Thursday, September 30, 2010

Spoiled Yogi Gives Back (And You Can Help!)



It can be difficult to find a way to make a positive difference in the world. For years, I've looked at my yoga practice as something that I can use to make the world a better place. I've always believed that just doing the work and putting positive energy out there could have a ripple effect (see The Pig of Happiness). But, now I want to do more.

I have SO many blessings in my life. And now, I'm looking to spread the love by raising a little money and doing a yogathon event (108 Sun Salutations!).

It's always been hard for me to see children who don't have the support (financial and/or emotional) that they need. Knowing that it what they learn now can set the tone for their entire lives, it seems like such an obvious way to make a lasting impact on a community to help the children who need it. Healthy habits that are developed early follow kids into adulthood. (Unhealthy habits developed early tend to stick around, too.) That's why I feel so strongly about the charities this event supports, Louie's Kids and Yoga Benefits Kids.

Will you help me?

Donate! Give what you can.. No donation is too small! And I'll randomly select one donor to win a special Spoiled Yogi prize pack. Let's help "spoil" some little yogis who need our help! :)

Even if you can't donate, help me spread the word! Share this link (http://bit.ly/9lryTZ) with your online community: Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and blog community.

There's not much time, so the sooner you act the better!

Thanks to all of you, my faithful readers, for reading my thoughts, supporting my practice, and making your own positive impact in the world.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

10 Ways to Trick Your Husband into Doing Yoga

1. Tell him it will make him sleep like a baby -- a happy, relaxed, content baby.

2. Try this line: "Yoga is about being, not about doing. You're actually doing it right now, Honey. You just don't know it."

3. Embody the bliss . . . and wait for him to come to you. I think it was Alanna Kaivalya who, in a workshop I took with her at a conference, said you can't get someone to come to your way of thinking by forcing them. It's much more effective if you attract them by being nonchalant and mysterious about it. "Wow, you look really relaxed and great lately! What are you doing?" "Oh, nothing really. It's just the yoga. You can come with me next time if you want."

4. Start simple, with one pose. I suggest Savasana (Corpse Pose) or Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose).

5. Let him think it's a massage. Spy your dearest hunched over his keyboard. Take the opportunity to give him a sweet shoulder adjustment. Over time, you'll see him sit up a little straighter in the chair.

6. Sneak a little yoga philosophy into your everyday conversations. "I'm sorry you had a bad day at work. But we can enjoy the evening together, right? Just be here in the present moment?"

7. Take advantage of holidays, birthdays, and special occasions. Anwser the question "What do you want for your birthday/Christmas/Valentine's Day/our anniversary?" with a simple. "If you don't know what to get you could always just go to a yoga class with me . . ." Just make sure it's a jovial suggestion, and not a guilt trip or a nag.

8. Play Krishna Das in the background while you're doing chores around the house.

9. Don't try to be his teacher. Imagine how you'd feel if he were correcting your poses. Unless you're doing a restorative practice together, leave your house and go to a class for heavens sake! You want this to be a pleasant experience not something that starts an argument.

10. Make sure your intentions are for his happiness and well-being, not your own.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Giveaway! Win Lucy's Organic Cotton Hatha Pants!

Last week, I blogged about how to find the perfect pair of yoga pants. This week, I want to give you a chance to win one of my favorites!


Lucy Activewear has long been one of my favorite brands because they make great clothes for all shapes and sizes! For me, that means I can buy a pair of yoga pants and wear them home--WITHOUT having them hemmed! (And I love the Hatha Pant because of the elongating hems down the back.) And now they come in organic cotton, too, so they're fashion forward AND sustainable!

Did I mention we're giving a pair away to one lucky reader? There are four ways to enter!

1. Comment below. Tell us what's most important to you when you pick out yoga clothes: fashion, function, fit, price, environmental impact, or fair labor?  
2. Tweet it up! "Enter to win fabulous yoga pants from @LucyActivewear and @SpoiledYogi! http://bit.ly/bHJa8s"
3. Like me on Facebook!
4. Join the Spoiled Yogi mailing list by entering your email address (in the right hand margin of this page).

