Each 10 days you will get a new recipe list and a new grocery list to help you along your journey. Look for those on my blog within my website: http://www.chelseajyoung.com/

The idea over the course of 30 days is to find out which foods/ food groups your body thrives on and which may make you feel a little sluggish. The structure for each of the 10 days is below:

Step 1: over the first 10 days, we will focus on eating whole foods, closest to their natural state (i.e. eliminating all processed foods and thus getting more nutrients and energy)

Step 2: the following 10 days we will eliminate gluten and dairy (to reduce inflammatories and see how the body feels without them).

Step 3: the final 10 days, eliminate sugar (to further observe the body free of inflammatories and empty calories). Ie fruit, all other GMO grains (or all grains in general if you like).

The idea is to ease your body into these whole food changes. Can you have coffee? What about unwind with wine? See below for how we will approach the two!

Coffee: Yes you can have coffee! I want you to be mindful over the first 10 days on what you put in it. If you like cow’s milk in your coffee it will be a good idea to slowly decrease the amount you are putting in over the 10 days so when you get to day 11 you can eliminate dairy. Almond milk is okay, but is also processed and takes a bit of work to make your on own. So what is the alternative? Black coffee J….you may be surprised how good it actual is!

Alcohol: During the 30 days together we will be limited to drinking dry red wines. Dry red wines have the least amount of residual sugar. The driest red varieties are Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. You may drink up to, not more than 2 glasses. If you want to see faster results you can eliminate alcohol entirely, but sometimes social gatherings, celebrations occur and it’s nice to be able to enjoy a nice glass!

MAKE WATER INTAKE A MUST! More important than any food consumption is water consumption. Everyday make it your goal to at least drink 60% of your body weight in ounces. 100% if you took a hot yoga class! Water will help flush the body of impurities and allow you to eliminate extra bloat / salt the body is hanging on to, especially during the summer months

Foods Lists & Ideal Portions for sustained energy:

Vegetables: go nuts! No limit on how many a day you eat…should be in every meal!

  • Greens (kale, collard, spinach, etc)
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Tomatoes
  • Squash
  • Green Beans
  • Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Artichokes
  • Eggplant
  • Okra
  • Jicama
  • Snow Peas
  • Zucchini
  • Cabbage
  • Cucumber
  • Celery
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Radishes
  • Onions
  • Sprouts

Proteins: Make an effort to have at least 4 servings of the following. Serving size is about the palm of your hand. Those in blue will be eliminated after 10 days.

  • Sardines
  • Chicken Breast
  • Turkey Breast
  • Ground Meat (Chicken, Turkey, Beef)
  • Wild caught fish
  • Eggs (2 eggs/ serving)
  • Shelfish
  • Lean red meat
  • Tempeh
  • Tofu
  • Pork Loin
  • Tuna
  • Protein Powder (See below for options)
  • Greek yogurt, plain
  • Ricotta Cheese
  • Cottage Cheese

Healthy Fats: These are so good for us but we tend to over-eat these if we get the chance, so be mindful here and try to stick with ½ cup total throughout your day. Those in blue will be eliminated after 10 days

  • Avocado
  • Nuts (Almonds, Walnuts, Pecans, etc)
  • Hummus
  • Coconut Milk
  • Cheeses (Parmesan, Feta, Goat, etc)

Healthy Carbohydrates: This is what most of us will definitely crave after a yoga class and want to scarf the minute we get home, these are great quick sugars for our body but we want to make sure we have a good balance throughout our day. Try to stick with 1 cup cooked total throughout the day. Understand some days you might need 2 cups and others none, the body will ebb and flow with this food group. The items listed in red will be eliminated after 20 days.

  • Sweet Potato/ Yams
  • Quinoa
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Edamame
  • Peas
  • Refried Beans
  • Brown Rice
  • Wild Rice
  • Corn
  • Amaranth
  • Millet
  • Buckwheat
  • Barley
  • Bulgur
  • Steel Cut Oats
  • Rolled Oats

Fruits: This is the sweet most of us crave when we eat whole foods, it is easy to sit and eat a whole bag of grapes in one sitting if you are not mindful. Try to stick to 1 ½ cups throughout your day. All fruit will be eliminated after 20 days.

  • Berries
  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Orange
  • Tangerine
  • Apple
  • Apricots
  • Grapefruit
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Kiwis
  • Mango
  • Peach
  • Nectarine
  • Pear
  • Pineapple
  • Banana
  • Papaya
  • Figs
  • Honeydew

Oils, Seeds, Nut Butters & Dressings: Keep these guys in check, they are great support for your meals and can easily be over used. I have the hardest time with the nut butters!! Try to limit yourself to 2 tbls throughout your day.

  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Chia Seeds
  • Hemp Seeds
  • Olives
  • Coconut
  • Nut Butters
  • Seed Butters
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Coconut Oil

Great food compliments: Use as much as you would like of these to flavor your food

  • Lemon & Lime Juice
  • Vinegars
  • Mustards
  • Herbs
  • Spices
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Hot Sauce
  • Salsa

Protein Powders:

There are a wide variety of protein powders on the market. I drink my breakfast 5 out of the 7 days a week because as a busy mom I don’t have time to make myself breakfast. I use Vegan Chocolate Shakeology and if you are interested in learning / trying it let me know I can supply you a sample. My husband uses Orgain which is also a vegan chocolate powder from Costco.

If you have a protein powder and are unsure it is a good fit from a nutrition standpoint ask me and we can talk about ingredients. I think there are a lot of great protein shakes / nutritional shakes out there on the market. For this 30 days I would suggest if that is something you want to use, make sure it is whey-free and gluten free.

How to buy groceries & start cooking!:

Since we are eating whole foods you should stick to the outside of the grocery store and almost never have to venture inside unless your organic section is mixed in. Most stores have separated an isle or two with organic selection so you can stay focused. Organic can be expensive so for the purposes of this 30 days use the ‘dirty dozen’ recommendation unless you buy everything organic.

