I'm your fitness instructor, and I'm not going to comment on your body.

At one point in my junior year of college, I gained some weight and got to my heaviest point.  It happened gradually, and it had to do with drinking and unlimited portions at the dining halls, as is the norm in college.  During that time, I had a Dr's appointment, and I asked the doc if I should be concerned about my weight gain, and she said, "No, you are at a healthy weight."

Looking back, I thank her for this.  As women, we hear the message to be thinner from EVERYWHERE.  We see it in advertising, we see it in movies and tv shows, we read magazines that tell us how to get our "body goals met" and so on.  We hear it at the gym, while working on our "summer bodies."  It's all over the place.  It's ironic that the one place that has the medical knowledge to decide if our weight is affecting our health, the Dr's office, is sometimes the last place we listen to.  I believe your weight is mostly your business, and if there's a health concern, your dr's as well.

Over the 4+ years that I've been a fitness instructor, I've met so many people, with so many different reasons for coming to class.  One lady in her 60's comes to class to build bone density, one woman came to cross train for a hiking trip to machu picchu, more than one woman has come to strengthen and heal after a miscarriage, some come because the workout reminds them of the days when they used to dance, some come to stay strong through their pregnancies, or get back to how they felt before having a baby.  Some come because just having an hour to yourself, (without looking at your phone!) can have profound effects on your mental state.   Of course, there's those that come to lose weight/tone up/ect,   and there's nothing wrong with that if that is your specific health goal.

The reasons for coming to class vary, and therefore the results from the classes vary greatly, too.  This is why I'm making a commitment to not comment on your weight/shape/size.   It's something I've definitely done in the past (in fact I did it this week), but I've realized I have no business commenting on something I know nothing about.  I have no business commenting on what I can see with my eyes, because who am I to judge when I don't know what's really going on? Bodies change, cells die and new ones regenerate to replace them. Our body today is not the one we had 6 months ago, and there's a variety of reasons for why your body looks the way it does.

Most more importantly than all of that, is this idea:

"Everyone has this giant, luminous being that is their true self...Everyone is a sleeping giant, so to speak, waiting to hear the call, waiting to surrender to it, waiting to act on it.  We've gotten caught up in thinking we are what we look like, the physical, the exterior.  We think we're the lamp shade.  We've forgotten that we are the light-the electricity and the luminosity that lights up every man, woman, and child.  The light is who we truly are."

-Michael Bernard Beckwith

I'd rather comment on your light than your lamp shade.   I feel there is more value in that compliment than a comment about your physical appearance.  You are not your size, you are not your weight, you're much greater/brighter/more beautiful than that.  As your fitness instructor I want to see the whole you, I want to get to know your light, the true you.   As your fitness teacher, I am committing to this, and I'd love if you would hold me accountable.  Fellow fitness instructors, I'd love it if you would do the same.

xo,

Amy

 

How to Organize your Creative energy

I used to think I wasn't creative. I thought that creativity only existed in the form of artwork, like paintings and sculptures, or crafty things you find on Pinterest.  It took me a long time to realize that creativity can live in different places for different people.  

Eventually I realized that my particular brand of creativity comes in the form of event creation, specifically yoga events.  With this one realization my creative energy was activated and I finally got the momentum going in my business!

Creativity is Intelligence having fun - Albert Einstein

Once I gave myself permission to be creative with my business, I started to have a million ideas.  It was overwhelming.  Every morning I would plop down at my laptop and start "working."  Sometimes I was productive, but other times I'd finish the day with nothing to really show for it.

The whole game changed when my friend turned me on to the concept of "Bullet Journaling."  In a nutshell, bullet journaling is a place to keep record of your past, and plan for your future in all aspects of your life.  It's something you can design yourself, and it allows you to organize your entire life.  You can track and log health metrics, habits, social events, workouts, food logs, shopping lists, ideas, goals, running to do lists, etc.  It was especially helpful for me because I had various journals and scraps of paper going simultaneously, and this helped me organize it all into one place.  It helps to have structure for all the thoughts and ideas that pop up.  You can search Pinterest for more bullet journal ideas if you want to learn more, it's quite addicting!

I picked up a cute new notebook and began my bullet journal.  The most helpful pages for my business are:

  • monthly tasks- a running to do list
  • 2017 Big Picture Financial goals
  • a 2017 Money map- projected earnings
  • Business Ideas TBD
  • Blank White Space- a space for all random thoughts, SUPER HELPFUL for those times when you have a random idea and you don't want to lose it

I also have some personal pages that help me to stay focused on the things that are important to me:

  • Summer goals
  • A Monthly habit tracker:
    • drinking 64 oz water daily
    • making the bed
    • Washing my face before bed (I used to be so bad at this!)
    • meditating for at least 5 min a day
    • sleep tracker
    • etc

I'm currently on my 10th consecutive day of meditation, which is HUGE for me.  I've attempted many times to have a daily meditation habit, but this is the first time that I've been able to have a 10 day streak.  It's surprising how motivating it is to be able to check off a box when I complete my daily goal of meditation, plus the added benefits of meditation have really helped me gain clarity and focus for my day ahead.

Bullet Journaling may not be for everyone, but for this type A lady, it really fits the bill. It's amazing what some structure can do for you.  Of course it's not the only tool I use to stay motivated and on plan, but it's been an absolute game changer!

Let me know if you give it a try!

 

How to Get Your Good Juju Back

looking for my juju

looking for my juju

The other morning I woke up feeling pretty crummy.  The sky was gray, I was feeling emotionally drained from a conversation I had the day before, and I felt like my energy was zapped.  I tried to go back to sleep, but it wasn't happening. As I tossed and turned in bed, I thought, what can I do to raise my vibration (aka feel better) right now?