I'll announce the winner on October 3!

P.S. While we're all in the spirit of giving... If you feel as passionate as I do about encouraging happy, healthy, aware kids, please consider sponsoring my Yogathon to benefit Louie's Kids and Benefit Kids in Charleston! Click here for more info! My goal is to raise $1,000. Every little bit helps! And even if you can't give, please help me spread the word by sharing it on your Facebook page and tweeting about it on Twitter!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Nancy Grace Gets a Yoga Lesson!



My sister told me she had seen this on TV and I had to look it up... I think it might be the dumbest argument I've ever seen.. Seriously, as long as she doesn't hurt herself going from Warrior I to Warrior II, who cares? There are no absolutes in yoga.. so what works for one person might not work for another. No big. AND that student needs to learn that embarrassing moments are just part of yoga class (see yesterday's post).

I think they should both get over themselves. AND I think I should have been the judge on this one because clearly Nancy Grace had no idea what they were talking about. Thoughts?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Mat Stinks (and Other Embarassing Yoga Faux Pas)



Before yoga class started tonight, I decided to rest in Child's Pose. But when I let myself melt into the floor, third eye resting blissfully upon my mat for a few moments of silence, something unpleasant happened. I took a deep breath in, ready to take in the moment, when I suddenly realized... My mat smelled like old, sweaty gym socks. I sat up. I looked to my left... and to my right. Can they smell it, too? I made eye contact with an older gentleman. He smiled politely.

A yoga studio may be a place where people gather to find balance and bliss, but, let's face it, there are opportunities for embarrassment everywhere you look. Have you ever slipped on a puddle of sweat in Tree Pose? I have. Here are a few other ways I've embarrassed myself in a yoga class.

1. Stinky, Sweaty, Disgusting Yoga Mat. By the time I noticed my mat spelled like stinky gym socks, it was too late. I just had to play it off like it wasn't a problem.

2. Getting Kicked in the Head. You know those studios where they cram the mats so close to each other you stick your feet in each other's faces in Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose)? Well, it's particularly dangerous during jump backs. Once, I got kicked right smack between the eyes. It hurt... but I think the girl who kicked me was more embarrassed than I was.

3. No Partner for Partner Poses. In yoga class, we're usually all adults, so when your teacher suggests you "grab a partner" it shouldn't feel like you were the last poor kid picked for the kick ball team... and yet, it always stings a little.

4. Body, Um, Noises. It happens to everyone. In yoga, you use your body in new ways. You create tension in your muscles so you can let it go... but sometimes you might let more than tension go.

5. Holey Pants. I once noticed there was a hole in my yoga pants during Happy Baby Pose. I quickly aborted the mission and chose a more conservative modification.

OK... now it's your turn. What's the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to you during a yoga class?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pig of Happiness

Today, I would like to be the person of happiness. (For the record, I think you have a beautiful bottom.)

What's your intention for the day?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How to Become a Yoga Teacher

Lately I've been trying pretty hard to find a way to teach yoga again, which is not easy when you're the new kid in town. I've been going to lots of different studios, introducing myself to the owners, requesting to be on the sub list... I'm going to be honest. It's pretty annoying how they all say, "Our subs are members of our community that I know very well. They've all taken my class for YEARS."

Well, excuse me for asking!

No, snagging a yoga teaching job is not not like getting other types of jobs. You can't just show up, resume in hand, and expect to get the job because you're the most qualified candidate. It really doesn't matter if you've mastered Crow Pose, know the yamas and niyamas inside and out, or have tons of experience and knowledge. Most of the time, it's about knowing the right people and being a part of the community. (Actually, maybe it's not so different from getting other jobs after all.) Unfortunately, after three months, I still don't know anyone here, so getting a studio owner to take a gamble on me feels like an impossible feat.