Dirty Dozen: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ALB00035/The-Dirty-Dozen-Foods-You-Should-Always-Buy-Organic.html

Things you can stock up on and have in the kitchen to use: things I use at least 1x/week in meals I make

  • Coconut Oil – Traders/ Costco
  • Cooking Olive Oil – Traders
  • Himalayan Sea Salt
  • Good Cracked Pepper
  • Cumin/ Coriander/ Chili Powder/ Garlic/ Onion Salt/ Italian Seasoning
  • Ghee –Traders or Raw butter from a local farm source
  • Fish Sauce – Red Boat Traders
  • Hot Sauce – Louisiana
  • Rice Wine/ Red Wine / Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Mustard – I like the grainy kind
  • Pepitas – Raw Pumpkin Seeds
  • Tamari/ or Coconut Aminos / Gluten Free Soy Sauce
  • Quality Balsamic Vinegar & Olive Oil

If you are shopping for a family I like to go to Costco…Great non-processed items to have on hand:

  • Organic Chicken – Easy to Freeze until use
  • Organic Ground Beef / Turkey/Bison – Easy to freeze until use
  • Frozen Fish from list below
  • Frozen Berries /Fruit– Big Money Saver
  • Frozen Spinach/ Kale
  • Frozen Organic Broccoli
  • Coconut Oil
  • Raw Nuts (Walnuts/ Almonds/ Pecans)– You could go organic here
  • Cooked Beets
  • Organic Eggs 24 pack
  • La Croix…I’m obsessed
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Green Beans
  • Organic Spinach / Greens
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Avocados
  • Chopped up Butternut Squash
  • Wild Caught Canned Tuna & Salmon
  • Organic Chicken Stock
  • Organic Black beans
  • Almond Butter

**Please do not buy anything processed…it may look / sound good but this program teaches us how to put whole foods together to avoid anything ‘extra’

Some of my favorites websites/ blogs out there:

  • Against all grain
  • Nom Nom Paleo
  • Detoxinista.com
  • The Clothes Make the Girl
  • Cooking Light
  • Paleo OMG
  • Paleo Grub
  • Minimalist Baker

Google :) – I google what I have on hand and put ‘paleo’ in front so there isn’t any junk in there and taylor it to what I have in my cupboard.

Let’s do this!

Each 10 days you will be given 2 breakfast recipes, 3 lunch ideas, 5 dinner recipes and a grocery list for all 10. (This can be found on the blog)

Bring any and all questions to the website www.chelseajyoung.com under my blog posts so I can answer you and that way the group can see the answer incase they have the same question.

We will meet in person at Hot Yoga East Nashville on August 14th at 8pm and then again before our final 10 days to check in with everyone. During our 30 days together we can all post our yummy creations on instagram and support one another along the way! Exciting for our journey!!








  • Buti yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Bikram yoga,  Hot yoga,  East Nashville
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If you’re interested in joining our nutrition group to learn more about food and how it impacts your wellness, please keep reading! During the 30 day program, we will discuss nutrition principles, tips on how to buy and cook food, and try a few eating experiments to discover how different types of food impact our body. Our goal is for each person to create a sustainable nutritious lifestyle.

Chelsea Young, a full-time yoga teacher and mom has studied many food and nutrition trends over the last 10 years and boiled all this information down into a few key principles that she’ll be sharing with our group! What works for one may not work for everyone, so we’ll be sharing our experiences within the group to compare notes and best practices.

How will this work?

We will focus on eating whole foods for 30 days (nothing processed, foods in their natural state). Every 10 days, we’ll experiment with our food intake to get a little leaner and meaner so it doesn’t feel overwhelming to try everything at once. Our goal is to find nutrition habits you can sustain after our 30 days together.

1st 10 Days: Aug 15th – 24th Eat whole foods (unprocessed), monitor intake of dairy, grains & natural sugars (ie fruits)

2nd 10 Days: Aug 25th – 3rd   Eliminate gluten, GMO grains & dairy in diet

3rd 10 Days: Sept 4th-13th   Eliminate all grains and sugar in diet


The group will start August 15th. On August 14th, we will have an in-person group meeting at the studio so you can ask any questions and get all details before you start on Monday. Before our final 10 days we will meet again for further support and share best practices, recipes before we take on the final third.

Chelsea will provide grocery lists, recipes, tips & tricks to help you make this an easy and enjoyable 30 days. We will discuss how to use food as fuel for the body while creating beautiful, delicious meals with simple ingredients. This will be a great way to discover what types of food your body thrives on and which may weigh you down.

photo by Karsyn Dupree (@wldrnessa)


As part of our upcoming food and nutrition group – East Nashville 30!, we will be sharing our personal experiences and experiments with food.  We all have our own unique stories about how our relationship with food has progressed over time.  To start, let me share my story and how I became passionate about food and nutrition:

I grew up playing soccer and played competitively through college.  As an athlete and young person, I could eat and drink whatever I wanted and not see any negative consequences, so I had the typical American diet of processed foods with few nutrients.  I ate ready-made meals and had fast foods on the go – I even recall eating chocolate donuts and milk right before a game! I rarely gave a second thought to nutrition or a well-balanced diet.

After I graduated college and joined the world of corporate finance at GE, I sat at a desk for most of the day.  I knew I needed to do something to counteract the sedentary desk work and my slowing metabolism.  To compensate, I started training for marathons and packing what I considered “healthy” lunches to eat at work, which mainly consisting of a sandwich, chips, and a drink.

