What Does A Yogi Look Like?-Janet

Janet has a strong, consistent practice that inspires me. I can count on seeing her regularly at Inner Evolution Yoga practicing next to her bestie, Lisa. Their friendship is also inspiring to me and a beautiful example of the healing that comes from the support of women supporting women. Janet is 55 years old, a marathon runner and a Republican. Janet is what a yogi looks like.

1. When did you start doing yoga and why? In September 2009 I was training for a marathon with my friend Lisa and she took me to a class at Redlands Community Hospital. I wanted to run a marathon to celebrate my 50th birthday and was experiencing knee problems from all the miles. I was surprised how hard it actually was, I thought it would be easy breezy. I went to Sandrine’s classes at the hospital, and when she opened up Inner Evolution Yoga, I was worried about attending. Could I keep up with “real” yogis?

2. What myths or misconceptions did you have about yoga before starting? I thought it was for young, skinny hippies. I had an image of liberal people, who did not shower and listened to Bob Marley. I have always been pretty conservative and yoga just seemed so “lucy goosey” for me. However, I immediately felt so openly accepted by others. It has really taught me that not everything is so black and white. I feel myself becoming more tolerant and open. I am Italian and tend to get excited quickly, however, yoga has helped me to slow down and take a breath. I am surprised to find myself practicing even when I do not realize I am practicing.

3. What is your favorite pose and why? Half-moon pose or ardha chandrasana. I remember when the studio first opened and this pose was cued. I immediately thought, “I will NEVER be able to do this pose.” It felt completely impossible. I have slowly worked my way through this pose and now feel strong in it. I have been able to apply this off the mat. I remind myself to avoid saying “I can’t”do something. I kept this in mind during the March 30 day yoga challenge, as we worked our way up to 5 minute plank. It was very difficult, but I knew I could do it! I was consistent in working up to holding it for the full 5 minutes and I did on the last day of the challenge, without dropping my knees!
Janet
4. What are your thoughts on yoga and body image and has it affected your practice? I was self-conscious when I first started. I was concerned with what I wore and how I looked. Slowly I realized that I myself was not looking at other people during class and judging what they wore, so they probably were not doing that to me. I feel the environment at Inner Evolution Yoga is very inclusionary.
5. Do you feel that yoga conflicts or compliments your religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender identification or any other form of your identity? It started off by conflicting with my conservative, political views. I was raised Republican and my world is very conservative. The only that is liberal in my world is yoga. My Facebook feed is a pretty divided place between my conservative and liberal friends. However, yoga has really helped me expand my world view and realize that you don’t have to fit into one box. It’s helped me be less black and white in my thinking. I have changed more in the last 5 years of my life, than the previous 50, because of yoga.
6. What do you love most about yoga? The way it makes me feel; that I am OK with who I am. When I am on my mat, I feel that I am exactly where I am supposed to be in that moment.
Yoga has helped me with a back injury I had from marathon training. I blew out the L4 & L5 vertebrae and had to get epidurals for the pain. I have not had to get an epidural now for 1.5 years. This was one of those slow, gradual benefits that yoga brought me.
Yoga has been so powerful for the people that I love. I saw how it helped my friend Lisa and I respected it because of that. Yoga helped my 74 year old mom recover from bypass surgery. I truly believe that her practice is what saved her, I was told that she would not make it through the night of her surgery and then that she never walk again. That was one year ago and now she has a thriving yoga practice and is hard to keep up with!
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The rest of my family now thinks I am the hippie for doing yoga, but they understand how important it is to me. I have a very steady 4x/week practice and they understand that things need to be scheduled around my classes. Three years ago I went to have my gall bladder removed and actually died on the operating table and needed to be resuscitated. The first thing I remember seeing when I opened my eyes was my son wearing my mala beads around his neck. It meant so much to me to see him there and take comfort in something that was meaningful to me.
7. What would you say to someone who is hesitant about starting a yoga practice? DO IT. I love getting people to come to yoga with me. Your poses grow over time and you do not have to do everything everyone else is doing. Child’s pose is always an option.
Thank-you, Janet, for sharing your story!
Would you like to be featured? I would love to hear about your yogic journey. I am looking for yogis of all levels, years of experience, backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, gender identifications and sects. Please email me at angieeatspeace at gmail.com. 

