Category Archives: Yoga Teacher Training

Life in 2013!

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It’s hard to believe that today is the final day of 2013.  It seems like just yesterday I was bundled up, running through the snowy streets and listening to Ellie Golding’s Anything Can Happen and feeling excited and hopeful for the year ahead…

January started with the completion of a long time goal…becoming a certified yoga instructor!  It felt so good to finally complete my goal.   I spent most of January and February teaching my first classes and finding my way as a new instructor.  January also brought my year of being a sponsored athlete for Athleta, which was all sorts of fun and exciting.  I even went outside my comfort zone and modeled in a fashion show for them! Michael and spent most of the winter hibernating and we even watched as we got 30 inches of snow in one storm!  It was a long winter, and having ran outside all winter I was happy to see spring arrive!

The spring brought a lot with it.  Most significantly we endured the Boston Marathon bombings, and the days that followed.  It’s still a memory that brings back many emotions and thoughts. Unfortunately it is something I’ll probably carry with me for years to come.  I’m grateful for my safety and glad I was just far enough away and most of all  I was relieved that all 150+ Team In Training runners were safe.  I’m also incredibly proud of how our city has moved on and the strength we have shown.

I traveled a lot for work this past spring, attending the Inaugural Nike Women’s Marathon Half in Washington, D.C. and the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon!  It was my first trip to DC so I made the most of every moment and saw everything from the Smithsonian to the Bill of Rights, the Constitution and all of the monuments at the mall in addition to a trip to the Newseum!  My mom came with me to San Diego and my first trip to California!  We had a great mother-daughter trip exploring Coronado Island, the San Diego Zoo (amazing!) and enjoying lots and lots of delicious food!

Summer started with a trip to NY to see my parents and a staycation over the 4th of July.  I managed to go to the beach almost everyday, explored the World’s End Reserve in Hingham and the South Shore with Michael, and took a day trip to Newport to tackle the Cliff Walk and head to the beach!  I also started to think more about yoga and what I needed from my practice.  I signed up for 2 fall half-marathons and started training.  I was feeling really good with all of my workouts and training and loving it! In mid-July we lost our love, Brandy.  It was such a sad day as she was truly our little friend who greeted us when we came home with loud meows, snuggled with us whenever possible and followed us from room to room.  You were never alone with her by your side.  She was always little spoon and loved to fall asleep next to you.  Michael and I were heart broken and terribly sad.  As Brandy would have wanted we kept our best to keep on living and loving.  We spent the day together in Manchester by the Sea, tried Stand Up Paddle Boarding, had lunch by the ocean and spent the after at the beach.  We went to the track in Saratoga with Michael’s family and enjoyed many mornings at the backstretch (my favorite).  We headed to the Cape the following weekend for another adventure!  We explored Hyannis, spent my birthday eating pastries, exploring Provincetown, eating oyster and seafood ocean-side in Wellfleet and even watched Planes at the drive-in!  We worked the Falmouth Road Race and watched 35 Team In Training runners cross the finish line!  And to complete our tour of the Cape we spent the night in Martha’s Vineyard at a super nice hotel, enjoying a fancy dinner and exploring Vineyard Haven! We even saw President Obama playing golf!  We closed out the summer with one final weekend at the track in Saratoga!

Fall came quickly and was in one word, BUSY!  I got promoted at work not once but twice! We went to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania so I could be the bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding and watch her and her husband say I do!  And we welcomed this little one into our lives!  Twila brought lots of laughter and happiness with her funny little ways! We headed to Newport again to go the Wine and Food Festival.  It was a pretty amazing day in one of the mansions trying food and wine and loving every minute of it! The last weekend of September brought one of the most exciting things of the entire year…our engagement!  Michael proposed in our Sunday morning yoga class!  We celebrated over brunch and with our family and friends!

October brought back to back half-marathons!  We headed to Portland, ME for the Maine Marathon and Half where I had an incredible race and loved the scenery!  The following weekend I ran the BAA Half Marathon yet again and had another fun race!  We celebrated both with lots of delicious food!  At the end of October my parents came to help us choose our wedding venue.  We set our date and began planning for our November 15, 2014 wedding!  In November we met with caterers, went to multiple tastings and picked ours!  My mom, cousin and I found the dress of my dreams!  We celebrated Thanksgiving with Michael’s family and yoga! December brought christmas trees, work travel and holiday shopping!  I celebrated the holiday in NY with my family and even went skiing last week with my Dad and brother!

