Simple

It all started with breathing.

For the past few months, Mike had been attending a crazy-sounding Effiji breathing class. He would rave about it, how they laid down on their backs and breathed in a special way just in and out through their mouths for an hour, basically hyperventilating. He would come home high as a kite and tell me how much he learned about himself each time. How he saw visions. How he loved it.

So eventually, one Monday night last month, I tagged along. "Do I need to bring a mat? A blanket?" I asked, "A pillow?"

I like to be prepared. Ready for whichever one of the dozen bizarre situations might arise. Like what if I freeze to death while breathing. "What about socks? A hoodie? I should bring a hoodie." 

"Jesus, come on, you'll be fine." Mike said, "Just come."

We hopped on the scooter and rolled up to the class, which took place in a a very zen community room inside of a beautiful condo building that I hadn't been to before. People were rolling around on yoga mats and a stack of blankets were piled high in a basket for people to use. I mentally checked freezing to death off the list. I was instructed to read and sign a waiver... a waiver to breathe.

I went with it.

The nice instructor Nathalie had us all set up mats in a long row and lay on our backs. She led us through a few practice rounds of Effiji breath for those of us first-timers. We opened our mouths wide - much wider than normal and took some super deep inhales and exhales. It was not a walk in the park. "I'm supposed to do this for an hour straight?" I asked myself. And myself responded, "You're a fucking yoga instructor, Amy, I think you can breathe for an hour."

I went with it some more.

Nathalie turned the lights down, put some soothing music on and we began. The first few minutes were fine, just getting into the rhythm of breathing... and then things started to get more interesting.

The way this breath works, Nathalie explained, is that it's like a river flowing into a dry river bed. All of the water comes in and stirs up and sweeps out the debris, so channels get cleared and old feelings get awakened. About fifteen minutes in, I started to feel a tingly sensation in my hands and feet, which she said is common. Then things in my body started to unravel. I started having spontaneous movements. Something in my belly got really stirred up and it felt like that scene from Space Balls where the alien is bursting out of the dude's stomach. I was uncomfortable. Then all of a sudden, I was laughing, hard. Things released. And then it felt like I wanted to cry and curl up in a little ball and then, in a moment, it was done.

An hour had passed. 

We were quietly instructed to go back to normal breathing and rest for a while, to let our bodies reintegrate. I rolled over on to my side and went into a state somewhere between sleep and wake. As I rested in that sleep, a message came to me...

It doesn't need to be so complicated, Amy. 

In that moment, it was so perfectly clear. It doesn't need to be so complicated. This belief is the crux of many of my life choices. My motto might as well be why do simple when I can do complicated. Why wear the same outfit again when I can spend an hour creating a new one? Why teach the same yoga class again when I can stress myself out always trying to keep it fresh? Why simply drive when I can ride my bike?

Why take the easy route when I can make it super duper complicated?

The message hung in the air over my head, floating, until we were told we could slowly sit up and rejoin reality. As I opened my eyes in the dim light, it felt like I was somewhere other than Miami. Things felt different. I felt lighter. There was a piping hot cup of mint tea waiting for me at the top of my mat. I curled up with it and let the truth of that message sink into my body.

It can be simple, and that can be perfect

 photo by matt roy // mattroyphotography.com

photo by matt roy // mattroyphotography.com

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Advice

Recently, I have been frequenting a little spot on Purdy Ave by the name of Barry's Bootcamp. Or better... Barry's Buttcamp. As yoga has lengthened my body and expanded my mind, it has neglected my glutes, and that lack of strength has in turn caused some of the problematic issues with my low back.

So I am on the butt train.

Not like it's a bad train to be on. And honestly, I'm not even really on the train. I go once, maybe twice a week. If you don't know about Barry's - it's an instructor led workout that alternates weightlifting and interval running and loud music and mirrors everywhere. But I like Kellie, my very fit and inspirational instructor, and my back feels better and I do glute-y things and run on the comfortable treadmills and it's extremely fun for people watching.

Which is why I am writing this blog post.

So there I am at the ol' BBC this morning, running along under the sexpot red lights. Side bar, I wish my lips looked like they do under the red lights IRL. And through the mirror in front of me, I watch as a guy a few treadmills down from me has a total freakout. A few minutes into our run, his treadmill has inexplicably stopped working. He is shaking his head and cursing. He stomps around a little bit and comes over to the nearest functioning treadmill, which happens to be the one right next to me. I watch him through the mirror as he continues to curse and shake his head about the old broken treadmill as he starts to run on this fresh, fully functioning treadmill. And as we run sprints for the next five minutes, his face reflects his internal state. I watch him stay pissed off the whole time. It's way more enjoyable than looking at my own treadmill screen or the poor people behind me doing tricep dips.

And after our sprint round is finished, when I figured he would move on, he grabs his towel and slams it down violently, cursing more loudly now that he has stopped running and he still completely freaking out over something that happened five minutes ago and has already been resolved.