What Does A Yogi Look Like?-Lenny

Look, look! Lenny is a MALE! Men do yoga, too! I have to admit, it has been harder to find men to feature in this series, and it’s hard to find men coming to yoga studios, overall, although I have noticed that slowly shifting. Lenny has an established practice and I frequently find his supportive energy in my own class, or practicing next to me as I attend. Lenny is a man, he is Russian and an engineer. Lenny is what a yogi looks like.

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1. When did you start doing yoga and why? I started in 2008. My girlfriend at the time shamed me into trying it because I was not able to touch my toes. Before going to a yoga class, I had never done much physical activity and was not very active. I took a class at the YMCA and then started going to Inner Evolution Yoga when they opened. I started off by going once or twice per week, but now I attend a yoga class every single day. Even if I am tired, I will still make it to a restorative or yin class. I like the Iyengar classes because of the attention given to proper alignment.

2. What myths or misconceptions did you have about yoga before starting? I thought you had to be flexible to be able to do yoga, but once I started I realized that yoga develops the flexibility over time. Although it’s mostly women who go to yoga, I did not see it as a “girly” thing to do. I think yoga really compliments a lot of hobbies, like cycling. I try to get my friends who are cyclists to come to class.
3. What is your favorite pose and why? Salamba Sarvangasana or Shoulder stand. It is the only inversion I enjoy. I can do headstand with the support of the wall, but I immediately feel stressed in it. Shoulder stand spoke to me from the beginning.
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4. What are your thoughts on yoga and body image and has it affected your practice? I honestly never thought about it before Instagram. It seems that social media and Yoga Journal have created an ideal “yoga body” and those who may not have it might think you actually have to look a certain way to begin a practice. I started doing yoga when I was more towards middle age and did not care about image as much, so it really has not affected my practice. You don’t have to be a model to do yoga.
5. Do you feel that yoga conflicts or compliments your religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender identification or any other form of your identity? It definitely does not conflict with any aspect of my identity. It started out as a purely physical practice, but now has evolved to something more philosophical. I enjoy learning about the Yamas, Niyamas and other ethical principles, they are all applicable to so many situations. You do not need to be any certain religion to simply be kind.
My national origin is Russia, I have lived in the United States since 1990. I do not feel that yoga conflicts at all with my ethnic background. My family is unfamiliar with yoga, but have been supportive of me as I went through a yoga teacher training.
6. What do you love most about yoga? The noncompetitive nature. I concentrate on doing my own personal best. I like being able to see the gradual changes along the way. I have slowly noticed I can bend over better, have better balance and posture and even a straighter spine. It has improved my overall heal and even my mental capacity. I feel like I can think clear, concentrate better and just feel less stressed.
7. What would you say to someone who is hesitant about starting a yoga practice? Find a good, supportive studio to help you get started in your practice. Try different teachers, one may speak to you more than another one. Try community, donation based classes before making a financial commitment. Yoga is something you can start with a low initial investment; all you really need is a mat.
Thank-you, Lenny!
Would you like to be featured? I would love to hear about your yogic journey. I am looking for yogis of all levels, years of experience, backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, gender identifications and sects. Please email me at angieeatspeace at gmail.com. 

What Does A Yogi Look Like?-Karen

Karen has a beautiful soul and infectious smile. She never thought yoga could be for her and now she attends class regularly. Karen is 57 and started her yoga practice just a few years ago. Karen is what a yogi looks like.

