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I have always been a modest girl… woman.

When I was younger my modesty or shyness made other people uncomfortable, so I was outcast and teased.

I can only ASS-ume that the being made fun of and made to feel different played a huge role in my body image and self confidence. For longer than I would like to admit I had a hard time ‘loving’ my body, like I’m pretty sure most of the women on the face of the Earth do. I tried different diets, I tried different types of exercise, I tried buying clothes from different places.

As I’ve grown older my appreciation for my body has DEFINITELY evolved. In fact, going through pregnancy and having a baby has played an enormous part in how I now feel about my body. But something recently, though I can’t quite pin point it, has left me in a state of such acceptance and yes… LOVE of my body. I feel happier, sexier and stronger than ever.

So today after I taught yoga I was rummaging through the clothing racks because I had my eye on a tank top I wanted to buy. Right there in the lobby I spontaneously took my yoga top off (WAIT!!! Before you go there- I still had a sports bra on) and tried the other tank top on.

Right there, in the middle of the yoga studio lobby! It was…

LIBERATING!

People saw my bare belly and my “imperfect” by societal norms body. I’m not sure what it was, but that moment of pause and insecurity simply did not exist.

Now all I can think about is if THAT is what women were searching for when they started burning their bras?

If I could bottle it and sell I would! But the fact of the matter is that it shouldn’t take ANY woman 33 years to feel her absolute best. There has got to be something done about how we communicate to young women and how beautiful they are in all of their different shapes, sizes and abilities. Starting NOW.

 

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When I was in high school I played volley ball. We had to run ‘the mile’ every week for conditioning, and I HATED it.

When I went away to college I crafted a passion for trail running out of the sheer necessity of needing something to do as a freshman… without a car… at a campus on top of a mountain.

Its been an off-and-on relationship dependent upon many different variables in my life. But recently I’ve been using my trail runs as a tool for my half marathon training.

On my run this AM these thoughts came to me…

1. Sometimes the best path is unstable. When there is a split in the trail, one side gravel, the other slick rock, there really is no stable choice. No matter which side you choose there IS instability. The real choice your making is how will this next step get me to where I want to go NOW. Its instinctual. You want to keep going, so in the moment, you don’t think, you GO. There’s no way around it. In fact, the instability of either choice will teach you a different lesson: how to grip the gravel and be light on your feet OR how to push off and catapult without slipping. Which brings me to my next thought…

2. Its slow getting to the push-off point, but the momentum is all worth it. Each extra bit of UMPH I can give myself, exertion, heavy breathing, bouncing off my feet, helps propel me to the next push-off point. The next push-off point is another obstacle. Its the space in between that we get to experience that momentum. Its the stillness of time before my foot lands on another rock, that’s what its all for.

3. Where the ‘rubber meets the road’ must be diligent… or you land on your face! Now let me be real… I’ve landed on my face. And its embarassing, but it sure checks me. Many times I’ve made mistakes, fought for approval, shape-shifted to be what someone else wanted. But after the splatter, if I really sit with ‘what just happened’? Its that I wasn’t paying attention to ME. My ego is what tripped my up. Ego is like that huge rock jutting out of the trail that you don’t see because your daydreaming, or caught in the glare of the sun. That rock isn’t going to go away. So just Be careful! You can push-off of it, or you can run over it. Be diligent.

4.You can’t only, ever run uphill. As much as I love a good uphill challenge, I’m almost convinced that the satisfaction of finding a downhill is what its all about. Downhill gives the chance to go with the flow and catch our breath. Some of life is meant to be enjoyed. Plain and simple. My very wise Granddad taught me that moderation is the key. If we are only, ever running UP hill we miss the flowers and the butterflies riding the trail with us. If we are only, ever intense and focused we miss the joy of sunshine on our skin, dust in our shoes and why we ever started running in the first place.

 

 

Late last year my sister, son and I were at The Denver Children’s Museum.

We saw Ryan Tedder (Lead singer for One Republic).

To say that I was star struck would be a HUGE understatement.

He was there with his wife and son, and I couldn’t bring myself to say anything to him. I had myself convinced that I should be respectful of his family time.

As we walked past him and his son, my sister said under her breath ‘We saw your show at Red Rocks last year. It was really good!’

…Another understatement.

