the yoga of football

you don’t have to be a football fan to appreciate this:

i’m not a football fan and i do.

i admit, i didn’t watch the big game yesterday. not even for the commercials.

in fact, i was on an airplane home from teaching all weekend in atlanta…which is the only reason i knew there was a super bowl at all.

anyway, watch or no watch, i have to assume you at least heard. the patriots came from a 28-3 deficit in the third quarter to win 34-28 in overtime. the first overtime in super bowl history.

and you’re probably thinking, how did this make its way into a yoga blog? at least semi-barbaric over-testosteroned men, tackling each other for fun and self-inducing concussions (did i mention i’m not a football fan?)…?

here’s how: there are tremendous yoga lessons to be learned from last night’s game. if you overlook the little things mentioned in the previous paragraph…

this is how i see it…

first and foremost, know the fat lady. until she sings the game has not ended. you may think it’s ended. maybe the fat lady spoke. or the thin lady sang. but it’s not over until it’s over. never give up. if you can’t nail that handstand, backbend, arm balance, twist, whatever today, it doesn’t mean you won’t get it tomorrow. don’t give up because you (think) you look stupid, because you fell (hard), or because you are sooooooooooo far from where you think you need to be. just…gain…yardage. every day. move forward a little and eventually you do find the end zone.

second, you can still catch a fumble. what may have been the greatest catch in super bowl history (or so i hear), started as a fumble. and ended as a catch. it doesn’t matter if you flip, if you trip, if you fumble or you stumble. there is always a second chance. when i am working on hard poses, my greatest successes are not the ones i get right away, but the ones i almost fall out of but somehow, some way manage to catch and save. when you are falling out of a pose, do you give up and just go with the fall? or do you fight to stay in it…to win it?

third, put in the overtime. a tie is as good as a tie. there’s no win in that. don’t rest on your laurels. don’t just fight the good fight. don’t get complacent with your effort. practice for greatness. if you really want something–say, a yoga pose–you have to work hard for it. you need to practice every day and many nights. tapas. eat it alive.

fourth, when things are going your way, continue on your way. don’t get rest on your laurels. being up 28-12 when there are less than ten minutes left in the game does not mean you won. it means the game is yours to lose. you have to always stay on your game 100% to keep your edge. i see so many people who give up on a pose or transition when they are 95% there and can’t understand why. it’s because they gave up at 95. 95 is not 100. you need 100. a pose is done when a pose is done. yoga is a practice of transitions. that means each pose has three parts: entry, posture, exit. 100% gets you to your goal.

and finally, a word about sundays. or six words to be exact: there is no day of rest.

make your practice your 24/7 life and just wait to see how many surprise victories come your way.

life hack: core strength

i will be the very first to admit that i don’t have those fabulous, flat, ripped abs that you see in sports illustrated…but i do have damn strong abs. damn strong.

as a result, people are always asking me what they should be doing to increase their own core strength.

okay…

so, in addition to my youtube core videos and my infamous ab challenge on vimeo–which will all give you insane core strength, i’m about to let you in on a little secret. a life hack.

ready?

you may want to sit down for this, because it will blow you away! but sit up straight!

the easiest, fastest way to a strong core is to sit up and stand up tall. always.

now, before you get pissed off, like i just ripped you off and tricked you into reading 150 words (about 250 if you get to the end of the post), try this:

got it?

now stand and sit like that all day. if you do it correctly, i guarantee that you will not only experience stronger abs, but also less back pain, as your core is the back of your lower back (you with me?), literally the wall that supports it.

most people don’t like to sit or stand tall because it’s uncomfortable. uncomfortable because it actually requires muscles…muscles that they have never developed. now you know–you can develop them without ever doing a single sit-up. though i do encourage you to do at least one of my ab challenges every day. 😉

oh…and one more benefit: core strength is “the secret to all of yoga”. once this engagement becomes second nature, watch how your entire yoga practice evolves, as well.

two kinds of people…

world-renowned social scientist that i am, i have come to the conclusion that there are two kinds of people in the world. yes. just two.

a bit of background…

for those of you who have not been to my classes (why haven’t you been to one of my classes???), they are hard. as in, damn hard. like, really damn hard. the kind of classes that many people would classify as “not for everyone”.

but i disagree.

