Reflections on Race in Yoga

“Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the divisive reality in which we live. When I go to yoga, why do I sometimes feel like an outsider? Is it race? I have to admit that when I go to yoga and see a lack of racial diversity, I question it. I ask myself why there aren’t more [BIPOC] in these yoga classes and why does that make me feel so uncomfortable (outsider-ish). Yes, there are [sometimes] one or two [BIPOC] per class, but overall, the homogeneity of the yoga classroom does not (usually) represent the demographics of the outside community.

After quite a bit of self-reflection, I am still trying to understand how this lack of diversity in my yoga classrooms (and perhaps yours too) affects me and how I can change it. Recently, I came to this strange realization that in the classes I teach (compared to the classes that I take), there is so much diversity …. Am I–as a teacher aware of my own discomfort with yoga’s exclusivity– now attracting [BIPOC]?” *

The above excerpt is from a blog post of mine from 2016. It’s been almost 4 years and not much has changed. I remember writing this post and feeling almost ashamed of my feelings. The yoga community had been so open and loving toward me…where were these feelings of “otherness” coming from?

Through conversations with friends of color, I have realized that these feelings are actually far from uncommon. The Western yoga space has been whitewashed. It is largely an exclusive club and often inaccessible to people of color. Yoga comes from India, yet it is mostly taught by white teachers in white-owned studios. It is also expensive and is more present in wealthy, white neighborhoods. I can acknowledge this while still firmly believing that yoga is a good, safe place for many and that yoga is powerful and has the ability to change so many lives. However, currently the safe space is often only safe for some and not all. Don’t get me wrong…I am so thankful for my mostly-white yoga community. I am grateful for my mentors/teachers (most of whom are white). But, I know something in the landscape of yoga needs to change. We cannot keep preaching love, unity, and acceptance when our own community is not a reflection of that.

What can we do to diversify the landscape of yoga (and wellness in general)? I have many ideas on this but here are a few…

  1. Acknowledge that there’s a problem. Have open discussions with your community.
  2. If you’re a white-owned studio: Diversify your studio. Hire teachers of color. Build meaningful relationships. Ask how you can create a safe space for BIPOC teachers and students.
  3. If you’re a BIPOC teacher, think about creating your own safe space where students of color can come together. You have a unique perspective and understanding.

I have started following more yoga teachers of color, specifically Black teachers, on instagram as well as studios that offer classes for BIPOC. While the landscape of yoga may look similar to that of 4 years ago, in these past few weeks there has been a major shift in the conversation. Although there has long been an awareness with yogis of color that there is something missing in the space of yoga, this awareness is now spreading to the general community.

This is just the beginning of what I hope is a long, continuing conversation and effort to build the inclusiveness and accessibility of yoga.

*I substituted the term “minority” for “BIPOC” which stands for “Black, Indigenous, People of Color.” The term minority is outdated as we are quickly becoming the majority.

Balancing it all

Just an update on my life as a mom, entrepreneur, and individual!

Since becoming a mom, I have found that life has become a juggling act of sorts. I’m a stay-at-home mom, but also have my Etsy, Poshmark, and yoga business. I sometimes take side-jobs in marketing and photography as well. I love having something for myself that I can work at and be proud of. In addition to my business, I have really delved into dance this past season. Dance (and yoga) keeps me grounded & feeling like myself. It helps me keep my identity as an individual, other than just a mom.

While I’m at home daily with my now almost 21-month old, I am consumed by mom life. My routine consists of feeding, clothing, changing, cleaning, carrying, and entertaining my toddler. ALL DAY. EVERYDAY. Oh, and I forgot naps…those are hard sometimes, but occasionally I get a break…or a nap.

So when do I have time for my business, dance, and self-care? After hours! When baby (and husband) are asleep that’s when I work and play! Luckily for me, my businesses are flexible & online. And, salsa dance starts late and goes till 2 am (not that I stay out that late regularly). For yoga, I opt for an online kula that I can access around the clock. It’s not exactly the same as a studio, but at least I still am able to practice regularly! I sometimes practice at the gym, logged in via wifi, while my little one is in the gym’s daycare, or during naps, or in the middle of the night. I’ve learned to be super flexible to get in MY necessities.

