• Permalink Gallery

    MY YOGA STORY: MORE LOVE, LESS FEAR, MORE OF WHAT YOU WANT IN YOUR LIFE

MY YOGA STORY: MORE LOVE, LESS FEAR, MORE OF WHAT YOU WANT IN YOUR LIFE

From: Allison Fallon
I started going to yoga about six weeks before everything fell apart. My husband-at-the-time and I had been trying to have a baby for almost two years at that point, and I was starting to lose hope that it would ever happen for us. But I heard a story about a woman who struggled with fertility for years, and when she started a regular yoga practice, she became pregnant within six months.
That was enough to convince me.
I walked down the street and signed up.
It had been a few years since I’d been in a regular routine of moving my body, but it didn’t seem like all that long since I’d been a distance runner. I had completed several half-marathons and a full marathon. So when the instructor suggested that for my first few classes I should focus on simply staying in the room, I balked a little.
I mean, how hard could it be to stay in a room?
That was before the class started and the heat pressed in and I realized how far you can get from yourself without even knowing it; how long you can go without paying any attention to the fact that you have been barely breathing.
Those first few classes were miserable.
I felt like I might be dying—and I was barely doing anything. Just sitting there on my mat. The only reason I kept coming back was that the instructor said yoga would help us to get three things, and I wanted each of those three things:
1. More love
2. Less fear
3. More of what we want in our lives.
I hoped she was right. I hoped yoga would help me get what I wanted.
Six weeks later, everything fell apart.
It was a normal Thursday afternoon when I uncovered the truth of my marriage, and suddenly the fact that we hadn’t been able to become pregnant wasn’t the problem anymore. The day I found what I found, a friend asked me if I was surprised, and I told a her to imagine she had been in a fist fight for years with a blindfold on.
Then today, someone took the blindfold off.
No, I was not surprised.
We hold truths in our bodies that are too big for our minds.
The irony is not lost on me that I went to yoga to get pregnant and instead ended up getting a divorce. But I am learning the hard and beautiful truth that sometimes what we think we want is not what we actually want, and that the process of getting what we want usually involves several things we did not want at all.
 So I kept going to yoga.
One of the things I have loved most about yoga is that there is nowhere to hide.
In life we hide behind make-up or name brands or job titles or relationship statuses. In yoga, in that hot room with all those smelly, sweaty not-so-covered-up bodies, there is nowhere to go except… right there.
In the truth.
The fleshy, terrible, magical, beautiful truth of you.
It’s a terrifying and beautiful thing to to see yourself so completely.
To look at where you are weak or soft or grieving or heartbroken and let love go there.
What a strange and petrifying feeling to find that all the pieces of the puzzle you had been fighting to hold together weren’t even your puzzle pieces in the first place, and that all that love you were dying to have had always been right there in front of you.
All you have to do is get soft enough to receive it.
All you had to do was stop trying so hard, and relax enough to let it in. That winter, I filed for divorce.
I walked into the attorney’s office and did the thing I swore to myself I would never do, the thing I had judged others for doing, the thing I had wanted to do for longer than I could even allow myself to admit. The truth does this to you, I guess. Humbles you. Makes you human again. Gets you back into alignment with yourself.
Yoga does this to you.
More love.
Less fear.
More of what you want in your life.
And after signing all of those terrible, beautiful, life-altering papers, I went to yoga again. I fought and cried and melted into my mat again, and again and again.
It was all I had. My offering. It was all it took.
What I’m learning from yoga is the same thing I’m learning from the rest of my life—which is that we are entitled to our efforts, but not to our outcomes; that we can either be in control, or be in love, but not both.
I’m learning to be in love. I’m choosing to be in love.
 Several things have changed in my life since those early days of yoga—beyond the fact that I am finally breathing again. I feel more comfortable in my own skin. I sleep better. I have better tools to calm my own anxiety. I’m more focused and productive. I feel more confident, more capable.
I’m stronger and also softer. I’ve even fallen in love.
And although in those early days yoga seemed like the hardest thing I had ever done, I’m learning now that it is also the easiest—the easiest and the best and the most life-changing thing you could ever do, showing up. Getting on your mat. Starting where you are.
Giving it all you have.
Slowly, without even knowing it, we are all getting where we’re trying to go.

MARCH 21-DAY CHALLENGE: CHOOSE-YOUR-OWN!

I didn’t grow up in a church that practiced Lent but I’ve always liked the idea of Lenten Season. 1) Because I like a good challenge or maybe I like the opportunity or excuse to try something new or clean up my routine. 2) Because I value the concept of shaking up routine, taking something away that I depend on, making myself a little uncomfortable in order to grow. I believe that one of the original concepts of giving something up for Lent (40 days) or any fasting is that when you miss, crave, or think about that thing you’ve given up (which will probably be many times a day), you use the opportunity to turn your mind to the thing you’re remembering and trying to meditate on more deeply. There are many things we can notice as we give something up that we are used to having or doing, when we simply shake up our routine – our emotional and physical patterns, our reliances, our habits around that thing that may not even be about the thing. Do I need the thing for the thing or to quiet some other desire or unrest that arises during my day?
Let’s be honest, I also like the idea of Lent or Cleanses or Challenges because it gives me a recipe for self-restraint – clear instructions, boundaries. But do I really need more self-restraint, more self-harm in my life, and isn’t that really more of a self-serving motive when look at my intentions? What can I do that will help me to grow and do better as a friend, a wife, a business owner, a dog-mama, a yoga teacher? For this challenge, I’m choosing to give up sugar – yes, because it contains empty calories but also because it is my comfort food, my go-to distraction from stillness and mindfulness, my craving that comes up most often that I actually need the least. I’m adding something to make me a more present, mindful wife and partner – giving positive affirmations each day to Clay… you know, being nicer and all that!  The hardest one, the habit I’m working on is not offering or giving my opinion on things when I’m not asked. You get it. It’s hard. I want to help but am I helping? Let’s try something new. Shake things up. Spring Challenge!
 
