Spring/Summer Newsletter 2022: Treat Yo’self

As the warmth slowly begins to creep back into Oregon & I have already seen the first Spring blooms (!), I realize I have entered a new phase in my yoga teaching career: not teaching as much. This is strange for someone who went hard even during the pandemic, offering Zoom yoga classes every chance I got, or taking almost every teaching opportunity that came my way.

For the first time since beginning to teach yoga since 2015, I am TAKING MORE YOGA CLASSES as a student. It’s so strange, I recall teaching 15 classes a week but never practicing myself except to do handstand or downward facing dog at home. How else does this feel, to be a student again? It’s blissful & amazing. Is it anything else? Yes. It’s like coming home. I don’t have the words to describe how it feels to be back in the studio more on the mat, me just sitting there in the crowd, practicing & silent. Being anonymous. It’s amazing & long overdue.

I didn’t expect it, nor plan it. I got (another different) full time job and I work on the side another gig as well, so I’m only teaching 2 classes a week. There’s traffic on the way home from my full time & there happened to be a Core Power close by, so I thought, why not? My goal was to go once a week, then it felt manageable to go twice a week, & now some weeks I go 3 times. I transitioned to a different hot yoga studio a little further away. It reminds me of how it feels to have that discipline, to remember to get my mat & clothes in the car, to drive a little further, to show up for a class when I don’t want to. It reminds me of the magic of being a yoga student. It reminds me of my first love: YOGA. I’m so grateful for yoga & it’s roots. I’m just so, so grateful. I feel better too, physically. I’m healthier than I’ve been for a long while. My injuries whine at me occasionally, but they don’t yell. I am eating healthier. I am sleeping better. I am drinking more water.

It’s also been really unusual for me because I am a die hard vinyasa/Iyengar junkie & not just much of what yoga I’ve been doing, but ALL of the yoga what I’ve been doing is Bikram based. Who knew. Today I went to a 90 minute class & didn’t do one chaturanga. I don’t think the Bikram is sustainable for me long term, but it feels right for now. It’s still really cold here & the heat is divine. There’s a really good ramen place next door & I’ll hit a class & get some good ramen after. I’ll go home, rest, read to my son, & drink lots of water. On good days I’m asleep at 9:30.

It’s been difficult for me to prioritize my health these last 2 years. Running was my thing in 2020 & rowing was my thing in 2021. Both left me with injuries that die away when I stop those activities, only to come back again on a hard hike. I haven’t felt like restricting my eating so my body has changed. I haven’t felt like really worrying about either of these two things so I just stopped. I would pick up a routine every now & again, but would just stop all over again. I haven’t felt motivated. I have also been completely fine with that. My career has taken the front seat & I have had to pour a ton of energy into that. I just didn’t have the capacity for anything else for a while. 3 years ago when I taught yoga all the time, I would go to the Y on a regular basis and work out for TWO HOURS. It was insane. Not bad exactly, but I just am not there at this time in my life. Yes, I know I did also admit to going to a 90 minute yoga class today, so I’m not far off, I’m just now back where I was 3 years ago.

I’m okay with that. I’m okay with yoga being my main physical activity again. This may change again someday, but it feels right for now. I also feel inspired to just FEEL GOOD. To smell good things, to eat good, to do things that are positive, to maybe book a massage soon, to treat myself. I encourage you to do the same! Treat yo’self! I also am interested in stepping out of my comfort zone in pursuit of this. Believe it or not, getting an actual massage scares the sh$t out of me. Should I do it anyway? I encourage you also to take baby steps. Just like I started with committing to one yoga class a week. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Do something small to NOURISH yourself today & I promise I will too.

FARM YOGA is back this Summer at a new location. We are thinking of beginning sometime in May. It will be more towards the Sherwood area off of Parrett Mountain. It has views. It’s new. Message me & I will keep you informed & you can always stay updated by following @shelteryoga on Instagram or Facebook. Follow me on Facebook too, Liz Brower, the Liz with the arm tattoo mirror picture!

Have an amazing Spring. Go lay in the sun & drink some ice water. Treat yo’self.

Fall/Winter Newsletter 2021: The Long Game

I’ve noticed myself shrugging on a sweatshirt in the mornings and evenings the last two weeks. I near my 8th year of being an Oregonian, and I have to confess I’m eager for pumpkins, orange leaves, and all of the magic that comes with fall. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be okay with winter in February, but every year that passes, there’s a little more space within welcoming the shifting seasons.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a yoga teacher in this modern time, studios recovering, in the age of Zoom. Recently, a yoga teacher friend and I were laughing about how hard it can be when we were starting out, how you’ve paid a sitter, driven 40 minutes one way, and arrive to just a few students in the class you’ve paid rent for. There are two lessons here: abundance vs. lack, and what it means to play the long game.

