my favorite parts of this traditionally “Family Day” was how lovingly Luke and I were welcomed into Ryan’s family. It’s one thing to invite your son’s girlfriend to Thanksgiving dinner, and a whole other thing to invite your son’s girlfriend’s best friend’s husband to Thanksgiving dinner. I am absolutely honored by the compassion shared with us by this family, who recognize that even though it’s not even close to blood relation, Luke and I are family. As the husband of my best friend for the last 20 years, there’s no way we couldn’t be family.

By Friday, mine and Matt’s apartment was in chaos: boxes everywhere, house all torn up, and four people “living” there with two cars (mine and Ryan’s). Ryan drove me to work that morning so that Matt could have my car for the day. While I was at work, Ryan and his best friend Dan found a fridge for us on Craigslist (a surprise for me!) and drove to LA to go pick it up in Dan’s truck. Once they got back to Orange County, Matt and Luke went to the new apartment with them to unload the fridge. I was so happy and excited to not have to scrounge the internet for a cheap fridge and to possibly not be able to refrigerate our food for a day or two. It was probably one of the nicest surprises I could imagine that day. After work, Ryan picked me up, we did another run of boxes to the new place, and then had one last hangout/ “Bro Night” in mine and Matt’s apartment before we officially moved out.

Saturday morning before yoga, I drove Matt to his gym for him to fix his flat tire before training. I headed back home and picked up Luke who came to the Sanctuary to practice yoga with me. After my first class, Luke took my car and filled it up with gas for me. Ryan picked me up from yoga, and we went to Starbucks where I got drinks for myself and the four (super strong) guys who were helping me move that day. One of my super strong guys is one of my great friends Chaz, who has helped me move to and from at least five places. He is one of the most dependable, sweet, and loving individuals it’s my pleasure of knowing. Luke, Ryan, and Chaz did most of the big stuff in Chaz’s truck throughout the day while Matt and I spent the rest of the day in our old apartment, packing up the little stuff (that somehow takes even longer than the big stuff). For dinner, I treated all the guys to In N Out food and gift cards for their immense help. Luke had to get back to the train in Orange by 5:25 to make it to

Oceanside and back to San Diego that night. The boys got back from In N Out at 4:55, then Ryan, Luke and I piled in my car and sped to the train station. We got Luke’s ticket and helped a little old lady buy her ticket as well. Luke made it safely on the train, and Ryan and I headed back to my apartment to finish up.

We ended up making about three more trips in my car to the new place and didn’t get to bed until 3:30 AM. Chaz was helping Matt move his stuff to his new place until about 1:30 AM and Matt locked the door for the last time at 4:30 AM. Going to bed in the new place was such a great feeling, knowing that finally, we’re all done moving. Waking up the next day was even better, looking around and realizing that none of this could have been done alone. These friendly and loving acts of kindness brought about peace and ease in each of our lives. They brought about a fridge, one empty apartment and one full apartment, a tank of gas, and happy, well-fed friends and family. This is friendship, this is family, this is love.

In very deepest gratitude to Luke, Chaz, Ryan, and Matt. I love you all to the sky and back <3 Namaste!

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Great Success!

Date Night Yoga Workshop was a phenomenal experience.

Being surrounded by so many loving people in one room made November 16th one of the most beautiful days of my life to date. The workshop was lead by myself and my partner Ryan and we had five couples attend the workshop. Among those in attendance were my brother and his girlfriend, two of the healers from the Sanctuary with their significant others, a student and her husband, and my best friend on a ‘blind date’ with the general manager of the studio. With an array of couples from married to dating to never met, I was curious about what the energy would be like in the room. It was impossible to tell which couples had been together for years, for months, or for minutes. The love and joy in the room was absolutely palpable.

Yab Yum

Yab Yum

We began with taking a vow of openness and non-judgment to our partners, then moved into breathing (pranayama) practice, a short guided meditation, and some cranial massages. Some cornerstone tantric techniques were touched upon, including five minutes of eye gazing followed by the essential tantric lovemaking pose Yab Yum (traditionally the female partner seated in a cross-legged position on the lap of the male partner). Following this was an hour of yoga, including some partnered poses, and capped off by another meditation and savasana. We closed out the evening by having each person hugging everyone in the room. The truly magical night became even more magical after our closing, and I felt as if I was floating on clouds while everyone gushed about how much they loved the workshop.

When my brother and his girlfriend arrived home later in the evening, they said that they were blown away by how much more connected they felt after the three hour workshop. Many of the other attendees were asking immediately following the workshop when the next one was going to be held. Later in the week, I received some wonderful feedback on the workshop:

Kat, I wanted to first start off by thanking you for facilitating such an intimate workshop. You created a safe space for us all and it showed- the energy was palpable afterwards. The amount of time that was spent in each area of the night was very balanced. I liked how we started by getting in our bodies with breath and touch so that we could be present for the more intimate exercises like the eye gazing. I like also how we concluded with a yoga flow facing our partners. This allowed us to continue to stay present with breath and movement together (assisting in poses was nice too). Thank you again for the great date night!

Due to the immense amounts of interest in my Date Night Workshop, I have decided to hold another session (Christmas themed!) on Sunday, December 15 from 3:00-6:00 PM. For $50 per couple (registering before December 8) or $60 per couple (after December 8), come join us for an evening of pranayama, meditation, yoga, and candy canes! If you aren’t currently in a romantic partnership, feel free to come with a friend or even on a date! According to my best friend who was on the blind date, there is no better way to get to know someone than in three hours of speechless, intimate harmony.

To register for Christmas Date Night, email me at yogabykat@gmail.com or give me a call at 714.824.7878.

In addition to Christmas Date Night, I am also offering personalized “private” Date Night Workshops for you and your

friends. Organized by you or by me, we can create a Date Night that is just what you need (prices vary by arrangement, please contact me for more details).

Hope to see you at a Date Night Workshop soon!!

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Super Easy Spelt Bread

Bread machine and yeast not required!

Have you dealt with spelt? I hadn’t until very recently, just the name alone had me expecting some crazy hearty healthfood bread full of more nuts and seeds than flour. Instead,  I got a piece of toast that looked(and tasted) just like white bread. Spelt is a species of wheat that is commonly grown in Europe. It’s been around in the United States since the 1890s, but it was replaced in the 20th century by bread wheat. Spelt actually requires fewer fertilizers, so the organic farming movement is making it popular again, as is the health food industry, especially since spelt products have more vitamins and minerals than the common types of wheat. Spelt still has gluten, as it is a type of wheat, so it’s not suitable for people with Celiac’s disease.

I’ve had success in bread making before (a very dense white bread from Jamaica called hardo bread), so I decided to try my hand at spelt bread, since I liked the [expensive] store-brand version so much. I headed to Mother’s market, bought some Bob’s Red Mill Organic Spelt Flour and went straight home to work on my craft. It turned out amazingly well– I had a slice immediately as it came out of the oven! I’m going to try some different variations and will update this post as I make better bread!