Get ready for your Choose-Your-Own-Challenge if you would like to join me!  You choose 3 ways to challenge yourself over the first 21 days of March:
1) Something you’re giving up
2) Something you’re adding
3) A habit your want to create or cultivate

I’m also providing daily guide for yoga/mindful challenges to keep you motivated and to inspire your sharing on social media (you’ll want to follow the challenge #hyespringchallenge on Instagram and post your challenges and inspirations): 

Day 1) Warrior
– choose your warrior posture, standing firm and ready for whatever comes your way!
Day 2) Breath Work
– demonstrate a breathing exercise that you are practicing, Pranyama – breathwork to still and focus the mind; to improve lungs and respiratory system.
Day 3) Backbend
– choose a backbend to send nourishing blood and oxygen to the vertebrae and cartilage. Healthy spine for a happy life!
Day 4) Nourish
– how are you nourishing yourself differently today and during this challenge? Try a new recipe or new way of cooking or preparing your favorite dish!
Day 5) Twist
– find a twist to squeeze out the internal organs and the spine – detoxify and stimulate the organs and glands.
Day 6) Hydrate
– drink water! Today try drinking – not 64 ounces but 132 ounces (16 glasses) of water. Maybe do it again tomorrow and the next day and for all 21 days.
Day 7) Shoulder Strength
– use a shoulder strengthening exercise to build strength for a stronger practice or maybe building your inversion practice
Day 8) Meditate
– practice a meditation exercise today… We will provide an exercise you can try!
 
Day 9) Dancer
– find grace and focus in your variation of dancer. Just like in our daily lives, in Dancer Posture, you have to find what to engage and what to soften – where to work and where to relax.
Day 10) Cleanse
– take something out of your routine/your body that isn’t serving you or something you don’t need today.
Day 11) Spiral Movement
– use a spiral movement to move energy, strengthen the inner and outer core, and to awaken your mind and body
Day 12) Balance
– find a balancing posture to develop your concentration – focus your mind on one thing only. You will find that you have no choice but to be present, in the moment, when you are balancing on one leg
Day 13) Inspiration
– Share who or what has been an inspiration lately or throughout your life. What words or example do you come back to as a reminder of what you are working towards or what is important to you.
Day 14) Heart Opener
– Open your heart with physical asana (posture) and follow it with internal reflection – what came up? Use meditation, prayer, intention or journalling to respond to what you saw or noticed
Day 15) Inversion
– Try an inversion today to change your perspective. Need support? No problem! Use a friend, a tree, your dog or another object!
Day 16) Hip Opener
– practice a hip-opening posture AND for extra credit – stay in the posture for 5 minutes (this means 5 minutes on each side if it is a single-sided posture)
Day 17) Free Movement
– find your free movement, dance or flow! Can you step to this? We want to see a video and don’t hold back… extra bonus points for yogis who get creative, have fun and let go of inhibitions!
Day 18) Core Strength
– practice an abdominal strengthening exercise. We strengthen our core so we can support the rest of our body and support the dreams we are building.
Day 19) Chakra Opener
– try a chakra opening movement to move energy through an area in your body that may feel “stuck” … We will give you some examples to try!
Day 20) Spine Lengthener / Back-body Opener
– find a forward fold or a seated stretch to decompress your spine, sending fresh blood flow to the space between the vertebrae. Lengthen the back sides of the legs, even the souls of the feet to allow your body to be at ease – not just to do more yoga postures but to do more life!
Day 21) Salutation
– Practice a salute to the sun, the moon, the gods and goddesses, your choice. Namasakara – means to bow to, to honor, to adore… in closing this challenge, we bow in honor to each of you, in gratitude for the world created around us.
Lastly, we have prizes! Sponsored Prizes include:
~ Aveda Hair + Skin Gift Sets
~ Lululemon – Professional Mat
~ Chelsea Young – Pantry Makeover & Grocery Trip | Meal Prep Class for you + 3 friends!
~ The Raw Deal – Gift Certificate for delivered raw meals!
~ Free Massage from Claire Wallace – Safe Camp Massage
~ Free Tuition for a Buti Yoga Teacher Training ($725 value)
  • Permalink Gallery