At times, all of this balancing can be overwhelming. There are days when I’m sleep deprived, cranky, and/or lazy. These days I try to take it easy and perhaps step back from my business. I nap when my son naps to catch up on sleep. Other days, I push through it. Even though it’s important to be mindful and present, it’s also super helpful for me to have something to look forward to. Some event or self-care moment to smile about. This is how I get through the moments of tantrums or even loneliness that sometimes accompanies the at-home life.

I haven’t perfected the balance just yet. I’m still learning and finding my way daily as toddler life is unpredictable. Things are getting a little easier each day as I climb the learning curve!

Mommy Belly

The female body is capable of so much. Our bodies stretch and expand to house a little being for 9 months. Then when it’s all over, we expect that our bodies contract and return back to “normal.” Why do we expect this? Well, we often see new mom celebrities or our fittest friends show off their bellies after birth. We see their glow, their smiles, and their amazing, unchanged bodies. We think to ourselves, “It’s possible!” And, while possible, it’s not always the case! …And, that’s okay.

We, as a society; we, as women; we, as mothers; often do not share what really happens after birth to our bodies. While the mental and emotional side is starting to get more awareness (the postpartum depression, the anxiety, the feelings of inadequacies), the physical changes are often overlooked. Why? Perhaps because we don’t find it as important. Or, perhaps, because we are embarrassed or ashamed?

For me, the physical changes were almost just as alarming as the mental ones. I suffered from PTSD and some depression and definitely lots of anxiety (still do). I had heard of that before though. Witnessed it to some degree. I did not expect these HUGE changes to my physical experience though. I was surprised when I was left striped with stretch marks, with loose skin to the point where my belly button no longer looked like a belly button, and cellulite that was suddenly everywhere. Even my face had a permanent tired look–with bags under my eyes, some extra wrinkles, and a double chin that peaked out once in a while. My hair…I lost so much postpartum, it looked like I had shaved the sides of my head and near my hair line. As it grew back, my hair became scraggly and messy. Gray hairs also appeared.

Again, I come back to why aren’t we prepared for that? Why is it such a secret that our bodies change to such a great extent? It may not be traditionally attractive or sexy, but I think, if we all start talking about it, start showing photos of our true bodies, it will help us mothers begin to accept our new bodies. Our stretch marks, our loose skin, our extra belly fat– let’s grow to love it all. Our bodies have done so much for us. I feel so fortunate I was able to give birth to my son. I hope one day I can wear my scars & new mommy shape like a badge of honor! This blog post is just the beginning of my journey of loving my new self–mommy belly and all. I hope we moms start to share more. I’d love to hear your story too!

Down to the Diapers

A few years ago, I decided that I had to start making some changes around the house. I’ve tried to educate myself about living sustainably, but it doesn’t always translate in practice. Slowly, I’ve made some “eco-friendly,” simple changes around the house that, if we all did, could have a big positive impact on this planet. The latest of my changes is my switch…to cloth diapers.

Newborn Madness

The first few months were crazy. I really wanted to do cloth diapers. I registered for the pocket diapers (water resistant snap diaper with a pocket for absorbent pads) for my baby shower. I read the basic directions on how to do it…I just ended up being too tired, and, too discouraged to use them regularly. Instead, we opted for “eco-friendly” brands (they still end up in the landfill) like Seventh Generation, Dyper (bamboo), and Honest. On days where I had more energy, I would try cloth again.

The Power of Facebook

After Ollie turned a year old, I joined a cloth diapering Facebook groups. For all of you new parents out there, Facebook is one of the best resources out there for support from other parents! There are thousands of moms out there ready to give you advice (not to supplant that of a doctor) on diapers, breastfeeding, and crying babies. So, this cloth diapering group really helped me get the ball rolling with Ollie finally. It provided the proper technique, the stories of struggle and perseverance, and the encouragement. I remembered the reason why I wanted to use cloth in the first place. It’s great for the environment and easy on the budget!