i believe my classes are for precisely everyone. everyone who wants to test their limits, find their edges, and drop their egos.

when new people come to one of my yoga classes, they see some very advanced practitioners. and here is where the wheat separates from the chaff. there are those who look at these stud muffins and come out feeling inspired. and there are those who watch them in amazement and come out feeling belittled.

of course, those who feel inspired come back week after week, chipping away at their weaknesses and challenges, getting stronger and stronger in their practice until one day they are the ones that newbies watch with dropped jaws. ironically, these are often the students who come in with the most beginnery-beginner practices. they start with nothing and stick it out until they have it all.

then there are the rest…sadly, accounting for most. they watch people handstanding and backbending and touching feet to all sorts of body parts they wouldn’t normally touch…and they freak out, deciding they will never be that person. they give up in frustration. usually after just one class.

you’ve heard the story about the caterpillar, haven’t you? here it is:

butterfly

and so, i ask you. are you willing to die as a caterpillar or do you hope to one day fly like a butterfly? because it doesn’t happen by sitting in a cocoon.

the hardest part about coming to a hard class is coming back. from there, it’s all downhill (in a good way) and then up, up and away!

instagram has ruined my yoga practice!

i love instagram. i hate instagram. ugh! instagram!

instagram was not made for yogis over 40. or yoginis, for that matter.

img_6314

can you see the joy and ease on my face?

you may think i’m saying this because i’m not as pretty as the hot, young girls yoga posing on instagram. or maybe because i’m not as sexy. true…i’m neither as pretty or sexy. or popular, for that matter. see above.

but those are not the reasons why instagram is for young people.

oh…and it has nothing to do with technology moving so fast, i can’t keep up with it. though, i can’t. (what is the point of snapchat, exactly? and what is a vine anyway?)

yeah, being the old woman in the game (45!) means that i still have to post every day. it still has to be cool pix of awesome poses. i’m blessed that i can still do a lot of truly awesome poses at my advanced age, and i love experimenting and trying new stuff each day.

but…

when i was younger–say, in my 30’s–i could do any pose without warming up. want me to show you how to drop back into backbend, through handstand to standing? no problem. badda-boom-badda-bing. leg behind the head arm balances? in my sleep. twisting like “the exorcist”. sure, no problem!

img_4493not any more.

honestly, i can still do all the stuff now that i could do back then, but now i can only do it warm. like, really warm.

and, so, posting on instagram every day means shooting photos an hour into my practice. during the heat, before the cool down. which means that in the middle of my practice, i need to get my phone, set up the shots, check the lighting, the position of my mat, get everything just right (or as just right as any media i partake in ever gets…which is never quite just right) and shoot.

my daily practice, which used to be so focused and concentrated is now punctuated by this weird social media diversion that completely takes me out of my mental game.

social media is convinced that yoga is purely physical. it’s all about the poses. but i have to say that all this focus on the external has really compromised my internal practice. it’s sad and it’s a real loss for me, but do you really just want to see photos of me lying around in savasana each day? because at least that’s a pose i can do without warming up.

Greedy Yoga

We live in an instant gratification society. Text messages, microwave ovens, teletransportation. Okay…we don’t have teletransportation yet. But, admit it, you’d take it if we did.

Everyone wants everything and they want it today. Yesterday.

In yoga, this is a problem.

Practitioners have become greedy in their practice. Wherein yoga was once a holistic, lifelong practice of patience and evolution, today–more than anything–it’s just a physical workout that seeks immediate results and egotistical gratification.

Let’s pretend this is not an issue in regards to the yoga tradition and philosophy of mental and spiritual dedication and discipline. As if yoga were, in fact, nothing but the practice of asana. Instagram would like you to believe that anyway. And Instagram rules! So…

Say hello to Mr. Chiropractor. Or, if you’re lucky, Mr. Orthopedist.

Your asana practice is meant to unfold over time. Not overnight.

So many yoga practitioners (you can’t really call them yogi/nis) these days are so eager to just nail their poses that they force themselves into things they have no business being in. It’s like applying to be CEO when you haven’t even qualified for the mailroom. You may get lucky and get the job, but there’s a really good chance you’re going to crap it up.

Patience, I hear, is a virtue. Everything in good time.