And so I did it. I broke the unspoken rule of group fitness. I said something.

"What's going on, man? You're still upset about the broken treadmill?"

"Yeah" he snaps at me, "It just, I just, can't believe it. It screwed up my whole workout."

"Did it though? Because it looked to me like you were able to finish the run."

"Yeah. But it completely messed me up to stop and switch treadmills when I was right in the middle of my run." 

Hmm... I'm just gonna go yogi on this dude.

"I get it. And isn't that life though? It's not always going to go how you want it to go."

His face starts to soften. "That's true..."

We walk away, the clock ticking on our workout. I go and get set up on my bench for the next round. I've never seen the guy before, probably won't again. I wonder if that advice I gave is for me or for him. It's all so fleeting, this time we have on Earth, in this life. It's not going to go how we want it to go. And we can hold on to the frustrating experiences and get pissed off and create a life of pain or we can flow with the ups and downs and let it all take it's course. Wearing life like a loose shirt... And remembering to be full of gratitude for the wonderful lives that we have.

 photo by Matt Roy www.mattroyphotography.com

photo by Matt Roy www.mattroyphotography.com

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Work in progress

Lots of things have me questioning my life choices lately.

The Zika virus, the sudden loss of a friend's husband, the overwhelming feeling I have that I need to be doing more with my life but I can't put my finger on what more is.

"Let your concern be with action alone, and never with the fruits of action. Do not let the results of action be your motive, and do not be attached to inaction" - Krishna

I don't want to get into action just to get into action but that is exactly what my mind would like me to do. To be busy for the sake of being busy.

And god forbid I'm not busy. When did free time become taboo and honestly, what the hell does a balanced life even look like?

Is this how it's all supposed to be?

So I breathe, and I practice non-attachment. I keep moving forward in the dance of doing and receiving.

My mantra becomes "I love my life. I am grateful for all parts of it." The ups, the downs, the goods, the bads, the self-inflicted scrape on the side of my car, my stolen bike, my shattered kombucha bottle that left shards of glass all over the ground. The warm Miami breeze and ripe avocados and blissful people coming out of my yoga classes. It's all perfect and imperfect and perfectly imperfect.

The sun will rise again tomorrow.

 photo by matt roy (mattroyphotography.com)

photo by matt roy (mattroyphotography.com)

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Self-expression

Lately I've been totally jamming on self-expression. Mike and I have been binge watching Friday Night Lights on NetFlix and it's transported us both back to high school. As I watch these kids, I remember being a freshman and feeling the need to self-express all the time. I cut my hair short to be different, rocked a Doc Marten collection that I wish I still had, and decorated basically everything I owned to make it "mine". I would cut out magazine pictures and glue them all over my day planner. I would draw on my shoes and decorate barrettes. I was obsessed with expression because it felt so good and so authentic to put my mark on everything in my ninth grade solar system.

But then high school ends and we grow up a little and gain responsibilities and make more challenging choices. We go through times when we feel like we need to fit in more than stand out. Expectations get put on us about what we should do or be, from family, society, from ourselves. We need to go to college, we need to get a job and for sure, we should not eat dairy. Bad news. And deeper than that, the truth is that there are lots of people who are threatened by full self-expression. You can't say that. You can't do that. You definitely can't post that.

Finding your flow. Be yourself. Be authentic. I hear (and use) these phrases day in and day out. And I swear, they're powerful. But such a contradictory message to what society says. So I need to fit in but I am secretly dying to stand out? How do you reconcile it? I think you can find your flow no matter what situation you are in. It doesn’t mean you have to turn your whole life upside down and move to Timbuktu. But it does mean making some choices to direct you towards a path that feels more honest to you. Maybe it’s spending your Sunday morning at a painting class instead of at brunch. Maybe it’s finally buying the fishing rod and soccer cleats or whatever your jam is. It’s taking a step in the direction of you. And if you’re not sure what your flow is… here are questions to ask yourself that are great starting points. What would you love to do if you could do anything? What type of books do you gravitate towards? What were you known for as a little kid? What activities excite you? What would get you up at 6am on a Sunday? If you were given a trip to anywhere – where would you go and what would you do?

These questions get the internal wheels in motion towards leading your most authentic life. And I can tell you, there is not much out there that is better than being yourself. Talk about liberating. Freedom in a bottle. When you are self-expressed, it feels so good. Everything is more pure and more honest. Truth be told, I spend way too much time in the mornings figuring out what I want to wear - but the days when I don't like what I'm wearing negatively influence my mood and well-being. I’d always rather feel like myself. That way I can be nicer, gentler and hold more space for the people around me. When you get to do the things that make you you on a regular basis, when you're comfortable in your skin, everything goes more smoothly.  And when you're in that “you” flow and you love how your life feels… it's magic.

 photo cred matt roy

photo cred matt roy

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Community

The weather was lovely this morning, so I walked to wework, the co-working space where I have a desk. As I was strolling, I had a flashback to a conversation that took place almost six years ago. I was starting my new job at lululemon and had an on onboarding meeting with my new boss. We reviewed all of the job expectations for a manager role - training and developing the team, managing product, running operations, working with guests, and putting on community events. 