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1. When did you start doing yoga and why? It was 4 or 5 years ago. My husband, Jim, passed away 10 years ago and I missed him. My boss at the time was a complete tyrant and I felt completely disconnected and unengaged from myself. Everything felt exhausting and it was hard to find joy. I was not suicidal or anything, but felt “done with life.” My daughter, Caiti, kept telling me to go to yoga with her and for Christmas that year, she gave me a ten class pass to Inner Evolution Yoga. I remember throwing it back at her and saying “I don’t want to be the oldest and fattest person there.” Eventually, I made my way to the studio around March. I think the first time I was the oldest person in class and the second time I was the fattest and by the third time, it didn’t matter anymore. I felt at home. The community at Inner Evolution Yoga was extremely friendly and welcoming. Yoga saved my life. Yoga gave me a place to go and belong to, I felt better breathing and moving. I was engaged with life again and with people who were accepting with no expectations.

2. What myths or misconceptions did you have about yoga before starting? I thought you had to be skinny and athletic to do yoga. I thought people would be chanting and doing weird breathing things. I thought it would be just another thing that I had no clue about. It took awhile for everything to make sense. It felt weird to hear my own voice in class, I don’t even like singing at church!  I took me about 3 or 4 months to say Namaste aloud at the end of class. I still felt like I was a poser and did not have the right to say Namaste.
3. What is your favorite pose and why?Pigeon pose. It feels so good on my low back! I had back issues since giving birth to my son 27 years ago. I would be in bed for days when my back would go out and used to take pain relievers regularly. That has since gone away because of yoga.
4. What are your thoughts on yoga and body image and has it affected your practice? Inner Evolution Yoga is such a special place. I never feel like the “fat girl” there. Everyone has such kind souls and I never feel embarrassed. I have visited other studios and can feel the difference, I did not feel as accepted.
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5. Do you feel that yoga conflicts or compliments your religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender identification or any other form of your identity? I feel it adds to, not conflicts with Christianity. I see meditation as the same as prayer and never question if yoga is wrong for me. I always pray in whatever the first pose of class is for that day and set gratitude for the rest of my practice.  I remember a very meaningful class that was on Good Friday. Amazing Grace was played during final resting pose. I cried and knew I was in the right place. It’s right where I need to be.
6. What do you love most about yoga? The way it makes me feel! There is not a class that I don’t “Thank God I came”, afterwards.  Even if the class was difficult, I still feel so good when it’s over.
7. What would you say to someone who is hesitant about starting a yoga practice?
JUST GO. Everyone should do yoga, even if it’s for ten minutes per day. Find a place that speaks to your soul and GO!
Thank-you Karen for taking time to connect and share! <3
Would you like to be featured? I would love to hear about your yogic journey. I am looking for yogis of all levels, years of experience, backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, gender identifications and sects. Please email me at angieeatspeace at gmail.com.

What Does A Yogi Look Like?-Loleta

Loleta is a retired middle school counselor and gives THE best hugs after each class. Loleta did not always love physical activity but finds safety in her yoga practice. Loleta is what a yogi looks like.

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1.When did you start doing yoga and why? I started doing yoga in July, 2010 because my daughter, Mona, kept urging me to give it a try. She had been practicing for several years and had become a real devotee. I suppose I did it out of curiosity; and maybe to shut her up, the way mothers do sometimes. My first class was a community class with Phil, and all I remember is how HARD it was! I don’t think I had poured out so much sweat in my adult life. As I think about that time, though, there were other factors in play. For about 10 years I’d been walking/jogging on a track early in the morning. I’d hated every minute of it, but it was my only form of exercise. For a while a little voice inside me had been saying that there were better ways for me to exercise. And since I’d retired the year before and didn’t have to go to work every day, there was no reason for me to go to the track every morning@ 4:30. Now I believe that deciding to give yoga a try was a case of “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

2. What myths or misconceptions did you have about yoga before starting? Once, when I was in a class that was pretty intense, the teacher said, “And people think we just sit around and chant,” which is probably one of the biggest misconceptions surrounding yoga. When I began my practice, I didn’t know what to expect, but I probably didn’t expect it to have as much of an impact on my life as it has.