Perseverance

I began to gradually increase my use of cloth. Eventually my husband Chris got on board with this process. I started off slowly having him change only a couple of diapers a day and telling him I would rinse the inserts and take care of all the diaper laundry. The whole process may sound gross, but it really is an easy, only-sometimes gross process. The poops are way worse than the pees! (One of these days we will have to purchase a sprayer…)

I think the most important thing, just like any other new process, is to educate yourself and to give yourself ample time to adjust and really try! Also, don’t be afraid to try different types of cloth diapers. There are “All-in-Ones,” pockets, covers, fitted, etc. So many options. It can be confusing at first, but that’s when the research comes in!

PS. Ollie loves his fluffy butts & the diaper prints are so cute!!!

If this post did not apply to you at all (babies, diapers, WHAT? gross!), try reading my more-general post about Living Mindfully!

Unexpected Life Events

Over the past 15 months or so, our family has been on a roller coaster. Chris’s dad passed, I almost died giving birth, we struggled postpartum adjusting, my [favorite] cat died, and a week ago, Chris had a minor heart attack and heart procedure. I’m writing this blog as therapy. I’ve buried so much of this over the past year or so and finally want to do something about it.

When I gave birth, after an exhausting 44 hours of labor, 26 or so hours of VERY PAINFUL natural labor, the remaining medicated, 5 hours of intense pushing…something went wrong. I had an emergency c section, which went smoothly, until it did NOT. I quickly lost blood. Almost 70% of it. I had a secondary emergency procedure to stop the blood loss. Multiple transfusions later and 3 days in the ICU later, I held my baby boy for the first time. I was in so much pain I don’t even think I realized at the time the significance of this or the impact the sequence events would have on all of us months to come. Let’s just say PTSD is real. It sometimes comes from things as simple as giving birth. This original hospital stay was 8 days long.

After leaving the hospital, I was so weak, and still in so much pain. I stopped taking the narcotics they gave me since those entered the breastmilk. It hurt to sit, to lay, to move. I soon noticed a horrible back pain and chills as well. I had problems breathing. The same week as leaving the hospital, I went to the ER and found out my blood results were crazy. My body was freaking out. I likely had pneumonia, a kidney infection, and sepsis. Even after all the antibiotics, I was in pain for months. And these strong antibiotics meant I was pumping and dumping a lot. I returned to the ER once more for similar pain a week later. More antibiotics.

After these events, I still was having horrible nightmares. Anxiety. Depression. Loneliness. Helplessness.

Things are a lot better now for me, but I still struggle with motherhood. Motherhood is hard. I sometimes wonder if I was prepared to be a mother. If I were meant to be one. Ollie has separation anxiety so intensely right now. He cries if I walk a foot away. He also wakes up every hour or so at night. Chris and I are tired.

Chris last week had a heart attack. He had a 90% blocked Lateral Anterior Descending artery. They put a stent in and now is on a lot of medications and off of work for a while. We are stressed but okay for now.

I’ve been meaning to write this blog for a while. Chris’s recent hospital stay just pushed this to the top of my list.

Unexpected life events happen. We have had so many good things, so many blessings, happen to us over these past 15 months. I think sometimes, however, it’s okay to just really delve into the not-so-good. I think it can be therapeutic to do so. If we float above the bad, we eventually tire and drown in it all.

PS. My cat Albus was the best cat ever and he passed suddenly at 6 years old. </3

Recycled Fashion

Some “light” Marie Kondo-ing turns into major thrifting.

For a while now, I’ve been looking for more ways to be environmentally conscious while sticking to my budget. Recently, after falling in love with Marie Kondo on Netflix, I decided to go through my clothes and say thank you to my clothes that no longer sparked joy in me and drop them off at Goodwill. In the process, I found the app Poshmark. It’s an app made for the millennial. Tons of social sharing, liking, and bargaining. AND, you get to make a pretty penny while you’re at it. (Or, rather, possibly a pretty penny and not always very easily…there’s lots of phone tapping involved…but nevertheless, it’s easier than ebay.)