"Well, I feel good about everything except the community events part. I've never done that before and I really have no idea where to even start" I said. 

As an important part of the culture at lululemon, the concept of "community" was daunting to me. I had no idea what to do or how to do it. I just meet people? And do fun stuff with them? I terrifyingly put together my first event, a get-together where I had to email leaders in the fitness world (who were then complete strangers to me) and invite them to a focus group style meeting.

I nervously crafted the email invitations and sent them out into cyberspace. The day of the event, I was sweating and my internal chatter was raging. "Will anyone show up? Did I do this right? I suck at this, I wish someone else would do this part of the job and let me just run the store." I was totally ready to step away from this experience in fear - even before it happened!

Thankfully, people came. And they kept coming. And events kept happening and community started building and there were tons of missteps along the way, but eventually I realized that hell, I liked this. I really liked it.

Putting on community events allowed me to be creative in a new way - coming up with an idea, designing a vibe and bringing it to life through a curated experience, graphic design and social media. It was fun and dynamic. I realized also that, even though I initially fought it, this was natural to me - planning and organizing and meeting people and doing creative things while also being slightly neurotic on the details was all part of the fabric of my being. It's just that when we put a label on it like "community" it somehow felt separate and somehow harder. When really, it was already within me. And community, for most of us, is all we ever all want - to be a part of something bigger than us.

So fast forward six years and I'm now doing "community" pretty much full time. Teaching in the yoga community, putting on yoga and community events, creating a vibe, helping people develop their brands, running social media accounts. Mike and I also have organically expanded Purdy Ave to include community consulting and social media, since that's basically what I have been doing the whole time anyway. And now I have a little office where I can work on community and get to be creative all day long. It's a total dream that came to life in a way I would have never expected.

By no means am I saying that I have it all figured out, or that I know what I'm doing anymore than anyone else. But what I do believe is that the truth of who you are is already inside of you. The beautiful seeds of you were planted long before you even had awareness - and it's up to you to water them and trust them and let them grow and flourish. 

I saw Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) speak this week  on her new book Big Magic, and her message was so on point, "Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you? . . . The hunt to uncover those jewels, that’s creative living."

It takes courage to step into your true self and do shit that seems scary. It takes courage to face fear and overcome it. But I can tell you from experience, in your head it all seems like a lot scarier than it is. Go forth and discover, go forth and nourish your truth... go forth and create. It's awesome.

 photo cred @matt_roy

photo cred @matt_roy

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Journal

A week or so ago, I posted of photo of a journal for one of the practices in my #beyondtheasana challenge. I thought it was a cool little shot, but it didn't get a lot of chatter on social media. Then slowly, over the next few days, people started texting and coming up to me asking "Ok. I saw your post. I bought a journal... Now what do I do?!"

how to journal

YAY! Journaling is a rad hobby. Writing is cathartic. It goes hand in hand with yoga as a template for self-discovery. And as with most of these practices, there really is no right answer for "how" to journal - but I wanted to share some of what has worked for me that can hopefully help you to crack open that beautiful blank book and use it to unlock what you're truly feeling.

One of my favorite quotes is from Hemingway..."There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." When I journal, it is personal. It is not my blog. It is not sharing. It is raw, it is primal and it usually is the shit I don't want to say out loud. Most of the time I don't make sense, I'll just write words over and over and over until something calls out to my subconscious and it gets up-leveled into a full thought. It is a processing tool, so let the words pour onto the paper. Don't stop them and try to make them pretty or make sense. Let them spill out and see what shape they create. Usually I am journaling about things I am feeling - I will almost always write when I'm frustrated so that I can make sense of things. The short journey from my mind to my notebook gives a much-needed sacred pause to situations, some space for reflection. Typically I'll pour everything out - not picking the pen up from the paper - and write for 5 - 10 minutes. Then I'll go back and have a read, asking myself is this real? Is this true? Is this HONEST? Our minds have a funny way of shaping our reality. When you journal, you're able to take the noise in your head outside of you and look at it more clearly, from a third party perspective.

But let's say you're not heated. That you just want to write to get to know yourself better. A lot of people like the idea of morning pages - keeping a journal by your bed and writing a few pages upon waking so that you capture that golden hour of mind magic. I've attempted this countless times and have ultimately come to the conclusion that I need some caffeine before I have any ability to pick up a pen. I prefer the idea of writing whenever you feel called to do so. Maybe over a cup of coffee, maybe before bed. And you can play with prompts for your journaling so that you have something to sink your teeth into. Some great cues might be "what do I really want?" or "what's true for me?" I also like "who am I really?" "I am inspired by..." and "I'm grateful for..."