After a few years of corporate work, I discovered Bikram Yoga in Chicago in 2008 and fell in love with it.  A year later, I moved to Cincinnati, where there was no Bikram studio, so the only way I could get my yoga fix was to go to Teacher Training and then open my own studio.  In 2011, during my first year as the studio owner and manager, I was still working a full time job at GE and had a ton of things on my plate.  It was essential that I maintained my energy throughout the week to accomplish everything I needed to do, so I began to focus more on what food I put into my body.  It was during this time that I started experimenting with raw foods, paleo method, whole 30, and even did a couple of detox programs with health coaches. From all of these philosophies, I started to figure out what types of food groups my body thrived on and which ones made me feel tired, bloated and sick. I love experimenting with new ideas, and after trying each of these methods, I gained more insight into how to fuel my body in a simple, affordable and sustainable way.

In 2012, I got married and soon after became pregnant with my first child.  Food became an even bigger focus for me because I was now taking care of a family.  However, it’s really tough to eat clean, whole foods when you are pregnant and crave carbs all day!  To help reduce my carb and sugar cravings I made sure to have fats, proteins and low glycemic carbohydrates at every meal. Water intake during pregnancy was key and helped me create a habit of drinking way more water then I was ever used to. My best trick for flushing the body and ridding it of junk is water, water, water. Throughout pregnancy I allowed myself to eat what I felt I needed, but by this time, I had enough experience to know that I would feel worse, not better, if I went totally bananas (no pun intended ;)), so I continued to just do my best with eating smart while balancing life… like eating cookies, when needed. :)

In summer of 2015, I sold my yoga studio, had my second child, and moved to Nashville. With 2 kids, 2 big dogs, and trying to navigate a new city, it was the first time in my life that working out took a back seat.  Food was they key for me to stay healthy and maintain when working out everyday just wasn’t an option. To kick start my metabolism and regain my muscle strength after pregnancy, I tried a couple another eating program which again focused on whole foods, paired with portion control and healthy protein/fat sources, which continued to give me insights into foods that my body thrives on. Around the same time, I discovered Buti yoga and really fell in love with it. Buti was my Yang to my Bikram Yin.

Today I’m leaner and more confident than I’ve ever been despite working out half as much as I did 3-4 years ago.  How is this possible?! Food. In my opinion, the food I eat determines ~80% of how I feel on a daily basis (energy, confidence etc.).  Sleep and exercise are important too, but food has really been my foundation for feeling healthy and energetic.  I am by no means perfect in my nutrition and am constantly seeking to learn more, but my current philosophy about nutrition has been very effective for me, and I think I can help others too.

Part 2: So what and how do I eat?

I focus on eating whole foods in their natural state.  I try to make delicious meals that also look good because it helps me get excited about the food I’m eating. Check out all of my creations on Instagram (@chelseayoungyogi)! During the week I try to stay away from dairy, grains (corn, wheat, rice, oats etc), and sugars (including fruits and natural sugars).

I still allow myself a couple of guilty pleasures, or as I like to think of them: rituals. These include coffee and wine! Rituals of life, celebration and fellowship with others. My day usually starts with coffee (sometimes a few cups ….but hey, I’m a mom of two young kids and don’t usually get a full night’s rest ;)).  I frequently end my day or enjoy a meal with my husband and/or friends with a glass or two of red wine.

What works for me may not work for you, but I hope that the group will at least provide inspiration to experiment with your eating habits and optimize them to best fit your lifestyle. For me, re-setting the body with whole food and getting creative by making my meals from a local source is one of my favorite challenges and gives me a great sense of accomplishment!

I would love to have you join our East Nashville 30!  I want everyone to gain energy and pride in what you cook and put in your body. We will share great recipes that you can save and grocery lists to make things easy. After 30 days, you will at least have gained some insight into what type of foods your body responds best to and others that weigh you down. I also believe that when you do things in a group setting you find more inspiration and accountability to make positive changes in your life.  If you want to get a better feel for how I eat, follow me on Instagram @chelseayoungyogi to check out some recipes.

The group starts August 15th, and there will be a detailed plan coming to the Hot Yoga East blog page in the next couple of days, so stay tuned!


One of my heroes is coming to Nashville. East Nashville, in fact, coming to our very own studio! Esak Garcia is a legend in the yoga community. He was a legend before Instagram or smart phones even existed. In fact, you won’t find many filtered, Photoshopped photos of Esak out there, although you might find an inspiring video of his posture demonstrations at various workshops he leads around the world or at the USA Yoga Competition where he won the world championship. But Esak himself will tell you himself, it’s not about the best-photographed posture or the depth of your own postures, nor about winning a competition; it’s about learning from yoga, throwing out false conceptions that hinder us, and understanding that yoga means union within ourselves and with others. “You don’t need to push yourself to extreme depths to realize that.”

But Esak would also say that if pushing yourself, training for a goal or finding new depths in your postures, flips that switch for you, as it did for him, then go for it! He’s here to help. :)

Esak has been devoted his life to yoga for the last 22 years. His mother, a lifelong yogi, introduced him to yoga and to the Bikram practice when she attended the first-ever teacher training in 1994. While studying political science at Yale, Esak often practiced the classic 26 postures he had learned from his mother to supplement his football and martial arts practice, finding a small room on campus with a strong heater! After Yale, he went on to become a certified teacher under Bikram’s training and began teaching in San Francisco in 2002.

After reading the book, Hell-Bent, I indeed became hell-bent on meeting Esak. I was all-out obsessed with this “Jedi Fight Club” – the affectionate name given to Esak’s famous back-bending retreats. Author, Benjamin Lorr described his pain and struggle over 7 days of attempting upwards of 50 “wall walks” per day. I was enticed, while simultaneously fearful of Jedi Fight Club. From one page to the next, I both want to sell anything and everything to go to the 7-day retreat and/or close the book and never think about it again! But reading the final paragraph of the Esak chapter, I regain an obsession with back-bending and with Esak: “The next day, driving back to New York, I find myself doing wall-walks against the aluminum siding of a rest-stop gas station. There is a moment, where I wonder what I’m doing… But I just shrug my shoulders, roll my eyes at the sky, and arch back to meet the pain like it’s a moral obligation. When I’m done, my shirt is off and I’m smiling like a fool.”