“How long have you taught yoga?” is a common question for a yoga teacher. Or, “How long have you practiced yoga?” I usually have to compare both of these with my sobriety and my son being born. I went to my first yoga class right before I got sober in 2008 and I completed my teacher training when my son was one. I remember someone telling me at one of my first auditions, “You’ll get burnt out as a yoga teacher, sooner or later, it will happen.” I remember being shocked at the time, thinking, me burnt out on this practice I’m obsessed with? Never.

I admit that in late 2019 I was disillusioned with what it meant to be a yoga teacher. I had just quit a studio that I really loved to work for, a studio that I felt, ‘made me’ a yoga teacher. I had up to 16 classes at one point per week in 2019, a pretty big class load for a fitness instructor. Then enter 2020, rife with surprises, the biggest being that I could branch out on my own more, teach Zoom classes (no rent nor babysitter to pay!), offer donation based out door classes that grew in numbers every week, and rented some space above a local clothing shop. I entered a new portal with teaching yoga and it was so good. It was also unexpected, teaching on someone’s property while the dog played with the goats during sunset wasn’t what I expected. It was better. Teaching 2 to 4 classes each week during a global pandemic felt like a blessing.

I had some yoga teacher friends who took a break in 2020, something I really respected. Slowly their classes and offerings are coming back and I love to see it. As farm yoga winds down for the summer and I decided to put a pause on Zoom, I am reflective on what it means to be a yoga teacher and where my intuition is leading me. I also started another part time gig and it would be very easy to just teach 1 class a week.

As scary as it is to say, this may be the case. I may be able to offer small group barn yoga sessions like I did last winter, but it’s not set in stone. I taught yoga right after teacher training and haven’t stopped since, and it’s strange to think I am going back to not having a lot of classes like I did before.

But also maybe it’s all supposed to be this way, a step out into the great unknown. I know I love teaching yoga, have so much to offer, and only want to teach in places I resonate with, I just don’t know how and where. It’s vulnerable and exciting. I’ll be updating my schedule on here after I finish writing this and the list will be short with a few maybes thrown in. Yesterday someone messaged me that she was interested in me teaching at her lavender farm next summer. Remembering what happened in 2020, maybe its going to be unexpected and BETTER. What’s your long game? What have you been soooo long suffering with? A person, a job, a kid, an ideal? I encourage you to continue, and be open to abundance you aren’t expecting.

Updates>>> I’m still teaching every Thursday at the Circuit in Tigard at 7pm. It’s a nice, “Foundations of Yoga,” class and I throw in some optional vinyasa here and there. The music is loud and amazing. I’ll maybe be offering some barn yoga sessions if you live close by to Canby/Oregon City/Wilsonville/Molalla, OR, they are usually $50 per six week classes on Wednesdays at 6pm. The pin remains in Zoom offerings for now, but if I start up again updates will be in your face on my social medias.

I don’t know how long I’ll teach yoga for. I don’t know what my yoga teaching future looks like. I don’t know if I care about how many classes I offer per week. I know I’ve been through some highs, lows, and in betweens, and for now I’m still here.

~Wishing the best to you and stay warm this winter.

Spring/Summer Newsletter 2021: Purusha

As summer approaches I am reminded of this newsletter endeavor and my yoga teacher friend who encouraged me to get back after it.  She said (or maybe I said),“People forget where you are.”

Well, hello again and I’m finally ready to see you and be seen.  The winter was hard.  I felt as though it would never end at times.  I’m glad it’s over and the sun has already made multiple appearances out here in the glorious Pacific Northwest this spring.  I don’t know if you can relate but at times I don’t even want to talk about much from the past year (not that anything is wrong with that).  I have talked enough.  It’s important we all talk it out, be silent, yell, cry, scream, laugh and do what we gotta do to take the best care of ourselves.  It’s different for all of us.  I feel a deep sense of gratitude for all of you.  Process on your own terms!

I just want to sit in the sun/partial shade, do yoga, and heal.  I want to see and smell pine trees and listen to birds talk.  I want to walk along the creeks edge and get my shoes all muddy.  I want to sit next to ANY natural body of water and think about nothing.  I want to write what comes out of my mind and not worry about commas or perfection.

I have also had a lot of, “at this time last year…” recollections.  Some make me shudder and some make me feel proud because of all the ways I’ve grown.  I have felt BIG feelings, have cried, and now I feel a shift back to a place of rebuilding.  I’m thinking of Prakriti= all of the things we can visibly see (physical things) & Purusha= the indescribable life force that we cannot see or really fully define (essence/our souls).  In simple words, I’m wanting the latter.  I want my soul to be filled with all of the goodness which cannot be named.  I want the scorched part of myself to REGROW.