“Hello closet. Let’s get down to business and clear you out. Let’s make me some money.”

“Wait, actually, let’s get rid of a bunch of things…but also check out what Goodwill has to offer in terms of cute clothes, purses, and shoes as well….”

Our guest bedroom/the baby room has now turned into an anti-Kondo room of potential Poshmark sales. OOPS. But at the same time– YAY. Thrifting is now my new hobby and dare-I-say side-business…?

Thrifting is not only fun, but it also can be quite lucrative. Perfect for me, who is a stay-at-home mom now with a few naps here and there of downtime/chore time.

So this is the story of how (and part of the why) I’ve come to add a “POSHMARK” link in my site’s menu 🙂

Here are some more reasons why secondhand fashion is trending AND a great avenue to live more sustainably:

Yogilinds Poshmark Closet
  • Find great, quality clothes (and expensive brands) for WAY LESS
  • Keep clothes out of the landfill for a little longer. Extend the life of a barely worn sweater, loved pair of shoes, or beautiful, near pristine bag.
  • Reduce resources. Buy secondhand to reduce the water & other resources required to produce new products.
  • Support great causes. Many secondhand stores are nonprofit and donate their proceeds to various charities.
  • Step outside of the mall. Go beyond your usual staples and find some fun items to wear!

What other reasons can you think of for thrifting??? I would love to hear them! Also, if you haven’t joined Poshmark yet, follow the link in my menu! If you join using my code “YOGILINDS”, you also earn $5 of shopping credit. Happy thrifting!

Attainable New Year’s Goals

New year resolutions, in my opinion, should not be these grand, unattainable goals. They should be tangible, in reach, doable. 

Happy New Year!

This morning I found some quiet time while my baby was sleeping & husband was home to practice yoga– a short asana and meditation. And now, I feel refreshed and inspired to write about some of my new year goals!

Here’s just a brief overview of them:

  1. Be more patient & kind–especially with those closest to me!
  2. Practice yoga more
  3. Meditate
  4. Get outdoors more
  5. Dance often
  6. Sleep more
  7. Clean out my closet & misc possessions
  8. Buy less/reduce/reuse/recycle
  9. Contribute to our household finances more
  10. [Continue to] be a good partner and mom

I’ve gone into the new year with these goals already in progress! They are neither impractical nor impossible.

Some of the things I’ve started doing include signing up for a couple online yoga programs & getting involved with an actual kula (community) on Facebook to keep me accountable. On Yoga Collective (found a groupon!) there are great Baby & Me classes as well as a variety of levels and styles. Another online yoga subscription I am doing is with Karson McGinley. She’s a great teacher and was my main mentor during yoga teacher training. I highly recommend her!

I also started watching a Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix. Now I’m going through all my possessions and asking myself “Does this bring me joy?” If it does not, I either donate it or I resell it on Poshmark or Ebay! (I’ve made a couple hundred dollars in the past week! Contributing to finances–check!)

The more difficult goals on my attainable list probably include the sleeping more and being patient. My lack of sleep (baby!) has really made me irritable…for the past year or so…. (I haven’t had a full night sleep since being 3 months pregnant!) So, how will I get more sleep? I figure I need to 1) start napping with the baby and/or 2) utilize my family/friend network more to get things done/sleep more. To make this seem less daunting, I’ll get more specific with my goal. Let’s say–30 more minutes of sleep per day!?

I have a plan, now it’s time to implement it! What are your goals this year? Let’s keep each other accountable!

 

 

 

 

 

Yogi lessons learned: Pregnancy and Beyond

As our bodies prepare for birth, our minds must as well. Yoga is equipped to help with the preparation of both. But what happens when our yoga practice seems to have failed us?

Hello again! It’s been a while.