The key for any of these is to write down whatever comes up for you and let the responses flow on the paper without judging your own answers. This is for no one else but you! If you're inspired by Kim Kardashian, write that shit down! Let it run free! Respect your journal as safe space to get to know yourself - your beautiful and perfect TRUE SELF. This is all for you, unadulterated by shame or doubt. This is your truth and it is awesome.

As with any personal development stuff, the biggest hurdle is fear. Fear of being judged, fear of someone reading it, or even bigger - fear of who you really might be. This is the work. This is the work we are all in all the time. Overcoming the fear. And maybe, instead of focusing on the fear, can you imagine a world where we are all truly self-expressed? Where we are all happy and free?

One of my favorite yoga chants is lokah samastah sukihno bhavantu. Remember what it means? May all beings everywhere be happy and free. You deserve all of this. You deserve freedom, happiness and access to your truest, deepest self. We all deserve it. This is where the magic is. So go write a little, go bleed a little, go FEEL something new! There is gold inside you and it's time to go digging.

Journal on, my loves.

journal
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Structure

I remember sometime around middle school, I sat in my room and wrote up two different career paths for myself, both having specific timelines and expectations. I looked out the window and daydreamed about the perceived journeys and eventual successes. If I chose the lawyer path, I would need to do this. If I chose the doctor path, I would need to do this. I marched out to the kitchen to show my parents, who commended my foresight and planning. I think I even put a checkbox next to each option.

And clearly, neither path was chosen. But that love of structure, that desire to know what my "plan is" lives on, deeply rooted in my way of being. And both by choice and through necessity, I've spent the few years learning how to be okay without structure. 

For some, this sounds like heaven. But for me, this has not been an easy lesson. Throughout our American lives, or at least until college ends, we have a plan laid out for us. We have our next steps lined up and built-in friendships. And once that time ends, it's scary and many of us jump into the first job that comes along that makes us feel comfortable. I was that way.

And then when I took the leap and left my comfortable job, spent extended time traveling without an agenda, worked for myself without any set schedule, and wondered what to do next, I found myself saying how much I liked having a "purpose".

And I realized that somewhere along the line, I've mixed up purpose and structure. My previous understanding of purpose was moving towards some meaning in life by way of a set path. You start a foundation and raise money. You go to school and use what you've learned to give back. You have a plan!!!

And this is not necessarily true. Yes, a plan helps to deliver your purpose, but a true purpose - your purpose - is in you all along. You don't need a straight and narrow for your message to be heard. Let it show up in everything you do. Let your life be a reflection of what you love. Your purpose will shine no matter what path you've chosen.

I just spent the last week in Costa Rica with an amazing retreat group and one of the girls told me how she didn't know what to do with herself without every minute of her life planned out. I smiled and agreed, because I intimately know the feeling.

And I also smiled because now I know there's a whole lot waiting for you when you finally decide step outside that box.

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Bali faves 2.0

I've been a little swept up in the tides and forgot to share my favorites from last month's trip to Bali! We love Canggu, a surf town with great coffee shops and yoga vibes, so we spend most of our time cruising the Batu Bolong strip - which I refer to as the Bali equivalent of Purdy Ave. In the year since we last visited, there has been a surge of development (sad) but some great new spots have sprouted up (score). So if you're planning a trip in real life or just taking notes for your future adventures, here are my most recent recommendations:

Milk and Madu: this place rocks. It's by the same peeps who run Watercress, another great resto. Bali has an excellent coffee shop slash breakfast thing going on, which I'm pretty sure is drawn from the strong Australian influence. And man, do they nail it. Avocado toast, coconut milk chia puddings, incredible cappuccinos with Revolver coffee and gorgeous presentation. Mike and I loved to hit this spot up for brekkie after our respective yoga and surf sessions.

milk and madu

Dandelion: I don't even know how to describe this adorable warung, so I'll just tell you what it offers. Great food, cheap prices, a balinese mariachi band and bunny rabbits that run free around the backyard. Go for dinner, stay a while, tell all of your friends. It's just too cute not to share.

Alchemy: This Ubud joint is famous and I don't know why I didn't make it here last time. This place sets the standard for raw vegan food. High vibration food, great atmosphere, delicious smoothies and cold pressed juice. We loved our lunch up here - it's about an hour from Canggu.

The Chillhouse: This hotel also has some solid yoga teachers, a nice breakfast and offers cool adventurous activities like surfing, biking and more. I loved my morning practice with Octavio.

Deus Ex Machina: Motorcycles, surfboards, music, restaurant... this place is epic. Their revered Temple of Enthusiasm flagship in Canggu is popular for their Tuesday night tradition - tacos and free tattoos. I was very close to getting one... but instead I opted to get inked at a proper place later that week! Surprise! Here I am getting a fresh tat at Mason's Ink Tattoo in Seminyak.

bali tattoo

My little Bali souvenir! A reminder to love through all things - always lots of challenges and times of growth on trips like these.