As far as my yoga schedule I’m sticking with my two Saturday zoom offerings, gentle yoga at 9am and all levels vinyasa at 10:15am. If you haven’t been a part of these and are interested and I’ll send you the link.

I’m teaching a limited spaces public class again beginning 4/29 at The Circuit a bouldering gym in Tigard.  Sign up to attend as space is limited.  Thursday’s at 7pm, Hatha.  (503)596-2332, http://www.thecircuitgym./tigard/

I’m also very excited to get back into Farm Yoga (sooo excited).  We have two locations now just minutes from each other (Canby country) that are pretty amazing and that class is every Wednesday at 6pm as long as the weather is nice.  It’s a great opportunity to find your public class practice again, while maintaining distance in the fresh open air.  Let me know when you’re coming so I can differentiate the address location for you.  These are private residences so please be respectful of hosts wishes as far as anonymity of location, parking and etc. 

Contributions for all of these classes are still donation based with suggested donation of 7-12$ per drop-in class or for the first time a punch card styled payment: $50 per 6 classes, you keep track, honor system style.  Venmo is @LizBrower77 or cash if in person.  My social media’s will be below as well.

I hope I see some of you this summer!  Let’s see each other again and check in with where we are.

Best,
Liz

Instagram: @shelteryoga
Facebook: Shelter Yoga or Liz Brower
Email: elisam77@yahoo.com
Web: http://www.shelteryoga.com
Venmo: @LizBrower77

POWERLESS

I had a really good pact going with this winter. I was born in Southern California and have lived in sunny places for most of my life. I usually I have days when the gray and cold of Oregon really get to me, but this one was different. I had a peace with it like I was the first year I lived here. I imagined in my minds eye anointing the physical embodiment of winters neck with a sparkly, diamond crusted half of a heart shaped, best friends forever necklace. Me and winter, we were finally at peace with one another. Cold air on my face reminds me that I’m alive, it’s not annoying at all. Perspective had also shifted during these pandemic times, seeing a friend in person for an hour ranked higher on my list than having a sunny day. I was grateful for these new things pain and experience had grown. I also got a magic coat, the first coat in 7 years that kept me warm outdoors in Oregon.

One upcoming weekend we were all anticipating a February fluffy snow, for the first winter in years, I had no yoga classes to drive to, I had a good attitude about it, was looking forward to it. I would teach my Zoom yoga while watching flakes pile up outside. But then an ice storm hit & our power went out. Trees split open everywhere. We got used to hearing them crack and fall all around us. The cold seeped into my bones & frayed my mind. I wanted warmth, any kind of warmth so bad. We had the privilege to escape from the cold into a hotel room that sold out hours later. The front desk staff was harried, they somehow managed to have a sense of humor, be kind, and check us in early. I crunched on my salad, waiting for a room, the doors to the lobby whooshing open and shut bringing a rush of icy air in every time they opened. An older man approached me & asked me where I got my food. Everything around the hotel was closed and they didn’t have a car. The front desk warmed some cup ‘o’ noodles from their small pantry for them and I watched them, huddled over the styrofoam cups, steam rising up, eating. People flitted about the small lobby with frenetic energy. “Can we stay over?” Someone asked. “Our power still isn’t on.” The front desk replied grimly, “I’m sorry, no, we are sold out.” The irony isn’t lost on me that after almost a year of low occupancy due to covid, now it’s difficult to get a room in all of our surrounding area hotels. A credit to them when I called, they honored a emergency rate, when they could have spiked prices easily.

Never one to have idle time, I filmed myself briefly practicing pigeon pose on the hotel bed. Just a moment before I twisted and reached, (those who have back pain know how a twist and reach can incapacitate) and a burning pain shot up my left hip. It’s an old injury that I believed had mostly healed. I kept moving, I filmed, I padded around the hotel room, I prepared snacks for myself and my son.

Here’s the thing about all of this: there’s no stopping me. This, over the last almost 13 years of sobriety has finely honed into both my greatest asset and one of my my worst character defects. I don’t know when to stop. I don’t know when to rest. I associate resting with waving the white flag, with giving up and this could quite possibly be my biggest fear.

More ice than snow.

Friends took us in. We sat around, ate, pulled cards, laughed at inappropriate things. I felt good. Acceptance and life and life’s terms had carried us through another one day at a time. The power came back on but I watched social media posts continuing, “going on day 5, still no power,” and in Texas my step-dads family reporting back to him about the ice cold and powerless conditions there.

My pain came and went. I rowed for 40 minutes stubbornly, feeling the burn on my left side as my knees sucked into my chest. Pain not so gently knocking on the door to my soul saying, “stop, stop, stop.” I worked out for another half hour. I hung upside down on my trapeze and rolled my muscles out with my trusted spiky massage ball, willing my body to heal to get better, to be strong like it was so many times before.

