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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Travel muffins 2.0

Jet lag is a bitch. Back in Miami and wide awake at 4:30am yesterday, I scrolled through instagram for way too long before I finally got out of bed. In my semi-conscious state, I wandered into the kitchen  - where it seemed like a good idea to make another batch of travel muffins. The same ones I made before we went to Bali. People had been asking for the recipe and I really couldn't remember what I had put into them so I needed to make them again. As I was cracking eggs into the mixing bowl at 5am, I wondered if I was perhaps a baker in a past life. 

travel muffins

I love to bring homemade food on a trip, much more nourishing than airplane junk. Although I did have some decent food on my flights to and from Bali. I request the Hindu Vegetarian option when I fly - which means Indian food and veggies... I even got a pretty yummy saag paneer for one meal. 

namaste muffin mix

Back to the muffins - they are super easy because a) they come from a mix! and b) they don't require a vitamix or anything fancy. I stumbled up this mix in Whole Foods a few months ago and was instantly drawn to it by the brand name - Namaste Foods. Excellent marketing to this yogi. 

It's sugar free and gluten free as well, so that's awesome. A forewarning - when they say it's sugar free, they really mean it's sugar free. No sweet taste AT ALL... so if you like a little sweetness, give it some chopped banana on top, or you can mix some banana into the batter. Older bananas are sweeter but younger ones hold up better as a topping. Your call. It's a brown rice flour based mix and super versatile. You could do all kinds of things with it. 

They're perfect for a long trip because they're quick to make (who has time when you're packing for a big voyage), they hold up super well in your carry-on luggage, they're light and munchy and you can put some chocolate in them which just feels like vacation. Enjoy!

Travel muffins 2.0

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of Namaste Muffin Mix (buy online here or at Whole Foods)
  • 1/2 cup alternative milk (cashew, almond, coconut)
  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped low sugar dark chocolate bar (or if you don't care about sure, use enjoy life mini chips - they're the best) 
  • 1/2 banana
  • hemp seeds for topping

Preparation:

  1. Mix muffin mix with water and milk - make sure you break up all the lumps. 

  2. Mix in eggs (if you're using mashed banana, add this in here as well) Let this sit for a few minutes to so that the mixture warms.

  3. Melt coconut oil and add it to mixture. If your mixture is too cold, it will cause the coconut oil to harden into little chunks. If that's the case, let it hang out on the counter until everything warms up to make sure it blends properly.  

  4. Add cinnamon, vanilla, sea salt and mix until well blended.

  5. Stir in chopped chocolate.

  6. Lightly grease a muffin pan with coconut oil and drop mixture into the individual muffin shapes. Makes 12 large or 24 mini muffins. I prefer mini ;)

  7. Top with cinnamon and hemp seeds and sliced banana if you're using. Make sure to push the banana chunks down to ensure they stick into the mixture.

  8. Bake at 400 degrees for 13 - 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool and then pack up a ziploc bag full of muffins for your trip and freeze the rest for when you come home!

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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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Detox

If there's something worse than Jewish guilt, it's yoga guilt. 

I have started eating meat again. Red meat, even. Given some of the looks I've gotten from people when I say this, you would think I'm a leper in the yoga world. But let me tell you, it's delicious. And I feel a lot better. 

How did this happen, you ask? I'll just go ahead and start from the top.

I've pretty vocal that I'm not a fan of sugar. Even if you say "oh, but it's honey" (or coconut nectar or agave or fructose) the truth is that your body doesn't know the difference and still processes it all as sugar - one of the most addictive substances on earth. So when my friend Vanessa asked me and Mike to join a group of friends for a two-week anti-inflammatory cleanse, we were all in. No sugar, no gluten, no starch, no alcohol. The vibe was all whole foods - veggies, little fruit, and lots of protein. Think chicken in lettuce cups or fish with broccoli. Or burgers with no bun. Pretty much the paleo diet meets the Tim Ferriss' The 4-hour Body... detox central.

Ok, easy enough. 

On day one, I was nauseous and by day two, I was vomiting. My sugar and grain addiction was so strong that I might as well have been quitting heroin. My body craved quinoa. I daydreamed about Ezekiel Bread. Warm chocolate chip cookies danced in my subsconscious brain. Before we started this cleanse, I thought I was good, that my sugar addiction wasn't so bad. Man, was I wrong. 

 sample dinner - chicken and egg bok choy stir fry set-up

sample dinner - chicken and egg bok choy stir fry set-up

Day three got better and by days four and five, better still. I eventually got into a rhythm and developed a very sincere appreciation for a good grass-fed burger (no bun, of course). And after the requisite two weeks, I felt great. My brain was super clear, my blood sugar was stable and there was no 4pm coffee craving. It felt so good that we kept on going with the cleanse rules after the two weeks were up. 