If you are practicing your asanas with the sole goal of accomplishment with no mind for form, safety, or–well–mindfulness, you are not only not doing yourself any favors. Not only asking (practically begging) for injuries. But, quite frankly, you are not even practicing yoga.

Aparigraha, or non-greed, is one of the yamas of the Astanga. It’s sort of important.

Greed takes many forms, but always comes back to the basic kernel: taking what is not yours.

If you haven’t done the work, if you haven’t practiced with sound mechanics, if you haven’t earned that badge, no wine before its time.

Build a foundation. Start with the basics. Master them. Build upon them. Evolve.

Even the most complex yoga poses rely on your comfort with the fundamentals. The only part of you that needs to push so far beyond where you are ready to go is your ego. And it’s time to let go of that shit.

Getting to the Core with Sadie Nardini

On October 5-6, the inimitable Sadie Nardini will be gracing the stage of the MINDBODY BOLD Conference in Los Angeles. Such a deliciously unique yogini. Think Sid Vicious meets the Dalai Lama…in female form. Sadie marches to the beat of her own (punk) drummer and looks at yoga and life (isn’t yoga life afterall?) in a way that is intelligent, open, and totally accessible.

I had the honor of interviewing this maverick of the yoga mat and I know you will be as blown away and inspired by her responses at I am.

  1. You have a unique story about how you came to yoga. Can you tell me a bit about the circumstances that led you to yoga and how it helped you heal?

When I was a teenager, I was standing in the shallow end of a public swimming pool, and a big guy cannonball-jumped on my head from the side of the pool. It dislocated my spine in 3 places seriously and caused damage to my spinal cord. For a few years I was partially paralyzed, unable to control my breathing, and weak as hell. I had to fight for 10 years just to be a viable member of society, and yoga helped me to overcome the diagnosis doctors gave me, which was to invest in a wheelchair, because I was too far gone to probably ever heal. 

  1. You use food and diet as tools to empower your life. What are the cornerstones of the diet that you follow?

Well, I’m French, Italian and Native American by heritage, so I tend towards a whole-food version of those cultures. Some yogis are shocked when I say I love red meat and drink wine, and then of course, there are the fries…and butter….but most of my tribe of yoga and music lovers know that I recommend that whatever one is eating, they keep it clean. All of the most long-living, healthy populations in the world eat a balanced, local, fresh and mostly organic or naturally-grown diet including meat, cheese, wine, veggies, fruits, nuts and some grains.

But for me, when people ask me what my diet type is, I say “Sadietarian”. We all have something called ‘biochemical individuality’, and most people know deep down what diet is best for them uniquely. The problem is, we have often developed this ‘yogier-than-thou” attitude in the yoga community that tries to use individual ideas of morality to tell everyone else how they should eat, how they should practice yoga, how they should (or mostly, shouldn’t) be “yogic”. I say, hey–whatever gets you through this life with a little more conscious behavior, and tries to help the world while also helping and healing yourself is a pretty good balance to strike. Even if that way contains tofu. I don’t judge.

  1. I always say, no matter what the question, the answer is core. How do you define core for your Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga?

Haha! Love it. I also think that all roads lead to the core. But what the core is tends to be an area of partial knowledge for many yoga practitioners, including me, 10 years ago! So I studied for a decade with some of the top anatomy and biomechanics of yoga masters, and discovered a whole new world of what we now know is the whole body Core. Almost no yoga student or even teacher knows what it is, or can instruct through it in order, so I bring that teaching to people of any yoga style! It’s amazing to illuminate it for them, and have people realize that the way they have been craving to move in yoga but weren’t taught to, is actually the way we are born to move!

PS: On another, equally as important Core note, I’m at my local LA restaurant right now, having a Pinot Grigio and seltzer (separately), and the bartender and I are talking about relationships, and how she has been through a lot of toxic interactions and disappointment lately around them. I asked her, “what part of your own inner relationship is still toxic and disappointing?” and she knew the answers right away. I invited her to move into a period of time, at least 40 days, where she allowed no one else to try and fix her, but that she refocus on having a fun, creative and more healthful love affair with herself. Because once we learn to respect, love and honor ourselves within the Core Relationship, all others will transform as if by magic. I know. I met my soulmate and married him, but only after I righted my own Self, from the core, out.