Beyond all the activities I managed to scale back in my commitments and started to really live by the idea that less is more.  I refocused on my yoga practice and even stopped teaching in an effort to reconnect.  I’ve also scaled back my running and workouts to give my body a chance to rest and recover a bit…the first time in years.  I finally feel like I’m in a great place with work and life balance and put my time first.

It’s been an amazing year and we can only imagine what next year will bring!  We can’t wait to get married and become husband and wife and hope to see so many more amazing things come our way!  Thank you all for following my life and journey, even as I’ve stepped back and have been blogging less.  I’m hoping to be writing a bit more in the year to come!

Happy New Year Friends!! 

In the Kitchen

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One of my favorite things to do on the weekend is to spend time in the kitchen.  I love preparing meals for the week ahead and find the time very relaxing.  When I was taking yoga teacher training we learned a lot about meditation.  Prior to teacher training I’d never meditated.  I always felt that if I was going to a studio for a class I’d rather just take a yoga class.  But through our meditations in teacher training I learned that meditation comes in many forms.

Walking meditation is very popular.  In walking meditation you focus on the world surrounding you and your breath.  You tune into the movements in your body and the sounds around you.  In the process you tune out your internal thoughts.  I’ve always thought that running is similar.  And quite honestly I consider running my form of meditation.  It’s quiet time, time to focus on my breath and to observe my thoughts without judgement.

While I was in the kitchen on Sunday I felt myself relaxing completely.  There is something peaceful about the sound of the knife hitting the cutting board, the water running in the sink, the feeling of warm water on your hands as you wash the dishes.  I love just staring out the kitchen window to the back yard as I wash veggies or do the dishes.  My mind started to quiet and was able to completely focus on the recipes.

Banana Nut Muffins

Banana Nut Muffins

Cooking not only helps me relax but it’s a way to spend time taking care of myself. I always love heading into a busy week with healthy food already prepared.  On Sunday I prepared a salsa avocado chicken salad (recipe coming on Wednesday!) and then went on to make homemade banana nut muffins.  I love cooking when I have the entire day to get lost in it.  I have no reason to rush or hurry my way through and somehow that makes me enjoy the food more.  I know when I’m busy this week and grabbing my chicken salad for lunch I’ll be reminded of how peaceful it was to prepare the meal and undoubtedly it will make me slow down while I eat.

So next time you are in the kitchen with some free time, preparing your favorite meal I urge you to slow down and relax.  Focus on the process of chopping the veggies, preparing the meat or mixing the flour and sugar before combining the wet ingredients.  You may find that you like the time in the kitchen a bit more…

Have you ever experienced meditation in the kitchen?  Do you find cooking relaxing?

How Teacher Training Changed My Body

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One of the questions I’m often asked is, “how has teacher training changed your body?”.  I definitely feel as if my body has changed.  I often thought I understood my body as an athlete prior to teacher training, I could push through pain and exhaustion and learned again and again how to improve my form or balance to become a better athlete.  Teacher training though taught me that I had so much more to learn.  Now I feel as if I am able to control my body and utilize the strength in my muscles to get in to deeper backbends and more challenging arm balances.  While  I still have my fears (um hello headstands and handstand) I’m slowly overcoming them and starting to trust in my body and strength more.

My running has improved thanks to yoga too.  My hips feel more open and my core stronger so each step feels more powerful.  I don’t feel as if I struggle with the pain in my hips as much as I once did and I definitely no longer struggle with ITBS.  I feel more balanced when I’m out running.  I haven’t had to wear my brace to help with runners knee in almost a year and I’ve never once thought I needed it!

My posture is much different.  I stand taller with my shoulders back and open more, my hips are more open on my front side and my tail is tucked.  It feels so good and natural.  As a taller woman, I’m 5’9″ I was always slouching and rolling my shoulders forward in an effort to look shorter.  It would make my back and neck hurt and was often really uncomfortable.  Today, I feel so much better and more confident standing taller.

I could talk all day about the subtle changes in my body but I think it’s best if I just show you.  Back in August we had to choose 3 challenges poses.  David photographed us in each one and then in January we came back and photographed them again so we could see how much we’ve changed.

Challenge pose #1

I choose wheel for my first challenge pose.  I really wanted to go from wheel to standing but knew I had a long way to go.