So how do you talk a studio owner who doesn't know you well into giving you a shot? Anyone have any experience with this? Am I really going to have to wait YEARS to get a teaching job in a new town? That just doesn't seem fair. I promise I'll show up! And I'll even put all the props away neatly when class is over! Do you think begging would help?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

How to Find The Perfect Pair of Yoga Pants

Image: LifeandStylemag.com
There are few pieces of clothing that are as versatile as a great pair of yoga pants. When you find a pair you love, you will probably get as much wear out of them during your weekend errands and lounging around the house as you do in the yoga studio. They're comfortable, casual, stylish, and enhance all your best features.

But with so many options out there, it can be hard to find the perfect pair. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

1.Know Your Body. When you begin your search for the perfect pair of yoga pants, it helps to know what you want the pants to emphasize and de-emphasize. Most women have something about their bodies they don't want the world to see. The right pants will help you send you message you want to send!
  • Bigger on the bottom? Darker colors will take the emphasis away from your bottom half and make you look slimmer.
  • If your hips are a little fuller, go for a boot cut style to balance you out.
  • Want your legs to look longer? Try a style with vertical seams that elongate.
  • Want to show off your curves? Go for a fitted straight leg that will hug your curves in all the right places.
2. Know Your Style. Are you a fashionista or a comfort seeker? Do you keep up with the trends or look for classic, timeless pieces. If you're on the trendy side, you might consider colorful fitted capris or Harem pants. If you want to stick to the classics, you can never go wrong with a basic black pant that fits like a dream.

3. Know Yourself. Yoga is all about bringing your mindfulness inward to see your inner beauty, wisdom, power, and confidence. No matter what you wear when you practice yoga, wear it with confidence and you'll be sure to shine from the inside out!

Friday, September 17, 2010

5 Habits to Break, Right Now!

In yoga, we call the habits and patterns that we develop are called samskaras. The more you practice something a particular way, the more likely you are to do it that way again. Yoga is all about taking us out of our unhealthy habitual patterns and developing healthy ones instead. I'll never forget the time a yoga teacher corrected my alignment in a pose--what she was asking me to do seemed impossible, my body simply would not move in that way. I stopped the class. "Wait a minute... How do you practice moving toward an action when you can't do it even just a little bit?" She looked baffled for a moment. Then, she said something along the lines of, "You develop the awareness by just noticing, and thinking of the intention to change it."

What works in yoga poses, typical works in life as well. So here goes. My intentions to change the unhealthy habits of my mind.

1. Negative Thoughts. You get good at the things you practice. This is what I try to remind myself every time I get lost in a haze of negativity... which is often. I want to be good at enjoying life, cultivating happiness, and sharing joy -- so that's the kind of pattern I want to establish in my mind.

2. Comparing Apples to Oranges. Suzie Q has such a deep backbend she can touch the tops of her feet to her perfectly quaffed hair do. She also has an amazing job, lots of money, and did I mention perfect hair? It is tempting to draw comparisons, and even as I do it, I know it's dumb. There's nothing productive about comparing yourself to others, and most of the time someone else's life isn't what it seems. Instead, I'm working to be grateful for the many blessings in MY life.

3. Finding a Scapegoat.
YOU are responsible for your OWN happiness--YOU! Not your your spouse or your manager, not your mother or your siblings, not EVEN that jerk that cut you off during rush-hour traffic. Stop blaming other people for your stress, and take responsibility for your own actions and reactions.

4. Creating Unnecessary Tension. I am a master at inflicting undue stress and tension upon myself. I regularly let my mind run rampant with "what if's" to the point that I can't think about anything else. I don't even notice it until I feel my shoulders creep up toward my ears and notice my breath is shallow and hurried. Sure, I could do some stretches to alleviate the physical symptoms of stress, but it would be a lot easier not to let my mind go there to begin with. So instead of stressing about things that may or may not even happen, my intention is to relax in the moment and stress ONLY when there's a reason to stress. Prevention is worth a pound of cure.