    BIKRAM + KUNDALINI PAIRING – YOUR SUN AND YOUR MOON PRACTICE

BIKRAM + KUNDALINI PAIRING – YOUR SUN AND YOUR MOON PRACTICE

Submitted by Annie Peterson, currently on her way to Nashville to teach Kundalini paired with an Advanced Bikram Yoga Class.
As this workshop came together, I really thought about how these two practices fit together for me.  The expressive hatha practice feels amazing in my body – the physicality, the process of alchemy that you undergo in the room, the confrontation of self and ego in the mirror.  It still works for me and I’ve been practicing consistently for 10 years.
5 years ago I found Kundalini yoga and added it to my Bikram practice.  As they say “All Roads Lead to Rome” and so the union, energy balance, mental clarity, meditation and awakening of the body’s systems are all present in both, as well as other yogic and non-yogic practices.  Anything humans do with mindfulness and intention can lead to self-realization, self-mastery and growth.
That said, to get to Rome (i.e. the self, potential, realization, to “come home”) you must choose one road, or a few, as the case may be.
The road to Rome for me has been a balancing of the hot and unheated practices of Bikram and Kundalini yoga – Kundalini mirrors the hatha practice: the room isn’t (intentionally) heated, often we close our eyes, and so it invites an experience of the self, body and consciousness from a different, yet equal, angle.
When I’ve stacked these practices back-to-back, the combined effect for me has been profoundly positive — that is, on the rare occasions I can do three hours of yoga in one day!
So, as Bre and I continued talking and brainstorming what we wanted this to be, we continued on our own paths and this concept emerged as an offering to students to experience a deeper hatha practice & learn about another set of tools to compliment whatever practice you already have…
I can only speak for myself, but I find these two lineages to be fascinating, and they’ve each brought so much to my life.  I’m looking forward to serving and engaging with this community this weekend!

AWAKENING THE FEMININE

Depending on your source, approximately eighty to ninety percent of American women are unhappy with their bodies. In her TED Talk, “Let’s Get Naked,” Sheila Kelley says that “we are just beginning the 4th wave of the Feminist Movement:  The personal reclamation of the female body and the sexuality within.” I couldn’t agree more, particularly after finding Buti Yoga. I can recall my first experience, that first class (and every class after for that matter), it was the first time in a long or maybe unmeasurable time that I was proud of and celebrated my body, my femaleness. I felt free. Unashamed. Wild. Hopeful!

I think this is what Sheila is talking about when she says that this next wave is about bringing our femininity into our everyday life, awakening and being a sexually-embodied creature. Our bodies are intuitive! Our body knows who she is! But do we know who we are? We may have forgotten long ago… before we had a chance to really get to know her.

The shutting down of our femininity probably began earlier than our earliest memory of someone scolding us for our female bodies. For instance, Sheila recalls her first memory at age 7 of a neighborhood mother yelling “Shame on you!” for being outside playing in the water with the boys next door without her shirt on. A 7-year old girl shamed for doing what she felt was natural. Similarly, I can recall being at the beach around the same age and wanting to jump in the water but not having a bathing suit to wear, so I refused to join in the fun that others were having. Thankfully, my mom didn’t say I couldn’t; in fact, she encouraged me to strip down to my underwear and have at it! But I absolutely would not. Why was I adamant about not taking my shirt off when I was just a child? I may not ever recall exactly what messages I received about my body before I even had the chance to develop my own identity, or what would make me think that I had to be ashamed of my body by age 6 or 7 but I think we can all imagine. The messages were there. Unfortunately the messages get louder and uglier as we get older – “She’s a slut,” or “you look like a whore in that outfit,”or  “those girls are trashy”… etc. These are the messages we hear and unintentionally perpetuate on a daily basis until we don’t know where our own body begins or where it ends. Until we start to believe, it’s not our body at all.

At the 12-Day, 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training I just attended in Hawaii with Sarah, those exact words were spoken by one of the women who had experienced childhood trauma surrounding her sexuality, “my body is not my own” was the message she heard. This body shame and childhood trauma was pervasive among the women in our group – to one degree or another. To women everywhere – our group hailed from all over the US to Canada – Minnesota, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington, Maryland, Massachusetts, Quebec City, Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, and Tennessee. The damage has clearly been done. The undoing is not going to be easy but at least we have now have the light we need to see the truth. These ladies were there to move! To move through and out of the layers that bound them to move through tribal dance and spiraling movements to unleash their shakti energy; to nourish and heal their bodies. AKA: Buti Yoga.

Now Sheila didn’t have Buti Yoga for inspiration in the 1980’s but she found her inspiration from pole dancing, which she later developed into the first Pole Dancing Fitness Workout in 2001 in her home where she taught other pre-school moms in her neighborhood. Like Sheila and those neighborhood moms, (plus myself and every Buti practitioner I know) found this unleashing of femininity and by it, experienced both immediate and long-term positive effects in their lives – living out more fulfilling marriages, being happier mothers, being more complete women for ourselves.

It is time to open and reset our minds and those of others. Change the message to one of truth and positivity – a message to women and men alike. There’s an opportunity for men here as well. We have all been scarred by the lies. Men can help us into and through this next wave by celebrating femininity and placing equal value on it. By creating and guarding the space for Woman to be feminine. Protecting her. Elevating her.

For us women, it’s time to get to know and celebrate our bodies. Take off our bulky shirts in yoga class, see our glorious bellies. Move our hips. Loosen our tense bodies. Expose and strip away the buried judgements and lies. Find our truth. Expand into our full selves.