Nope. I woke up the next day in so much pain that I could hardly get up. Thinking of teaching the planned hamstring classes the following morning made me both want to laugh and cry. Still, in the midst of such pain I posted about my classes, staring at the picture of me folded in half, uttanasana, in disbelief. Was that even me anymore? I had taken the picture just weeks before. The hyper mobile body that had been such a refuge to me for years was now, gone.

It was either teach in pain (Zoom/virtual class requires more physical demonstration) or call and ask for help. I called my friend (who still has no power out in the country) and she said sure, she’d be willing to do the the physical portion of class while I just taught.

Imagine that. I asked for help and I got help. I don’t always have to be the strong one. And as I type this here in bed I acknowledge that I’m stuck in a very dark tunnel. My physical body and what it can do is something I cannot access right now. My dark fears whisper that I am broken, too broken. Am I? I don’t know. Just for today I’m just resting and facing my fears.

I am grateful I can still wake and move. I am grateful out house is warm and I can read or watch movies. I’m grateful for all my crystals at my bedside. Im grateful my son is happy and safe. I’m grateful every time another friend says their lights are on. I’m grateful I can look outside and see the changing sky. I’m grateful for my sobriety which taught me the only way out is through.

Send some good vibes to me and I’m sending some out to all those still existing in cold, dark nights, physical or spiritual.

A Love Letter to Astoria

This could really be a love letter to many coastal towns in Oregon, and inland towns as well! So many times in the past 6 years I’ve packed my son and I up for a quick getaway and we are never disappointed with what the state of Oregon (and Washington!) has to offer.

Many know Astoria by way of the movie, Goonies, and I’m not going to shy away from the fact that I just had listened to a podcast (if you want to listen the podcast is called Thrillest Explorers/‘the pros & cons of living in a very famous house’) about the relationship between the city and the movie. As children, Goonies was one of maybe 3 movies we were allowed to watch so it has a special place in my heart, like it does for so many other people. Goonies never say die.

On our first night in Astoria, I scrolled through pictures of the Goonie house, some with big, happy tourist faces in the foreground and the famous house in the background. Other pictures were less joyous, the owner pasting up tarps so no one could get a good selfie in. If I was in her shoes, I would have probably done the same. Evidently the house is hard to drive to and away from and no one wants that kind of frantic energy where they live, in my opinion at least.

Astoria homes seem to be creatures from another time and most are. There are many Victorian styled homes there and with time and weather, many have turned slightly green. I even saw one that had a sorts of moss and ivy over grown over half the side of the large structure! They look like giant wraiths sticking up from the steep hill overlooking the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean. They seem to say to me that they aren’t going anywhere and I hope when my son is my age he can visit Astoria and see the same striking site.

Pier 39

Many of the old canneries survive as museums or converted space for restaurants and other businesses. Just like Goonies never say die, the town of Astoria seems to have the same character and attitude. There is a definite stubborn atmosphere that hangs over the one of a kind city.

Fort George Brewery

My son and I traversed the Astoria-Wegler bridge. I honestly could have just gone back and forth over it a few more times. Visit this blog post for more on Astoria and also some good snaps of Astoria and the loooooong green bridge! The Wandering Nomads

We traveled to Long Beach, Washington, rain pelting us from above and gray water on all sides. I drove my car out into the beach and we watched the waves and few other parked cars and some individual people walking around. It feels so fun to be able to drive your car on the sand! I had been to Long Beach before, but had always wanted continue and ride up to the end of the peninsula, because, er, it was there? Being home so much in the last year, I had forgotten how good it felt to just drive and explore. We made it to Ledbetter State Park right at the tip.

The weather wasn’t great and my son kept lecturing me about tsunamis so we basically just parked, snapped some pictures, and drove on back to Astoria. I could see that the spot was lush and inviting, but probably thick with visitors during the summer. It was nice to be there, only with a few cars here and there, so quiet and isolated. We drove back, bought some Thai food along with several other fast food spots to cater to a picky 6 year old, and had a feast back at our hotel overlooking the looooong green bridge, docked boats, ducks and seagulls below us, and Columbia. All was gray and sopping wet the entire time we were there and even this sun lover wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

I had a 10am virtual yoga class to teach so my alarm went off at 5am the next morning. I did my best to meditate bundled up on the balcony with hotel coffee, but it was just too damn cold. I hustled my son into the car with our bags and we barreled down the 101 to Seaside back to the the 26. I love to drive early in the morning before anyone has gotten up, and it was pretty magical to take that familiar route back home with all of the Christmas lights sparkling bright in the darkness. We made it back right as it was getting light as it doesn’t get really light here in the winter till 7/8am especially when it’s so cloudy.