Ingredients

4 cups spelt flour

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups almond milk (or your milk preference)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans. In a large bowl, mix together the spelt flour, salt, honey, baking soda and milk until well blended. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Placing a tin of the same size over the top of the loaf while baking gives it a wonderful crust.

 

Did you try this recipe? Have you ever had spelt bread? Any variations? Leave a comment and let us know how you liked it!!
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Reiki Massage

New healing service added!

Make an appointment today for a one hour massage with a certified massage practitioner with a simultaneous Reiki treatment by me! No need to make two separate appointments for these services, when you can get them both at once!

In this treatment, you will receive not only the physical benefits of massage, but the vast energetic benefits of Reiki at the same time. As the body opens up and becomes more limber through the healing touch of the brilliant massage practitioner, your aura and chakras will be cleansed by the loving Reiki master. You’ll float away from your Reiki Massage feeling lighter, brighter, and relaxed!

To celebrate this brand new treatment, the first 20 people who book an appointment will receive a one hour, fifteen minute Reiki Massage!

 

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Halloween Yoga

Renzo (Rufio), Ryan (in a tuxedo), me (dinosaur), and Hannah (monster)

Renzo (Rufio), Ryan (in a tuxedo), me (dinosaur), and Hannah (monster)

Halloween tree pose!
Halloween tree pose!

Ryan being very Men In Black as I attack!!
Ryan being very Men In Black as I attack!!

Then the attack!!
Then the attack!!

Peace and best friends :D

Peace and best friends :D

 

 

 

 

Ryan, Amanda and Kat

Ryan 80′s out, Amanda as an inmate, and Kat as a cat

Amanda and Kat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There’s No Time But the Present

“Forever is composed of nows.”  -Emily Dickinson

clock1I stopped believing in time last year. This year, it’s become even more apparent to me that this concept only lives and thrives in the minds of humans on this planet. What was life like before “Time” as we know it existed? Diurnal animals, such as humans, would arise from slumber when daylight broke each morning, then retreat back to their caves, homes, nests, and burrows as the sun began to fade behind the horizon. They ate when they were hungry, with no thought of “lunchtime,” and slept when they were tired, with no thought of “bedtime”. With no such thing as your birthday, Valentine’s Day, or even Wednesday, each rising and setting sun was just another chapter in the lives of these early humans.

All animals today live that same way, but somewhere along the line, we homo sapiens were plagued with minutes, hours, days… months with different numbers of days in them… 365.25 days in a year, causing the ridiculousness of Leap Year… and the worst of them all: Daylight Saving Time (that’s soon I think, but I’m not here to tell you when or why). Yes, I understand that all of these units of time measurement were implemented for record keeping, but I can’t help but wonder how accurate it actually is. There’s still so much debate in the scientific communities about when certain events happened, and there’s still so much that we do not know. What if the Earth really has been spinning more quickly the last few years? Would that mean that we’re all actually younger than we think we are?

In magic – and in life – there is only the present moment, the now. You can’t measure time the way you measure the distance between two points. ‘Time’ doesn’t pass. We human beings have enormous difficulty in focusing on the present; we’re always thinking about what we did, about how we could have done it better, about the consequences of our actions, and about why we didn’t act as we should have. Or else we think about the future, about what we’re going to do tomorrow, what precautions we should take, what dangers await us around the next corner, how to avoid what we don’t want and how to get what we have always dreamed of. ― Paulo CoelhoAleph

Daylight Saving Time is the weirdest of all to me. If a baby is born on the hour that we fall back, was that baby born at 2 AM or 3 AM? What an arbitrary concept!! We began DST when farmers needed more daylight to work on their crops. Now that we no longer have that culture (many of our farmers grow in greenhouses, hydroponically, or have machinery that helps them work), we don’t actually need Daylight Saving Time, do we? There are many countries in the world that do not follow this outdated practice, and even some states and counties that don’t. So what is time, really, when we’re not even on the same page at the same time? Simply a mental construct that we still hold as valuable.

The last three months have been a whirlwind time in my life that leave me feeling like there is no such thing as time. It feels like August-October has been its own year, in that so much has changed personally, professionally, developmentally… it doesn’t feel as though so many decisions that affect the course of my life could be made in a matter of 90 days. But then again, my time at Burning Man was so life-changing, and that was only a week!! I still don’t know how so much can change in a week, that I really feel like I spent at least a month there in the desert with my thoughts. A beautiful experience at Burning Man is one introduced to me as “Playa Time” (the playa is the name for the alkaline dust that covers the prehistoric lake bed of Black Rock Desert, as well as the name for the actual place itself). There’s no need to know what time it is on the playa. Almost no one has a watch or carries around a cell phone (why would you need it?). You eat when you’re hungry and go to bed when you’re tired (if that ever happens). If you really need to know what time it is, to make it to a performance for instance, you’ll have to ask about 10 people before you find that person with a clock on them. When we got back from the playa, my brother and I used “Playa Time” as our answer the the ubiquitous questions “What time is it?” for the next few weeks. Does it matter?

It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one. ― George Harrison

Most notably in my disbelief of this made up idea of time is the disparity between the clock in my car and that on my cell phone. At one point in time, these two clocks were exactly the same (I believe the car clock was reset during the “Spring Forward” DST this April). They slowly started to fall out of sync, and for the last few months, the car clock was 5 minutes slower than my phone. Easy enough to know “what time it actually is”… Just last week, I made the shocking discovery that the car clock is now EIGHT MINUTES slower than my phone clock!! How? Aren’t all seconds the same? Aren’t all minutes the same? How on Earth (or in space) does this phenomenon occur? On Clock-Changing-Day this weekend, I will reset the car clock again, and keep close tabs on it, monitoring how quickly it falls out of sync with my phone (which I presume is gathering space/time data from some satellite hovering over my head).

Let’s be honest. Besides work and appointments, how much does that little number on the clock need to run our lives? How much do you let it run your life? In our culture, we are practically consumed by making plans for the future, or ruminating about the past. But do either of those ‘times’ actually exist? When you experienced yesterday, wasn’t it just today to you? It wasn’t experienced as ‘past.’ Nor will tomorrow be experienced as ‘future’–it will once again be today. Have we ever experienced anything outside of the present? Go enjoy your life, today.

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin. ― Mother Teresa

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How Yoga Changes Your Body


yoga infographic

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Manifestation

“The future is not something we enter.

The future is something we create.”

Isn’t it great when you need lemons, and life just hands them to you? The powers of manifestation are available to each and every one of us, but sometimes it just takes a bit of practice to really get the hang of it, or to understand that it is actually our own thoughts bringing our experiences to us.

I had a fascinating experience with manifestation last Wednesday. Arriving to my second studio at 7 AM to work the front desk, I had a plethora of things to work on. One of the first thoughts I had when I arrived was that I wanted to create a business plan–something I’d been thinking about for a while, but hadn’t gotten to quite yet. Since I didn’t have internet access to research how to write a business plan, I decided I’d work on it later and got to work on other items for the next three hours.