  • Permalink Gallery

    WHEN I LET GO OF WHAT I WANT, TO TAKE CARE OF OTHER PEOPLE, MAYBE I GET WHAT I NEED

WHEN I LET GO OF WHAT I WANT, TO TAKE CARE OF OTHER PEOPLE, MAYBE I GET WHAT I NEED

After a particularly long workday, I was driving down Woodland Street en route to the Turnip Truck for some dinner goods. Realizing I had some letters to mail, I stopped at the post office and dropped them in the box. Before I could get back to my car, the woman selling newspapers outside hollered that she had a question for me: “Can you give me a ride home?”

It was hotter than the eye of a blowdryer outside, she was carrying about 18 bags of things, and I sympathized.  I wouldn’t have thought of offering but it was definitely the nice thing to do, so why not? “Sure,” I replied, and with that she hopped right in. She asked me for my name, even though we recognized each other – I’ve seen her most every day for the last 3 years at least, the sweet black lady who usually says, “Hey Baby” (like a sassy, southern mama bear) when I see her.  I learned her name for the first time as well. I continued along Woodland, silently planning my trip to the Turnip Truck (hopefuly this would include a smoothie sample) when she informed me that she lives in Madison. Immediately my paradigm shifted from my pleasant grocery trip and the particular items I wanted for dinner to the realization that I would now have to visit a grocery store in Madison or even Rivergate (my ultimate destination was in fact all the way up to my new residence in Goodlettsville). My heart sank a little but I turned the car north towards Madison and away from my beloved natural market. I told myself to quit all that nonsense and be grateful for the opportunity to help someone out but visions of smoothies were still dancing in my head.

We tried to make conversation on the 15-minute trip up north weaving in and out of traffic. I kept telling myself to “just be cool.” I was trying not to say something silly like some petty gripe that might normally come up in an everyday conversation but would seem rather insulting to someone whose job it is to stand outside 8 hours a day in the heat and cold, rain and snow, selling The Contributor for $2 apiece. So, I mostly just listened. Turned out she was born and raised here in Nashville. “We seen a lot,” she kept saying. “Things gonna get worse ‘fore they get better. A lot worse,” she said in response to her mainly one-sided conversation about the “improvements” in the area, which I’ve heard others refer to as gentrification. She seemed sorry for the young folks living through it and getting into trouble. Saddened by family members who have gone to jail or been killed. “They need a job, something to do. They NEED Jesus!” I nodded and tried to imagine life in her shoes… Our lives were different but we shared faith.


We got to the duplex where she lived, she got out and thanked me for the ride. I felt like it wasn’t nearly enough … but in the moment realized, what could I have done that would have been enough? Maybe it was just right. For today. I gave her what she needed in the moment…. I continued up the road. I called to tell my husband I’d be late because I’d gone off-course and also hit rush-hour traffic. He then asked me to stop at Walmart for some additional items since I was going to pass by the one on Gallatin. Getting hangrier by the minute, I agreed with an extra bit snappiness. I knew I was going to need something to eat to get me through the rest of the less-scenic driving route and the additional unpleasant errand. I pulled into the nearest grocery store, which was nothing like the pristine aisles of Turnip Truck with the stylish folks that frequent it. Here in Madison, I grabbed the first roasted chicken I found, Caesar salad in a bag, and a bottle of white wine (an impulse buy which seemed justified at this point).

Continuing on up the road, I pulled into Walmart, turned off my car and decided I needed to eat a chicken leg NOW. Realizing that the wine was a twist off bottle, I figured I might as well have a couple sips before going inside, then grabbed my purse and headed through the automatic doors with my chicken leg and greasy fingers. Another lesson in embracing the moment. I didn’t need the Turnip Truck. It would always be there tomorrow. And maybe letting go of attachments was the very thing I needed to be reminded of. Every moment of every day, I’m making plans and then trying to carry them out. But I’m not here just for myself. I can put my plans or desires on the back burner from time to time, and maybe sometimes, like today, that will be ultimately more rewarding.  

BIKRAM YOGIS ANONYMOUS

Step 1 – Admittance: I am a Bikram yogi. I am continually in love with, healed by, and captivated with this addiction. It is an incessant influence, a time-consuming preoccupation, but predominantly worthwhile addiction. If it weren’t, I wouldn’t be here now, having the gift of a yoga studio where I get to share my passion for yoga with others and, hopefully, give them something that will also change their lives. But the journey has had its ups and downs. In fact, I’ve come full circle with the practice.

Myself and most anyone who has practiced the 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises that were taught to us Americans by the now-notorious Bikram Choudhury and his guru, Bishnu Ghosh, has likely experienced both love and hatred for this practice, and skepticism about its founder. But I’m not interested in talking about the man today; I want to talk about the practice. That journey through being broken down, built up, humbled, empowered, opened, closed off, stretched, compressed, emptied out, filled up, never-the-same-again yoga revelation. Bikram was the first and only kind of yoga I knew for the first 8 years of practicing.

My feelings about this style over more than a decade range from “I can barely get through a class” to “I can still barely get through a class.” The challenge never changes. It is always hard, physically and mentally. Yes, over 10 years or longer, it never gets easier. But it does become different.

My original teacher was explaining how a posture works and said, “when you’re a beginner – you know, the first 10 years of practice…” Wait, WHAT? …. You’re a beginner for the first TEN years? I laughed in my head when I heard him say that because I considered myself at least intermediate-level by that point – but now, after 10 years, I’m beginning to understand.