Since my last post, I experienced a somewhat challenging third trimester and experienced and even more challenging birth and fourth trimester (the first 3 months after birth). I kept up with my yoga practice for the most part as my 8th month approached, but I gave in to the tiredness and gave up on my practice (at least the asana portion) toward the end. I’d like to share with you what I did “right” and what I might have done differently. But, most of all, I’d like to share with you my journey towards acceptance (in theory at least!).

Reflecting back on my last post, I reached most of my 2018 goals! I continued my yoga education–finishing my prenatal yoga teaching certification & completing a yoga adjustments workshop. I became a mommy (a precious, yet relentless job). Chris and I had a beautiful ranch wedding with our close friends and family. So many goals! So many great things accomplished and LIVED.

I am BEYOND grateful for all of these things. I, however, also had my most difficult year yet. Our whole little family has. And somewhere between the swelling, the immobility, the operations (I’ll share some other time!), the sickness, the recovery, and the mothering… I forgot to practice self-care and love. I forgot to practice yoga.

You may be fooled by the photo (which was taken in my second trimester despite looking otherwise!) and think “it looks like you kept your yoga practice up!” Well, you’d be wrong in part. Chris and I finished out our Birthing from Within class, in which we practiced breathing, meditation, and some mild prenatal yoga.  But outside of that, there was a lot of sitting. Sitting and feeling immobile, incapable, and TIRED. I stopped going to prenatal yoga classes because I had no easy way of getting there. My hands were so swollen I couldn’t even close them…so I stopped driving! But, how do you minimize swelling? You MOVE! (and drink water) So there’s a lesson!

Another lesson, try not to be so focused on your positive affirmations that you aren’t prepared for the possible outcomes that are not so positive. I had little idea what were my realistic options in the natural birth room, labor & delivery, and the operation table (YES I experienced all three!). So be informed. Do your research, and then on top of all that, keep to your positive affirmations.

Up to this point, I’ve shared some lessons I learned, but I haven’t gotten to my biggest lesson yet. Yoga and faith. Spirituality. Somehow they are all intermixed. And, all important. After everything I went through (which I will explain in a separate post), I gave up hope. I gave up on my practice. I was almost angry at yoga. I avoided it. If it were a person, I’d walk by without looking it in the eye. I couldn’t believe it had let me down when I needed it the most. Saying labor and birth did not go the way I wanted it to would be an understatement (Hint: I can say “I almost died” without a hint of added drama). So, I avoided yoga.

Yes, my practice–like all practices– has its normal phases. Our yoga practices can be cyclical because our lives are ever-changing. We have different needs and wants at different stages in our lives. One thing I learned though, is when you don’t have the time, energy, or desire for yoga, that’s when you need to practice CONSISTENCY. And, FAITH. Sure, it won’t hurt to take a small break from your practice here and there. But, yoga heals.

Make some time for some meditation, some breathing exercises, some mindfulness, and some asana if you can manage. I can’t tell you how much I needed that healing energy during my fourth trimester! On top of all that, THE PRACTICE OF LETTING GO is key. Release the negative energy, release the trauma. Do not live in the past if you cannot change it. Take what you can learn from it and try to move on. That is the magic of yoga right there!

 

 

Leaping into the New Year

2018 Goals of a Resolute Yogi

Every year for the New Year, many of us set new resolutions. Simple habit changes; tangible results; or, great, grandiose visions. We set them, try them, forget about them, and then reset them the following year. I believe, these resolutions, these goals, should be more than just empty promises to ourselves. So, let’s set a road map for ourselves!

So how do we begin? Accountability! Tell a friend, perhaps work on your goals together. Write down your goals. Keep track of them. Post to social media your progress. There are so many ways to improve your odds of reaching those goals! Here is a short must-read by one of my yogi mentors: Accountability: The Key to Reaching Your Goals by Karson McGinley.