Responding to a few emails on my phone, I’d received one from a student inquiring about books to further his study of Buddhism. Without even thinking, the first book that popped into my head was “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind”–a book I had never read, but that was recommended to me by my Reiki teacher Dr. Thomas. I replied to my student with the recommended book, and told him to let me know his thoughts after he reads it. I made a mental note to go on Amazon.com later and buy the book.

After my front desk shift, I had been planning to go home. A little voice inside me (my intuition!) told me to head to the Sanctuary to pick up my paycheck–it was rent day, after all. I walked in the back door and toward the front of the quaint little old house that is now a yoga studio and wellness center. The studio owner and another woman were in the main yoga studio, sitting at a table with papers scattered about.

“Kat! I am so glad you’re here,” exclaimed Ajita. “We’re working on a business plan!”

Wait… what?? Did my little intuitive voice send me to the Sanctuary to write the business plan I had been thinking about three hours earlier?

“Grab some tea and come sit down with us!” she instructed, and I did I as I was told.

We started on one page with a circle in the middle with a list of ‘Who You Are’. Branches reached out from that center circle, going into more depth of what each of these things mean to you. The following pages included:

  • Where you’d like to be with all of these roles in one year from now
  • Breaking those down to six months from now
  • Splitting those up, month by month
  • Then splitting the month up into weeks
  • Deepening from weeks into each day

With this tool, it is much easier to break down your goals into smaller, more manageable tasks that you can schedule onto specific days. This technique is something that I’ve been aware of, but it took the extra little push of someone walking me through the steps to actually sit down and do it. After the business plan meeting, I was talking to Ajita at the front desk when the phone rang. As she was speaking with the person on the other line, I let my eyes wander. Typically, I head toward the shelf with all the rocks, crystals, and pendulums. On this day however, I felt drawn toward the bookshelf full of books by Eckhart Tolle, Wayne Dyer, and the Dalai Lama. Perusing the titles, one book found its way into my line of vision. “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” almost jumped off the shelf into my arms. It was meant to be.

lemonsYou see, when life hands you lemons, it’s because on some level, you were trying to make lemonade. It’s so easy to place blame on external circumstances for ‘making your life the way it is,’ but in reality, it’s all on you.

Even the people we attract into our lives are reflections of what is going on inside of us. When I first started yoga teacher training in January, I was consciously asking for people who were more like myself; people with whom I could relate in a deeper way than I could with my coworkers and many friends at the time. One by one, I started bringing some of the most amazing people into my life. From the other beautiful (inside and out) women from my teacher training, to the new friends I made through dating, my life was enriched beyond what I had previously expected. Once I began teaching, my world exploded as I started to meet thoughtful, like-minded, universally-connected people, who are now my students, coworkers, and friends.

When we complain about things being a certain way, we only bring more of those things to our lives. But when we begin to affirm that “I am surrounded by like-minded individuals; I have a wonderful job and I love my boss; I make more than enough money to support myself; I have amazing relationships with caring people…” that’s what we will get. Start affirming what you want in your life, as if you already have it, and witness the abundance pour forth.

Share your stories of manifestation working for you–I’m sure there will soon be more from me :)

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Fall

a new season impending
the shivers it’s sending
up and down your spine
tell you it’s your time
to begin to continue
this old life anew
you seek to ultimately realize
some of the bleak, bold lies
hidden behind those sad,
and desperate but mad,
dazed and confused eyes
and your illusory cries
for help or for heart
you can cry in the dark
as the sun surely draws you
closer and deeper into
the caverns of your true self
and the caves of your true wealth
the reality of your illusion
pierced through it the intrusion
of the reality you create,
you simply can’t negate
that you did make it all
and you can make it fall

(November 8, 2012)

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Fluffy French Toast

toast 2I try to eat healthy as often as I can…

One of my favorite things to do is to update recipes in ways to make them more healthy, as you can probably surmise after reading some of the other recipes I’ve posted. But some foods just aren’t inherently healthy, and they are usually the ones that taste the most delicious! Therefore, when I can make something that still tastes delectable but maybe isn’t quite as bad for you as the original recipe, I cheer inside (and sometimes outside)!

This French toast recipe found me a number of years ago, and it has won me the most compliments of any dish I’ve ever made. The addition of flour (not present in all recipes for French toast) gives the bread a bit of a crunch, more akin to a waffle than a pancake. Although very much a “once-in-a-while” food, I made it last Sunday morning for a group of friends after a night of hard dancing for 8+ hours. No better time to carb up, right?

Ingredients

1/4 cup whole wheat flour (original recipe calls for white flour. You can probably also split the whole wheat with some ground flax, maybe I’ll try that next time!) — **or try spelt flour!**

1 cup almond milk (or whatever your milk preference)

1 pinch sea salt

3 eggs (I like to split this up between whole eggs and egg whites)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon

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brown sugar (may be omitted; especially if syrup/honey is to be used later)

12 slices thick bread (your preference on type, depending on how healthy or unhealthy you’d like this to be! I like to use whole grain) — **try homemade spelt bread!**

Directions

Measure flour into a large mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in the milk. Whisk in the salt, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla extract and

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sugar until smooth. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium heat. Soak bread slices in mixture until saturated. Cook bread on each side until golden brown. Serve hot with whatever fixings you like! (Suggestions: almond butter, Nutella, berries, raw honey, maple syrup…)

Did you try this recipe? Was it the best French toast you’ve ever had?! Did you come up with a way to make it even healthier? Leave a comment and let us know how you liked it!!
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There’s No Place Like Home

To begin like I’ve begun countless journal entries in my life:

Wow… it’s been a long time…

My life has changed radically in the three weeks since I last wrote, to the point where it’s almost unbelievable to myself. Two weeks ago, I returned from my very first Burning Man experience, and have been processing and contemplating the significance of my adventure in a way I am extremely fortunate to be able to do. I was laid off from my desk job a week before the excursion, to the delight of my free-spirited soul and my OCD Need-to-Pack-for-Burning-Man brain. This event has afforded me the ability to truly follow my heart for the last month, without having to think of “ugh…going back to work…” I literally couldn’t be more blessed.

For those of you who don’t know, Burning Man is a week-long experience in the middle of a prehistoric lake bed in Northern Nevada. Black Rock Desert is transformed into Black Rock City, Nevada’s third-largest city (for one week of the year). With over 69,000 participants this year, the city bustled and boomed, and we all left without a single trace of us ever being there. Dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance, this magical world is the closest to utopia I can imagine. No money is ever exchanged in BRC (the exception being ice and coffee at one camp), with gifting and trading being the main means of “commerce”.