And then I was offered some fresh challah bread. Damn, was it good. Warm and deliciously carby. But I woke up the next morning feeling like I had been hit by a truck and developed an overnight brain fog. It was clear - no more gluten. It hijacked my mental clarity. Sugar, on the other hand, is a little more insidious. My body loves it and doesn't want to rest at one sugary thing. It just wants more. And that's a slippery slope that I don't want to be sliding down. 

So, a month after starting this thing, we're jamming on lots of veggies and protein. Breakfast is eggs or chia pudding made from homemade no-sugar cashew milk (just cashews and water). Lunch is a salad or soup with veggies. Dinner is either a veggie medley or a meat + veggie situation. There is red meat. There is chicken. There are lots of greens. There is experimentation and refinement. Ultimately, it's all to get to peak performance, peak mental clarity and no inflammation. 

So that feeling great and being your best possible self isn't something that you have to think about or strive for, it's something that you already are every day.

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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. 

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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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Superfood Oatmeal

Call me weird, but I like reading cookbooks cover to cover. There are so many fun factoids you can pick up! Lately, I have been reading a cookbook called Nourishing Traditions. It's all about how people have eaten traditionally - sprouting and soaking things, raw milk and preservation through a process called lacto-fermentation. It's fascinating. 

Anyway, due to the recent 60 degree mornings, I've been really into oatmeal. For a while, we were buying the superfood oatmeal in the store and eventually I realized I should start making it myself, so I wanted to share this no-brainer recipe. I just mix a bunch up on Sundays and put it in a big mason jar for us to use throughout the week. 

The fun really comes with the toppings though. You can add berries, sliced bananas, cacao nibs. nuts, seeds, coconut shreds, nut butters... the sky is the limit. 

 If you close your eyes, it's almost like having Menchie's for breakfast!

If you close your eyes, it's almost like having Menchie's for breakfast!

Superfood Oatmeal

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1 cup liquid (water or milk or milk alternative)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon hemp hearts
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal

Preparation:

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients together.

  2. Bring liquid to a boil on the stove and then stir in the oats. I usually cook my oats in water and then add a splash of coconut milk on top. Yum.

  3. Cook for 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.

  4. Add toppings of your choice. Feel free to make it pretty and tag me in your photo!

  5. Nourish yourself and eat it warm. Makes two generous servings.

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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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Gluten-free Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

So I'm still what I guess would be considered "almond-sensitive." I can have a bite of something with almonds in it, but a large quantity of anything almond-y still causes a reaction. I think it's the best of both worlds because it means I can sample almond recipes but not really eat them. Score.

Here is a quick recipe I whipped up for my friend Vanessa's delightful holiday party, which was a predominately gluten-free affair. Even though the name makes them sound like they'll taste like cardboard, they're actually little bundles of awesomeness. They have a great texture - chewy and crunchy - similar to a normal chocolate chip cookie. Packaged up in a little holiday tin, these make an easy holiday party addition or a great gift.

Or you can always just leave them out for hipster Santa with some hemp milk. 

Enjoy!

gluten free chocolate chip cookie

Gluten-free Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 baking soda
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (room temp)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips (I love Enjoy Life brand)

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

  2. Combine almond meal, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.

  3. Add coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla extra and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips.

  4. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and drop batter by rounded tablespoons. Flatten top slightly (they don't spread out much when baked)  

  5. Bake for 9-10 minutes and then allow to cool before serving.

  6. Rub your belly. Makes about 15 cookies. 
     

 Some dairy-free gluten free chocolate chips, baking soda, yummo black&nbsp;sea salt and Mexican vanilla.&nbsp;

Some dairy-free gluten free chocolate chips, baking soda, yummo black sea salt and Mexican vanilla. 

 Rollin' in the dough. Oh and since they're vegan - you can eat the dough without worry!

Rollin' in the dough. Oh and since they're vegan - you can eat the dough without worry!


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How Yoga Lowers Your Standards

It's not like you meant for it to happen.

But oh snap, it does.

And here's how it breaks down.

When you first start the yogification process, you somehow find your studio. Maybe it's a friend's recommendation or maybe it's a Gilt City deal. Doesn't matter. But you find a teacher you love, you get hooked and you only want to practice with YOUR TEACHER because their class is soooo many light-years beyond the other teachers.

Any other class is just NOT THE SAME, unless you're bawling your eyes out with Seane Corn at Wanderlust, in which case it is epic and you must have your picture taken with her and post said picture immediately to Instagram. #yogacrush

A year or so later, you decide you must share yoga with everyone you know, including your dog (#yogadog) and you need to become a certified yoga teacher. On this journey, you take classes from lots of different teachers. You learn new shit. You teach some people and you get nervous and potentially screw up. You now realize what being a yoga teacher actually entails. 

You gain empathy. 

Now you start teaching yoga. You are surrounded by yoga all day long. You carry essential oils in in your bag. You post inspiring yoga quotes. You basically OM when you exhale without even trying. 