There have been, and will be, many seasons of my Bikram journey – times when I hated Pranayama breathing (the first breathing exercise), another when I was tediously impatient in Half Moon, periods when I am in love with Standing Bow, and seasons when I deeply dreaded Camel. There are times when I fall from a posture and an unexplainable flood of tears comes to my eyes, and there are times when I laugh out loud. There are times when the postures hurt and times when the postures heal.

Step 2 – Faith: It was this last part of the journey that has really challenged me over the last four years. I had an injury. An un-diagnosable pain in my right hip. I went to all the doctors, physical therapists, Rolfers, acupuncturists and chiropractors. Finally, I took a break. I took a break from yoga for two months. It was something I thought I would never do. I had practiced for nine years, at least five to seven times a week. I rarely missed a day; sometimes I would even do two classes a day. Then I remember the day, as I was laying in savasana, feeling defeated from the pain and the lack of mobility that I once had, I realized that it wasn’t fun anymore, so I decided right at that moment, I would let it go… for a while anyway.

When I came back to the mat, I approached everything very carefully. Every posture. I made sure to really keep my core engaged and not overdo it in postures just to look a certain way. It felt a lot better but the hip was still not fully recovered. I started back in just a couple times a week and eventually added different yoga disciplines – vinyasa power flow and eventually Buti yoga. The new practices and new postures opened up certain areas and strengthened others. It turned out to be the perfect complement to my Bikram yoga practice, and I began to realize that the answer was, as Bikram himself would prescribe, “more yoga.” Well, not exactly… first I needed a break and then I needed more yoga, and different kinds of yoga. The thing about the 26 postures is that it is a lot of repetition, and if you are not careful or practicing with proper form with muscular support, then the repetition can be hard on certain joints. The bikram dialogue is designed to ensure that you do practice the postures correctly but, depending on your skeletal structure, your joints and the stress your life may have brought them thus far, there is the potential for repeated stress to occur and even potential injury.

Although I now have a love and appreciation for many different styles of yoga, I have an even stronger faith in Bikram yoga and a deeper appreciation for it. For all my ups and downs with the practice, I have always admired this elegant series – these 26 postures and the brilliance of their sequencing. The heat, the mirrors, the dialogue, they are added tools, which all work together to force out any opportunity for outside distraction. We are truly forced to concentrate and given the opportunity to be fully present. There’s really nothing else we can do. Just yesterday during a class, the dialogue made more sense than it ever had. Same words I’ve heard a thousand times but they were once again new to me. The words were all I heard… my mind was blank but for these words: “PUSH your stomach, hips thighs forward!” I did so, and it worked. Another layer stripped away. In final savasana, I had peace in my mind about something I’d been worried about all day. It wasn’t the first time these things had happened. They can happen any and every time we practice this series. No matter how many years we’ve practiced this yoga series, there is always something to learn, and it will always be a great accomplishment to finish the class.

So far, in my first 10 years as a beginner of bikram yogi, I have learned some of the greatest lessons and habits of my life. Habits that have helped me through every scenario – heartbreak, anxiety, worry, opening businesses, friendships, and marriage. I wanted to share just a few of these with you:

  • If you can, you must (Bikram Choudhury).
  • Don’t react or attach to the pain or the victory. Calmly observe it and let it pass by so you can give your full energy to the present.
  • Let nothing steal your peace. (Bikram Choudhury)
  • Don’t waste your energy on the things you cannot change.
  • Transcend discomfort by sitting with it, allowing it to be part of you as you move with it until it is no longer there.
  • If you are trying correctly, even if only able to do just a small step of the full posture, you will receive 100% of the benefits.

NEW YEAR’S GOALS – 2017!

It’s another year. Another opportunity for all the Re’s – Resolve, Reflect, Recommit, Reiterate, Renew, Repair, Re-do….

As another busy holiday season of family, friends, travel and logistical coordinating comes to a close, I find myself sitting with the first few moments of stillness and solitude in weeks. I’m on a plane, of course, which means I am not exactly part of a serene picture of solitude (with baby screamos left and right) but I am, at least, forced to be still. So it is here that I finally have the space to give my attention to the things that have been off in the horizon for some time. That vague awareness that the party can’t go on forever, the vacation must come to an end, and the cookies and cocktails must be put back on the “sparingly” list. Per usual, I am more than ready for the my return to home and work, and for a fresh start to the new year.

Goals can be set any time but the spark of a new year or other momentous occasion is always a nice time. It feels like we leave the past behind and start with a clean slate. Just in taking the time to write down goals, we have set the intention, probably visualized the goal (at least briefly) and perhaps come up with a rough plan to make it a reality. I think that’s what they call Manifesting your Future. We don’t need to be woo-woo about it or even ceremonial but writing down a list, conjuring up some mental pictures, is actually fun and practical – it opens up the space to dream and gives us the confidence to walk out the door tomorrow with a plan. So there’s already one thing in 2017 to pat ourselves on the back for!

Sure, it’s a little obvious to do the typical New Year’s Resolution dog and pony show, and sure, we could be anti- and just revolt against resolutions entirely …. Or, we could take just a few moments to pay attention to what we want for our ourselves and what would make us feel really good in this next year. But even with this, let’s hold ourselves with grace and a positive outlook and remember, that we can set these types of goals any ol’ time, and we can also recommit to them at any point. One step forward is still a step in the right direction, and we’re not counting steps back. And for any hiccup or detour, we come right back to where we left off because every day, every hour, every minute is a fresh new day, hour and minute to do our best.