Mike and I are also planning a super duper dope Bali yoga retreat for 2016 so you can come explore all of these places with us and do some amazing yoga and personal discovery! Stay tuned, info coming soon :) xox

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High vibration

I'm back in Bali. We're back in Bali. There wasn't even much conversation about it between me and Mike - it was more of an understanding. That we needed to get back and plug in. That we needed to experience it. I don't know how to describe it beyond saying that, at least for me, there is incredible transformation and beauty on this island. High vibration. Things shift for me here. 

There is spirit in the DNA of the Balinese culture. It hits you the second you walk out of the airport. The smell of incense rising above the cacophony of taxis and motorbikes. There are temples, offerings, prayer... devotion everywhere. Spirit energy. And we are here during the ten days of Galungan, the Hindu holiday when ancestral spirits come down from heaven to visit the island. Ironically - and unintentionally - we were here during Galungan last year. I swear there are spirits everywhere.

desa seni

Last year's trip to Bali screwed me up, in a good way. I came with expectations for this perfect experience and it was so much different than I wanted it to be. I had to give up my expectations, I had to surrender, believe and trust. I had to let go of a bunch of bullshit and get closer to the truth. Once I did, incredible channels opened up. This past year has been a practice of being open for everything, and I feel like this trip once again is widening those channels.

We've been here two weeks and things are changing. I'm changing. Things are getting shaken up, I'm uncomfortable but this time I'm better at recognizing that it's a sign of growth. The vibrations are getting higher... and I'm feeling that Bali magic hitting me again. 

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Transformation

I'm not usually a fire-starter but I was happy to get some responses on my last post. Good, bad and in between. Reactive and supportive. I'll take it. The more comfortable I get in my skin, the more comfortable I am rocking the proverbial boat. 

My current vibe is transformation. It feels like lots of things are shifting - people are moving, things are happening, doors are opening up and closing. These times of perceived chaos are powerful. We have to have extremes for transformation. Not much changes at room temperature. Gold is not melted into beautiful shapes without heat. Plants don't grow without light. And so are we. Typically, life needs some fire in order for things to shift.

So these potentially uncomfortable times - when relationships, jobs, life isn't working - are really important. It is these times when we are able to change, shift and ultimately GROW.

Sure, you can stay in your situation and hope or pray that it changes, but there's very important dance between waiting for the universe to make it happen and getting into action yourself. If we don't want to put in effort and just want to avoid discomfort, then we are shying away from the possibility of our growth and expansion. It's taken me a long time to lean into the discomfort. Into the feeling of not being in total control. I'm still not always comfortable and my first instinct is typically wanting to keep things the way the are because it's safe. But that just gives me more of the same, and keeps me mediocre. 

Give in, trust and allow yourself to let go of the steering wheel. Sometimes you have to break down to break through. 

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When yoga's not yoga

I'm going to light a match here and open up a real conversation about teaching yoga. I play both sides of the fence in the yoga game - I am a teacher and I often produce events for other teachers. I see a lot. Something that has become very evident to me over the past few years is that although yoga isn't a sport technically, it does have one major characteristic that is shared among all other sports.... competition.

Except the competition that you see in yoga isn't played on the field. It's an inside game. It's insidious. It's sneaky, it's silent and unfortunately, it is the nature of the our current yoga culture. 

Being a yoga teacher is a hustle. I say this to every single person who asks me about getting their certification. Until you make it "big" - you have to keep your day job. And even when you make it "big", you have to do everything you can to stay on your toes. It's a crowded marketplace. There are dozens of teacher trainings going on at all time, each churning out hungry fresh teachers who will teach for cheap, in addition to the myriad teachers already out there.

 photo cred: matt roy

photo cred: matt roy

So these nuevo teachers hit the ground running, wanting to cut their teeth in the yoga world in any way that they can. They build relationships, teach free yoga classes to get their name out, create Facebook pages, start blogs and they are hungry. And the seasoned teachers, the ones who have been around a while, get anxious. They see someone else got a gig or is teaching a shiny, new event and they get worried. There is basically zero job security in the yoga world. Someone comes out with some fresh twist and BOOM - it's the next big thing.

Remember, this isn't corporate America. There are no salaries, no insurance - just a bunch of freelance work and w9's cobbled together that maybe will cover the rent. Teachers get paid per class, and often paid per student, so the unfortunate reality is that teachers are incentivized to get as many students as possible in your class. Their eyes are peeled to see what is happening in other classes and other studios. And all of these free community classes just drive down the demand to pay all teachers what they're worth. 

I've been both the new teacher and the seasoned teacher. Neither situation is awesome. You're either struggling to get relevant or to stay relevant.  It might not be a teacher's natural state, but the current situation is a culture that breeds competition. Absolutely, there are exceptions - this is not the case with every teacher, but it's definitely common. The majority of yoga teachers are constantly working to stay in the game, to get you to go on their retreat, to come to their classes, to pick their event. It's a silent rat race from the people you'd least expect it from. There is jealousy. There is some serious ego. There is more focus on the teacher than the student. There's a shitty system in place.