  1. It’s clear that you take a comprehensive mind-body approach to health and wellness. If you had to choose one “tool” to help people to get past their mental blocks and challenges, what would it be?

Honestly? I would recognize that the mind makes an awesome secretary, but a horrible boss. I ignore most of what my mind says, if it’s making me anxious. I use another part of me, in place of my mind, called the Witness. Here’s how I get there:

My Sitting in Steve Meditation:

There’s a calm, quiet, place inside of you, and if you:

1) Close your eyes, and imagine you’re sitting in a comfy chair (I named mine Steve…no idea why), in a comfy, safe room, just chilling, and

2) Outside the door, your thoughts are happening, and other people’s choices are going on, and your emotions are flowing in and out like the tide, but that’s all outside your peaceful room, then

3) You can find and more easily sink into that Witness place, into your comfy chair, whenever you, or your mind lies to you and tells you that there’s anything to lose, or anything to be afraid of. Remember all your clarity and potential, and make your decisions from a clear and loving heart and core.

  1. You have dedicated your practice to inspiring others to positively change their minds, bodies and lives. So, what inspires you to be your best every day?

Suffering inspires me. I don’t like to do it, and I don’t like to see other people doing it, either.  That’s pretty much it.

  1. You’ll be talking about business and leadership success at the upcoming BOLD Conference in Los Angeles. Can you give me a quick sneak peak at one or two of your strategies for building a successful yoga business?

I won’t share any of the 10 Core Strategies to Success, because they each build on one another, and so they don’t make sense except in relationship, however, I can tell you that all successful business–and abundance in any way in life, relationship, finances, creativity and health– comes from the Core of a Leader, or individual who creates anything out into the world–and I will be inviting the leaders (and we all are one, in our own ways), to investigate where they are resonating off alignment with their stated goals, since we know that true success can’t come to people if they are not participating in it between them and themselves…and how to get back on track, fast. I look forward to expanding more on this with the attendees of the MINDBODY Bold conference.

Want to catch Sadie at the BOLD (oh…and Deepak Chopra and Jillian Michaels, too)? Please visit https://www.mindbodyonline.com/bold-mindbody-conference for registration and more information. See you there!

there are options

so…you say you really, really want to take my 200-hour teacher training, but you can’t afford it.

hey! there are options!

have you considered selling your organs? i’m sure you already know that you don’t need that second kidney. and your gall bladder…what does that thing do, anyway? have a gold tooth? you can melt that and sell it. there are even people out there who need new toes. maybe just a little pinkie toe?

or…if selling body parts is too gruesome, have you considered selling your actual body? you know what i mean. prostitution. if you look like most of the yogi/nis on instagram, certainly you could sell yourself on the street corner for a little while. over the course of the month before training, you’re sure to be worth at least $2500.organs

oh, you say you have too much respect for your body to do that? good for you! that is an important quality in a yogi/ni. ahimsa with a smattering of brahmacharya thrown in. good call. how about selling someone else, then? your firstborn? if s/he is young and cute, there are millions of loving parents out there who cannot have children of their own and would love and cherish yours if you were willing to sell.

but if you like (or even love) the little bugger, that might not be your best option. how about stealing the money from your mother’s underwear drawer? you know…that little wad that is crammed between the old pair of granny-pants with no more elastic and one lost ped sock from the 80s?

right…then there’s asteya. non-stealing. don’t do that. don’t steal from mom.

perhaps, though, to steal from a big bank would be okay. i mean, they’re such jerks anyway. remember that whole housing crisis thing? they did that! certainly they wouldn’t miss $2500. in fact, make it $3000, so you can buy some cool yoga pants, too.

not the rob-a-bank type? okay…so how about this…

you can borrow from a family member, a friend, or even (gulp) a bank. there’s credit and there are payment plans. you can drink less alcohol, do your own manicures, clean your own home.

or…you can just pay and know it will all come back in enormous dividends over the course of your career. usually, not committing to training is more about not wanting to spend the money vs. actually not having it. if you earn even just $25,000 a year for ten years as a yoga instructor (and chances are that you will earn a lot more), then you just earned back your investment 100 times over.

all i’m saying is: there are options.

if  you really want something, just make it happen.

http://yogathletica.com/200-hour-yogathletica-teacher-training-certification-at-red-diamond-yoga/