So, without further ado, here are my 2017 Resolutions:

  1. To live a simpler, less-busy life. Too much of the last 4 years have been just trying to stay afloat. I’m tired of hearing myself answer every “how are things?” question with “just really busy.” I want a more interesting answer to that question this year. And I want to have the brain space and time to ask an interesting question back and have a meaningful conversation. This is all part of my Simpler Life Initiative that I began back in 2013 before moving to Nashville. Well, that was the goal really – do what you love for work so it’s not really work, and live in a place where you don’t have to plan your entire existence around traffic and paying rent. I am part of the way there, and being in Seattle this last week was a good reminder of the wonderful quality of life I have in Nashville, but I can still manage to get myself all stressy and distracted and worried when it doesn’t have to be that way. So my goal is to be more light-hearted about my work, to remove distractions from the time I spend with friends and loved ones so that I can be more present, to unplug more frequently from technology and social media, to relax with reading and music more than television, and to make time to count my blessings each day to keep things in perspective.
  1. To be a good leader. I am profoundly grateful for the amazing people in my life and feel that I have a great responsibility to those who work at my businesses – to make sure they know they are appreciated, to keep organization and harmony, to give them the tools that they need to do their job, and to make the work place a peaceful and comfortable place to be. One of the peace-stealers to me and the rest of the work family can be my stress or distraction, other people’s stress, or emotional reactions / chains of reactions. It is my goal to remain calm and objective when conflicts arise in 2017. This again involves slowing down, not reacting in the moment, taking the time to hear all sides of the story, consider everyone’s perspective. Finally, just taking the time to check in with people – face-to-face, “how are you?” Doing real-life relationships.
  1. To seek spiritual nourishment and community. When I neglect this part of my life, I feel it. I know the opportunity is there but I get lazy. There will always be excuses I can find, other things to do, and maybe nobody to go with me but it is my goal to make time for this area of my life and my being, even if I have to go it alone. Come warmer weather, I hope to continue my version of front-porch pickin’ and talking about life (named Porch Church), which was another nourishment to my spirit that so easily fell to the wayside when other obligations arose. We have to make time for the good things, for the spirit-deep things.
  1. To do more for my community. I got a taste of volunteering and organizing service projects in East Nashville this last year, and I am excited to do more of that in 2017. The need is great, and the people who have needs us are so very close. They are across the street and in our back yard. I hope to continue to use the resources I have to benefit the community and the people whose lives can be changed by someone taking the time … by just getting an opportunity. Maybe yoga is an opportunity to change someone’s life. We are here, let’s see who needs us, and see how we also needed them.
  1. To refine my eating habits. Sure, they’re not the worst of eating habits but they sure do swing from one end of the spectrum to the other, more often than not. I’d love to make healthy eating choices because I want to, not because I have to. Because I know, deep down in my core that I feel better and more free when I’m not eating crap. And that I don’t really love all the crap anyway. And I want the right motives. To eat good, clean food – not just for the external results but for the internal benefits. To nourish my body, to give me energy for the work I’m doing, to enjoy all the amazing culinary creations, and to commune with others. To feel like my best, most alive self.
  1. To be a great hostess. Does this one sound a little like it may have come out of 1950’s issue Home and Gardens Magazine? Well then, perfect! I am 36 years old, and I think it’s about high time I kept some iced tea in the fridge, some gin and tonic on the shelf, and some snacks to be shared when company comes calling. You couldn’t step foot in my grandma’s kitchen without being offered food and drink at least 5 times. I want to carry on that tradition, and I would love in 2017 to create a space in my home to host friends and folks who stop by or who come from far and wide to visit Nashville. I want to be ready to host!

That’s all for now! Maybe more will come, and I’ll add them to the list. Because we can do that. Now tell me what your resolutions are!

 

BUTI TRAINING ADVENTURE

We are in the air, heading back to Nashville. A couple of slightly ragged but completely transformed and empowered women, drinking our Bloody Mary’s and wearing the same clothes we left in. Inside jokes from our 6-day, 5-city journey filter into our conversations… maybe a little too often but nobody else is listening… along with lyrics from hip hop hits that are still running through our heads. There’s also this continuous movement … spiraling at our core and buzzing in our brains … we are energized, and we have met a side of ourselves that we previously did not know existed. Yes, we are coming home from Buti Yoga Teacher Training.

Buti Defined: an Indian Marathi word meaning A CURE that has been hidden or kept secret. The mission of buti yoga is to help one strip away the layers that hide this cure and bring total freedom and transformation. The movements are inspired by tribal dance to unleash one’s primal energy to nourish and heal our bodies.

They (the founder of buti yoga and the master teachers) are focused on helping women in particular to find this hidden cure but I believe it is relevant to anyone. They express a commitment to creating a community of empowered women who support each other rather than compete with one another. They refer to classes or studios as a Tribe. I can definitely get behind that! Plus, this became a total reality at the training. Our teacher, Kate, said on our first day that in this tribe, we show up for our sisters. No matter what. About halfway through the training, I learned exactly what that meant. In just 2 days, me, Sarah, Kate and 9 French-Canadian girls, formed a tribe, a sisterhood, and we supported each other through something we each had never experienced before.