And as a result we lose sight of what yoga really means... union, connection, respect and ONE love.

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Channels

There are a few things I've been vibrating on lately. But the biggest one is feeling the need to prove oneself. 

I took a yoga class from a freshly minted teacher a few weeks ago and immediately after savasana, she came over and asked me what I thought of her class, what feedback did I have for her. I was instantly transported back to when I had just finished teacher training. Wide eyed and wanting to show the yoga world everything that I knew, I overfilled my classes with challenging sequencing, spent hours on my music and worked really hard to figure out my "message."

Hell, five years later, I still haven't figured out my message. It's something like be real and shine your light. And have fun doing it.

So anyway, my advice to this beautiful new teacher was basically the same advice I give every time - be yourself, go easy on the quotes and spirituality unless it's truly truly authentic to you, move to the sides of the room when you demonstrate left and right and finally, don't play songs with words during savasana. 

Get that under control and you are golden. The sequencing comes, the students come, the message (maybe) comes. But what stops so many of us - in teaching and in life - is this need to prove ourselves.

I saw it in class tonight. I started the class with a pose that often make people feel uncomfortable - a clockwise rotation of the torso while seated in sukhasana (cross-legged position). You basically move your upper body in a huge circle. It always goes down like this - I demonstrate it and then ask the students to close their eyes (because I know it brings up feelings of comparison)  and instead of closing their eyes the dudes look at me as if to say "no fucking way" and then they look around to see what everyone else is doing - thus cementing their feelings of "no way" - and then begrudgingly they move very rigidly in very small circles.

If you let yourself go and close your eyes and do this pose, it's transformative. Your whole upper body opens up and you are fluid, it's a dance. But when you go to a place of "no way, I am going to be judged - I need to come off as cool and not weird" then nothing happens. You don't open up any channels - you stay stagnant. An old dog with old tricks.

The weird, the different, the unique, that's the stuff that makes waves. The stuffy and stale is not getting any attention. So be yourself, be open, allow for fuck-ups, for opportunities, for anything really. Because you never know which channels are opening up for you right this very second... and which direction you're going to head in next.

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Favoritos

Ok, I get it universe. You abhor a vacuum. My days have been filled lately. And filled with good things thankfully... an amazing mention from lululemon yesterday, Dawn B and I are quickly filling up a summer yoga retreat in Costa Rica, OMWave radio is picking up traction and my new job is creating the community I was craving.

All really good stuff, except for that fact that I really haven't been able to blog much on here. So I wanted to come back online and share just some of the things that I've been into as of late. A brain dump of current Amy favorites if you will.

1. Buckwheat groats. I'm kind of obsessed with these mo-fo's for breakfast. I soak raw groats in filtered water overnight, rinse them thoroughly in water to remove the slimy film that has formed (which distinctly resembles saliva) and then I mix them with my current favorite...

2. Homemade cashew milk. I am not a big fan of lecithin and unfortunately, most of the prepackaged alternative milks contain it. I have been making my own cashew milk (yes, still no almonds) by soaking 1 cup of cashews for at least 4 hours, rinsing thoroughly and then adding them to a blender with 2 cups of filtered water. Blend that mixture out into the stratosphere - until cashews are pulverized, easiest done with a vitamix, and then add 2 more cups of water, a sprinkle of salt, teaspoon of vanilla extract and a splash of maple syrup. Blend one last time and go nuts. It stays good for 5 days in the fridge!

3. Jeans. This is awesome. After spending 5 years in yoga pants, I am loving me some denim. Dude, who knew how great Zara was for jeans. Boom.

4. Meditation. I have always been into meditation but now with balancing full-time job and teaching yoga, my brain is on overdrive most days and I genuinely need it. Silent meditation is amazing but my favorite jam of late is to tune into Davidji on Spotify. He is the man. I saw him speak a few years ago and knew he was my meditation idol. I find that his meditations always have a message that I can genuinely relate to. This guided meditation from him is one of my favorites - I'm all about co-creating with the universe so it speaks to me every time. 

5. Morning rituals. I have been working to create rituals for myself - sometimes it's 7:30am FlyBarre, sometimes it's journaling up waking, sometimes it's coffee and gazing at the water. This sacred time is important and when I start the day intentionally, I know the rest of it will fall into place. My intention most days is "I am love" but there are endless possibilities. For me, that one succintly sums up how I want to show up in the world.... with love, with light... and with some sparkle. BIG love to you all <3

beach yoga

*If you're been missing my blogs, you can also find me over at beyogi.com as one their contributing writers, there's a nice backlog of stuff to check out over there! 

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Changes

Ay dios - it's been too long since I've written a blog post. But it's for good reason, I guess. 