Lorr also describes the person, the mystery – Esak Garcia. “In many ways, Esak feels like a shining example of the promise of yoga. He rarely sleeps, yet he never seems tired. When faced with a problem, his reasoning always begins with the communal. He has a diffident energy surrounding him. I understand that on a fundamental level, his body hums in a different way from mine… I want to know what he knows, learn what he’s learned.

And so we will. See you August 7th!

#Living – My Yoga Life and Then Some

Hi, happy summer, y’all! Sorry it’s been so long! There was the flurry of building the new studio and moving in and then the Teacher Training, oh, and then my wedding reception and the honeymoon…. Life! But enough with the pleasantries and excuses. Time’s a-wastin’! The good thing about talking to old friends (like us) is that you don’t really have to explain yourself at all. You just pick up where you left off.

So we left off with Mindful Living, the theme of 2015.  I wasn’t really hit with any particular theme for the new year back in January, so let’s just say that we continued our Mindful Living practice and that our themes don’t have to correspond with the Gregorian year. A moment for a brief aside – I have recently, and finally relented to the lure of the insta-yogi – it is a relatively small surrender, but I have begun to follow two instagram-famous yogis. I have also begun to notice some of their hashtags – #yoga #yogaeverywhere #yogaeverydamnday #headstand #om #myyogalife. Now I won’t go into all of my opinions of insta-yogis or the hashtags – most people are just doing their gosh-darned best – but I paused on one hashtag when I saw it, #myyogalife. First thought, “I could get onboard with that. Maybe I’ll use that one!” Second thought, “Would that really be true or just a show? I mean, I want a yoga life…. I’m trying to have a yoga life…. Some days I do have a yoga life…. Maybe someday I’ll have a full-blown yoga life like that person’s” All of these thoughts filtered down in a matter of a second, and I didn’t really analyze it at the time. At a later date, which is today, I began to focus my mental energy towards a new blog theme. I remembered, #myyogalife and thought that might be fun. But then I remembered all of my accompanying thoughts and self-judgments that came up concerning how unattainable that perfect yoga life seems and has always been in my head.  Of course, I know that yoga doesn’t have to be perfect and that it’s a practice but still, what about just living? Living #myyogalife + #mylife. Aren’t they really one in the same? Concisely, #living…

Really LIVING. In the moment, fully, abundantly. Mindful, yes; also with our hearts, bodies, busy schedules, and changes.

So what are my goals and how can I practice really living? I believe the evidence of me really Living, that abundant, in-the-moment, clear-eyed, whole-hearted, is the difference we make in the lives around us. Goal #1 – Living to help others.

Second, when I’m truly living, not just sleepwalking through life, then I think I feel, YES! I do feel happy, fulfilled, thankful and free. The great Doc Watson said, “you have to be yourself, otherwise people won’t know who you are.” Allowing this emergence and purposefully Goal #2 – Living to be my fullest, freest, truest Self.

Finally, the thought occurred to me that we don’t have to have Living figured out just yet. That’s the whole point of this thing, right? Learning, growing, practicing.  I can’t have all the end goals to something that is still somewhat of a mystery, so Goal #3 is Living to learn, experience and grow.

Practice for this week: Being present, connected with each moment and the people whom I may be sharing that moment with. Instead of trying to change every situation, every moment, to conform to my wants and personal gains, to simply be fully invested and available to the nature of the moment, to my senses and to the people I’m with.


By Brooke Asbury

This is the last post of our series, Mindfulness in 2015 but the mindfulness won’t stop here. We’ve had some Mindful triumphs over the year… who can forget the truly mind-stirring (i.e. crazy-making) sensations of the Spring Juice Cleanse? That was a good exercise in mindfulness! And there were many others as well. We are just coming to the completion of our 3rd annual Strive for Five challenge during the busy holiday months, and one can only imagine the state of mind we’d have been in over these last few weeks had we not given ourselves the opportunity for mindfulness, the solace of peace and stillness we find on our mats. We have succeeded at being more mindful of mindfulness in 2015. However, I, for one, could stand to continue this theme into 2016 and likely every year after. I guess that’s the point of mindfulness. It’s a lifestyle, a habit, a way of living in the present and staying aware of the things we have around us.

In particular, this next year I’d like to strive for mindfulness in marriage. Well, in all relationships really but I happen to be new at the marriage relationship and am excited to learn the craft of being mindfully married. Like yoga, I know it will be a daily practice. The final expression of each day will hopefully be a little deeper than the day prior. I’m sure to fall out of the pose at some point, many points, and I’ll have to practice getting back in without wasting time sulking or self-berating. Grace and discipline, love and hard work. Just like Triangle posture – the perfect “marriage” between the heart and the lungs.

It took me 35 years to find “the one.” Or more likely, it took 35 years for God and life to form me into the woman I’ll need to be for Clay (my “old man” ;)), and 30 years for Clay to become the man I love and will need him to be for the rest of my life. But either way, there were times that it seemed like a long wait. Though it’s easy to forget now that I’ve found him (like forgetting the pains of childbirth upon holding one’s newborn baby, or so I’ve heard) and seems perhaps irrelevant in light of the blessings I have and had along the way. Still, I like to reflect on those 35 years and spend a moment in homage to the single gal’s life. The spirit of a woman who spends a good part of her adult life on her own has undoubtedly withstood many a test. Whether it be buying a wrench and fixing that dad-gommed leaking faucet on her own or showing up at a dinner party as the only unmarried guest and engaging in “we” talk the whole damn night, it ain’t always easy. Worse, the undeniable, all-too-familiar feeling of disappointment that comes after each lost cause of a potential partner that comes and goes. The utter loss-of-faith-in-goodness-and-love that sweeps in after risking your heart (yet again) only to find that it landed in the hands of someone who didn’t see its story, its worth, clearly at all and never appreciated its spirit anyway. Thankfully, many of us are blessed with incredible friends who support us along the way and let us know that we’re not really alone. They help us to keep our hearts open, when we would rather close up shop and resign ourselves to a life of cats and Netflix. Some wait 25 years, while others wait 45 years to find their person. Our journeys are all unique but I tend to believe, the longer the wait, the sweeter the reward.