So let’s back up…. How did we get here and what’s this about 9 French-Canadian girls? Sarah Norris and I embarked on this journey to Buti training 2 days prior to our meeting of the French ladies in Quebec City. And actually, we started our Buti journey a few months prior in our home studio thanks to our own, Chelsea Young, who started the first Buti Tribe in East Nashville! It was not long after my first Buti class that I decided to go to teacher training. And I must note here that I haven’t been inspired to leave Nashville for a yoga training EVER. You could interpret that to mean I am a complacent yoga teacher but all I know is I found a fresh inspiration that totally awakened my desire to learn and grow.  And for a skeptic like me, that doesn’t happen often. Never have I endeavored to teach anything outside of the Bikram Method, and here I was scouting our Buti Yoga trainings all over the world! Turned out that Sarah wanted to go too – you can get her side of that story from her sometime – but either way, we had a mission! Buti or Bust! And since the Atlanta training was already full, we decided to high tail it for Quebec City, Canada! I mean, why not, right?

After a breathtaking drive through the White Mountain National Park with fall foliage that I cannot begin to describe or capture on camera and an overnight stay in a rustic cabin in Vermont featuring no electricity, running water, or toilet, we found ourselves in Quebec City. We walked the 30 minutes to Studio Rebel, which is a beautiful studio in downtown Quebec with an herbal infusions bar (hmmm… next Nashville project??). Our walks to and from the studio turned out to be a great way to warm up and decompress from the demanding training. At the studio our first morning, we met our new classmates 9 French-Canadian gals ranging in age from 18 to 40 and in occupation from pole dancing instructor to landscape architect. Going into the training, I knew that we would be in French-speaking Canada but I guess I was expecting Quebec to be more like my trips to Western Canada. Much to my surprise and delight, we were all-in for a French cultural experience! Besides our buti teacher, Kate, who is a total badass from the Midwest, we were the only primarily English-speakers there. Lucky for us, the course was given in English and the French gals were amazing at following along and relaying their conversations back to us in beautifully broken English. The French gals seemed to be unaware of time… taking long relaxing lunch breaks with a full dining experience while we were wondering where the Turnip Truck at up in dis place and where we gonna get a Lara bar from? We had to slow it down … and eat real food… Our new tribe had some differences but we soon found that it didn’t matter and we could learn a thing or two from our new buti sisters.

The training was intense – a crash course you might say but we absorbed a lot and will continue to study and grow in our knowledge of this yoga practice. The knowledge we gained was great but the experience was what truly transformed us and was worth all the miles travelled and all the dollars invested. The first day began with a Master Buti Class (which was phenomenal by the way) and then the remainder of the day was spent in studying the postures and movements, while learning the form – i.e. practicing. We were POOPED by the end of the day. We also learned that we were required to give a 14-minute demo of a buti class the following day as our final test in order to receive our certification. Now, Chelsea had given us a heads up on that requirement but it turned out to be a more involved demo than I had realized – had to incorporate at least 6 different aspects of the buti class. I immediately started planning my night – get back to the flat; shower; have a glass of wine; and then cram, cram, cram until I had the PERFECT routine. Note – we were specifically instructed by Kate NOT to plan, not to prepare a studied routine but of course I wasn’t going to listen to her. 🙂 By 8:30 when we arrived back at our flat and still needed to find dinner, all bets were off. Shower did not happen; studying did not happen; creating the perfect buti demo did not happen.

Wine did happen, however, and shortly after, we crawled into our bunk beds and our sore bodies immediately fell asleep. About 4 am, I was awoken by dreams of my near-future buti routine dancing through my head. I decided to get up and prepare. Playlist – check. Careful notes of postures and sequences – check. Practicing it 3 times through from start to finish – check. I felt ready, or as ready as I’d ever be. Sarah awoke shortly after I started my third rendition of my routine and said, “I thought we were ordered not to practice the demo? What are you doing?!” Well, my Type A personality just couldn’t help itself. But Sarah was obedient to Kate’s instructions and also true to her spontaneous nature and did not prepare. I smugly thought to myself, “How can Sarah be so negligent? I could never go into this demo without preparing.” But I was yet to be proved wrong by Sarah and by many others!

We finally arrive at the studio and start with an “easy buti class” which is not easy at all and was somewhat defeating for my tired body. I start to wonder if I’m going to feel and be 100% for my demo. I decide to drink more coffee… we then have to draw numbers to see who goes first. Thankfully, I’m number 6, so I’ll have time to perk up. One of the younger french gals is to go first. I honestly wasn’t expecting much from her. I kinda thought she was gonna bomb the demo (I have already admitted to being skeptical but I’m here to find the hidden cure right?). She had never taught a yoga or exercise class, she hadn’t been practicing buti yoga very long, and she seemed quiet and a bit timid. Well she got up there and the music began. It was LOUD! We could feel the bass in our ribcages, and she spoke au francais, “Attention! ….” And that was the last I understood of words. We were moving, and she was fierce! Kate started whooping and then everyone was chiming in! Like war cries coming out at random from all over the room. Everyone was involved. We were all IN IT! She might not have had perfect form or transitions but she was incredible! An inspiring Goddess up there, not holding anything back. All the whooping and music and energy was driving her even more. Before we knew it, her demo was over, and we were sweating, clapping and giving high fives. She nailed it!!! I knew right then and there that my smug study session was going to do nothing for me if I didn’t give it everything I had in the moment. I had a new perspective and I was ready to be and do and give my 100%.