May 2013, One Republic was at Red Rocks. My life was changed.

We went to that show on a bit of a whim because I loved their then new hit Counting Stars. I did a quick run through of their other singles, and recognized and liked them all. So we went. We spent about 2 weeks reviewing the new album and learning all of the lyrics to all of the songs.

The opening act was Sarah Bareilles, and who doesn’t love her heart wrenching love songs. Little did I know what a great primer she was for the talent of the band of men set to take the stage next.

Like all good music lovers, I was enjoying every second. The chance to sing heart strong in to the open air is so freeing and invigorating. There’s something about the smell of beer, the sound of thousands of screaming fans, and the flashing of cameras that really makes you feel alive.

About half way through the One Republic set I started to marvel at the talent and passion of the group. They were high energy, but not No Doubt. They were soulful but not Aretha Franklin.

And then they wheeled out the piano, and shifted the spotlight to Ryan Tedder. He continued to poor his heart and soul into every note- voice and instrument.

I was singing along. I took a breath and noticed all of the other people singing along. I took another breath, and was overwhelmed by the sense of connectedness. I was one with all of these fans, we were all the same. We were singing along with the catharsis of one single man, with such a talent for putting words to music that he had an amphitheater full of people singing along to his music.

It was in that same instant that I realized how small AND big we all are. And how undeniably human we all are. How our stories intertwine and mirror each other because we are human.

I had an epiphany.

He’s an artist. I’m an artist.

He writes songs. I write flows.

His art has layers of sound, emotion, word, intent. My classes have layers of movement, emotion, theme and music.

Since then most of my class inspirations have come from One Republic songs. I am so inspired by Ryan and his ability to emote, to share his range of human feelings, and to relate to other people’s stories. I hope I’m able to do the same in my yoga classes.

Now I’m 4 days away from the 2014 One Republic concert at Red Rocks.

And you better believe all of my classes this week will have One Republic songs… (oh wait, they always do!)

 

 

 

I had such a wonderful Mother’s Day.

Part of which was having the privilege to attend a yoga workshop centered around mothers and caregivers, caring for themselves. It might seem obvious that mothers know how to ‘take care’. After all, it is what we DO. We make sure food is on the table, everyone’s dressed, the house is clean, the cars have gas, the dishes are done… (need I go on?) We spend our time taking care of everyone else.

Though I will say I am fortunate enough to be able to take care of my self on a pretty regular basis. Between my workouts, yoga classes, runs, occasional pedicures, its not all that often that I personally feel depleted. However, I do also believe that there is always room for evolution. A new lens you could look through to change the perspective on your reality in order to make it even that much more rose colored.

My take away from this workshop was this:

We were asked to think about the person we think about the most, the person we care for the most, someone we take care of. Then we were asked to turn that love and thoughtfulness inward on to ourselves.

Yep… tears welled up.

I take care of my little one, even when I’m not with him. He is in my heart always.  Not only do I feed, bathe, clothe him, I hug him and kiss him, and see him as a reflection of spirit that I was part in creating.

What if I were to love MYSELF, the way that I love him???

What if I were to hold myself, my confidence, my struggle, my strength, my fatigue, my curiosity in such a tender way???

What if I were to acknowledge all of the love and vibrancy, in myself, that I see in him???

What if, all of us mothers, were to love ourselves as we love our children???

I can’t help but think that the world would be a better place.

When I was in high school I HATED running. Every week in volley ball practice we had to run the mile and I vividly remember how torturous it seemed to me.

In college, I took up running as a way to feel healthy, but also (without even realizing it) I think I started running because it was something that made me feel safe and strong, independent even, and empowered. I had moved away from all of the comforts of home: family, boyfriend, hometown. I was all on my own. Running gave me a sense of control of my situation. I fell in love with it.

Overtime my connection to running evolved. Instead of running to feel control, I ran to feel freedom. I ran to feel centered, and to find peace of mind.

I continued to run throughout my young adult life, and even ran my first half marathon in 2011.

Then, I had a baby.

Needless to say my life changed. More significantly to my running habit, my pelvis changed.  For the last 2 years I have been patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) waiting for the pains of childbirth to leave me alone so I could get back to running.