I wrote at the end of 2014 about finding my purpose. It's scary at first to put your dreams on paper (or on the web) but if you take the risk and actually do it, it's fascinating to watch what unfolds. A few days after I wrote that post, things started to percolate. I did some personal work, seeking to figure out what I was missing. Why was I asking for my purpose? Wasn't I living it? The universe started showing me things. I reflected. And then... an opportunity came my way that aligned almost exactly with my goals and passions. An opportunity that reminded me that I already knew my purpose and my greater contribution to the world. 

We always already have the answers inside us, but sometimes we forget them.

purpose

Some backstory... I spent most of the past year working pretty much independently and I realized that working by myself is not my jam. I love all aspects of teaching yoga but at the end of the day, it's a solo career. In thinking back to my previous roles, I felt and performed my strongest when I was working with people, leading teams, brainstorming creatively, going to a "job". In reviewing all this, I remembered how much I loved working with people.

Connection is the cure, in my opinion. I mean, hell - that's why I even started this blog. 

So as the next step on my personal path of exploration, I excitedly have taken on the role of Head of Community for jugofresh - an amazing Miami based company. It's the intersection of all things I'm passionate about - health, yoga, food, Miami, consciousness - through creating innovative events that raise the vibes in Miami while also handling their social media channels. And don't worry - I'm still teaching yoga - mainly at Green Monkey and lots of events. I also find that I love yoga more when it's not the only thing I'm doing and it shows in my teaching.

A role like this was one of my goals for years. I'm continually amazed at the power of goal setting, putting our dreams out to into the universe and trusting that things will happen - and it usually happens in ways we would never imagine. It's magical, really. When we allow ourselves to really be ourselves, it serves everyone. Keep shining. xo, Amy

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Correlation

I always loved the line correlation does not equal causation. Mainly because I enjoy alliteration. But in this case, I am curious about the relationship between two events. Handstands and SI joints.

I have written before about my bothersome left sacroiliac joint. If you don't know what the SI joint is, you can wiki-learn about it here. After my ego post a few months back, I've had many yogi's come up to me saying that their left SI joint also bothers them. Additionally, more and more people who take my class have been coming up to me complaining about left lower back pain. It's kind of a yoga epidemic.

So I've pondered it, analyzed it and have come to an unsubstantiated opinion on the whole thing. My hypothesis? Kicking up into handstand off your right leg is no bueno for your left SI joint. 

The SI joint isn't a very mobile joint and my humble observation is that when a yogi starts in standing split and then kicks off the right leg into handstand but doesn't make the catch - they often land loudly down on their right foot - which over time (5 or more classes per week with multiple handstand attempts per class) would be extremely jarring to the lower back. Most students kick off the right leg because it is stronger than the left, thus increasing their odds of getting their butt over the shoulders in order to hold the elusive handstand. 

IMG_7521.PNG

So I think there is some correlation between these hops and SI joint pain. Is it causation? I don't know. I'd love legit medical input here. But the fact that it's mainly the left SI joint and that many of these yogi's with this issue are frequent handstand hoppers does make it seems like there is a some relationship here. Here is a quick (and poorly focused) video that hopefully illustrates more of what I'm talking about. 

So what am I doing about it? Bringing it up, first and foremost. And in my classes, I'm going to have people work more on donkey kicks or frog hops which use both legs at the same time in hopes to prevent this asymmetrical movement issue. Would love any input/thoughts on this one... xx.

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Heart

Hello, February. You zippy little month, you.

This is the month I'm doing backbends and shoulder openers so I can shine more brightly. Self-love, romantic love, love for the guy today who told me that yoga was a joke - it all starts with opening up the heart chakra. When we close off our heart space, love doesn't flow very well. This can happen consciously - when we've been hurt - or subconsciously, like when we hunch our shoulders forward and we make ourselves small.

When we bring in awareness and open up this energy center, allowing for flow, we are able move past our everyday M.O. and tune into our higher selves - so that we can listen to and ultimately follow our heart.

I wanted to share a short and sweet heart-opening love sequence I wrote for BeYogi.com so that maybe you'll be inspired to open up and get some more love out into the world too. 

camel pose
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Flow

A few weeks ago, an old friend asked me to write about growing out of friendships. How to move on when relationships aren't serving you anymore. It's an interesting question, right? 

Life has a natural rhythm. Part of that cycle is that as we evolve - if we allow it - we naturally let go of certain things. And, if we allow it, the things that maybe were so important to us five years ago, will eventually have less of an effect. This is what allows us to find resilience, to pick up the pieces after a broken relationship, to "move on". Often though, it can feel hard to do that. Our conscious mind often wants us to hold on to the romance of what once was.

I keep using the word allow. I've mentioned aparigraha before. It's the yogic principle of not grasping. It's like the sand in the hand analogy - when you hold it tight with clenched fist, it all pours out. An open palm and it stays. Same with life, same with friends. It will all flow in and out. Constantly. You have to allow this flow to exist. When you clench, hold on, tighten up - you don't allow for an exchange of energy or a growth. Allowing can looking many different ways. Maybe you allow for a conversation, maybe you allow for space, maybe you allow for forgiveness.