3. What is your favorite pose and why? As for poses, it would be easy for me to list poses I don’t like; but trying to name my favorite one is sort of like asking a mother to name her favorite child. I love the richness and safeness of child’s pose, and I love the poses that are relatively easy for me. But I appreciate the challenge of poses that make me work. One of the many things I love about yoga is watching myself get better. Poses that I couldn’t quite “get” at the beginning of a class are easy by the end of class. With other poses I can see progress over time.

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4. What are your thoughts on yoga and body image and has it affected your practice? When I first began practicing yoga one of the teachers talked about listening to our bodies. I thought that was something I’d mastered in childhood; but after practicing for nearly 6 years, I realize that listening to your body isn’t something you master. You just learn to listen more carefully. Before I began my practice, I never thought much about my body beyond how it looked; and I didn’t like the way it looked. Although I may never love the way it looks, now I love and respect my body. It has been good to me even when I wasn’t good to it.

5. Do you feel that yoga conflicts or compliments your religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender identification or any other form of your identity? My view of yoga is that it isn’t just one thing. Although I know very little beyond the asanas, I believe that anyone can find something that will make his or her life better. It seems to me that race, religion, age, gender, lifestyle don’t matter, yoga has something for everyone.

6. What do you love most about yoga? It’s so hard to say what I love most about yoga. I could go on for hours about the things I love about it. When I replaced my early morning trips to the track with yoga, I said that yoga is good for the body, the mind, and the spirit; but at that point I had no idea of how good it would turn out to be. I was never good in PE, and I hated it. For me, yoga is the opposite of PE. There’s no competition, even with yourself. There’s just finding your edge. That brings me to another thing I love about yoga. Even though there may be 30 people in the room, your practice is yours alone. No one is watching or comparing you to anyone else or to some standard you have to reach. Which brings me to kindness. Everyone I’ve met in yoga is kind and caring. How often do you find yourself if a group of people who truly love and care about each other? Yoga extends into every part of you, from becoming aware of the real power of your breath, to the way you deal with frustration, to consideration of your place in the scheme of things. Yoga changes your perspective and re-orders your priorities.

7. What would you say to someone who is hesitant about starting a yoga practice? If someone were hesitant about beginning a yoga practice and asked me for advice in 5 words or less, I’d say the same thing my mother said about eating broccoli: “Try it, you’ll like it!” And then I might go on for another 500 words…

Thank-you, sweet Loleta!

Would you like to be featured? I would love to hear about your yogic journey. I am looking for yogis of all levels, years of experience, backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, gender identifications and sects. Please email me at angieeatspeace at gmail.com.

What Does A Yogi Look Like?-Jessica

 I “met” Jessica a few years ago during an online book exchange. We quickly become virtual buddies, but have actually never met IRL (in real life). One of the amazing things about technology is that we have been able to have great conversations about travel, veganism and body image, even though we live miles apart. You can visit her blog by clicking here. Jessica is a fitness instructor, a vegetarian and a world traveler. Jessica is what a yogi looks like.
Jessica
1. When did you start doing yoga and why? I don’t remember exactly but I’m sure I started because I’d heard so many good things about it.

2. What myths or misconceptions did you have about yoga before starting?The first time I went the instructor kept associating each pose with “the season” (it was mid-late December) and talked about how different poses let in the joy of the season or opened you up to receiving the blessings of the season. I was quite turned off by it.  It took me a few years to try it again because I wanted a more physical and less spiritual practice.