Soon my turn came, and I set up my mat in front. Sarah set hers up next to mine. 🙂 My music started, and I began with kaphalabati breathing. The fire was lit and we were off! Hair flying, butts shaking, whooping, hollering, jumping, and being totally caught up. Some things I didn’t plan came in and some things I had planned were forgotten. It was as spontaneous as a math/science major like me gets and it was glorious! I was happy. Everyone told me it was great and fun and Sarah said I killed it! I immediately felt the overwhelming support of my buti sisters! I was getting it now. Sarah said that it was like a different Brooke up there, and I would soon say the same about her! She was second to last of the demos and had been chomping at the bit to do her demo. In came a Sarah I had never seen before. Her hair came down, “Bossy” by Kelis came through the speakers, and the creativity just flew out of her! We were spiraling our hips and then our ribcage and then lunging and then in the standing splits. It was an amazing transformation to see! And we all saw it in each other. Not a single person was the same as when they walked in the day before. I have a mental picture of each awe-inspiring soul that got up there and put everything out on the mat. I was proud of all of us. So proud!

So that was the training. We had much to reflect on as we drove off to Montreal that night. We were chasing the sunset towards the west, and it lasted for 2 hours, like seeing 8 different sunsets. The sky was as expansive as we felt.

The Buti training experience can’t really be put into words. It’s a practice for doing not reflecting on. So with that said, get in here and find your tribe!

 

LAST DAY TO VOTE 4 BEST OF NASHVILLE!

If you haven’t had the chance yet, Vote Here! today!

 

EAST NASHVILLE 30 – ONE-THIRD DOWN!

10 days down, and I think we’re all feeling pretty great! Figuring out what our vices are when it comes to processed foods and finding great whole/real food alternatives. 🙂 I’d say we’re getting our sea legs for eating with the perspective of fueling our body with what it needs rather than the junk that gives us temporary highs but no real sustained energy. We are what we eat, and I’m feeling better already by eating food I can see in its natural state, maybe grown locally or organically and not in a plastic bag with 30 other unpronounceable ingredient. Go team 30!

So this is the start of 2nd 10 days!! What we’re adding on here, or rather removing from our plates, is Dairy and Gluten. Remember to fill your plates with enough healthy protein, fats, carbs and of course veggies, and you won’t even notice that dairy and gluten have disappeared. We’re looking to gain benefits of reducing our intake of inflammatory foods, and may see some other benefits in our skin, respiratory system and our sleep! Boom! Don’t forget your water. Water! Water! Water!!!

Here is your: GROCERY LIST FOR THE SECOND 10 DAYS!

Please refer to: www.chelseajyoung.com for recipes! You can always remove items from this list if you’re making veggie/vegan versions and/or omitting any of the recipes from your game plan.

PRODUCE: 

  • 2 Bananas
  • 1 Head of califlower
  • 4 White onions
  • 6 Bell peppers
  • 1 Box mushrooms
  • Bag of sugar snap peas or green beans
  • 1 Large bag organic carrots
  • 1 Bag organic celery
  • 3 Heads of garlic
  • 2 jalapenos
  • 1-2 Large sweet potatoes
  • 1 Bunch flat or curly leaf parsley
  • 1 Bunch of green onions
  • 1-2 ears of sweet corn (optional for Mexican quinoa)
  • 3 avocados
  • 2 limes
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 Bunch cilantro
  • 1 Large eggplant
  • 1 Large spaghetti squash or 4-6 medium zucchini (Turkey Meatballs & ‘Spaghetti)
  • 2 Medium zucchinis – for turkey muffins
  • 1 Bunch of curly leaf kale

PROTEIN: (Fresh, Frozen & Canned)

  • 1 Dozen organic eggs
  • 1 Box of organic egg whites
  • 4-6 Organic chicken breasts (could easily use beans/ tofu) this is for stuffed peppers and curry dish
  • 2 lbs Organic ground turkey (1 for turkey muffins, 1 for turkey meatballs)
  • 5oz Prosciutto de parm (optional)

SHELF ITEMS

  • 2 13.5oz cans of full fat coconut milk
  • Rolled oats (not quick)
  • 8oz can of wile caught salmon/ or tuna you choose!
  • Gluten-free flout (almond, coconut, oat)
  • 1 ½ cup of dry chick peas
  • Quinoa
  • Organic vegetable broth
  • 1 15 oz can of black beans
  • 2 15oz cans of chick peas
  • 2 14.5 oz cans of roasted tomatoes
  • 2 Jars of marinara sauce (no sugar added)
  • Nutritional Yeast – can easily buy in the bulk bins only need 2-3 Tbls
  • Tahini

FROZEN ITEMS

  • 1 Bag of frozen broccoli
  • 1 8oz box / bag of frozen spinach

 

Spices you will need for 2nd 10 days: If you don’t have one / two of these check where they are used and you may be able to substitute something different. That is the beauty of getting creative with what you have on hand!

  • Cinnamon
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Italian seasoning
  • Dried dill
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Cardamom
  • Coriander
  • Cayenne Pepper (optional)
  • Chili powder
  • Madras curry powder
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Dried parsley
  • Dried chives (optional)
  • Garam masala (if you are making hummus but not needed)