Wheel Pose August 2012

Wheel Pose August 2012

Wheel Pose January 2013

Wheel Pose January 2013

You can see I have really deepened my backbend.  I’ve worked to open my shoulders so I can straighten my arms completely and I’ve been working to open the front of my hips and contracting my glutes so I can continue to walk my feet closer to my hands.  With the support of a teacher to help guide me I can come up to standing and drop back to wheel again.  I’m still deepening my backbend to be able to come into this on my own.  I’m impressed with how dar I’ve come!

Challenge Pose #2

Handstand was my second challenge pose.  I’ve always wanted to get into this pose but struggled with getting upside down.

Handstand August 2012

Handstand August 2012

Handstand January 2013

Handstand January 2013

Back in August I couldn’t even kick up to a wall.  Now I am able to kick up to the wall and better understand how to control my body, which muscles to contract, how to hold my arms and shoulders to support my weight and I am slowly starting to get over my fear of being upside down.  I’ll be honest, I HATE kicking up to a wall but I’m learning and perhaps someday I’ll get into handstand without the wall.

Challenge Post #3

Forearm stand.  I always think people who can do this in the middle of a yoga class look ridiculously awesome and I wanted to be one of them.   Forearm stand scares me less than handstand but I’m still learning.

Forearm Stand August 2012

Forearm Stand August 2012

Forearm Stand January 2013

Forearm Stand January 2013

For me, what is most noticeable in this pose is the approach.  You can tell from the photos I’ve learned to engage my entire body in this pose and the chaos from the first pose is not visible in the second pose.  When I look at these two photos I see calmness and strength in the second photo and chaos and lack of trust in the first photo.  To me, that transformation is huge!

Like many things in life, I’ve learned we have all our strengths.  For me, I really wanted my strength to be going upside down or backbends but in the last 6 months I’ve learned that my strength is really in arm balances! I have the strength and flexibility to twist up my body and lift it off the ground and have so much fun doing it!  Arm balances are definitely my favorite now.  Next week I’m taking a workshop on arm balances and hope to learn some new balances and share photos!

Side Crow Pose

Side Crow Pose

Yoga is a journey and I’m impressed with how far I’ve come in the last 6 months.  I can only imagine how my practice will evolve and change in the future!

How has your changed your body?  What are your strengths and weaknesses?  Do you like backbends, stands or arm balances best?

Yoga Teacher Training…The Final Weekend!

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Last week I was counting down the days until the weekend.  I was so excited about this final weekend of teacher training!  I knew it would be celebratory and fun and most importantly the beginning of a new chapter.

Saturday when we arrived to the studio we were all buzzing, smiling and excited.  We started by assisting Jojo’s 9am class which was packed thanks to the new year and a group of Lululemon employees.  Adjusting classes is a unique way to be intimately involved with the students and their practice.  I love going around, helping students deepen poses, align better and relax into those juicy poses like reclined twist, janushirasana and pigeon.  Assisting students in savasana is always my favorite.  I love when teachers assist me, it helps me to relax and release any final tensions.  I try to give each student plenty of time and focus when adjusting in this pose so they too can enjoy savasana.

After Jojo’s class we had circle time.  Today was a little bit different. We each took a piece of paper, wrote our name on the top and passed it to the person to our right.  Each of us wrote one sentence on the paper.  The idea was to write down our thoughts, and impressions of the person on the paper.  We continued to pass the papers around, writing our thoughts and sharing what we admired in that person.  In the end we received our papers back.  They were filled with 13 notes from our fellow trainees with kind words, thoughts and opinions…words to lift us up and inspire us.  We then wrote our own words in response to those negative statements we have heard from those closest to us our whole lives. Then we read the notes from our peers and David asked us to write an affirmation about the person we have become…

I have the courage and presence of mind to say what others are thinking.  The intimacy and knowledge of my own practice take me to a place where I can teach and inspire others.

We broke for lunch and started to prepare for the afternoon community class.  It was truly a team effort to make the class a success. Those who were teaching walked through their class with the microphone and those how weren’t teaching prepared the studio.  That meant we were on vacuum, bathroom and prop duty…making sure everything was neat and clean and the studio was looking it’s best for those coming for the class.  While some of the trainees greeted people and helped them find what they’d need for a successful class I worked the front desk, signing people in and collecting waivers.  Once everyone arrived and was settled I headed in to take the class.

My Teacher Training Group!

My Teacher Training Group!