On my first morning of marriage, I woke up next to my husband and my heart immediately welled up with joy and thanksgiving. Without a moment’s hesitation, without forcing it or conjuring it up, I looked up to the heavens in my mind’s eye and said THANK YOU!!! It was a moment of true mindfulness, of being present, of allowing my spirit to be free and express what it felt without holding back. And it came effortlessly. I told myself that I better be sure to do the same thing each and every morning, as long as I awake to this gift that I have been given. I guess I’ll call that step one of mindfulness in marriage. Though I am yet to learn many more intentional steps towards being mindful in marriage, I know that I can never be too thankful. And if I start each day looking at my husband as a gift to be cherished, one that came to me after 35 years of hoping and praying, then I may be less likely to be dismissive, short of temper, unforgiving or otherwise lacking mindfulness. In some cases, looking back at your journey, your history, how you got here and seeing it – all at once – from that broad perspective, will help one in that moment to practice mindfulness. Because the path we’ve walked does create the person we are in each present moment. In this case, I want to remember my story as a single woman to make me a better married woman in this next chapter.

Two months into marriage, I still wake up thankful. As someone once told me (and for some reason, they don’t tell you this until after you’re married), being married is the fun part! Deciding to get married is the more difficult task. Though it would appear that I decided to get married quickly (after 4 months of dating), I did not make the decision quickly or take it lightly. Need I remind you of the previous 35 years of life experience and twenty-some years of dating experience? Truly, one can contemplate this decision from a hundred different angles, with the gravity of “the rest of your life” and Mother’s warning of “the most important decision you’ll ever make” and find themselves in a state of decision-making paralysis. But once you are able to move forward, with your person (“the very best one” as Grandma advised), everything really falls into place. Life seems better and easier as a team. Relinquishing your identity as a single lady is really not as scary as it seemed. It’s actually one of the most freeing things I’ve ever done.

Realizing this truth and the fact that we are always most free when we are living authentically, on God’s path and openheartedly, I am excited for mindfulness in marriage and in 2016. I may have 35 years of stubbornness, independence, and hard-assness to break but this cantankerous ol’ mare is ready to be broken. They say being married is like having a mirror held in front of you… Well, my eyes are open.


By Eleanor Self

My yoga story is still mostly ahead of me, but this is the story of just getting to that first class.

A wise woman once said, “You’ve gotta go there to get there.” Actually, the wise woman was Hannah, and if you’ve been in her class, you know she’s said that WAY more than once. But it’s true. If where you want to be is not where you are, then the only way to get to where you want to be is to go. Go there – the place you want to be. That applies to life in general as well as yoga. You’ve gotta go there to get there.

But on the way to going there and getting there, you will encounter obstacles. There will be detours and there will be some points along the journey where you just can’t seem to get there from here. Sometimes those points are in your own head.

That’s where I was in November of 2013, stuck at a point at which I just couldn’t get there, stuck in my own head. I wanted to start a yoga practice, but it was way too scary for me – just walking into a yoga class with no idea what to expect. I was sure everyone would resent my presence, and I was more than sure that the anxiety I would endure would be more miserable, more tormenting than anything thing that could happen on the mat.

Just to try to get some familiarity, I booked a private lesson with Brooke. My plan was to start going to group classes right away. But that “right away” turned into a year and a half.

The road to starting a regular practice was a lot more twisted than the few blocks straight up Gallatin Pike. Many times I tried to go back for a class but was overwhelmed by the feelings that I didn’t deserve to do it, that I clearly didn’t belong there, and I would ruin it for everyone else by just being there. You name it, I thought it, and over and over, I let it shut me down.

Here are some of the road closures I found in my own head and the detours I took to get around:

“You know how you get lost – even places you’ve been before. If you try to go you won’t even find it.” I started driving the route home from work that takes me by the studio. I would make a point to look at the building to prove to myself I knew where it was. I pulled into the parking lot from time to time to prove to myself I could find it consistently.

“You’re too scared. If you do go, you’ll just have a crippling stomachache and you won’t be able to do anything.” I started visiting the HYEN website. I posted questions on a local listserve to see if anyone had been there and what they had to say about it. I Googled Hot Yoga of East Nashville and just looked at reviews and anything I could in an attempt to reduce the strangeness and curb the jitters. The web perusing didn’t help a lot, but I did find that awesome unlimited 30-day Groupon.

“You will be so conspicuous walking across that parking lot. You don’t even know how to carry your stuff.” I made it my business to find out how to carry my stuff. I Googled “celebrities going to yoga” just in case there were pictures of famous people walking into yoga class. There are. Starlets and reality notables seem to favor holding a rolled mat or towel in the crook of one arm with a water bottle in that same hand and then keys or phone in the opposite hand. I did a trial run in the kitchen to see if I could do that. I could.

“The other customers will hate you. Thin, healthy people don’t even want to look at someone who is out of shape and overweight. If you go, they will all be mad at you for ruining their day.” Through this whole time, the same quote seemed to pop up everywhere “What other people think of you is none of your business.” Over the course of that year and half, life peppered me with that quote. If I turned on the TV someone said it. If I checked Facebook it was posted in a cute little frame. I overheard it in conversations, saw it printed everywhere. Eventually, I believed it. I stopped trying to be responsible for the happiness of people who don’t even know me, but might be more content if I don’t cross their sightline.

“Maybe someday.” By June of 2015, the expiration on the Groupon was still far in the distance, but I joined a weight loss and fitness challenge which required 30 minutes a day of physical activity. I tried going for walks around the neighborhood, but I was just too scared to keep it up. Inside the yoga studio was the only place that seemed safe enough, and offered the accountability of the challenge, which meant I had to do it now.