It was a good little trip. I’m grateful for my life. May you be happy, peaceful, and free as you step into 2021.

White Like Me

Nervously I entered the Air BnB out in Welches, OR last week.  I love women & it’s not difficult for me to have healthy relationships with women, not on the surface either, I really enjoy being vulnerable with other females.  But I was about to engage in an overnight with 5 strangers, I only knew one of these women well.  After months of sheltering at home for the most part it felt good to get out and take some small trips here and there.

Later that night when we were in the hot tub surrounded by Oregon pine trees, the tub far too small for seven ladies, some of us sitting on the side to make room for others, I was  asked two questions: “How’d you become a yoga teacher?”  &  “How do you deal with cultural appropriation as a yoga teacher?”  Obviously the latter being way more difficult to answer, especially as a white person. Especially as a white person I better have an answer!  I found myself deflecting, making it about someone else.  A studio I worked at for a really long time whose owner recently changed the names of classes from vinyasa and hatha to english words because she felt like it would be more palatable and attractive for the students paying to go there.

But lately I have had a come to Jesus moment as they say, both wondering and at times realizing that others are always going to do their own shit.  WHAT AM I, JUST I, DOING ABOUT IT???  I am SO grateful for that question in the hot tub because even though I have always found the roots of yoga compelling & do my best to honor them, it’s like: DO I REALLY?!  Which to be honest if I really want to evolve be better, & be sensitive really is a question I should be asking myself daily.  Do I mention the sanskrit enough in class? Do I go back to study the sutras enough?  Do I honor & teach this practice the way it was first taught? Do I realize what an honor it is to teach such a sacred practice as a white person?

Do I make sure it’s accessible to all even people who don’t have a lot of money?  Do I go out of my way to make it available inclusively to all races & to not just white people?

I had a Nepalese friend from CA recently ask me if I knew to respect yoga’s roots, that it originated in India.  It was important for me not to get defensive and ask him if there was an instance that I hadn’t been respectful?  To which he replied no.  But I think that I can still do better.  We can all do better.

CULTURAL APPROPRIATION defined in case you haven’t researched or heard about it yet:

NOUN
  1. the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc. of one people or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society.

In South India women make ‘kolam’ every day in the early morning, sand art made with rice flour or chalk, beautiful mandalas that invite abundance. Even in tiny apartments some version of this art is made.  Throughout the day the kolams get walked on & then washed away to make a new one again the next morning. The first day of my teacher training there we all sat coloring mandalas. For me this can be yoga as much as this pose in this picture.  Was it the same as the original and did we invent that?  Hell no.  Can we learn where it came from, appreciate it, and teach others the same?  YES.  So much yes.

Let’s give credit where credit is due. Let’s add the footnotes. Let’s orally recite the origins.  Let’s not gloss over the past to make things more palatable and comfortable for ourselves and other people.  Lets honor the past and other culture’s ancestors. Let’s keep this magic alive.  I have put my moccasins away for now.  I will keep my dutch braids but I will remember that braids are sacred parts of others cultures.

Peace and love to you all.

~Namaste, a word I have ended these posts and my yoga classes with every time.

Namaste:  A Sanskrit word, and Indian greeting upon meeting and leaving.  Arguably it could transcend race as an interpretation of meaning can be, “The divine in me salutes and bows to the divine in you.”

THE SAME SOUP

 

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A couple months ago I attended a special kundalini class.  The teacher, a friend said something that really struck me, “We are all in the same soup.”  Little did I know how much this sentence would mean later.  At the time it inflected a strong sense of community.  She spoke of one feeling good while another not feeling good.  One being abused in space and time somewhere while another grows up emotionally & physically well tended.

If one of us hurts does all of us hurt?

A week ago I received a phone call from my cousin.  We don’t talk or see each other often, but she is like my close friends who live in California, as soon as we talk it’s like we can pick up where we left off.

“You can’t go to your AA meeting,” she told me.  “You can’t.”

At that point I had a crack of acceptance that I wasn’t going to be teaching yoga in public places anymore.  I realized that sushi track with friends was probably out too.  But AA?  Never.

Never, until last Monday at least.  She made some points I just couldn’t argue with.  My household contains a 6 year old and two adults over 60.

So I began to delve into the world of Zoom meetings, something I definitely would have scoffed at a mere month ago.  A week later it’s like I live in a completely different world.  I was able to set up some meetings and able to join quite a few here in Oregon and California.  I’ve never been to so many AA meetings.