3. What is your favorite pose and why?As boring as it sounds, my true favorite pose it forward fold as I do it all throughout the day to relieve pain in my back.  But, other favorite poses include tree and bird of paradise. Tree pose is something my family has adopted and has a lot of special meaning.  Bird of paradise is the most difficult pose I’ve ever managed. I know there’s not supposed to be any competition on the mat but when I saw one of the guys in class do the post (which I had thought I’d never be able to do so I’d never tried) I thought, “Well, if he can do it then I’m doing it.”  And I did. I’m not exactly proud of that but I am glad that it gave me the motivation to go for a pose I never would have otherwise attempted.
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4. What are your thoughts on yoga and body image and has it affected your practice?I can talk a good game about having a positive body image and feeling comfortable with oneself but truthfully, when I tried taking a picture for you to include with this I hated them all!  Fortunately, I’m able to let all of that go when I’m on the mat and honestly don’t care how I look (although I’m sure I secretly hope everyone else thinks I look good).  I think it’s difficult to truly feel like you don’t look a little silly or even ridiculous contorting yourself into some of the poses. But that’s not what it’s about.
5. Do you feel that yoga conflicts or compliments your religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender identification or any other form of your identity? I don’t feel like yoga conflicts with any part of me.  I’m an atheist and I don’t see yoga as anything related to religion. For me it’s purely physical.
6. What do you love most about yoga? When I’ve been away from it for a while and go back, I almost hate it. By that I mean I hate how difficult it seems at first and how much of a struggle it is.  Even if I feel better after I do it.  But I do it because I know I will feel better and that the more I do it the better I will feel.
7. What would you say to someone who is hesitant about starting a yoga practice?Even if you hate it the first time or ten, keep going.  It doesn’t matter if your hands don’t reach the mat or if you fart going into downward dog.  I’ve taken a retired US Army soldier who had several physical issues due to his service and he left the first class cursing my name and threatening my life. Then he came the next week and went and bought a mat and blocks.  After a month or so he started telling others about how good he felt. It’s not a cliché to say that everyone can do it and I whole-heartedly believe that everyone can benefit from it.
Thank-you, Jessica!
Would you like to be featured? I would love to hear about your yogic journey. I am looking for yogis of all levels, years of experience, backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, gender identifications and sects. Please email me at angieeatspeace at gmail.com. 

Why India?

If all has gone according to plan, I am landing in New Delhi, India today and will be off exploring for the next few weeks. I will be making my way around Northern India and Nepal, then back to the states for some backpacking through Colorado.

I am trying to keep my head and heart very open on this trip for whatever it has to teach me. I am trying to steer clear of placing my own expectations of what I want out of it, but I do know that it’s going to be transformative. I can just feel it. I am looking forward to being challenged, amazed, enlightened, uncomfortable and enthralled. I am ready to marvel.

I wrote the post below as a guest for Far From Kansas last month and I thought I would share it today about why I chose to travel the way that I do.

I hope you will continue to check back while I am away. I have quite  a few What Does A Yogi Look Like? posts all scheduled and ready to share.

So, Why India? Well, why not?

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My husband and I are fortunate enough to work for the public school system and have most of the summer off from work. We try to make the most of our time off and are generally hopping on a plane as soon as the last school bell for the year has rung. We have exploring some beautiful parts of Europe (Spain, Portugal, France and Italy) and last summer we visited China and Japan. This year we are headed to Northern India and Nepal.