Thousands of art installations and art cars littered the open desert (or ‘playa’), allowing for unlimited hours of exploration and play. One of my favorite pieces was a huge dome made of metal bars, like a jungle gym, filled with huge exercise balls. You climb in and are instantly transformed into a small child in a huge ball pit, bouncing around, throwing balls at others, and being knocked on your butt and covered in bouncy fun. All the while, there are other ‘kids’ climbing on both the inside and outside of this metal dome, some of them dropping into the balls from above.

BELIEVEWith thousands of open-minded individuals collectively living in one place, magical things are bound to happen, and I had some of the most unique, spiritual, unbelievable manifestations appear in my life during this week. For example, while in line during our 5.5 hour long exodus from Black Rock City, I randomly met a girl who knows one of my best friends from middle school (in Florida!). Another example lies in how badly I wanted a street sign from the event, but felt it was bad karma to take one. I ended up finding a street sign (for Intergalactic street!) on the side of the road about an hour after leaving the city!

My brother and I, as Burning Man virgins, were so well taken care of by our camp mates and friends, and I am insanely honored that we were welcomed into our camp of long-time veterans with open, loving arms. Our experience wouldn’t have been the same without that core group of playa family. One of the main themes of Black Rock City is that of home to many people who find themselves a bit too different for the “default world”. As you drive through the gates to enter the city, you are hugged by Greeters who exclaim “Welcome home!”

After only one hour, and especially after six whole days, I knew for a fact that this was indeed Home. I can hardly wait to go back….  )*(

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Light Alfredo Sauce

I’d been craving some creamy, cheesy pasta last week, but didn’t want to be too unhealthy. After scouring the internet for “healthy” Alfredo sauce recipes, I discovered a delicious sounding one, that didn’t involve heavy cream or butter! The recipe below is based on the one I found, but has been edited by yours truly with some additionally healthy tweaks. I served this sauce on Trader Joe’s Garlic Basil Linguine, topped with sauteed organic chicken breast, and it was insanely delicious!

Ingredients

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups skim milk (I didn’t have skim, so I used 1 cup almond milk and 1 cup reduced fat milk–delicious!)
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 Tbsp.  whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup (or more!) grated Parmesan cheese (or substitute any other cheese you’d like! I used a mix of Parmesan and sharp cheddar)

Directions

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until golden brown.

In a small saucepan, stir together milk, chicken broth, flour, salt and pepper over low heat until smooth and thick. Stir into garlic. Continue to cook over medium low heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce is thick. Stir in Parmesan cheese.

Serve over pasta, meat, or veggies.
Did you try this recipe? Leave a comment and let us know how you liked it!!
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BFF: A Tribute

True friendship is absolutely irreplaceable. This anecdote must be true, or there wouldn’t be so many friendship quotes available on the internet! It is pretty easy to be friends with someone who’s not a true friend. It’s easy to be led astray, and it’s easy to be stabbed in the back (and vice versa–we’re not always perfect). When a friend shows you their true colors and they’re aligned to your ideals, rejoice! You have met a compatible mate, potentially for life!

What brings these people into our lives? Chance? Luck? At six years old, I was  struck with the best luck of my life (and consequently the best friend of my life as well). It all began in Mrs. Arguellas’ first grade class, when we realized that no one else was quite as weird as we were. We spent all of our recesses together, scavenging the playground for lost and forgotten toys, hiding them in funny places for playing with later. We volunteered to be the class gardeners so we could stay inside during the first 5 minutes of recess and sneak some pretzels that were used as treats for correct answers in class. Our other games included lots of imagination, chalk, and headless Barbies.

Friendship is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything. -Muhammad Ali

Our friendship was catapulted to the next level on my seventh birthday (also known as The Worst Day of my Life to this day). After having a door slammed in my face that morning (culprit to remain anonymous) and losing 2 baby teeth that were NOT ready to come out, Tasji was literally the ONLY friend who came to my birthday party. Barely able to eat cake or pizza, having my best friend there made it all okay. Learning of her unfailing loyalty from that day, she has never left my side, even when we lived over 3,000 miles away from each other.

True friendship is when two friends can walk in opposite directions, yet remain side by side. -Anonymous

When I was old enough to learn about sexuality, I remember thinking that I MUST be a lesbian, because I love Tasji so much and want to be with her for the rest of my life. As kids, we were total loners, and almost always played alone–no one ever seemed to fit in with the two of us…no one was ever quite good enough. We ended up in different classes, with different friends, and we each experienced other failed friendships. To top it all off, at 13 years old, I moved to the other corner of the country, and our friendship has lasted the tests of time and distance. I spent my first few years of birthdays in WA with Tasji by my side, as she flew all the way up to celebrate with me.

Me and Tasji

Me and Tasji

At nine years old, we made a pact that we would be each others’ Maids of Honor. I fulfilled my duty four years ago, and she is prepared for her turn, whenever that may be. After she got married, we went over three years without seeing each other. For a spring break trip this year, she came out to CA to visit a cousin who lives in north part of the state. We each drove about three hours and met up midway for a few hours. Although we don’t know every detail of each others’ current lives, it doesn’t matter–we didn’t miss a beat. She was sweet enough to come to my grandma’s service this month in Miami and it was so phenomenal seeing her again.

A true friend accepts you as who you are, but also helps you become who you should be. -Anonymous

We lift each other up, we support each other through both good and bad times, and we will never let each other go. Almost 20 years later, we have seen each other through life and the sometimes arduous process of growing up. I have had many friends come in and out of my life in the quarter century I’ve been alive, but never have a met a girlfriend who is quite as loyal, dependable, and special to me as Tasji is. I thank the universe every day that I was lucky enough to have met one of my Soul Mates at six years old.

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. -Albert Schweitzer

Do you have a best friend? Give them a call and tell them how much you care. And never let them go.

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Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,

gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952

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Favorite Green Salad Dressing

I love salads, but hate salad dressing. If I order a salad at a restaurant, I choose the least-gross sounding dressing on the side. When making my own salad, it’s either plain, or drizzled with chicken gravy, or garlic hummus “dressing” I also mix up myself. So when I discovered this delicious salad dressing recipe last week, I rejoiced!! This recipe was given to me by my “second mom”–a long time family friend in Miami, who is probably one of the best cooks I know. It’s sweet, tangy and hands down my new favorite dressing! Give it a try, and let me know how you like it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, stirring until well blended. Cover and chill. Serve dressing over salad greens. Yield: about 1.5 cups.

 

Did you try this recipe? Leave a comment and let us know how you liked it!!
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Stand By Me

The Importance of Family

Heaps of people say that they have the best family in the world, as made evident by the plethora of “World’s Best Dad/Mom” mugs, shirts, and license plate frames out there. However, I must protest, as I think I have the best family in the world. After spending a week with the lot of them in Miami, I am absolutely convinced.

