I was graciously picked by the Baltimore Sun newspaper as 2015’s Fitness Hero. Out of 600 nominations I was chosen with 11 other amazing people who are getting our city motivated, in shape, and inspired. You can read the article here and the link to mine is here. Thank you SO much to everyone who has been my student, supporter, and teacher since 2006. It really has been a great journey and I feel like this is just the beginning.
Hi friends- Happy Wednesday! Thank you so much for all the sweet messages about my last post and my aunt. Life is really hard sometimes so it’s important to remember how good it really is.
Here’s another spotlight post on a fabulous lady. Here’s my friend Ashley Dodd. She actually just moved to Baltimore from Annapolis and we randomly met at the movies. And then on top of that- she and M went to college together and actually had a class together. The world is so small- especially here in Baltimore. In addition to being a yogini and aspiring yoga teacher, Ashley also has a passion for drawing, painting, playing the piano, she’s a huge music lover (she goes to tons of concerts and I’m always jealous), a foodie, animal lover, nature lover, and she totally adores her family (especially her nephews).
1. How does yoga help you to express who you are and who you want to be?
Practicing yoga has allowed me to begin to understand not only who I am but who I want to be. When on the mat I am my truest self – strong yet vulnerable, determined yet humbled, focused yet inquisitive. Yoga has shown me that no matter my level of knowledge, I am always a student, looking to further unfold and deepen the layers of my practice both on and off the mat.
2. What important lessons have you learned about yourself through your yoga practice?
When I first starting practicing yoga it was merely a means of exercise – a way to increase balance and flexibility. Since rediscovering my practice, yoga has evolved into an entire lifestyle as opposed to a form of exercise. Aside from the obvious physical benefits brought on from my practice (increased flexibility, strength, etc.), yoga has completely transformed my life. It has brought balance to areas of my life that were previously in complete disarray; it has brought clarity to my mind, and has begun to really teach me how to live a compassionate life. It has humbled me in ways I never thought possible, shown me that my potential is limitless, and demonstrated that in moments of challenge nothing is as important as the breath. I believe that yoga is a metaphor to life, and through continual practice I can sustain my mind, body, and spirit.
3. What’s your favorite pose? Why?
Parsva Bakasana (side crow) is a pose that I wanted to figure out for so long. I would see students in intermediate and advanced classes do the pose, and could not figure out how to physically get there. I assumed it was just too challenging for me and decided to practice with the goal of being able to reach and sustain this pose. One day a friend broke the pose down for and when I went home that afternoon, it just clicked and I was able to take my body there for the first time. To me, this pose requires not only strength of the body but strength of the mind – to concentrate and sustain, and most importantly to breathe.
I am truly inspired by the little things happening in world around me. The changing of the seasons, the singing of the birds, the sound of a strangers laughter; they all remind me how beautiful life is and inspire me to continue finding joy and bliss in all things and all situations.
5. How did you get into yoga and what made you want to become a yoga teacher?
I have had an interesting yoga journey so far in life. I first began practicing in 2004 and practiced on a “somewhat” regular basis for about 5 years. I always stuck to beginner classes because I was too afraid to challenge myself or explore my edge. I practiced until late 2009 when I completely stopped – I was going through a much unexpected and incredibly challenging life change and felt the need to completely alter my life from what I knew…this included yoga. I took about 8 months off until I realized that an integral part of my life was missing, and this was my yoga practice. I slowly began to practice again and have had a consistent practice for about 3 year now. Last year is when I finally broke down my personal barrier and began to explore where I could take my practice, and how I could incorporate yoga into my life while off the mat. The desire to further deepen my practice and walk the yogic path inspired me to register for teacher training with Charm City Yoga in early 2013 (yay!). I cannot wait to experience the journey, to see where I am taken from here, and to share my love of the practice with the community.
6. How will you incorporate your yoga teaching into your career.
I am not currently a teacher but continually work to incorporate yoga into my daily life. I work in a fast paced environment at a web design firm and feel like I am always on the go. My work life is the opposite of yoga, where strength is found within stillness, silence is encouraged, and focus on the breath is required. Through yogic teachings I have managed to find greater balance in life whether I’m in my office, at home, or on the mat. Yoga has pushed me to better myself and has opened me up to people and experiences that I now cannot imagine my life without. It has also taught me that no matter what is going on, to take a step back, regain focus, and most importantly to just breathe.
I hope you liked the post!! Isn’t she pretty? Ashley is such a great friend and I’ll be sure to let you know if she starts teaching!
On a side note please check out my schedule here as some classes have changed and I am really trying to plan a yoga retreat in Nicaragua for January 2014 so if you are interested please let me know! More details to come!
And I just have to post this. Too funny.
Have a great night!
My aunt passed away after loosing her battle with cancer and well- I’ve been really sad. But while I realize that this is a part of life- attending her memorial service, spending time with family and new friends- is all the good that comes out of this kind of situation. My aunt Carole was an amazing person; she was smart, creative, funny, loving- I mean the list goes on and I have so many wonderful memories of her.