You teach now when you you used to take. You self-practice in fifteen minutes increments after your studio classes. You're ecstatic if you sneak a lunchtime class in. You don't give a shit who the teacher is or how creative the flows are. You just want to be told what to do. And when they come over and rub your feet in savasana... holy god, it feels like nirvana.

It's official. You're totally a yoga slut.

yoga slut



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Hot Cacao

Confession: I'm not a "holiday" person. Being raised as a cashew (Catholic and Jewish), I've always had mixed emotions around this time of year. Couple that with the fact I worked retail for ten years and had to deal with some the worst of the worst around the holidays... it's safe to say that I haven't always looked to December with visions of sugarplums. 

However, this year, maybe it's us being married or maybe I've just grown up, but I have gotten more into the holidays. I decorated our house a bit. We talked about getting a Christmas tree. I don't cringe when Mike plays Christmas music all the time. AND I even considered sending holiday cards. Progress, right?

 Santa ON A BIKE!!! Thanks Mom.

Santa ON A BIKE!!! Thanks Mom.

So anyway, I was out walking around today, wearing a sweater, feeling particularly festive, when out of the blue I started seriously wanting some hot chocolate. I was not going to stop this wave of festivity. I would get a hot cocoa. I weighed my options. Where on Miami Beach is there a decent hot chocolate? Nowhere. I needed to make my own. My memory flittered back to the hot chocolate that my Grammy used to make for me when I was little - using cocoa, sugar and evaporated milk on the stovetop.  Absolutely delicious and creamy, but not exactly the nutritional profile I was going for today. I recalled reading about putting coconut oil in chai teas to make it creamy and latte-ish, like butter coffee. You blend it all in the blender (preferably a Vitamix) until frothy.

"Perfect," I thought. "I will try this with hot chocolate." 

I walked home to my apartment, started messing around in the kitchen with some superfood coconut oil... and lo and behold - the coconut hot cacao was crafted. So easy and it totally hits the holiday spot - it's not coconutty at all, just rich, delicious and metabolism boosting. Enjoy! 

coconut oil hot cocoa

Coconut Hot Cacao

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup coconut milk (or almond, soy, hemp, cow...)
  • 1 tablespoon cacao (I like Terramazon with Maca)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon raw cane sugar or natural sweetener of choice
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Splash of vanilla (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Heat coconut milk on the stove until hot, but not boiling.

  2. Pour coconut milk into high speed blender with the other ingredients.

  3. Blend for a minute or two - until hot and frothy. Makes 1 delightful serving.
    *As a habit, I go light on sugar, so feel free to add more to taste. And if you want more festive flavors, try adding some cinnamon or mint.

hot cacao
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On the fly

I read a yoga blog yesterday where the writer (also a yoga teacher) said explicitly that "all teachers must properly prepare their class ahead of time." I bristled at that line. I really don't do well with that sweeping statement. And here's why...

When I first started teaching, I meticulously planned out my classes, my music, my message - all of it. I had a notebook where I would write out my entire class. I would try to cram everything I knew into those early classes - back in the ol' proving myself days. I was cruising along, teaching small classes, following the sequences in my notebook. Then one day, a few months after I completed my teacher training, my teacher asked me to sub for them.

Holy fuck. There would be like fifty peeps in there. It needed to be my best class ever.  

I basically freaked out for a week. I diligently wrote everything in my little notebook and then made myself a cheat sheet of my planned sequence that I brought to class with me. I placed the little cheat sheet over by the music player. I took some deep breaths.

And... I sucked. It was hands down my worst class ever. I was totally paralyzed by my cheat sheet... and the fact that I was teaching all of my teaching peers. I spent most of the class over by the music player freaking out over whether I was doing the sequence the way I had written it down. I froze during one part of the class and had everyone in wide leg forward fold for what felt like twenty minutes. I was a total mess. I wasn't myself. Somehow I finished up the class, embarrassingly packed up my things and swore I would never make a cheat sheet again.

And I haven't. For me to be myself as a teacher, I need to feel the energy of the room. Yes, I have outlines and ideas and themes but I can't design an entire class sequence beforehand and stick to it. I can't paint by numbers. There have been times when I have a series or transition in mind, but everyone is exhausted and it doesn't work for that particular class and you need to shift it on the fly. It's important as a yoga teacher to tune into your students. I'm grateful to be able to pull from a self practice and repertoire of poses and sequences from my studies with other teachers to keep things interesting.

I also can't teach the same class sequence every day. Even if I tried, I couldn't. I'd be bored. Yoga is a creative outlet for me, a way to express myself and allow people to explore their bodies and limitations. I don't want to box myself into exactly following a class I prepared beforehand, it takes away part of the fun for me and the benefit to my students.

Yoga teachers... your thoughts? Would love to hear them!

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