5. Putting Other Things Before My Health. I hate watching other people choose to work when they really need to slow down and take a breath. And yet, I find myself doing exactly that--even though I know better. Whether your job is taking care of an infant or a Fortune 500 company you'll be better at it if you eat right and get plenty of exercise and sleep. Duh!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Slow Down!

My life has been busy and chaotic recently. In the last week, I celebrated my second wedding anniversary and my sister had a baby. A few weeks, ago someone close to my family had a terrible accident and has been in a coma. Of course, my job has added plenty to worry and stress about. I've had a good balance of happy, sad, anxious, and scary moments recently. And yet, I don't feel balanced at all.

I've heard many great yoga teachers say that when you feel like you don't have time for yoga that's when you need it the most. I can't think of a truer statement. It's been hard to unroll my mat when there are so many other important, life-changing events happening all around me.

While I haven't felt like practicing my usual routine of arm balances and backbends, I've still been practicing. Lots of slow breathing, Legs-Up-the-Wall, and Child's Pose have been my attempts at grounding and bringing my mind back into the present moment. I can't say that these poses are always successful at lulling back into a state of calmness, but they work better than most other things I've tried.

What do you practice when your life feels like chaos?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

5 Things Football and Yoga Have in Common

Image source: Dailylobo.com
Let me just begin this blog by saying, I don't get football.. No matter how hard I try to sit down and watch—no matter how determined I am to pay attention and get into it—my mind wanders and I daydream about baking cupcakes or jumping on a trampoline.. you know, more important things. When my husband has it on (like right now) I usually find something else to do while I wait for it to be over. For example, I try to watch, but end up writing a blog instead.

Regardless, I like to think I can come up with a way to relate yoga to anything... even something as mysterious (and loud) as football. So here goes.

5 Things Football and Yoga Have in Common

1. Community. Both football and yoga are about community. Football fans cheer together; yogis breathe together. It's the same thing, really.

2. Training for Stressful Situations. Football players have to keep their cool under TONS of pressure. Honestly, I don't know how they handle it. Yoga students practice keeping calm in difficult poses so we can stay calm in stressful life situations.

3. Coaches. In yoga we call them teachers. They are our guides, our leaders, and our strategists. They help us find our edge and encourage us to do things we never thought were possible.

4. Cheerleaders. It might be the same thing as community, but we yoga students are cheerleaders for each other. We believe that by supporting each other, we're supporting ourselves and vice verse. That's what we mean when we say Namaste, isn't it? It's the yoga equivalent of, "Go Team!!"

5. Sweat, Spandex, and Spirit!

I know there have to be more similarities... help me out here, football fans!

In other news, my favorite part of football has always been the commercials. I LOVE this one.. and now I'd really like a pet polar bear. I already have a white cat and almost white dog... why not a big white bear, too?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How to Choose a Yoga Teacher

Once again, I find myself looking for a teacher. Someone who I can get to know, who knows my practice well enough to know when I'm slacking during core work and who can look at my poses and say, "Erica, you're hyper-extending again..."

It's hard to build a relationship with a yoga teacher when the only time you can make it to a studio is Saturday morning when it's so crowded it's a miracle if you can even get close enough to the teacher to mutter a "Thanks" on your way out. And while I've been maintaining my practice through videos online lately, I know the importance of face time with a teacher who knows you well enough to give individual instruction.

Finding a yoga teacher is a lot like finding a life partner--chemistry is important. And the only real way of knowing if you have the right chemistry with a teacher is to actually experience the teachings in all their glory. One class is not enough. You have to commit to that teacher for long enough for her to know you well enough to offer adjustments specific to you. Unfortunately, some teachers don't do that no matter how well they know you... Sigh. I'm afraid it's going to take me a LOOONG time to find a teacher.

The last time I moved (which was not so long ago) I wrote this personal ad for a yoga teacher. I'm seriously considering posting it on Craigslist.