As I wrote about last week, my grandma’s main focus in life was her family. On that side of the family, I have three aunts and five cousins between the ages of 12 and 18. The day after the memorial service, we had a get-together at my aunt’s house in North Miami. Probably 90% of the people there were family from my grandma’s side, many of them cousins and aunts from Jamaica whom I’d never met. The noise level of Jamaicans is astonishing, and it sounded as if there were twice as many people as there really were.

The family is one of nature’s masterpieces. -George Santayana

Fun and laughing aside, we all really truly love each other. Otherwise, why would so many relatives make the trip out to Miami to pay respects to my grandma? My mom delivered my grandma’s eulogy and it was absolutely mkbeautiful. She ended with, “Mummy’s legacy, the Importance of Family, will live on with all of us.” I completely agree, as my mom and her sisters are all extremely close with each other. Learning from their example, my brother and I are almost inseparable. He moved down to Orange County after I’d been here for four years by myself, and we’ve lived together ever since. We do almost everything together, have 8 million inside jokes, and even have an acronym to describe our pair when we go to music festivals, ABSURD: Amazing Brother Sister Ultimate Rage Duo. Other people think it’s adorable, but I absolutely can’t imagine it any other way. He is my best friend!

It makes me feel really sad inside when I hear people say that they don’t like their siblings. When I was about 3 years old, I was pissed at Matt for some reason and I said to my mom, “I HATE having a brother!” She replied simply with, “Well he was here first and you chose to come here, so obviously you wanted a brother.” That kind of logic sure shut me up. As I got a bit older, any time I shared a similar brother-hating sentiment with my mom, she told me that’s too bad, because he will always be around, and be the most consistent person in my life. I routinely share this with those who don’t have a healthy sibling relationship, reminding them that there’s no getting rid of your siblings—you’re stuck with them!

A happy family is but an earlier heaven. -George Bernard Shaw

This wisdom and advice is not the only reason I think my family is amazing. Not only do I find myself with a unique relationship with my brother, but also with my mom. Growing up, my grandparents only lived a mile down the road, but my mom still talked to my grandma on the phone practically every single day. As a kid, I wondered how they still had stuff to talk about, but I figured that theirs was a ‘normal’ mother-daughter relationship. Aren’t all families that close? I found out as an adult that no, most families are not that close. It’s hard to me to imagine, because I also talk to my mom on the phone almost everyday!

I recognize how fortunate I am to not only have a good relationship with my mom, but also have the ability to talk to her and my dad about absolutely anything. It is my belief that total honesty and openness in relationships (familial or otherwise) keeps people close and connected. Especially growing up in a family where lying was not tolerated, and my parents always drove home the fact that they would always love us, no matter what. So now that we’re “all grown up,” my brother and I share almost everything with our parents. When we visit them up north, our dinner conversations cover the typical-family-no-no’s like sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll to politics, religion, and psychology. Some of my friends have told me that they could never talk to their parents about X, Y, or Z. But why not? What is the fear? As parents, their unconditional love is just that–they really will always love you no matter what. Speaking to honesty in non-familial relationships, I’m reminded of a quote that “those who care don’t matter, and those that matter don’t care.”

Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life! -Albert Einstein

Having a connection to your family is extremely important, and something that can in fact be cultivated over time. These are the people from whom we get our values, morals, and habits, and these are the people with whom we will always be

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connected. Understanding them and encouraging them to understand you is is the first step to total openness and honesty. If this type of relationship is not possible for you to obtain with your blood relatives, then create your own family of people you know will stand by you in both good times and bad. Sometimes the family that we choose is stronger than the family we’re born into. No matter who you call your family, you will never be alone.

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My Sanctuary


Month of Yoga or a 1-Hour Massage + 5 Yoga Classes - One Month of Yoga or a One-Hour Massage with Five Yoga Classes Month of Yoga or a 1-Hour Massage + 5 Yoga Classes – One Month of Yoga or a One-Hour Massage with Five Yoga ClassesTotal and utter relaxation comes in many forms at The Sanctuary Wellness Center & Yoga Studio, and you can experience the many paths to bliss with this deal from this praised holistic healing spot: $30 ($60 value) for one month of unlimited yoga classes, $65 ($135 value) for a one-hour massage + five yoga classes, $75 ($150 value) for a two-hour acupuncture or Ayurveda consultation. Choose from a variety of 60- to 75-minute yoga classes offered seven days a week — you’ll break a sweat in Vinyasa or Power Flow, or come by Yoga Basics, featuring gentle flow and restorative poses, and BlissFlow Yoga, where deep stretching and meditation improves joint circulation and spiritual enlightenment. Then, let a licensed therapist at this holistic Tustin studio treat you to a Swedish, Reiki, lymphatic, energy-balancing, or foot massage. You can also benefit from the healing ultra-thin needles of acupuncture or may gain a deeper understanding of your unique constitution and the root cause of any imbalance based on the Ayurvedic system of medicine. 