Most of our family, friends and co-workers know that we travel every chance we get and have both been asked multiple times where we are going this summer. We have both been surprised to find we are getting similar responses when we share that we are going to India. We are getting confused looks and being asked, “Why India“? Usually followed by, “aren’t you scared“?
My response has been, “Why Not India“? But, if someone is truly interested, I share the following with them:
 I am truly looking forward to India. It’s going to be life-changing. I just know it. I am going in with high expectations, but also the realization that I am incredibly ignorant about what I am about to experience. I open to what the many temples, holy sites, the Ganges river, the market place, the ashrams, the food and most of all, the people, have to teach me.
I travel to learn, to connect, to experience and to EAT. I do not travel to relax, to be comfortable or to have an experience that I could easily have in my own country. Most of my trips are spent walking, exploring, searching, talking and connecting. I rarely lay on a beach and relax. This extremely flattering photo below was taken by my wonderful husband in a park in Paris. I completely crashed after two weeks of travel and endless walking. I needed a quick nap before going off again to explore the city.
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The one time I did NOT love a travel experience was when I stayed at a resort in Cancun. Although I loved some of the excursion activities, I did not care for the all-inclusive resort filled with other Americans and non-traditional food. I like to feel out of my comfort zone and be pushed to understand a different way of life. I love realizing that there is SO much more to the world than my own narrow viewpoint.
I know India will have so much to teach me about my own comfort zone and force me to confront parts of myself that I am currently unaware of. I look forward to what I will learn and what I can share when I return.
I will be posting some pictures here and there, so if you care to follow along, you can do so on Instagram or visit my blog around August, when I am back from my travels.

Intro to The Chakras Workshop: A Recap

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Last weekend, I had the extreme pleasure of hosting an Intro to the Chakras workshop at Inner Evolution Yoga. 

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I was truly surprised to have such a large showing. When I initially thought about creating a workshop on the chakras, I was unsure if anyone was going to be interested in a such an abstract concept that was not as asana based. It turns out there was quite a few people interested and we had a beautiful discussion.

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I prepared handouts and we discussed; the characteristics of each chakra, the characteristics of a balanced chakra, issues that may arise if a chakra is either deficient or excessive in it’s energy, physical characteristics of each chakra, healing practices to balance out each chakra and yoga poses that correlate to each one. 

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I also discussed the essential oils and healing stones I associate with each chakra. Every attendee was able to take a stone with them, to remind them of their chakra journey.

IMG_5115I love the workshop setting because I get to have such a more personal interaction with my students and engage in discussion with them about the material being covered. I cherish the opportunity to hear part of someone’s story and hopefully answer questions, or do my small part to support along the way.

The discussion portion of the workshop lasted two hours, then we transitioned to a one hour beginners level chakra balancing yoga class. We did a few poses for each of the chakras that we had discussed earlier in the workshop.

IMG_5159 I could literally talk about the chakras all day and I feel so privileged that others joined me in sharing and exploring. I was very honored that some attendees drove a far distance to attend, and others friends that I had not seen in a while also showed up to connect, support and learn. (You can read a very sweet recap written by homie Brenna, by clicking here.)

I feel pretty fortunate that Inner Evolution Yoga allowed me the space, time and encouragement to turn this passion into a feasible teaching moment. I feel myself supported in my evolution as both a teacher and student.

IMG_5138 Thank-you to all the attendees! I truly hope you got something positive out of the workshop and feel equipped to begin a journey through your own rainbow bridge.

Soooo….I already want to host another one! Would you be interested in attending an Intro to the Chakras workshop? Please let me know and based off interest, I will plan more!

What Does A Yogi Look Like?-Amy

Amy is an Iyengar yoga instructor. I have taken her class a few time at Inner Evolution Yoga and it was much different than my typical, vinyasa flow, but so informative. Amy’s classes focus on anatomy, proper alignment and mindful use of props. Amy has used yoga to heal her body after surgeries. You can find out more about her classes by clicking here. Amy is what a yogi looks like.

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1.When did you start doing yoga and why? I think it was back in 2003 – I started doing it because I was teaching fitness classes at the YMCA and was looking to add to my repertoire of classes and start teaching yoga. Little did I know then it would turn into a life changing experience. Since then I’ve had some serious hip problems and Yoga has helped me work through pain and 2 hip surgeries. I can’t imagine where I would be emotionally and physically without my Yoga practice.