I gathered up my stuff to go to yoga, but a couple of steps from the door I was overwhelmed by the negative thoughts and just lost all energy. I kept repeating this attempt for a few days. I started feeling like I needed to give my son some sort of explanation for the behavior he was seeing. I told him, “ I want to go to yoga but some days I feel too afraid and some days I feel too depressed.” He did what was probably the best thing he could have: he gave me a pleasant but puzzled, “why are you telling me this?” look as if what he was seeing wasn’t actually even crazy.

I decided I would keep making this attempt over and over. I would keep going to the door, or to the car, or a block down the road, as far towards a yoga class as I could, as many times as it took because, surely, this would not go on forever. Through the end of 2013, all of 2014 and the first half of 2015, small pieces had fallen into place and I really felt like any minute there would be some great positive inspiration that would boost me out the door. Unexpectedly, it was one really bad day that finally did it.

June 16, 2015 was a really horrible day at work – upsetting and just miserable. I felt depressed and hopeless as I began my commute. I went through my routine of attempting to go to yoga with no expectation that this day would net any more progress than usual. I headed for the front door, bracing for the wave of negativity to hit and shut me down. It didn’t happen. I already felt about as bad as I could, and in a strange way that protected me from feeling any worse. I reached the door, went through it and kept on going until I made it inside a yoga class.

Yes, I did feel just as conspicuous crossing the parking lot and in the class as I expected to, but I had finally made it there! And it was worth it. I made it through the 90 minutes of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. I noted feeling a sense of accomplishment. It wasn’t easy, but it felt good to conquer my fears, cancel out the worries, and cross all of the obstacles to get there. And I kept coming back.

The physical changes I’ve experienced have been remarkable. By the time my Groupon was used up I was hooked. I had started the month exhausted and in pain from my forehead to my feet. Now, all my aches and pains were resolving and I felt strength and energy building.

Turns out my worries of not being accepted were unfounded; people were either friendly, or engrossed in their own practice, mostly friendly. After a few classes I began to understand what “group energy” meant and to feel like I was a valuable contribution to the whole.

I’m finding the yoga practice itself not to be unlike the process it took to get here. The growth happens in the repeated failures, which afford me the opportunity to show myself grace and start again… over and over until the failures don’t feel like failures at all. They’re just opportunities to practice. Sometimes the process feels really good, sometimes it really doesn’t. Often the things that don’t feel good, mentally and physically, are what move me forward.

I’ve heard so many great quotes from all the yoga teachers, too many to list them all, but I started with one of the first things I heard Hannah say and I’ll end with a recent one from Adam, “Don’t let your final expression be you bailing on the pose!”

The reward is not really in the final success, but in the stubborn, continual trying.

By |December 10th, 2015|Yoga Story|0 Comments


By Brooke Asbury

Embarking on on Yoga Teacher Training is, for me, like the feeling of going on a huge adventure by yourself. Like hittin’ the open road, singing out loud at the top of your lungs, with windows and heart open wide. Doing something for you. Having the courage to pursue a dream. Taking a risk. Making sacrifices for something you believe in. Liberation.

It’s true that not every minute of training feels this high, but I personally experience a flood of happy nostalgia when I think of mine. Some folks attend a teacher training at their home studio; others travel to India and spend time at an ashram, others travel to LA to spend 9 weeks in a hotel, practicing the 90-minute Bikram series twice daily and attending lectures the other 10 to 14 hours of the day. My teacher-training experience was also unique: I lived in Seattle and commuted to Nashville two weekends a month. Each of these weekends, I left my other life behind. Aboard the airplane, I began my “me” time. Of course, I had my homework with me – anatomy studies, required yoga readings, and the teaching dialogue but it was still time invested in myself because it was what I wanted, not what someone else wanted me to study, as had been the case the prior 32 years of my life. I would get all nestled in my window seat with my reading, a celebratory glass of wine, and a pre-packaged, airplane “cheese plate,” and give a cheers to the start of the adventure once again. As the plane took off, and I waved goodbye to my rainy SeattIe Space Needle, and watched the Pacific Northwest timbers disappear as we flew off to Tennessee.

By studying and immersing myself in the practice (7 classes a week required to be exact), I learned about yoga, the postures, and myself. The greatest gain was the lifelong friends I made during training. Of course, that’s just how Nashville is. You can’t go anywhere without meeting a genuinely friendly and helpful person. Because I had no place to stay in Nashville, I made friends from Day 1 who opened up their homes and lives and invited me right in.

My enrollment in yoga teacher training was the first classroom setting I’d been in since grad school, almost a decade prior. It wasn’t easy sitting still for several hours at a time, concentrating on lectures, taking notes. It wasn’t easy submitting to another adult. Having eight years of consistent practice at a prominent Bikram studio under my belt, I wasn’t too keen on taking liberal input from this new teacher. “Liberal” in the sense that she had a more open or sinuous interpretation of the original Bikram dialogue (watered down if you were to ask me, but nobody did ask me). She would literally take me out of my postures, tell me NOT to sit any lower in Awkward posture, tell me to come up out of Eagle, tell me to stay on the floor for the rest of class when I had simply laid down to take a break. I was outraged to say the least. Still, I stayed.

I’ll never forget the feeling as I fought the hot, stinging tears and trembling lip as I laid in a forced Savasana that day. I didn’t need her or her dumb certificate, I told myself. Well, maybe I didn’t but that certainly wasn’t the point. The lesson was the same one I learn every day that I come to the mat – to surrender, to stop fighting, to let go of anything not serving me. My anger and frustration would not serve me. Instead of fighting, I practiced yoga just like I do in my class – the quiet surrender to the heat, the discipline and dedication to show up every day, the perseverance to get up and start the posture again – every moment that we fall out, we give ourselves grace start again. My next move was not to head back to Seattle and teach her a lesson but to submit and surrender. We ended up forming a strong friendship, and I never held it against her that she made my Awkward posture less extreme than it could have been.