I set up a Zoom for some of my yoga teacher friends.  We had been texting back & forth last week, much of it being:

Are you doing classes?  Uh I hate technology (red face emoji), or:

Are you okay?  I’m okay for right now (rolling eyes emoji), or:

I cried for an hour yesterday (tear emoji), or:

I ate a bunch of ice cream last night & binge watched Tiger King.  It was the best part of my day (tiger emoji)

Have your texts/calls been the same?  Is it enough for you?  On the Zoom yogi call most of us were on the edge of tears.  People living alone have their whole list of cons to deal with, but when you’re existing almost 24 hours in a household with other people in your face, it can be difficult to feel safe to feel your feelings.

I’ve been texting people Zoom links all day every day.  People have been sending them to me.  Some days I have two meetings a day.  I can’t even describe how relieving it feels to see people’s faces, to see & hear that they feel the same way I feel.  It’s been a life saver for me.

I’m writing this because I think there’s a darkness with this isolation.  Community will dissipate this darkness.  Get on or start those Zoom calls.  Better together.  It’s okay if you forget to mute yourself, aren’t wearing any makeup, or don’t want the world to see you right now.  I promise it’ll help.

Love & light.

~Namaste

 

A Day In The Life

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I thought it would be interesting to encapsulate what a typical day is like as a yoga teacher almost 5 years into teaching.  I always like to know about other routines and occupations so hopefully someone out there finds this interesting.  I decided to document one of my busiest days, Thursday when I teach 4 classes.

6am:  Wake up either from my alarm or my 5 year old son.  Coffee for me, a snack for my son.  Listen to him talk about his night because I was out teaching.  I meditate for about a half hour while he plays or inserts himself into whatever my parents are doing.

7am:  Get us both dressed.  I usually take a bit of care picking out my yoga threads as I’m a fan of low maintenance and typically will wear the same outfit all day, a day that ends around 8pm.  I choose leggings, a tank, sturdy underwear that will move with me as I move and depending on the weather, a long sleeved shirt or jacket.  Holden is pretty good at getting himself undressed and dressed, but I leave his clothes laid out for him.  I try to keep my hair in braids or spray on some dry shampoo.  Low maintenance hair as I wash it just once a week.  I pick out jewelry, usually crystals and stones that mean something to me and make me feel good all day.  Yes, my jewelry are my comfort items, haha.

7:20am:  Start all the foods.  I assemble my smoothie first, usually a mix of greens, green juice, banana, frozen blueberries, ect.  I cook some food for my son and get our vitamins settled.  Blend smoothie.  We eat.  We drink.  I tidy up (usually).  I might eat a bit more, eggs and turkey bacon or I might eat on the way to my first gig.  Out of the whole day, this is when I consume the most usually.

8:20am:  I make sure everything is packed for the day, my son’s stuff, backpack, lunch, snack, homework, or whatever he needs.  I make sure I have snacks, my headphones, and lots of water.  We head out.  I drop him off at school and then I head for my first teaching location a little early.  I follow the familiar back roads from one small town, OR to another small town, OR about 30 minutes away.  Let’s just say that since most of my classes are in that second town I feel like I can almost drive it in my sleep which I may have half done all those mornings I taught at 5:30am.

9:30am:  I arrive at the gym and sit in my car a bit catching up on any texts, emails or anything else.   I head in and work out a body specific zone, arms, booty, or legs usually.  I can handle about 20 minutes on the torture machine, er stair climber, then sit on a bike machine and zone out until around 11:15am.  I drink a lot of water.

11:30am:  First class of the day, gentle yoga.  I teach here at this gym 3 times a week and same format so I have a lot of regulars.  The space is pretty amazing, large with really nice wood floors, and so many authentic people.  While I do have a lot of regulars here who know my style I scan the room for newbies and keep an eye on them while I teach with sole aim of helping them feel comfortable and leading them in the right direction in their practice.

12:45pm:  Wrap up, get back in my car.  I drink a lot of water.  I get serious about my podcasting at this point (if I haven’t already), and pick my favorite out to listen to.  I’ll leave my favorite podcasts at the bottom of this post.  I usually eat a small snack and think about where to get coffee.  I find my coffee spot and head home for a while.  I basically chill and zone out until my next class.  My chill and zone would be Netflixing, crocheting, perusing memes (zodiac or yoga based usually), other art projects, or taking a bath.  I also mentally run thought any social media promotion I have in the works.  I think about my current content and scheduling new pictures in the future with my friends or myself.  I might eat another small snack depending on how I feel.  I also drink a lot of water.

2:50pm:  I head out back to the first small town where I teach 2 one hour sessions to any staff of the school district there.  This population is very beloved as both of my parents are teachers and after experiencing volunteering for a very limited amount of time in the class room, have so much respect and awe for the idea that this is actually a job some people choose to do and most do well.  I teach in a school library and it’s another favorite space.  The school isn’t fully used so it’s just us and the books.  When the sun is out the light filters in warmly through large windows.  There’s a school garden on the other side of those windows in a nice courtyard.  I teach a slow vinyasa.  I keep an eye out for levels, if I sense the class wanting more gentle, I’ll teach to that.  I offer lots of levels for the teachers because some desire and are prepared for a gentler experience while some crave more intensity.