My fellow trainees literally rocked their class.  It felt like one giant party.  Everyone was great spirits and all smiles, the playlist was awesome and the class was challenging.  The room was packed with everyone’s friends and family there to support them.

After the class we broke for the day, my group quickly met to rehearse our class that we’d be teaching on Sunday.  I headed out to meet Michael.  We were staying in the city to go to dinner and see Savion Glover at the Boston Opera House.  Michael had gotten me tickets for Christmas and I was really excited for the night!  I showered and got ready for the night and wore a sparkly black dress.  Right before we headed out I quickly went to the bathroom.  As I was standing outside the door putting my jacket on to go I heard the sound of water…lots of water.  I turned the light on and saw the toilet over flowing.  Rapidly over flowing.  I quickly yelled for Michael and grabbed a towel and threw it on the floor.  I couldn’t help but laugh at the situation.  All dressed up for a night on the town dealing with an over flowing toilet.  But somehow it didn’t ruin my night.  It made it just that much better.

Sunday morning we took David’s public class.  As he said, it was his final gift to us.  David was in a great mood, full of smiles and laughter and had an awesome playlist to remind us the journey we’d been on.  We all laughed and enjoyed the class.  It felt good to sweat and flow next to my fellow teacher trainees.

Adjusting the Public Class

Adjusting the Public Class

We closed out the morning by having one final circle.  It was an opportunity to say whatever we wanted to the group.  We each went around sharing our story of the journey, and thanking each other.  For me it all seemed so surreal, to be sitting there on the final day of teacher training.  It was something I dreamed about and talked about for so long. We reminisced back to-day 1 when we had to hug everyone…and most of us agreed we had the same thought…hell no.  As for me, it was an opportunity to thank my teacher trainees and David for showing me that I actually don’t have my shit together, that I have walls just like everyone else and that I don’t need to be perfect all the time and really that’s the only way to live.  I told them the story about the overflowing toilet.  For me to laugh in that moment and know that I would still have a great night is truly a testament for how far I’ve come.  There were a lot of tears of happiness, joy and love.  In some way we all fell in love with each other throughout this journey.  And much like we started the journey we closed it by hugging each and everyone, but this time there was love and smiles shared with each hug.

Teacher Trainees

We broke for lunch and then prepared for another community class.  Sunday was my day to teach and I was so excited.  We mocked through our class with the microphone and set the mats up so we could demo as necessary.  Michael came to support me and soon enough the room was full.  We had a packed house! The class went so well.  I couldn’t have been happier! It was amazing to see more than 50 people follow our directions!

Teacher Trainees

After the class, everyone participated in our graduation ceremony! David showed a slide show with photos from our photo shoot.  They handed out our certificates and roses and before we knew it the day had come to an end.  It’s official…I’m a certified yoga instructor!

It's Official!

It’s Official!

On Feeling Accomplished

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It is no secret that I love goals and milestones to work towards.  I’ve learned over the years that it’s really just better for everyone if I think about life in small chunks.  One accomplishment at a time, one step at a time.  Sometimes the smallest things in life can leave me feeling accomplished and I love that!

We are in the height of recruitment for our summer season at Team In Training.  I’m managing two teams and working with our corporate program so it’s definitely busy.  I love what I’m doing and feel like I’ve found my stride.  I’ve finally adjusted to the new schedule and have a good handle on how to manage all my responsibilities.  As I was driving home last night I was reflecting on how nervous I was about this busy month and how pleasantly surprised I am about how well it’s going.   It left me feeling accomplished.

Even though it’s only been a week I’m feeling so good about the fact that I completed all of my planned workouts this week.  I ran 3 times this week and hit the mat for yoga.  There was most certainly a morning or two where I considered snuggling in bed for an extra hour but like they always say, you never regret a workout!  Today, I’m most certainly enjoying a rest day and I won’t feel one bit bad about it.  Accomplished.

And this weekend?  A much bigger accomplishment.  I’ll become a certified yoga instructor!  It’s been quite the 6 months trying to get through each weekend, prepare for exams and prep for our community class but it’s also been such a fun journey! There have been so many mini milestones to this journey like conquering challenging poses, finding myself as a teacher, learning to be a little less Type A, and teaching my first class.  If you are in the Boston area I hope you’ll come out to South Boston Yoga to  share this accomplishment with me! I’ll be teaching a community class with my fellow trainees on Sunday at 2pm.  We’ll be teaching an awesome all levels flow with a rockin’ playlist!

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What leaves you feeling accomplished?