The truth is that you never know where someone else is coming from, and my job was to be a student. Period. Graduation time came as soon as the leaves changed and fell to the ground. It was a flurry of reciting dialogue, taking final exams and celebrating our victory of becoming yoga teachers. I flew home. There were no more trips to Nashville on my calendar. That realization was the moment I knew the adventure could not end there. I couldn’t go back to “normal” life after that. I knew that I had to teach and that I had to teach in Nashville.

What is learned or discovered during Teacher Training cannot always be anticipated. You may get what you came for but most likely, you’ll get a lot more than that. One thing’s for sure, your practice will never be the same again, and you probably won’t be either. It was an exciting time that I’ll never forget but the truth is, that the learning never stops and the story keeps unfolding


From my previous entry, Breath is Life: My first Bikram yoga class was in Feb. 2002, and I became certified by Bikram to teach in June 2006. Yoga teaches me daily (on and off the mat) concepts like discipline, determination, concentration, faith, patience, strength, flexibility, balance … really, all just other words for “awareness.” For me, the most important lesson is to breathe. Yoga teaches me to breathe in what I need and breathe out what I don’t.

Breath Is Life part 2

For me, yoga just kind of “showed up.” During the same week in 2002, I had three different friends on three separate occasions tell me about a “new” yoga they discovered. It was called “Bikram.” A 90-minute class, it was practiced in a HOT room, with humidity. It was the same 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises, done in the same order every time. I had never been to a yoga class. I was curious about the yoga, but mostly intrigued by the coincidence.

My first class was like so many others’ – I was hot, I sweat more than I thought humanly possible, I was nauseous, I was exhausted, I was overwhelmed. Despite all of that, I distinctly remember looking around and feeling, rather than seeing, that the other people in class knew something that I didn’t know. I wanted to know what they knew. So, I went back. By my third class, I was hooked. I went another 3 times the next week, then 4 times the next week, 5 times the week after that. By the end of my first month, I had signed up for the 60-day challenge; 6 days a week for 10 weeks. Holy cow, what a challenge! The deep detoxification process revealed something I was not previously aware of. It was anger, massive amounts of anger. I would twitch, and itch and scratch, and toss and turn. I would do anything I could to avoid feeling what I was feeling. I had never felt so much anger and it scared me. I worried. What if I scream? What if I explode? What if I yell AT someone?! I would panic and hold my breath. Fortunately, I had very patient, kind, observant AND firm teachers. They would tell me “Wendy, breathe”. They would remind me, “you have a choice; you can panic and head down the road of emotion or you can breathe and let that energy go.” E-motion is literally energy in motion, after all.

Fast-forward to July 10, 2005. I was rounding out three years of solid practice. I was averaging 5 classes a week. I’d completed two additional 60-day challenges during that time. I’d attended 3 posture clinics and even spent a weekend in L.A. with Bikram and 1,500 other crazy yogis at the Yoga Expo. The practice had changed my life, cleaned me out, and I had my sights on teacher training.

Then came a day that I will never forget. I was in my home office, working on a project. I heard a loud buzzing sound. I thought it was coming from my computer. When I stood up to look behind the monitor, I was hit with a wave of vertigo. I felt dizziness so intense that I fell to the floor immediately. This is where my memory gets spotty. I know I felt exceptionally disoriented, but also felt a strong need to get to my bedroom. I tried getting up, but my body wouldn’t work. I couldn’t get my arms or my legs to move. Somehow, I managed to stumble and fumble and crawl to my bedroom. When I reached my bedroom, I collapsed, thinking “this is good enough.” My roommate was home at the time. I heard him come out of his bedroom and I tried to yell for him. My mouth wouldn’t work. No words would come out. No sound would come out. I couldn’t use my tongue. I kept trying to make noise but all I could produce was a quiet little buzzing breath, not even “haaaaaa.” I laid there, basically immobile. I listened to him walk down the stairs, pick up his keys, walk out the door, start his car and drive away. I still had no idea what was happening to/with me but I also knew it wasn’t good. All I could think was “I’m alone.” I could feel panic rising in my chest, up through my throat. A voice came to me “breathe” and I inhaled. “Breathe” and I exhaled. “Breathe” and I remembered my yoga classes. “Breathe” and I remembered all that anger. “Breathe” and I remembered all the panic. “Breathe” and I remembered I had a choice. “Breathe” and I chose to breathe. And then I passed out or fell asleep – I’ll never know.

I don’t know how long I was out, but when I woke up, I couldn’t see. My eyes were crossed and blurry. Half of my face was numb and limp. Most of my limbs were like boneless chickens – flimsy. Long story a little shorter: I managed to knock my phone off my side table. I called my friend using my nose. I made vague words and strange grunting noises curious enough that she decided to come over. After medical attention, I found out I had a stroke. After extensive testing, I found out it was the likely result of a birth defect. I had a hole in my heart. Days went by and I had limited control of the left side of my body. I lost a significant portion of peripheral vision on my left side as well.

At the time, I could not explain why but I felt that an integral part of my healing would happen in the hot room. I insisted that I go there. I called in favors, asking friends to drop me off and take me home. The lack of balance and mobility did not stop me. There was little that I could actually do. I was convinced, however, that I needed to get blood to my head as soon, as often, and as much as possible. Not just any ol’ blood either. I wanted fresh, oxygenated blood. I knew the most effective way to do that was with that series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. I became particularly aware of any and all postures that gave me the benefit of head-below-the-heart. I focused most of my attention on those postures. I was diligent, making sure I was breathing before, during and after each posture. My brain depended on it.

Over time, moving at my own pace but with consistent practice, my coordination returned. I was also able to reduce the size of the blind spot on my left side. I had a talk with my neurologist and told her the story of that day. She later commented that it was highly likely that my choice to breathe in those critical moments saved my life. Hearing her say that convinced me that I had to find a way to get to teacher training, sooner or later. I remain convinced that part of the reason I am still on this planet is to pass along the message of how important it is to learn the power of your own breath.