5:30pm:  School district classes are wrapped so I head out to my last class, I again make that back roads (which is very scenic btw) drive to my last class.  I think for the millionth time about how grateful I am for podcasts.  Again, depending on how I feel I may have a small snack.  After much trial and error, this is how eating on my 4 class day usually goes only because I’ve found that no eating makes my head feel to airy and too much eating makes my head feel too weighted down.  Since my job is to clearly articulate my words which my brain thinks, eating light is just the way things have to go on these days when I teach a lot.  I limit my water knowing I won’t want to use the restroom a bunch after class.  I usually arrive at my next location early and might construct a social media flier or do a post on FB or IG.  I also check up mentally on if I need to invoice and bill anyone for work, if I’m waiting on a check, or if I have clocked in everywhere I’m supposed to and if I’ve entered my class numbers everywhere I’m supposed to.

8pm:  I head home.  I feel very happy after this last class, at a yoga studio I’ve been involved with for a long while.  It recently changed location and was remodeled and it’s an amazing place to take class and teach at.  The class was all levels vinyasa, so very similar format to what the teachers got.  Scanning for new faces, becoming more familiar with them.  Continuing relationships with students that have been coming for a while.  I get in my car and I drink all the water!  I might eat another small snack depending on how I feel and not wanting to be super hungry at bed time.  I again listen to podcasts.

8:20pm:  My day is done!  I check in with my parents and go look at and put extra covers on my sleeping son.  I get into my pajamas and usually watch some more Netflix before falling asleep.  I make sure to set my alarm for 6am.  I know, a yoga teacher who doesn’t meditate before bed but watches Netflix??  The horror.

And that’s my day.  Some days are like that and others I have my son more and have less classes.  I don’t think the yoga teacher life is for everyone, but I’m enjoying it for now.  I also think a lot about those out there who have full time jobs and then go out to teach a class after.  Whew.

It’s taught me a lot about self care.  I view my body as a machine and what goes into it makes it run a certain way.  Not that I haven’t had a burrito before class before, come one I’m human, but I just know what I’m signing up for right?  Like in much of life it’s better for myself if I do my best, knowing what my body needs, but then not being too hard on myself.  Because tacos, sushi, and burritos are also of high importance.

Wishing all of you out there a peaceful and grounded beginning of December.  Less consumerism and more meditation, for me at least.

~Namaste

PODCASTS:  Armchair Expert, Yogaland, Sibling Revelry, & Yoga is Dead are my current faves.

SNACKS:  The best snacks I’ve found for in between classes with lots of classes days are Go Macro bars (protein pleasure is my fave), apple sauce, & turkey jerkey (I like the sticks from TJ’s).

 

 

 

A YEAR LATER

Wow, so the last time I wrote a post was last December, which in the blog world isn’t probably too unusual. Life, right? Things shift, life gets busy, small endeavors get crowded out. As much as I don’t want to admit, I’m human, I can only do so much.

Last Summer after the steps were done. Still me, a damaged miracle.Last June. Smiling on the outside & inside?

It’s strange to think about my state of mind last November. It wasn’t good. AA, my sponsor, my HP, yoga, my son, my family all of those things grounding me, pulling me into spiritual health like iron anchors, tethering me to sanity. BUT also dying, shedding skin in such a hot mess kind of way, bloody, sweaty, and as they say in AA, “with my ass falling off.” Fully. I had a long standing metaphorical spiritual wound and it was infected and not pleasant.

I had a new sponsor, I was crying my eyes out in coffee shops every day (looking super adult and dignified 🙄) working the steps in CoDA, Co-Dependents Anonymous a program designed for people who feel controlled and powerless over people. I was also working the AA steps. I was doing this crazy thing on Instagram every day, jumping from downward facing dog like a madwoman trying to land softly into crow pose (google it. Also follow me and check out the documented craziness @shelteryoga). To sum up my recovery at the time I would have to say that I HAD to work, I HAD to progress, I HAD to use all the resources in front of me because I HAD TO CHANGE. I didn’t like myself and as you know because you’re a human too, I couldn’t escape myself.

I just couldn’t be that person I was anymore. I couldn’t react the same. I couldn’t stand to see the world the same. I. Just. Couldn’t. Handle. It. While I believe any recovery program out there has the potency for change I have to say my drug, er, I mean my program of choice would have to be of the 12th step variety. Working the steps in CoDA and meeting with a CoDA sponsor every week scraped that old skin off. Painfully, yeah but it happened. Working with a new sponsor in AA helped a ton too. Having my sponsors support was everything.