2. What myths or misconceptions did you have about yoga before starting? 
I really had none. I knew so little about Yoga. I was looking at yoga from a fitness standpoint. So maybe that is my misconception??? Yoga is a way of life – but it sneaks up on you. One day you’re doing yoga because you think it is going to help with your fitness routine and then the next you have a home practice. You begin to see life in a totally different way, you become kinder – more compassionate and look for the good in others. Then you get totally crazy and quit your corporate day job to open a studio and teach Yoga full time. LOL!

3. What is your favorite pose and why? Hmmmm…I don’t really have any favorite poses. I like backbends and inversions a lot because of the benefits they bring to the body. If I had to pick a go to pose it would be Supta Padangusthasana (reclining hand to big toe pose) – because of the amazing opening and alignment it brings to the hips and spine as well as the stretch to the gluten and hamstrings. I do a lot of cycling and that pose is a godsend for physically active people.

4. What are your thoughts on yoga and body image and has it affected your practice?
Yogis come in all shapes, sizes and ages. As BKS Iyengar says, “Yoga is for everyone. No one is too old or too stiff, too fat or thin or tired”. I do find myself at odds with the portrayal of Yogis in the media as these scantily clad, overly flexible women. I think these pictures are a real dis-service to Yoga. They intimidate people away from the practice- which is a shame. The real beauty of yoga is not what we see on the outside – but the transformation that takes place on the inside – it makes you a more loving compassionate person. Physical changes do happen as a result of Yoga because Yoga is designed to bring health to the “whole” body. I think we all desire to look better and age well – but to me that is more of a bonus- not the real reason to do Yoga.

5. Do you feel that yoga conflicts or compliments your religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender identification or any other form of your identity?
I think that Yoga brings a deeper connection with the spiritual self. It helps to quiet the mind and find clarity within the clutter of the consciousness. I think this clarity compliments and actually heightens a spiritual practice and brings you closer to “The Divine” whatever that may be for you. As for identity – we are all diverse beings – Yoga can bring us to a place of self acceptance and ultimately a greater love for ourselves and others.

6. What do you love most about yoga?
For me I love the transformation Yoga has brought to my life. I am a better person because of Yoga- whether it be mentally, physically or spiritually – I have grown as a person because of my Yoga practice. I have less anxiety – which is huge because I have suffered with anxiety all my life. Yoga has given me courage – beyond the mat to really LIVE my life – not just be an observer. I also love all the amazing people I have met as a result of Yoga. Yogis are the nicest people on the planet!

7. What would you say to someone who is hesitant about starting a yoga practice?
Of all the things people could do to better their life I think Yoga brings the most benefit. If you doubt it google “Yoga medical studies” and read for yourself how the practice of yoga can cure anything from depression, eating disorders, MS, back issues, to heart disease. You don’t have to have any coordination to do yoga – you don’t even have to be flexible – just go to a yoga class and experience it for yourself. If you try one style of Yoga and it doesn’t resonate with you try another – there are many different styles.

Vrksasana Amy

 

Would you like to be featured? I would love to hear about your yogic journey. I am looking for yogis of all levels, years of experience, backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, gender identifications and sects. Please email me at angieeatspeace at gmail.com. 

Desert to Mountains

I am reminded over and over again about the beauty of living in the Inland Empire (even as the temperature is currently soaring over 100 degrees).

The past few weekends have been spent transversing the diverse terrain of this beautiful land. I cherish the privilege to be within a 60-90 minute drive from the beaches, mountains and desert.

There are too many weekends when I think of going for a hike or a spontaneous camping trip, but I stop myself with thoughts of what I “have” or “should” do instead….laundry, meal prep for the week, nap or clean. However, when I actually get myself out into nature, I never regret it. It’s much more restorative than a nap on my couch.

A few weeks ago we made our way to Joshua Tree National Park with friends. It’s a beautiful place to connect; with amazing people, with the earth and with the ridiculously beautiful moon we were gifted with that evening.