Now let me say this- there are lot of things that a woman goes through when she has a child. Namely, a complete revamp and redefinition of who she is and what she contributes to the world. If she’s lucky, she will have taken on this task willingly and without any remorse. Some, not so lucky. Me, I chose to become a mother and since have been willing to redefine myself every moment for the sake of my kiddo.

The point: I ran the farthest I have run in 3 years today and am SO excited to not have any lower back pain!!!

More importantly, my run today felt like getting a piece of my self back.

Its not always easy to let go of an older version of yourself- even when you are willing. I’m proud of myself for being brave enough to let go of who I was, the me that runs. And I’m proud of myself for being patient enough to be able to say I’m a runner AND a Mama.

The best things in life are worth waiting for.

A friend of mine recently posted a message that she was alone in her house for the first time in a while and wasn’t quite sure what to do with herself.

There was no pitter-patter of little feet and no giggles down the hall. No cartoons laughing on the tv.

She could actually see the surfaces of her kitchen counters. She had already gone out to dinner one night by herself. She decided to stay in, with the eerie quiet. She posted looking for suggestions of what to do with her time.

My response: ‘isn’t it a beautiful thing when you realize the life you have is that much better than the life you thought you wanted.’ *

 

*I have my wise moments

Spring is my favorite season.

The cold weather wanders away, little buds pop up on every tree, the birds seem to be singing a happier song.

There’s so much transformation that happens in nature. Its easy to focus on what we see and assume that its all beautiful and simple.

But don’t be fooled.

Underneath, the earth is quivering.

It is no small feat for the tulip to push to the surface, ‘I’ve arrived’!

And the long journey that the birds make through the winter is no mistake.

And YOU.  As fearful as you may be to shed the skin thats been protecting you for the last however long… its time.

You are the point THE UNIVERSE has been trying to make.

And because you are who you are, no matter how many times you climb back in bed, no matter how many times you are told ‘no thank you’, no matter how many times you try to talk yourself out of it… YOU will be who you are.

Just as the tulip knows how hard her journey will be to see the sun itself. She must MOVE. She must WAKE UP.

There is a gift that you were meant to share, my friend. What better time than NOW.

strength. fortitude. discipline

Probably not what first comes to mind when you imagine the word (or even practice of) yoga.

Yet after another class with another instructor and another disapointment, I sit with a heavy heart, confused head and the nagging question of ‘sara, what is yoga, to you?’

Of course yoga is ‘stretching’. Of course yoga is ‘breath’. And dependent on where you do ‘yoga’ it may even be ‘sweating’. I think what has really been stirring me up lately is that MY definition of yoga is sooooooo different from what is being spread like wild fire.

One thing that’s at the heart of this issue for me is that the art and skill of being a teacher is being lost. Many people I would call ‘instructors’. They are capable of explaining what body part goes where,  keeping you generally safe, and the class moving- very different set of skills in comparison to a teacher.

To me, a teacher IS strength, fortitude, discipline. And when they see that you don’t have those things, they are that for you. They will push you, ask more from you and stay on you- because they know you CAN, even when you are’t sure. Their fierce love keeps you standing, even when your doubt wants to make you crumble.  The only perfection they are seeking is the perfection of YOU bringing yourself to the mat.

Through the 10+ years of my practice its been the strength, body and mind, that has helped me through life’s challenges: pregnancy, labor and delivery, losing loved ones, financial burden . The fortitude has kept me a passionate student, striving to understand, anxious and excited to overcome whatever the obstacle was. Its been the discipline that kept me honest with myself about what I wanted out of my practice and whether or not that was reflective of what I was putting in to it.

Often times at the onset of a yoga practice the most common reflection is: ‘I’m so NOT flexible’. This is a valid point. Yoga will teach you many types of flexibility, some of the most important ones pertaining to how to be a better mother, or a more patient driver. Flexibility will come. After a while its not enough. Learning to flow with the world is one thing.  Learning to stand on your own two feet (or hands) in it is another.

If its not strength that your teaching, its just another stretching class. If you want students to come back you’ve got to be their strength when they don’t have it. And when they do, push them toward their potential. Give them tools, mental and physical, that empower them to move to the next phase of their practice… their life.

So at the beginning of January I embarked on a journey that would be sure to turn my world upside down, (hehe). A 31 day Handstand Photo Challenge.