The hole in my heart is fixed. I now have titanium plugging it up. That’s another story for another day/blog/post. It’s a good thing I live in Nashville – Music City. Eventually, I will write a song about a titanium heart.

By |October 12th, 2015|Yoga Story|2 Comments


One of the most consistent themes throughout my arts education was Creation from Chaos. Out of the debris left over from trauma or turmoil or pain rises the universally desired phoenix: art. Art is a response to the suffering related with the human condition. Once all of our problems are solved, we will be so comfortable on our fluffy pillows and piles of money that we’ll lose that friction that strikes the match of inspiration. Right?

In college, as I began to grow into my adult personality, I struggled with a strange dichotomy: a naturally Type-B personality coupled with a newfound perfectionism. I have always been a person who could easily become obsessed with a subject or activity, such as listening to the same song 40 times in a row or reading the same book every few months, but my obsessions had never manifested into diligence. Somehow I became addicted to making 100% on every assignment. Not A’s. 100% specifically. That takes many, many hours of memorization. So I became obsessively diligent about my schoolwork, and a whole mess of issues ensued. I worried. I didn’t sleep. I became extremely anxious and thought I had every disease I ever heard about. At the same time, I was more creatively inspired than ever before.

I had heard of yoga before, but resources were limited in central Alabama. The only experience I had with it was doing a beginner’s yoga DVD with my dad when I was in high school. I remember the instructor (Rodney Yee) saying, “Relax your eyes…” in a very chill voice, which sent us both into a fit of giggles. How could you relax your eyes?!

One day during my sophomore year of college, my music theory professor announced that his wife would start leading a twice-a-week yoga class that would be free to students. It sounded like something I needed, so I went. It was literally right next to the pool in the gym. I was surrounded by the sounds of gasping, arms and legs slapping the water surface, my mat was peppered with droplets from a rogue kick and all I could do was make to-do lists in my head, but somehow, I felt better after 45 minutes of just being on my mat. I started allotting myself two hours a week for yoga. I knew immediately that I wanted to be a teacher, and before doing any other yoga besides the poolside class, I began to offer short yoga classes to my fellow theatre students. I would work at the coffee shop from 5:30-8:30 AM, then go to the theatre building to teach yoga on stage from 9:00-9:30 before our classes started. I loved teaching and looked forward to it constantly, even though it only happened once a week or so.

As the benefits began to emerge, I worried. What if finding peace from my snowballing thoughts kept me from being struck with the lightning bolt of inspiration? Some of my best writing happened when I was pacing my apartment at 3 AM.

I pocketed that fear and went on to graduate and moved to Chicago the very next day. The city was cold and grinding, so naturally, my artistic life was thriving. I immediately started doing improv at The Second City, joined a comedy team, and started playing keyboards in a band. Life was as hectic as I thought it should be, and yoga was a tiny memory by then.

I noticed a consistent steeling of myself against other people. Maybe it was the North frosting me over or maybe it was the fact that I was still slinging coffee for a living, but I began resisting having meaningful interactions with most people. I became paranoid and hyper-vigilant, even to the point of thinking that coworkers were conspiring against me. My insomnia increased. Having anxiety or panic attacks was part of a normal week. I threw myself into ridiculously strict diet patterns. I worked, went to rehearsal, went to band practice, and watched a lot of movies on Netflix instead of sleeping. That was the way life was supposed to be. It pretty much sucks, and then you create something.

Erika (my bandmate and now roommate) called one day and invited me to take a free week of yoga with her at a studio in the South Loop. I went. Long story short, we were both hooked. We did a work/trade to keep going to yoga after our free weeks ended. I was not strong or flexible at all, so the flow classes proved to be a huge disappointment for me. I started with Hot 26, which was difficult yet attainable. I remember the first time I found my own eyes in the mirror during Tree and saw that my face was hardened. I softened my jaw and relaxed my eyes. Ah ha, then. Thanks for planting that seed, Mr. Yee, even though it took me 7 years to understand you.

I started sleeping better (i.e. actually sleeping). I started softening towards other people. I began to hear between the lines when someone spoke to me. This was the first thing that made me realize I was becoming a better artist. I noticed more. I was able to see bigger pictures. My writing seemed more cohesive and infinitely more relatable. I really felt like I was moving back into my childhood home in a good way. I was returning to a sense of self that had been gone from me for a long time. By losing my me-against-the-world mindset, I was allowing myself to truly experience unbridled joy and honest gratitude once again.

Later, I would come to understand my problem as being an imbalance of the ayurvedic dosha vata. When someone has too much vata, he or she becomes cold and anxious, is prone to insomnia and paranoia, and is very scattered.

I took Abnormal Psychology this summer to fulfill a prerequisite requirement for the graduate school program I will soon be applying to. Basically, there is a widespread notion that artists are crazy, and that the craziest people make the most brilliant art. However, that is not actually the case. To sum it up, while a person who has a psychological or emotional disorder may create more artistic output when in a state of disturbance, the quality of the output is inferior to the work that same artist does when he or she is stable.

Now I see the importance of balance. I see the importance of what we refer to as “your edge.” Recognizing your edge and staying close to it is an important concept to growing in your yoga practice on the mat, but off the mat it translates into the choices you make. Living close to your edge means that you are constantly reassessing what works and what doesn’t work. You are changing, growing, strengthening, welcoming challenge, and thereby welcoming change. Diligence, while certainly a virtue, is also a part of balance. You can overdo diligence to a point of just setting fancy rules and not really listening to yourself.

Now, I am very much looking forward to reentering the world of academia with a little more self-awareness and a few more tools under my belt. The thought of taking a giant leap deeper into my understanding in my field of study is exciting, not daunting. I have a loose plan for the future, but I don’t really know what it will hold. What I do know is that I will forever be a student of yoga.

By |October 5th, 2015|Yoga Story|0 Comments