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photo credit: Sunset West Photography

Last weekend, I braved the 2+ mile ride up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to the trail head to hike to the top of Mt San Jacinto. The views were amazing, but I could feel myself panic as we made the climb and descent. Here’s a very flattering picture of me contemplating my life being held up by these wires:

The hike and peak were absolutely worth the panic.

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I feel fortunate to have so have so many terrains accessible to where I live. I also feel like I take advantage of that sometimes and completely forget to put myself in the way of that beauty (one of my favorite Cheryl Strayedisms). I feel an immediate connection with the desert, it makes sense to me and feels like home. The mountains are a mystery to me, but I am completely enthralled by their wonder and always want to know more about what they have to teach me. Hopefully, I can remember to keep strengthening my connection with the world around me.

What Does A Yogi Look Like?-Robin

Robin is my first guest being featured on this new series “What Does A Yogi Look Like?” I truly value her perspective of working through the conflicts between yoga and her spiritual beliefs. She has some great insight on how she integrates them both into her life. I hope you enjoy her thoughts. Robin is active duty Army, Pentecostal and African-American. She is what a yogi looks like. 

Yoga Pose

  1. When did you start doing yoga and why? I started doing yoga in May 2014. I was running every other day and had severe sciatica. Plus, I am active duty Army, and years of tedious physical training was starting to cause lower back pain. I was stiff and sore all the time. I saw a Groupon for Yoga and decided to buy 10 sessions. I thought it would loosen me up a bit.
  2. What myths or misconceptions did you have about yoga before starting? I identify as a Pentecostal, not the Holiness faith in which women cannot cut their hair and have to wear dresses, but the more modern sect. I had heard before that Yoga was a religion, and that by doing the poses, one was worshipping Hindu Gods. This remained in my mind for some time even after I joined my first studio. I found that I was always mindful of mindset regarding what I had been told.
  3.  What is your favorite pose and why? My favorite pose would have to be Pigeon because for me it allows so much release in my legs- where I do most of my work-running. 🙂
  4. What are your thoughts on yoga and body image and has it affected your practice? I must admit that prior to becoming serious about Yoga, I did envision real yogis as being more petite and toned; however, after attending many, many classes and the Teacher Training, I have seen people of all shapes and sizes get their bodies to do amazing things-things that I am not able to do. I struggled more with my age and doing yoga than with body image, I think. BUT, then I saw some people who were considerably older than me doing some amazing things. I realize now that Yoga is a state of mind, and where the mind goes, the body will eventually follow.
  5.  Do you feel that yoga conflicts or compliments your religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender identification or any other form of your identity? I no longer have any fear about Yoga conflicting with my religious beliefs because I understand the Eight Limbs, and they support, for the most part, my religious convictions. I also have more confidence in my understanding of “intentions” for my practice; some people may be worshipping Hindu gods during their practice, and that is their intent, but it is not mine. My family has joked with me in regard to “Black people” not doing yoga, and I must admit, that I have not seen an abundance of African Americans at our studio or any others I have been too; however, the Yoga principles do not lend themselves to the exclusion of anyone, but instead to the inclusion of everyone. I now identify myself as a “running yogini”- running is my first love, and it led me to Yoga.
  6. What do you love most about yoga? What I love most about Yoga is that is has required me to do quite a bit of introspection. I have told friends before that the Bible tells me what I need to do, and Yoga helps me figure out “how” to do those things. I feel more connected to God, my higher self, and others. I feel like I have woken up.
  7.  What would you say to someone who is hesitant about starting a yoga practice? I would tell someone who is apprehensive about starting Yoga that there is a freedom to be one’s true self in this practice-regardless of ability level, physical fitness level-come as you are (kind of like church). Everyone’s journey is unique and meaningful. If you are looking for true self growth, Yoga is a wonderful starting point.

Thank-you so much Robin, for sharing your perspective!

Would you like to be featured? I would love to hear about your yogic journey. I am looking for yogis of all levels, years of experience, backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, gender identifications and sects. Please email me at angieeatspeace at gmail.com.