I also think it's less about the conscious decision of "I'm going to move on past this friendship" and more about the question "Am I being the best and most authentic version of me?" We all change and grow. Asking yourself - am I happy, am I shining, am I giving and being love in this friendship now. Of course it's not perfect all the time, but there should be mutual respect and support. 

And if there's not, maybe it's time to open your palm and allow things to flow a little more easily. That's part of the cycle, trusting that the letting go will open the door for something new and amazing to move in. Or maybe that was exactly what the friendship needed to move to the next level. This isn't just about friends, it's about life. Open up for it.

Allow, trust, breathe - and see what can happen.

 photo by matt roy www.mattroyphotography.com

photo by matt roy www.mattroyphotography.com

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Winning

Every year, about this time, a certain type of person starts showing up in yoga class.

Maybe it's their New Year's resolution. Maybe they're detoxing. Whatever. But generally, they aren't there to chill out. They eye up everyone else as they walk into the yoga room. They spend most of their class craning their necks to see what everyone is doing. They groan, grunt, fling up into handstands and are not particularly concerned with ujjayi breathing. I don't want to overgeneralize here, but they also tend to wear their Miami marathon shirts.

This is the person who firmly believes that they will WIN AT YOGA.

I get it, I really do.

Shit, my last post (which was very long ago and I do apologize for my recent lack of writing) was all about ego. We all have one, for our benefit and detriment. Our ego is a powerful driving force, propelling us to do amazing things. It also wants us to be better than you are at handstand.

And as much as I stress staying present on your own mat in class, it's not exactly that simple. This is the practice. The not pushing, the not straining - it must be learned. Focusing instead on moving with more finesse, finding new rough edges to smooth, refining our ability to find ease in our breath and our bodies at all moments. This is not easy work. This is years in the making.

yoga outdoors

I remember when I first started seriously practicing, like 7-ish years ago, I would force my way into poses, often to the detriment of my body. I might have made it into bound half moon, but I definitely wasn't breathing. Once the poses got easier, then I worked on making smoother transitions - moving from that half moon to standing split gracefully, instead of my leg sling-shoting back behind me once I released the grip. Then it became the breath and choosing pose variations where I could stay steady with my inhales and exhales. And finally, probably about a year or so ago, when the asana practice stopped being so important, I stopped giving so many shits about what other people thought and started staying on my mat. And I still have a lifetime of learning to go. 

Winning at yoga isn't about being the best poser in the room.

It's about being the most real and authentic you in the room.

Yoga is a humbling practice and a constant reminder to let go of the comparison, let go of the proving, let go of being perfect. When we can realize that the letting go is the winning, that we are all in this life game together, peeling back to the layers to discover the best version of ourselves... then we have really won.

 

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Ego

Good news. I have finally found my ego. 

After years of knowing it was in there somewhere, I realized last week that it is, in fact, in my left lower back.

And she is a feisty motherfucker. 

She shouts to me loudly, "go deeper in that pose, Amy!" 

"You're a yoga teacher so you should do that handstand, that forearm balance, that twisted half moon!"

handstand miami yoga

And then she laughs her evil laugh when my SI joint whimpers. That spot on my lower back that I exploit, where I dump weight that the rest my body can't support or isn't open enough to take on. That dark little place I use to prove myself in the yoga room. 

Maybe for you, it's your shoulder. Or your hip. Either way, you know it when you feel it. It probably sounds something like "I shouldn't do this but..."

I need to show them I can. Maybe it won't hurt as much this time. Just to prove I've still got it.

That ego lair is a scary place when you first look in there. But once you're aware, once you shine light on it...

All of a sudden you are back in control. And everything becomes a little more clear.

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2014

I spent most of 2014 saying that this is the year of me doing everything I want to do.

My year to try, to fail, to explore, to open my heart, to FEEL.

This was the year I quit my full-time job, got married, co-founded a company, traveled, started a blog, taught more yoga, did more yoga, spent time with family, went to therapy, co-created a radio show, cooked a lot, cried a lot, wrote, loved more deeply, and built stronger relationships than ever.

I've also had people look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them we went to Bali for six weeks.

Other people have asked me if I'm going to go back and get a real job after this year is over.

As I look back on everything I've done and experienced this year, I'm so grateful - for all the experiences, good and bad. But I also feel like I'm just scratching the surface. I've achieved many of my goals and what I'm clear of now is that my goals are much different than my purpose. My goals have been wonderful things that I have wanted to do for myself and my community. I realize that those goals were practice work for my next steps... for my bigger mission. 

2015 is going to be about figuring out my purpose and how I can serve the world. I don't know what that means yet, but I'm really excited to find out. 

Thank you all for your love, your support, and your kind words this past year. This blog has been an exploration in vulnerability and sharing for me, and your support has been incredible. I bow to all of you - in gratitude and service. I write for me and I write for you. I love you. Thank you. 

Love, Amy

wedding namaste
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