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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Human

I love community, and I love technology, so it's no surprise that I love social media.

Yes, it can be a huge time suck - no need for me to go on about those midnight hashtag spirals, we've all been there. But to it's credit, it can provide incredible opportunities to learn, connect and share. Currently, Dawn B and I are hosting a yoga challenge on instagram called #beyondtheasana and I am totally inspired by everyone participating. Watching people share their pictures, thoughts and yoga practice with us is magic. The little glimpses into life are making me smile every morning. 

This connection is what strengthens our bonds as humans. This is why we love instagram or Humans of New York or people watching. Having a human experience - simply being human - is fascinating and frustrating at the same time.

Instagram, like the world at large - and like being human, can be disheartening and not always a truthful place, but when you do find those little snippets of honest expression, savor them.

And when we can be truthful with ourselves and the world around us - both on the inside and the outside - then savor that even more. Vulnerable expression is a step closer to true connection. And true connection is what makes this whole being human thing worth it.

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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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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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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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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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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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Flux

High off a day of yoga and friends at Wanderlust, I sat down in the small booth that smelled like patchouli.

"So, to get started..." the tarot card reader pulled from her stack, "this first card will reveal information about your current relationship."

"Ok, cool."

We both watched carefully as she laid the card out on the table, alongside beautiful crystals and stones.

"Well, that's interesting" she said slowly, looking up at me. "It's the death card."

Fuck.

My yoga high came swiftly down. But it made sense. Mike and I had been fighting for the better part of six months to find common ground. We had put our engagement on hold.

We were really struggling.

I half-listened as she went on pulling cards, although I did perk up when she started talking up the guy in my next relationship. She described him as a sexy and powerful man who, from the pictures on the cards, also appeared to carry a trident.  

She told me tales of excitement and mutual respect. She sold me on adventure and deep love. She told me this man was waiting for me.

Even so, I left the small booth and walked back to my room in tears. Were we supposed to be done? I wasn't sure how I could ever not be with Mike. I cried my way through Seane Corn's class the next day. I struggled to stay present with people. 

I got home from Vermont and we weren't sure what we were doing. I didn't know what to do. We hit lows and wondered if it was over. But we never wanted it to end. We realized that neither of us wanted to give up our connection and eventually, we figured out how to grow together - gaining deeper intimacy in the past year than in the seven years we have been together. More of me sharing and him listening and both of us being ok when things aren't perfect.

Now, a year and a half later, Mike is that trident carrying man. Our relationship book has had many chapters, and that particular chapter of struggle ended. There was a death and a rebirth... of ourselves. It's not to say there won't be more and different stories and struggles. Relationships are in constant flux. 

I am seeing so many friends going through tough times in and out of relationships and I can deeply relate. That delicate balance of learning to take life one day at a time while simultaneously wondering if you're going to have to freeze your eggs. That wanting to have it all because it seems like everyone else does. We all struggle. We tune deeply into our hearts and we just as easily can tune them out. The universe is in constant flux. We are always growing and creating new (and hopefully better) versions of ourselves. And growth can feel like shit sometimes. Growth can feel like you really suck at life.

KEEP GOING. This is what is written for you. You don't know the forces at play but this is the experience that you need now, so that it can serve you later. Big hugs and so much love.

trust the universe


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Feeling

Yesterday was my birthday.

32 years on this planet. And it quite possibly could have been my best birthday yet - all from one simple shift. I allowed myself to feel... and to receive. 

It may sound small but this is a big change for me. I prefer to operate in the "I can do it myself" category. It's always been tough for me to ask for help - I feel like I'm putting people out or somehow hindering them. I was never able to see birthdays as a opportunity to celebrate someone. The world just seemed to be an easier place when I would stuff down any emotions I had and operate superficially. Because, duh... when I don't feel, I don't get hurt.

This year though, I have worked on shifting my narrow (and inaccurate) masculine mindset of doing and numbing and really have allowed myself to open up to the receiving and the feeling - the feminine. Normally I would feel bad that people wanted to give me gifts - in my head this was putting them out of money or time - or I would say no to a celebration.

Not this year! Not 2014! This shit was my YEAR. This is the year I allowed myself to receive.

butterfly

This is the year that I broke out of the cocoon of numbing and allowed myself to feel. I quieted the weird and underlying guilty noise in my head and gave myself permission to feel good that people wanted to celebrate my birthday. Instead of feeling guilty, I felt grateful. I felt humbled. I felt really really good. And I received and kept receiving - hearing the "happy birthdays" from a place of gratitude instead of feeling like I was putting people out. Smiling as my yoga classes sang happy birthday to me instead of feeling guilty or uncomfortable about it. Soaking up all the incredible energy and tucking it away in a little good vibes vault so I can pull from it all year long.

And I'm still buzzing from the epic birthday singalong class on Tuesday, from my awesome day yesterday, from all the love and well-wishes and the birthday celebrations that are still to come... I'm still holding it all in my heart and really feeling it - because feeling is living.

And living is all we've got.

savasana yoga
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Social

There are two sides to every coin. After my last post, I spoke with a few yoga instructors who let me know that they don't love the idea of self-promotion and social media. That it feels uncomfortable.

I can totally vibe off this, self-promotion does correlate directly to the ego - and therefore, can be view through a yogi lens as negative. Social media = bad.

being a social yogi at panther coffee.

being a social yogi at panther coffee.

To elaborate, the majority of yoga practices are designed to kill or lessen the ego - through yoga practice, divine chanting, etc - so that you can be connected to your higher self, and eventually aligned with all things and the divine. Together as ONE. I love the concept of one-ness. I think we are all absolutely divinely connected. And I think we can be connected in lots of different ways.

So anyway, back to the ego-thing. You devote your life to being a yoga teacher and sharing yoga with people, because you love it and you want to help people. In traditional yoga fashion, you shun Facebook and Instagram as methods of communicating about yoga, and you definitely don't do the "website thing". 

Just one glaring hiccup...  No one comes to your classes.

Because you don't promote yourself and people don't know about you.

I really believe that you do yourself a disservice as a yoga teacher when you don't use social media. Think of it as a tool to let people know about your classes, where you teach, when you teach... at the minimum you can use Facebook or Insta to show people pictures of your classes so they know what they're getting into. People like to be informed. Companies hire whole marketing TEAMS to promote their businesses. Jeez, countries hire marketing agencies to promote their COUNTRY. If people don't know about a whole country, how are they going to know about your Wednesday night yoga class? 

I believe there is a balance. Yes, there are teachers out there who use social media to promote their ego. And you don't have to be them. There is a way to do it that's true to you. You probably know my stance on this already (since I say it in almost every yoga post that I do)... but the key is to check your intention

If your intention is to share yoga with people, they have to know about you. You can use social media to pass along inspiration, favorite poses, really whatever speaks to you. If you think of it as sharing your message in another way - off the mat - it will lead to more people live and in person, practicing, breathing and learning yoga on the mat with you.

yoga savasana
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