I guess what I’ve really been able to take away from the situation is that we all can be better people. I heard her friends talk about how caring and fun she was and it just made me want to be better connected. I want to be a better friend, sister, daughter, granddaughter, better listener, judge less, love more, and say yes more.
Life is hard, scary, wonderful, exciting, chaotic, and amazing all in one. And it’s so important to be awake. To breathe and be aware of each moment instead of being stressed, worried, and unhappy all the time. We have the ability to choose what we do and where we want to go. Life is short and it’s about what you make of it.
So where do you want to go?
Here are a few things I plan on doing live more vibrantly:
Read more. Hike more. Plant my fire escape garden. Volunteer. Have more girls nights. Singe more karaoke. Get organized. Send snail mail. Meditate. Drink more green juice and stop drinking coffee. Art journal. Actually learn how to use my sewing machine. Have a book club. Host a dinner party. Take a pottery or painting class. Call my granny more often. See my family in California and Indiana. There’s more but these are the first few that came to mind and of course seeing these precious children in the pictures. They’re in Cali.
“You’re alive. Do something. The directive in life, the moral imperative was so uncomplicated. It could be expressed in single words, not complete sentences. It sounded like this: Look. Listen. Choose. Act.” – Barbara Hall
OK- you’ve probably seen this video. But watch it again and then read below.
First off- I don’t exactly know who this little precious child is but he is adorable and I just want to squeeze his cheeks!
One of my students told me to watch this video because I’ve been a little down lately. Too many people I love and care about are dealing with cancer. My heart feels broken even though I’m happy in my personal and work life. It just makes me sad and there’s not a lot to do aside from be positive and be there. As the kid president says- life is a game and we are on the same team. Every day I teach yoga classes and try my best to encourage people to live a vibrant life and a huge part of making that happen is just being there. And that’s what I vow to do for the people I love who are hurting right now. Just showing my love and support.
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The road less traveled is the one that leads to awesome. Time doesn’t stop when life is hard and has it challenges. You have to keep going because you are the only one who can create whatever it is that you really want. So how can you create something that will be amazing? Everyone’s answer is different but whatever it is, you can do it with love and courage. Because like the kid president say- you were made to be awesome.
Life is short, sweet, bitter, and incredible. It’s not about putting yourself into a box that’s some vision on how you think you should live your life. It’s just about being, believing, composing, dreaming, and going and going.
Who encourages you?
These people encourage me
And I’d love to know how you’re going to make your life awesome
All of us here in Baltimore are still living on cloud 9 because of the Ravens win! Even though I’ve never exactly been a huge football fan, being from Baltimore and pretty much living here all my life- I am so happy that our home team won. The last time they won I was a freshman in college and I’m pretty sure I was writing a paper that night. Not this year!
I went to PBJ’s friends house and it’s always a great time with tons of food and drinks. Do you know what viryta is? SO delicious but strong. You can read about it here. A little bit of yoga made an appearance as you can see. It was a great time and I always feel so lucky and grateful that I am surrounded by amazing people in my life.
Needless to say- I think Baltimore is still recovering from the big party! I did watch part of the parade today and I think the ravens high is going to last for a while. I made a Raven’s inspired playlist which is posted below. We will see if I do any Beyoncé or Ray Lewis movies in class the rest of the week.
The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army
JAY-Z – Empire State Of Mind [Jay-Z + Alicia Keys] – Explicit Album Version
Beyoncé – Crazy In Love
Nelly – Hot In Herre
Gary Glitter – Rock ‘n’ Roll (Part 2)
JAY-Z – Ni**as In Paris
Gym Class Heroes – The Fighter – feat. Ryan Tedder
Foo Fighters – My Hero
Blur – Song 2
The Rock Masters – Thunderstruck
Eddie Money – Two Tickets To Paradise – Album Verision
Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’
U2 – Where The Streets Have No Name
JAY-Z – Otis
Alicia Keys – Girl On Fire
The Hours – Ali In The Jungle
Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight
Beyoncé – Halo
Queen – We Are The Champions
And the icing on the cake- if you haven’t seen the Ray Lewis skit from SNL here you go. Hilarious.
Hope you’re still bleeding purple!
Hi friends- here’s another spotlight post for you on my dear friend and now fellow yoga teacher Ashley Spencer. She is one of the nicest and sweetest people I know as well as being a veggie lover, animal lover, runner, yogini, foodie, and all around amazing person. Enjoy!
1. How does yoga help you to express who you are and who you want to be?
Yoga has helped me figure out who I am, and what is truly important. When I’m on my mat it gives me the opportunity to reflect on exactly how I’m feeling and to be able to leave everything on the mat. Some days are great and I push myself to my edge, others can be difficult and that’s where I find comfort in restorative poses. Yoga has helped me be find peace no matter what happens, no matter the emotions. It lets you realize that everything comes and goes, nothing is permanent. Finding the opportunities in life and having a positive outlook has definitely been a life lesson that I have learned on my mat.