I just got an email from LivingSocial that The Sanctuary (my studio!) is offering one month of yoga or a one hour massage + five yoga classes for only $30! What a steal! Typically, the $30 package is a two week unlimited pass for new members. I’m so excited about this, not only because it’s a great deal, but because I think it will really help bring more new faces into the Sanctuary. They will experience a true sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. The energy inside the walls just vibrates with pure joy and love. My first visit to the studio was the day I graduated from yoga teacher training, and I was blown away by how comfortable I felt there immediately. I am honored to be a part of the Sanctuary family, and I hope you will come join us and see what we’re all about!

~~~~~

“I was extremely drawn to the energy and love that I felt.  Inside is a beautiful labyrinth of peaceful rooms, it felt immediately like a safe home.”

“This place has a soft, and relaxing ambiance, very friendly staff. Felt like home.”

“I was so pleased to have found this gem right next to Old Town Tustin.  Upon my arrival I was greeted with a smile and a cup of tea.  The actual studio is exceptionally calming and has amazing energy.”

“I can’t believe it took me so long to get in there. It’s such a warm welcoming place. A lot of different cozy relaxation rooms. The staff is all friendly (of who I’ve met so far). Their pricing is great and they seem to have a lot of amazing events that I can’t wait to attend.”

 ”Words can’t even show how much the Sanctuary Wellness Center has changed my life, thank you.”

“I am fairly new to the practice of yoga and have tried a handful of places before stumbling across this gem in Tustin. The energy when you walk into this place is quite wonderful. Other places I have tried are usually so crammed full of people, its hard to even find space to practice and the instructors are so overwrought with students that they cannot even make an effort to help beginners make adjustments and ensure they are practicing safely. Such is not the case at The Sanctuary.”

The Sanctuary does not disappoint.  The instructors are knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful.  They… make a point to get to know everyone, and between them and the regulars, the groups tend to feel familial. The atmosphere of the studio is also wonderfully peaceful.  It is a small studio, so even a full class feels intimate.  The colors and lighting throughout lend to an all around soul calming environment.  I have many times shown up tense and irritable, and left relaxed and at peace.”

The Sanctuary is an amazing center which is filled with such a positive atmosphere. I truly enjoy coming here.”

 ”Upon my first visit to The Sanctuary I was instantly impressed by the ambiance and peaceful feel of the studio.”

 ”I will never forget the moment I walked in for the first time. It had an extremely profound amount of calming positive energy. I knew I had finally found my “home.” I practice yoga for… how it affects my spirit, my soul, and my mind. I commend the instructors here as their knowledge is inspiring. My day starts with looking forward to coming to the Sanctuary. One of the best studios I have ever encountered on my journey.”

“This is a wonderful place for us who are in the process of awakening and willing to walk into the diverse and wonderful paths for spiritual and physical health. Joined here just a few months ago, and very happy with the guidance and loving care from their Healers, Yoga and Meditation teachers. A small place, that holds a great deal of Awareness. . .”

(All testimonials from the Sanctuary’s Yelp page)

 

Save up to 70% on LivingSocial deals!

If you know someone who would benefit from or appreciate this information, please share! [http://yogabykat.com/my-sanctuary]

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Yoga of Death

This week, I’ve been in Florida for my grandma’s memorial service. She died the day after I returned from Paris, making work that Monday probably one of the saddest days ever. My grandma was such an awesome woman, and I’m so glad I got the chance to know her. I know there are a lot of people who never even met their grandparents, much less spent any significant time with them. We were lucky enough to live about a mile away from my grandparents for the first 13 years of my life, and we saw them at least twice a week, if not more.

I had a project in my Life Span Development psychology class sophomore year where we had to interview someone over the age of 75. Although I am bound by a Jamaican voodoo curse of the dead never to publish my grandma’s age, I’ll just say that she fit the criteria at the time. The answer I got from her throughout the interview was that her family was the absolute most important thing in her life. With four daughters and a marriage that lasted 50 years (until death did they part), I can only imagine.

grandma

I could go on and on in a mini-eulogy for my grandma, but I’m here to talk about death. All last week, whenever it came up that I am going to Florida for my grandma’s service, I received the same few responses: “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry!” “That’s terrible!” etc. All the pity felt like when I was scheduled for my ovarian cyst surgery last year. My standard reply for all of these sorrowful statements? “Don’t be sorry/No it’s not horrible. She was [insert grandma’s age here], and not living a good quality of life–unable to speak and with moderate dementia. And everyone has to die, especially grandparents.” The last thing I would wish right now is for her to be back in physical form on this earth, in the state she was in.

There have been a few people who have responded my “everyone dies” sentiment with a “that’s horrible!” But is it? Doesn’t everyone die? I know I’m going to die. And you’re going to die. And your mom’s going to die (Maybe I shouldn’t have brought your mom into it). It’s a basic fact of life that too many people are sheltered from as children and subsequently raised in a society where it is customary to only mourn the dead; not to celebrate, cheer on, or have joy for the dead.

“You have created a society in which it is very not okay to want to die–very not okay to be very okay with death. Because you don’t want to die, you can’t imagine ANYONE wanting to die–no matter what their circumstances or condition.” -Conversations with God, Neale Donald Walsch

When a family member or pet died when you were a child, were you told that “Grandpa went to sleep” or “Fluffy ran away”? As an adult, how often do you hear or say the words “passed on,” “passed away,” “left us,” or “is no longer with us”? Why is it so hard for us to just say what really happened?

Grandma died. She is dead.

However, I fail to believe that she’s “no longer with us.” In fact, I feel an even stronger connection to her since she’s been dead than the last 6 months I haven’t been able to talk to her on the phone. Like in Star Wars, how a dead Jedi can communicate to the living and is “even more powerful” dead than alive. There is a beautiful story by a Buddhist monk Shunryu Suzuki Roshi about watching individual water droplets barreling down a 1,340 foot waterfall. While all separated, he thought about how scary it must be for each of those drops of water to fall that far. He likened the time falling as individual drops to our earthly human life. Each piece originally came from one river and will return to one river, where they are not separate pieces but one whole. When we die, we stop falling all by ourselves and return to the wholeness from whence we came.

To the Buddhist, death is not an end, but another part of the cycle. Without this death, we would not have our next birth. This is a sentiment that goes against the grain of many religious and cultural beliefs. However, most modern religions have a dogma about death, and many of them hold this state as one that is superior to living. So why do we still have the stigma about it? Why do doctors fight to the death (pun intended) to keep their patients alive? I don’t know about you, but a life lived via tubes and plugs doesn’t sound like the kind of “life” I want to live.

“…to a doctor or nurse, death is a failure. To a friend or relative, death is disaster. Only to the soul is death a relief–a release. The greatest gift you can give the dying is to let them die in peace–not thinking that they must ‘hang on,’ or continue to suffer, or worry about you at this most crucial passage in their life.” -Conversations with God, Neale Donald Walsch

So how will you handle the next death you learn about? Will you let them die in peace or tell them to hang on? Will you tell the survivors “that’s horrible,” or find something else to say? Please share your thoughts and stories.

“Life and death are the same thing. When we realize this fact, we have no fear of death anymore, nor actual difficulty in our life.” – Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

Additional resource: Seven Things to Say (and Not Say) to a Grieving Person.

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Vairagya and Letting Go

I arrived to class early, unpacked my bag, and began to smudge the room by burning white sage. One student entered the room, and laid on his mat to relax. As I followed suit by coming into child’s pose, I started to release the day’s struggles and frustrations, allowing them to be absorbed by my mat and the earth. No one else showed up to class and I led a private session, joining in the asanas with my only student. At one point, we both struggled with a long hold in a high lunge in a hot room. He knelt down and rested in child’s pose as I turned the air on.