Having this guy around helps too 🥰

I had lost touch with my Higher Power again. I had the opportunity to go back to the bare bones spiritual construction site and build a new one. It was painful and very difficult. There was a stifling emptiness. Nothing left to grasp onto. Perhaps the newcomers out there understand.

But I am here now. My life is not perfect. I reach different CoDA bottoms. I get back up and try to do things different. I meet once a week with a CoDA group and can’t describe how calm and happy I feel there. I try to ask myself daily how I feel and answer myself honestly. I also ask how I’m parenting myself. When people make me feel like my life is unmanageable I do my best to surrender. I try to drink lost of water, exercise, eat food. Most of the time the actions of other people don’t make me spin out today. I attend my meetings.

And then I can give. To my son, to the world, to yoga students. In yoga news, yoga work has been the best it’s been. I taught a series of workshops for the first time, have more classes than I ever have had, and have even rented space for the the first time.

It feels good to write here in this space again. Manifesting a deep healing for all of you out there that need it.

~Namaste

Crow~DA

For a while I’ve been looking to shift how I felt about social media, mostly Instagram, my social media drug of choice. I kind of just wanted to say, “Eff it, what’s the best thing I could do on here right now to be real?” Something just for myself. Not carefully crafted images, something raw & vulnerable. Something different. So I decided for some reason to do my own challenge for the last month: jump from down dog into crow. If you aren’t familiar with it, YouTube it, it’s hard. It takes much upper body strength, core, & practice. It rarely looked like this:

This of a screenshot, a millisecond of a mostly sluggish & uncomfortable to look at process which for me involved a countless amount of drills. I’m not going to get into what I did each day, it’s all there on my Instagram account if you’re interested.

At first the idea of working on this for November was unicorn sparkly, I thought, maybe I could do this thing if I worked on it every day. Who knows. Plus this is gravy added to my regular lifestyle, I’m often working on handstands or forearm stands all day long anyways. I can say I don’t love crow pose. I can do it easily yes, but it has always felt unnatural for me. The hopping & floating part though? I’m all over it.

Over half way through the process I attempted a handstand away from the wall & actually held it for a long amount of time which was a pretty cool side effect. I also found some new creative flow, I found myself taking more of the “prettier” types of pictures with a fresh perspective. I wanted to post those pictures right away, to scratch that itch of vanity. As if to say, “Sure I fell on my face last frame! But look at this one! I’m so awesome.” Lol. Just being real.

I refrained. What’s wrong with real life for a little longer? I thought. I don’t have to hide what really goes on in my practice. The truth is that much of Instagram hides the blood, sweat, & tears that go into finally attaining that “perfect” picture. And usually those people putting in the time don’t really care about the perfect photos even if just like me they post them. They just love yoga. Straight up.

I went too hard for a couple of days & my trapezoid muscles seized up. I had to stop & rest. This is a big part of the practice of yoga too. People get injured, they need surgery sometimes. Rest is vital, just as much as work. I was lucky, my traps healed, I could continue. I have other injuries that haven’t healed & I don’t do certain things anymore. I’m okay with that.

And as far as attainment goes I did not jump into crow from down dog after just one month. I went into it knowing that would most probably be the case & that was part of the reason I did it. There is no destination. There’s just the journey. I’m at peace with that.

Last August I met someone I really liked. I’ve dated here & there since moving to Oregon, but nothing serious. I’ve long felt like I’ve needed more internal emotion rearrangement before I can really be in a healthy relationship & meeting this person was the catalyst for me showing up at my first CoDA meeting. I hit a bottom. I was desperate. I got on my knees & prayed after experiencing long familiar confusing emotions & fear. So much fear. At that moment I remembered a friend who was active in CoDA & I texted her. I was at the meeting the next day.

I can’t describe how much relief my newfound CoDA program has given me. Just like the first time I walked into AA, I felt like I wasn’t alone anymore & more than that these people were sharing actual tools that I could use in all my relationships. This is pretty remarkable stuff for someone who has felt like she has been flying blind for much of her life especially where romance is concerned. If you are struggling with the obsession over another person or relationships feel unmanageable, I highly recommend giving CoDA a try. You don’t have to suffer.

The work has been brutal. I’m in the midst of writing my first full historical 4th step in 9 years. All the shit since birth. 41 years of shit is a lot to go through. I write in in short bursts, I can’t handle any more than that. It’s way different than in AA. Deep & painful. I’ve cried a lot.

But I haven’t drank. And even though I haven’t been perfect & at times my feelings really do feel like they’re gonna kill me, I’ve shown up for my classes, my son, & to meetings. Even though it’s been hard, I’ve already learned so much which gives me so much hope for the future.

You don’t have to be who you used to be. Change is possible.

Wishing all the best out there to all of you. Living ain’t easy.

~Namaste

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