I’m 9 days in and already feeling a bit more balanced and confident about holding myself up with my hands. But WHY would anyone want to do something as silly as a handstand challenge?

almost!

almost!

My husband says ‘you’re a yoga teacher, you can do that!”. To which I reply ‘Its all in my head, I know it.’ So like any other goal/ challenge that I’ve had success accomplishing or overcoming in my life, I decided to apply a few strategic principles:

1) Be consistent. After all, the reason NBA players are so good is because they practice e.v.e.r.y.d.a.y.

2) Be patient. Know that what you are aiming at takes time. Acknowledge where you are and move forward one step (or kick-up) at a time.

3) Create evidence. When I ran my first half marathon it was so cool to have so many other people there to see me cross the finish line. Then I knew it wasn’t a figment of my imagination.  And with these photos I’ll be able to catalogue my progress.

4) Know yourself. I know that I can do this. I also know that when I set goals that are not aligned with my truth, or that I don’t feel are possible in my bones, then I know I’m setting myself up. This takes a lot of honesty.

5) Focus on success instead of fear. MY MOTTO FOR 2014… all the good self help books insist on this one!

6) Have Fun!!! Life is simply too short, my time is too valuable, and so is yours.

I have a teacher who insists that being able to hold handstand in the middle of the room does NOT make you a better person. And though I’m not sure I agree with her (because all of the people I know who CAN do that are pretty awesome!) I’m bound and determined to overcome this fear. So that’s what it is for me, a fear thing. But I figure, its about time I start trusting my Self. Something that I have only really recently begun to take full ownership of. This handstand thing is symbolic to me in a way that will get to the core of some of the self-doubt that has been hindering my ‘success’ in a lot of ways my whole adult life.

So whatever you’re setting your mind to, do it with all your heart! (wobbles and giggles never hurt either!)

post snowboarding

post snowboarding

If you’ve taken my class or know anything about my professional background, then you’ll know how I feel about Plank.

Its such a fundamental pose, yet SO many students, clients and yogis have a hard time with plank.  This is a challenging pose… but why is it so hard if all it takes to create the proper alignment is to stand up straight? Yea, its that simple (not easy), plank pose is the same as standing tall with a neutral and erect spine, except we turn it on its side.

Most commonly what I see is that people are not able to draw in and up through their core. This creates a sagging effect through the lower back, and puts more strain on all of the joints in the upper body. Another challenge people usually have, is to not let their head pull them down. A human head weighs upwards of 10 lbs. Letting it hang down pulls the whole pose in to a collapsed state. Keep your head in line with your spine, eyes forward and up with the back of you neck long.

Here are some tips for you the next time you are in plank pose:

1. Engage your WHOLE body! Fingers, forearms, biceps, triceps, chest, back, core (front and back), glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves. Yep, thats one of the main reasons I love it so much- its a full body workout! When you are engaging these muscles, do so in such a way that makes you feel like you’re pulling the muscles into the bones, rather than bracing for some kind of impact.

2. Keep a buoyancy in your shoulder girdle. A lot of times this is where things start to fall apart, and unfortunately I hear a lot of instructors cueing this incorrectly. You’re not trying to only round your shoulders NOR only squeeze them together- you are doing BOTH. The shoulderblades should be in an in-between state to create the strength and buoyancy I’m talking about.

3. USE your legs! So many folks try to hold their body weight in their arms- which will be eternally challenging in this position. Your legs are super strong and can help to distribute the weight more appropriately. Try this: when you are in plank, pull your hands and feet toward each other. Then when you move to Chaturunga you’ll feel light as a feather! (well, almost!)

4. Mind over Matter. Without any training or pre-run I held a 4 minute plank. I’ve had students who trained and held plank as long as 20 minutes! Its ALL in your head. Consider what comes up for you when the pose gets challenging. When you want to give up, take one more deep breath… then maybe another… and another…

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For fun, set a timer and see how long you can hold plank. Then start doing 60 seconds every day. On the 7th day- don’t rest, time yourself again 😉

See if you’re able to hold it longer. Then set a goal- after 3 months of training how long would you like to be able to hold plank?

My goal: Dec 21- 8 minute plank!!!

http://willpowerlife.com/galleries/world-plank-2013/