“Just relax into it,” I said to him, still releasing in Balasana (child’s).

“That’s so hard to do when you’re frustrated,” he replied. I asked him what he was frustrated

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about. “Not being able to hold a pose for as long as I know I can,” was his response.

We continued flowing through our sequence and I brought up the yogic concept of vairagya, a detachment, renunciation from the pains and pleasures in the material world. Vairagya goes hand in hand with abhyasa, strict discipline.

Abhyasa and vairagya are often compared to the wings of a bird, and every yoga practice must include equal measures of these two elements to keep it aloft: the persistent effort to realize the goal, which is always self-understanding {abhyasa}, and a corresponding surrender of worldly attachments that stand in the way {vairagya}. …Our consciousness is typically “colored” by our attachments, whether they are objects, other people, ideas, or other things. These attachments influence how we identify with ourselves and with others. And because they come and go willy-nilly, we’re always at their mercy and suffer accordingly. Through vairagya, we “bleach” our consciousness of these colorings. This isn’t to say we have to abandon our possessions, friends, or beliefs; we just have to recognize their transitory nature and be ready to surrender them at the appropriate time. …Then we know ourselves as we truly are, at once eternal and eternally blissful. -Richard Rosen, Yoga Journal

Without applying both of these principles, one ends up skewed to one side or the other. For example, either pushing and driving oneself too hard without any leeway, or accepting stagnation/lack of progress due to one’s long-held beliefs. Today, I suggested to my student, we focus on vairagya and letting go. Let go of the expectations we have for our bodies and ourselves.

“Interesting,” he said, “when I checked in here when I arrived on Facebook, I wrote ‘time to let go’…”

“Perfect,” I replied, “We’re being universed! This is what we’re supposed to focus on today!!”

I led us through a difficult hip-opening sequence and shared with him one of my vairagya stories: During yoga teacher training, I was still recovering from my ovarian cyst surgery, but I was physically able to do pretty much everything we worked on. However, one day that we were practicing arm balances, my surgery sites were causing me discomfort and pain. I knew that I had to sit out that day of practice, but it was so hard for my ego to do–I LOVE arm balances, and they’re something that I feel like I can do well. It was a process of letting go of my expectations of my body at that moment, and releasing the belief that if I sit out a session I am somehow ‘weak’ or lacking skills. Because I remember how that feels, I try to always make a point to my students that they can take as long as they need to rest and relax during a sequence. Yoga is not a race or a contest, and there is no judgment here.

My student and I laid out in Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (pigeon pose), Baddha Konasana (bound angle pose), and Upavistha Konasana (wide leg spread), breathing into the tight spaces and letting go. After the sequence, I led him into savasana, “letting your feet drift off to the sides… releasing any gripping in your legs, hips, and back…feeling your body sinking into the floor…relaxing the throat, and all the muscles in the face…letting go…” I then used my hands to move some Reiki energy around the room and around my student’s energetic body. I smudged the room again by burning white sage and sat in Padmasana (lotus) until it was time to bring my student back to reality.

After pressing our palms together in Anjali mudra and saying “Namaste” to each other, we sat in silence for a moment, absorbing the beautiful positive energy floating all around us. He expressed his gratitude for the class, saying that he really needed both the exercise and the letting go after his day at work. I almost didn’t, but I decided to ask him where he worked. He told me about his day job with a despondent sound in his voice.

“But what I really want to do is work with people who are HIV-positive, like myself.”

I was hit hard with a case of utter shock. It’s not like there’s any way you can tell someone’s HIV status. He continued, telling me about how he used to work with HIV-positive youth back when he lived in Texas. As he shared his stories, I kept getting chills, thinking about how we need more caring people like that in this world. I told him how honored I was that he shared such personal stories with me, but that I was sorry to hear about his illness.

“Don’t be,” he assured me, “It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I used to not be a very nice guy; I was very self-centered. I think this humbled me a lot, and made me more caring for other people. It made me realize what’s not really all that important”

His positivity lit me up like a lightbulb, and I knew exactly what he was talking about. Not to mention, this was probably the most beautiful vairagya/letting go story I’ve ever heard. I immediately knew that I had to write about our class, and just had to add in this brilliant gem, showing all of us that life and struggles don’t have to get the best of us. If you look on the bright side, you will be able to find something positive in any situation. The day after class, I emailed my student to ask his permission to share his story. Part of his reply:

…I don’t believe in “accidents” per se so maybe I was supposed to tell you so you could blog about it and maybe you will be able to reach people through your message… At the end of the day, if my story impacts even one person’s life, then I’ve done something proactive in feeding our world light :-)

…you can learn how my journey started …telling the whole world I am HIV positive…it may help to understand the constant struggles, judgments and prejudices we face in life every day with the disease.

I have so much respect and appreciation to my friend for sharing his story and allowing me to pass it along. My only hope is that each of my readers will take something away from this story, and will let something go themselves. I’d love to hear your stories…

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Healthiest Spinach Artichoke Dip

I am fairly obsessed with spinach artichoke dip. Almost as much as I’m obsessed with avocados. Therefore, when I decided to make it a few months ago, I sought out to find the best one. I then realized that most spinach artichoke dips are disgustingly fatty: full of more sour cream, regular cream cheese, and mayonnaise than spinach and artichokes! I then began my search for the healthiest spinach artichoke dip, coming across one that has twice as much artichoke as the other recipes, and none of the aforementioned creamy fats. As I usually do, I modified their recipe to make it even healthier. And don’t worry, it’s still ridiculously delicious (I have testimonials!)!

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 (14 oz) cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (I used a cleaver on mine to make it very finely chopped)
  • 1 (16 oz) package frozen spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim low-fat mozzarella cheeseCAM00152
  • 1/4 cup shredded or grated low-fat Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt (plain)
  • 2 (8 oz) blocks fat-free cream cheese
  • 4 (or more!) cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
DIRECTIONS

CAM00153I made mine in a slow cooker, but it’s only a 1.5 quart size, and the dip just barely fits. The lid doesn’t even cover it! Happy cooking, and let me know what you think of this recipe!

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Pain or Pleasure?

Last night in class, I had two students tell me that throughout the week, they remembered some words I’d said in last week’s class. The quote they remembered was uttered during a particularly piercing pigeon pose (eka pada rajakapotasana), and everyone was groaning and looking like they were in immense pain. As I saw their grimacing faces, I reminded everyone that:

It’s only pain if you label it “pain.” Otherwise, it’s just a sensation, just discomfort. Be with the sensations you’re feeling, and breathe into it.

One of my students said she thought about this concept while running and her leg started to hurt her. We laughed about it and agreed that running has different “pain rules” than yoga, and you should always honor your body and not push yourself any farther than you can go. Another student said that she also came back to that concept of ‘pain’ throughout her week. It meant so much to me that a few words stuck with even one student through any period of time. I was ecstatic

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for the rest of the night, feeling more fulfilled by these two students’ comments than from all the “regular work” I’ve done since graduating from university. Filled with such pleasurable feelings, I again realized that I’m doing the right thing for me right now.