I can get out of bed, for starters.  This lead to:  I can take a shower, I can put on something colorful, I can go outside with the puppy, I can tackle my to-do list, I can get a cup of coffee at Starbucks (a rare treat), I can play pop music in the car and sing along, I can say my gratitude list out loud....and on and on and on it went.  Suddenly, I was feeling better.

Sometimes a gratitude list alone isn't enough to get me back to my natural state of exuberance, so I've developed the following formula:

 Taking action NOW + rattling off some g-tude = good juju.

This act of self-love really works.  It takes effort to be happy, but it's worth it! Doing these two things can't solve all your problems, but it can definitely lead you in the right direction.  It always amazed by the results of my little formula: talk about Instant attitude adjustment!

As part of my self-love journey, I've been practicing gratitude by making lists of all the things in my life I'm grateful for, and I always include my current challenges.  I do it when I'm happy (it's easier, and the list is longer), but it's most powerful when I am in a funk.  

One of my favorite quotes about gratitude from Melody Beattie goes like this:

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.

It really puts whatever you are going through in perspective.  I share this quote often in my yoga classes, and people always ask about it.  It is a powerful concept, and one I return to frequently.  

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, for every minute you spend angry {insert- in a funk, feeling crummy, not yourself, etc.} you lose sixty seconds of happiness.  Let's all make a pact to not spend any more time unhappy than is absolutely necessary.  I hope you bookmark this post and return to it whenever you may need it!

xo,

Amy

 

How a Yoga Class can Change the World

Backdated to Jan 22, 2017

Today something awesome happened while I was teaching my core vinyasa class at Barre & Soul Melrose. This month we are working on chinstand, which is a semi-crazy/advanced inversion. While demoing the pose, I asked my student Brian Larson to spot me by holding my ankle because I can't always hold the pose on my own, and I wanted the class to see what it looked like.

After demoing, I encouraged the class to try it, and said that I would be coming around to spot them if needed. Then I suggested that maybe they could spot each other if I couldn't get to them, and THEN I was so happy to see students taking me up on that suggestion! It really made my heart jump for joy to see students who didn't really know each other offering to help out with a spot.

I keep thinking about it and smiling. It blew me away. It made me feel so lucky and honored to teach.

The collective consciousness in the room was so positive, collaborative, and open minded, It made me realize maybe we can change the world a little bit with something as simple as a yoga class. Let's keep raising the collective consciousness!

Enter the mind of a Yoga Teacher

Warning: Long post!! Read on for some insight into the brain of a yoga teacher.

About one year ago I took a 6 hour sequencing workshop with Goldie Graham, and it completely changed the way I teach my classes. As I enter my 5th year teaching yoga, I still marvel at the changes it's made 1 year later. The workshop helped me to realize the importance of going into the room with a definitive plan. This has not only made me a more confident teacher, but it's been beneficial to my students as well. When I have a plan of what I want to teach and how I want to teach it, I'm able to guide my students into more advanced postures, and stay more present to what's happening in the room since I'm less worried about what I'm going to teach. This is what people want at Barre & Soul Melrose, where the yoga crowd is strong! 


 Now I have a process for developing a sequence, which is fun and effective. I sit down and develop a new sequence for each month. Part of my creative process is asking myself, "What theme do I want to do this month?" or "What's something I haven't taught in a while or have never taught?" or even "What do my students seem to need right now?" This method helps me to stay fresh in my sequencing and also challenge myself and grow my teaching abilities. 
 I'm also working on developing a template for how I sequence, so that I can streamline the planning & development process. It makes me feel very professional, and I love this level of craftsmanship. It's made me realize that even though I think of yoga sequencing as a creative process, it still demands discipline and structure. 


 In the beginning, teaching the same class for a month made my inner critic cringe. Will my students get bored with the same class for 1 month? Will I get bored teaching the same class for a month? Whenever I started to think like this, I would tell myself the following:


-some people practice Bikram/other formatted yoga styles and love it, and that is always the same class sequence. There are, of course, pros and cons to this...
-teaching the same class for a month gives the students the chance to practice an "advanced" posture multiple times, and make "measurable" progress
-even if I tried my hardest to teach the same class every time, it would come out different because each class is inherently different!


After I mentally run through these statements, I feel confident again.
Over the course of the month, sometimes I fall so in love with my sequence, and when the month ends I don't want to change it, or other times I am so over the sequence and desperate for a new one. It's all part of my evolution as a yoga teacher.

There's No Crying in Yoga!

Today was a first: a lesson in being completely vulnerable as I stood sobbing in front of my yoga students. I was having one of those days, and for no particular real reason I could not get it together.

As the minutes ticked past the start time for class, I stood cowering behind the desk in the studio searching for the strength to stand in front of the classroom and have 20+ sets of eyes on me in my most raw state. After a quick pep talk from a very good friend, I thought f*ck it, I just have to own this. So I got up there and said "hi guys, I'm crying for no reason and I need some time to get myself together, please come into Savasana" and then I just let the tears flow. I made eye contact with a woman in the front row who I had never seen in class before and I could see the empathy in her eyes. Then one of my amazing students got up to hug me, and then a fellow yoga teacher in the room stood up and kindly offered to teach the class if I needed her too. I thanked her and said I think I need to get through this.

I took a few minutes to sit down and just be with myself and take some deep breaths. It was a good five minutes before I could speak. And then I taught the class, and when it was over I thanked the students for bearing with me.

After class a couple people came up to me and said that they understand what I'm feeling, and they have days like that too, and that I help them through their tough times, which of course made me cry even more! I can't really put into words how that made me feel, but it helped.

I'm so grateful for my yoga community who accepts me in all my emotional states with open hearts, kindness, and empathy. The world needs more of that. Thank you.