Yoga has helped me find patience, dedication, humbleness, and passion. I have always had tight muscles. During college while playing field hockey I was a good 6 inches from being able to touch my toes. Flexibility wasn’t my strong suit. Slowly but surely, my yoga practice has helped me gain flexibility and now I’m able to reach postures that I never thought were possible. On the other hand there are still so many postures that are extremely challenging for me. My hamstrings and hips seem to be forever tight and tense, so simple forward folds and hip openers are incredibly difficult.. At first I used to look around the room and wonder why I couldn’t reach any further. Now I focus on myself, on reaching my personal best. Listening to my own body, finding gratitude for what my body is able to accomplish.
My favorite pose…. I’d have to say is headstand. Sirsasana. When I first started coming to Camille’s class and she’d put everyone into headstand I’d watch in awe. There was no way I would be getting up into a headstand in the middle of the room! I remember so specifically her coming up to me and saying "umm, are you going to get into a headstand or what?". Of course I said I couldn’t, and she told me to go into it anyway. She helped me up, and from that day on I was in love with headstand. When I’m up I feel strong, graceful, peaceful. While I’m up I close my eyes and I feel like nothing else matters, I could stay in headstand allllll day.
The little things in life. Being able to take small moments and turn them into memories always inspires me. A gift to a friend, spending time from your loved ones, chatting over coffee with your parents, playing with your pets. If you make these moments matter, your life will always be full of bliss.
5. How did you get into yoga and what made you want to become a yoga teacher?
I started yoga after I graduated from college. I was a field hockey player at Salisbury University and was looking for something new to help keep me in shape and to be my new hobby. I found my way into a yoga class and couldn’t believe how difficult the very first pose was. Sitting on our shins in Hero pose, Virasana. I remember looking around and seeing everyone with their eyes closed and looking so peaceful. My legs were hurting so badly just in this first pose that I was nervous for the rest of the class. I ended the class feeling completely different than I used to after practice. A refreshing new sense of accomplishment, simply happy. I moved to Baltimore and found Charm City Yoga. Camille’s community hot vinyasa class was the first I attended in fells. After a minor freakout of the heat and feeling like I just came out of a swimming pool I found myself coming back again and again. Soon enough I was in Costa Rica on Camille’s yoga retreat. An experience of a lifetime! I went by myself, knowing no one and came back with new friends and a new outlook on life. I knew from then that eventually I wanted to teach. I wanted to share my passion and knew that when the right time came, I would enroll in Yoga Teacher Training.
I am on a design team at Under Armour, so an active lifestyle is part of the culture for me at work. I plan on teaching yoga part time and finding my voice in both worlds. I believe that they inspire one another, and it gives me an opportunity to live a passionate life doing what I love.
See you soon!
Hi friends- can you believe the warm temperatures?!? I can’t. I love it so much, but I also find it kind of scary with global warming how it’s snowing and icing one day and then almost 70 degrees the next. I’ve been meaning to get this post up earlier but alas, here it is. On Saturday night I got to attend The Enoch Pratt Library’s Black and White Party. It was an amazing event. They hold this party every year and raise money for the library and for their children’s and teen literacy efforts.
But what made this event more special for me was that my mom used to work at the central branch when I was younger. Actually my sister and I were on a poster for the library when we were four. I tried to find the poster at my parents house but no luck. I will show it you I promise! So there was food, wine from The Wine Source, and a special beer crafter by The Brewer’s Art (love!) called The Nutty Pratt Ale.
PBJ and I were in our finest and hung out with his friends. They had a Great Gatsby theme and were even playing the original film in the av room. It was an amazing time and I ran into people I went to high school with, friends from yoga, and local news casters. I hope we go again next year. And fyi- if you want to go next year, the tickets sell out very quickly!!
This was my lunch today- vegan, gluten free, soy free. I know it doesn’t look very pretty but it was tasty.
In the mix was:
quinoa, spinach, black beans, garbanzo beans, polenta, onion (all sautéed with a bit of olive oil), garlic, salt and pepper to taste. All organic too!
Here are the cat pictures you guys wanted. I have yet to actually capture them in their cat yoga poses. Lol
Always sleeping. Must be nice.
So I recorded a Raven’s inspired yoga sequence for you but I’m not savvy enough to figure out how to upload it. I will try to record a video for you so you’ll have a sequence! A few of you wrote to me on facebook telling me what you would like to see on the blog and one of the topics was staying present in my own practice. Well- the real honest answer is that you’re not always going to be 100% present in your own practice. Our minds naturally wander and as busy human beings in a society that encourages us to keep pushing and doing all the time, it’s quite challenging to find that still place. But the key to all of that- including being present in your own practice- is being aware of the fact that your mind, thoughts, and intentions do wander. Instead of criticizing your self that oh I’m not focusing enough on my warrior 2- being ok and accepting the fact that, yeah, my thigh is burning and I’m feeling hungry. It’s OK! But realizing that and then regaining your focus is what’s most important. The other thing is that my own practice doesn’t have barriers, restraints, or fit into some box of what I think it should be or look like. Everyday is different and just like life, my yoga practice is always changing. And yours should too. Being present means being awake, being vibrant, and being OK with whatever it is that shows up- not matter what it looks like.
I hope you’re having a great week! Time for me to face plant into bed!