The basis of the above quote is from my yoga teacher during teacher training, the first time that we ever did Yin yoga. Yin is all about releasing the gripping of the muscles and sinking deeply into poses for 3-5 minutes. While remaining motionless in each pose, it is natural for some discomfort to come up. In perfect marriage of meditation and asana (postures), you sit with the sensations and feelings of discomfort instead of immediately shifting to avoid the pain. As human beings, we are naturally predisposed to seek pleasure and avoid pain. But if we always avoid situations that we consider to be even the slightest bit “painful”, how do we know what real pleasure is?

pain-and-pleasure

Is pleasure just what everyone else calls pleasurable? Like bubble baths, chocolate, sunny weather, and massages? Well I’ve known a fair amount of people who don’t like chocolate, and despise the sunny weather. And on the flip side, many people find eating spicy food to be pleasurable and that’s something that I would call pain! So what exactly is pleasure? And what really makes up pain? The short answer is, it’s up to you to decide! Is it a chore to wash the dishes, or is that when you zen-out, expressing your gratitude for the food you just consumed? Do you read because you really enjoy it or because everyone else says it’s relaxing? Does that pigeon pose actually “hurt,” or is it just stretching your extremely tight hips after sitting all day?

We should spend most of our time doing the things that excite us, yes, but it is also important to experience the rest of the lot. Without knowing the pain, we could only fathom the pleasure. If you shy away from doing something “everyone hates,” you may never find out you actually love it! Without looking at the reasons why you do the things you do, you might be blindly following the crowd doing something that causes you discomfort. So analyze your actions, think about what you do, and try something new!

“The truth is that we can learn to condition our minds, bodies, and emotions to link pain or pleasure to whatever we choose. By changing what we link pain and pleasure to, we will instantly change our behaviors.” – Anthony Robbins

What are your thoughts on pleasure and pain?

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Solstice

6402It’s the summer solstice of 2013! That means that not only is this the first official day of summer, but it’s also the longest day of the year! I decided to do something fun to celebrate this year. Last night, I went to bed at 9:00 PM so that I could get up with the sunrise. Some sources were telling me that the sun rose at 5:42 AM, while the “astronomical sunrise” was at 4:40 AM. I decided to split the difference between the two and awoke at 5:15 AM to get started on my super awesome super long day.

5:30 AM: After feeding the cat, I began my day with a nice Vin&Yin yoga series targeting stretching my low back and sides, which have been bothering me (far too much sitting at a desk at my day job!). I faced East to salute the rising sun and began my morning yoga. My Summer Solstice Sequence is as follows, with each pose name linked to the pose on Yoga Journal:

Manduka NOSweat 468X60

7:30 AM: The longest day of the year wouldn’t be complete without coffee, so I stopped at Starbucks on my way to work. After giving the cashier my London Starbucks card fro four years ago, she asked when I was there. I told her when I got the card studying abroad, and also mentioned that I was just there a few weeks ago, and should have bought more! She asked why I go there so much. I didn’t really have a reason… I’m lucky enough to have been blessed with the opportunity to go to Europe twice in a span of four years? My life is awesome? Why have I gone to London twice? She wrote my name on my cup as “Kat, the London gal! :)” and it totally made my day. I got in to work early and am looking forward to meeting our new Vice President of Marketing, my new boss!

11:00 AM: Hooray! Halfway through the workday! Looking forward to leaving tonight, to go workout with my brother and David! Then, it’s officially the weekend, and officially summer!!

2:30 PM: Took my super-late lunch break and decided to go out on a walk instead of my usual errand-running. I only brought my iPod and headphones and set out on a half hour walk down a busy street in Southern California. A quieter walk would have been nice, but the quiet streets around here don’t have sidewalks, deterring people from using their legs to get around. I began my walk and thought, “You know what would make this even better? If I was barefoot…” So I took off my shoes and journeyed around the block and back, belting awesome songs that were playing on my shuffle. It was nice to get outside, especially on this solstice day! And of course, when I got back, I only had another hour left of work! Woohoo!

4:00 PM: Work is over! It’s the weekend! It’s summer! It’s still sunny outside! Loving life!!!

5:30 PM: Ended up postponing the workout until tomorrow, and David and I hung out in the hot tub at his apartment instead. It was beautiful weather outside and the hot tub was only about as hot as a bathtub. I felt like I was back in Miami in the Atlantic Ocean! We decided to go to his friends’ house for a game night they were throwing in the evening.

7:30 PM: Arrived at game night to a house full of people I’ve never met before. Ice was immediately broken by playing an insanely fun game called Cards Against Humanity. If you have a twisted sense of humor, this is the game for you! I was laughing so hard my face hurt, and everyone was having a blast. When our group doubled in size in 10 minutes, we disbanded the game to chit chat. I got to know a few of the people there, pizza arrived, and some folks started playing Rock Band. Of course, when someone offered up the microphone, I gladly stepped up to the plate and belted out a few late 90′s hits.

After eating, the position of singing was again offered and I got the chance to sing some of my favorite songs, ending with “Underneath it All” by No Doubt. Due to my ability to rap in a Jamaican accent (thanks mom!), I got 100% on that song. We retired our band, and I played a bit more Cards Against Humanity. David and I left a bit later, as I had to teach yoga in the morning and have another Reiki training session in the afternoon!

By the time we left, the sun was completely set and the longest day of the year had come to a close. Being up since 5:20 AM and experiencing this super awesome day got me even more jazzed for the summer up ahead: seeing my family in Miami, visiting my parents in Washington, a few concerts, and lots of yoga and sunshine!

HAPPY SUMMER!!

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Vin&Yin

This

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upcoming Monday, I am teaching the first of my Vin&Yin yoga classes! I am beyond excited because Yin is one of my favorite types of yoga. After my first Yin practice during yoga teacher training, I told my teacher that I wanted to teach this deeply restorative flow. In this upcoming class of mine, I will be marrying the yin & yang of yoga by teaching 30 minutes of a dynamic Vinyasa flow followed by 30 minutes of a relaxing Yin sequence. The “yang” side of practice is designed to fire up your muscles, build strength, and heat your body before the “yin” side, when we melt into deep restorative Yin Yoga. Each pose will be held for 3-5 minutes with the intention to stretch and strengthen the connective tissue in your joints, increasing flexibility and mobility.

From an Interview with Paul Grilley, the king of Yin Yoga, on Yoga Journal:

“Although connective tissue is found in every bone, muscle, and organ, it’s most concentrated at the joints. In fact, if you don’t use your full range of joint flexibility, the connective tissue will slowly shorten to the minimum length needed to accommodate your activities. If you try to flex your knees or arch your back after years of underuse, you’ll discover that your joints have been “shrink-wrapped” by shortened connective tissue.

…Yin practice isn’t a call to stretch all connective tissue or strain vulnerable joints. Yin Yoga, for example, would never stretch the knee side to side; it simply isn’t designed to bend that way. Although yin work with the knee would seek full flexion and extension (bending and straightening), it would never aggressively stretch this extremely vulnerable joint. In general, a yin approach works to promote flexibility in areas often perceived as nonmalleable, especially the hips, pelvis, and lower spine.

It’s not necessary—or even possible—for all the muscles to be relaxed when you’re doing some Yin Yoga postures. In a seated forward bend, for example, you can gently pull with your arms to increase the stretch on the connective tissues of your spine. But in order for these connective tissues to be affected, you must relax the muscles around the spine itself. Because Yin Yoga requires that the muscles be relaxed around the connective tissue you want to stretch, not all yoga poses can be done effectively—or safely—as yin poses.”

Just as it is important to practice Yin yoga as a counterbalance to regular strenuous asana practice, it is good to combine the yin and yang in all areas of your life. If you regularly spend your time working or stressing out, and not enough time relaxing, your life will be out of balance. If you’re constantly counting calories or cutting carbs, but never allowing yourself the tiniest indulgence, your life will be out of balance. If you spend all of your time sitting at a desk staring at a computer or sitting on a couch staring at a TV, but no time exercising your body, your life will be out of balance.

How do you seek balance in your life?

yin-yang-kity

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