In addition I would like to add the following:

 - Must give adjustments. (Especially the one where I get traction on my spine during Down Dog.)

- Oh, and no creepy, floppy-fish-hands adjustments. Isn't that Yoga Teacher Training 101? I'm shocked by how many soft, stroking adjustments I've been getting lately...

- Must be able to see that I'm bored in his class for beginners and offer ways to help me amp it up.

- Must be able to recognize my face and know my name ... Actually, scratch that, she doesn't have to KNOW my name after a handful of classes, but it would be nice if she'd at least ASK me what it is!

That's really all. Is that too much to ask?

I need advice. How did you find "the one"?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Another Ah-Ha Moment

I love my new home--I love the people, the atmosphere... I'm even getting used to the weather. I haven't, however, gotten into my yoga groove here yet. The yoga studios here are adorable, the communities are thriving,  and the teachers are sweet and knowledgeable, the classes are ... well... not as challenging as I'm used to. I'm sure eventually I'll find the right class, but until then, I'm amazed at all the great things I'm learning through online videos. I've been able to keep up my daily practice through challenging classes through online services like YogaGlo.

But I was shocked that I had a legitimate yogic break-through by watching a short video on Youtube! All my other ah-ha moments have come with the direct guidance of a teacher who knows my practice and gives me individual attention. The fact that I could simply be a fly on the wall in a studio and "get" the nuances to a technique I've never quite understood makes me giddy! It opens up a whole world!

Oh, here's the video! After watching it I tried jumping through and jumping back and I DID IT!! (Who knew something as simple as crossing your legs at the shins instead of your ankles could make such a difference?)



Have you ever had an ah-ha moment that came from teachings in a video?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

5 Ways to Get Yoga for FREE!

I LOVE free stuff. From buy-one-get-one-free coupons to free food samples at the grocery store, almost nothing makes me happier than feeling like I got a little something for nothing! As someone who loves free stuff and is also maybe a little obsessed with yoga, September is the equivalent of the feeling I had when I was five years old on Christmas morning. National Yoga Month is here!! And that means free or cheap yoga classes at studios all over the country!

In honor of National Yoga Month, I thought I'd put together a few tips I've learned to get yoga for free or cheap all year round!

1. Enroll in Teacher Training. Do you want a lifetime of free yoga classes? One of the best investments you can make is in a teacher training program. Many studios offer free classes to their regular teachers, subs, and even classroom assistants. But you DO have to have finished a 200-hour teacher training first. Yes, those can be very expensive, but think about all the money you could save on classes after you're a YTT graduate!

2. Seek Out a Work Study Program. Your studio might need help sweeping floors, putting props away, or manning their front desks. Ask around and see if there's a work study program, if not off your help in exchange for a free class every now and then!

3. Help Your Teacher. If your studio doesn't have a work exchange program, maybe your teacher will! Being a yoga teacher is a business and many of would be happy to work out a trade with you if you have skills that can help their businesses grow! Can you build a web page? Savvy with online marketing? Are you a great writer or artist? Offer it up!

4. Get a Scholarship. They might be hard to find, but they're out there if you know where to look! A quick Google search pulled up scholarships from Kripalu, YogaBasics.com, YogaAngel.com, and this blog post I wrote about yoga scholarships a year ago!

5. Let the Internet Be Your Guide. Youtube, podcasts, subscription services, oh my! There are free yoga resources all OVER the Internet. So if you're looking for a great option for free, it's right at your fingertips anytime you're in the mood!

Another note: If you really can't afford yoga, let your teacher and/or studio know. Most are more than happy to work something out with you because, after all, they're in the yoga business because they LOVE sharing yoga. They probably don't want to turn anyone away! So be creative, and get on the mat!

Speaking of freebies ... Congratulations to the Spoiled Yogi & Beebliss giveaway winner, Kimberly Parrish! I'll send you a message to get your size and get your shirt shipped to you right away! A big thanks to everyone who participated! Stay tuned, I hope to offer another giveaway soon!