Jul 9, 2014

It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.

Alan Cohen

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Jun 26, 2014

Change, flaws and emotions

Change, flaws and emotions

Whoa, spring was quite the roller coaster!

Everything changed in my life—my job, my neighborhood, my daily commute, my relationships, my (perception of my) future.  

And, I’m feeling exhausted. uncertain. inconsistent. exposed. My flaws are in full view for close friends and family to see, and I bet several people think I’m a little crazy right now. And, let’s be honest: I am a little crazy right now!

Yet, I’ve learned something here: it’s okay, 100% fine in fact, to have contradicting emotions—feelings of loss and fear—as I move toward what I want from my life. The path I seek is both scary and amazing, in equal potency.

My knee-jerk reaction is to deny what I’m feeling. I don’t want to feel vulnerable, flawed and ashamed, but I do feel this way. And, I know the consequences of denial. Like Jordan Gray said: “Every time you resist an emotion, it goes down to the basement to lift weights.” Damn right it does!

So, my practice is to be okay with feeling the not-so-sexy realities of right now: regret, nostalgia, and guilt visit me often. These emotions have an important origin—one I’m curious to explore—but nothing is broken, and nothing needs to be fixed. Instead of running away, I’m trying to move closer, to understand.

Life is a messy, seemingly incoherent path, and yet yoga reminds me that I can trust myself, even when my desires aren’t perfectly articulable. Moreover, yoga teaches that I am already everything I need; I will only find peace through recognition of my inherent wholeness. I am already whole. This is my practice.

I have a feeling that great things will emerge from this struggle—as soon as I can feel my feet beneath me. I have the support of an incredible team at Lululemon Athletica Pacific Place, an endlessly giving community at Flywheel Seattle, a brand new schedule now with Urban Yoga Spa, and several sweet projects hovering in my minds’ eye (I’m looking at you, Juicebox).

Thank you for your love, support and understanding in the meantime. Many friends have gone far out of their way for me recently, and I am sooo lucky for this. I simply can’t wait to give back—to be more of me for all of you. Namaste.

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Feb 24, 2014

Seeking the Shadow

Seeking the Shadow

I saw my shadow this weekend. At first it looked... pathetic.

My shadow took the form of an overworked business man—hunched shoulders, large circles under his eyes, weak with pale skin and a somber expression. He wore a frumpy business suit and looked exhausted. He was isolated in a white room, staring at me blankely, expressionless. 

I was told to move closer to my shadow, and so I tried. Yet, the instant I intended to move closer, my shadow, suddenly and explosively, turned into a monster. Figureless, all-encompassing and multicolored, the shadow screamed and my visualization went completely black.

I could not move closer. It was impossible.

Now, let’s back up. Before this weekend, I never explored a “shadow,” and moreover had no clue there was a crazy one living somewhere deep within myself. I identify as a practical, grounded and incredibly resilliant person!

As joyful and strong as I am, I’m aware of a curious weakness I have: bringing heartfelt, vulnerable insights to my teaching.

I’m fantastic at being attentive, physically present and empowering, but going deep into the physical asana practice, for whatever reason, numbs my ability to articulate emotions and creativity in the moment. 

Feedback from my collegues is always: I want to see more of YOU in your teaching; I know you teach for a reason deeper than the exercise, so what is it?

So, this weekend I spent some time with soulful, mystical Sianna Sherman and her Psychotherapist partner, Theo Kyriakos to dig a little deeper and reflect.

The introduction to the shadow, led by Theo, exposed the tip of an iceberg for me. You see, a shadow is just fear tucked away within. We react to it every day, yet it is hidden from our view. It is unconcious and inaccessible through practical, cognitive thinking because we are unaware that it exists!

A shadow might manifest as a mental block, inability to connect with others, frequent anger and frustration, depression, withdrawal, stress or other issues.

So, how do we make the invisible, visible?

Theo uses active imagination (visualizations), guided meditation, grounding through the body and creative expression to access the shadow. We can use metaphor, stories, symbols, colors, sounds, physical movement and poetry to bring light that which we cannot articulate, but can certainly feel.

Theo challenged me to remember that, regardless of what my shadow did to me in my visualization, I was safe. He encouraged me to bravely do what I fear the most with that shadow. If I am afraid of being eaten alive by the screaming monster, I should walk straight into its mouth, because then I will know it has no power over me. I am safe, and I am free.

This is just the beginning of much deeper work. 

I have quite a long road ahead of me to find peace with my shadow. I know now that fear, guilt, shame, and anger live deep within all of us—even if we can’t see it—and until we understand what it looks like, feels like and its origins, we cannot heal, or facilitate healing objectively in others. 

It is not resilient or strong to remain emotionless, detached yet highly functional, and seemingly fine. When I confront and embrace my pain and fear, I can truly flourish with unobscured, heartfelt intention.

THIS is the path to connect with others in an emotional way: I must first connect profoundly to myself.

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Feb 15, 2014

Healing Roots: Yam & Carrot with Ginger

Healing Roots: Yam & Carrot with Ginger

As winter rages across the great plains, it’s actually quite moderate here in the Pacific Northwest. Some days feel like spring; others are drenched with Seattle gloom, fog and rain. I certainly don’t miss the dark, blustery winters of Chicago, but I do miss sitting down for dinner with my old roommate, Jessica.

When garnet yams—also called sweet potatos—were in season, Jess would roast them with garlic, ginger, olive oil and fresh rosemary. We’d connect in our fragrant brownstone apartment, snow and ice hugging the windows, and warm up with steaming food, red wine, purring cats and life talk. 

When I tasted this yam juice by juicebox, my mind was flooded with memories of Chicago and Jess, our playful cats, and our mutual love for spicy-sweet comforting winter food.

Not much can replace the healthy side-effects of loving friends, silly felines and good conversation, but this yam juice comes pretty close. With a velvety texture and gentle warming bite, the root vegetables create a delicious healing elixir that can restore your body and aide your digestive system. 

The garnet yam is an orange-fleshed sweet potato that likes to masquerade as a yam. Interestingly, a sweet potato is not a potato at all! It’s a completely different species, rich in vitamin A & C, with a unique storage protein (sporamins) that heal the plant if it’s wounded! The vitamins and sporamins collaborate to rejuvenate our cells and protect us from oxidative stress.

Ginger is an ancient eastern herbal remedy with potent anti-inflammatory properties. It’s used a palate cleanser at sushi restaurants, and it is plentiful in Thai cuisine. More recent research demonstrates that ginger is an effective medicine for settling the stomach and bolstering the immune system.

Carrots are an antioxidant, immune system power house. The potent phytonutrient beta-carotene in carrots supports a healthy reproductive system, builds healthy skin, reduces inflammation and even slow the aging process by preventing degeneration of tissue.

Ready for the recipe? Go to juicebox, where chef Kari Brunson shares the secret to making this delicious juice on the juiceblog.

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