This year, with all of the major changes in my life (relationship-wise, body-wise, and baby-wise), I wanted to lay down some goals. A vision of my future. Something positive, something inspiring, something to look forward to. With change, we often feel a sense of chaos, loss, and/or anxiety, so it’s nice to think of some resolutions to take back some sense of control and focus!

I’m sharing these goals with you 1) to inspire you to do the same; and 2) to keep myself accountable!

2018 Goals

  1. Be healthy. Eat well, exercise, and get as much asleep as possible. This is especially important since I’m pregnant and want a healthy birth and baby!
  2. Be prepared for baby Ollie. Mentally, physically, and emotionally! Take a birthing class, continue attending prenatal yoga, and come up with a flexible plan for the birth (and after).
  3.  Continue my yoga education. Earn the necessary and desired continued education credits for teaching yoga before baby Ollie arrives. This includes an online prenatal yoga teacher training and an in-person adjustments workshop.
  4. Practice patience and kindness towards others and myself. Meditate more, practice a yoga lifestyle, volunteer… (and don’t let those pregnancy hormones take over too much!)
  5. Grow my business. I would like to grow my business in all arenas–more exposure and opportunities, improved quality of my handcrafted, natural goods, and more profit (por favor).
  6. Celebrate our wedding day with all of our closest family and friends. (Beautiful, yet affordable please!)
  7. Continue to explore, to adventure, to grow.
  8.  And of course, be a wonderful new mommy and wife!

These are my goals. They are written down, but not in stone. I’m allowed to adapt my goals to fit my desires and needs. Sharing them with you, however, will hopefully give me something to focus my energy on and encourage me to be a better version of myself!

Besides simply writing down my goals, I think it’s important to think about the steps needed to reach each and every one of those goals. For instance, I already signed up for both yoga trainings. I committed myself financially! Also, I started studying the prenatal yoga material for an hour or so a night. Each goal you set will likely have mini-goals or steps that go along with them! You can do it. Just keep moving forward[-ish]. 🙂 (And, if there’s a goal you are not able to reach this year…maybe next year? Don’t get too attached! Yogi lesson #1. HA!)

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Namaste 🙂

 

Frustrations of a Pregnant Yogi

Expectations can lead to disappointment; Ego can lead to frustration; Struggle can lead to growth. 

I am now 24 weeks pregnant (Over 5 months!). Half of my pregnancy is done and over with. Totally rejoicing here. I think I’ve had a pretty good, easy pregnancy so far but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been without its struggles.

TO BE COMPLETELY HONEST (this is a bit embarrassing), I have only really practiced asana (the physical poses of yoga) a handful of times during my pregnancy!!! Sure, I taught for the first 4 months, and went through the motion of the poses with my students. And sure, I did a handful of poses here and there whenever I had certain aches and pains in my body…but really, my PASSION, my ENJOYMENT of yoga…had been MISSING these past 5 months. It had made me sad, ashamed, and downright FRUSTRATED.

In my previous blog, I touched upon some of the common struggles pregnant yogis have and some of the remedies or pose alternatives. In my own practice, I have been implementing some of those, but what’s the use of knowing those adjustments…when you don’t even feel like practicing in the first place!? Beyond the physical changes and challenges of being pregnant (breathing, balance, strength, endurance issues to name a few), I just did not have the motivation or desire to pull out my mat and practice for more than 5 minutes at a time. My body just seemed too FOREIGN and I was just too tired. When teaching, I began sitting or standing while giving instruction for most of the class. I began to keep my demonstrations to a minimum. It worked out fine, but I just didn’t feel my normal energy towards teaching and practicing and I’m sure my students noticed (I ended up handing my classes over for the remainder of my pregnancy).

This past teacher training at Happy-U Namaste (a lovely yoga studio in Ocean Beach, San Diego) I assisted a couple weekends. I felt so light headed those weekends during the physical portion and so INCAPABLE of doing anything. There were definitely some physical and emotional obstacles there to overcome! (GANESH, PLEASE!) We went over some prenatal concepts at the training, which was a nice refresher for me. But my heart and head just weren’t fully present.

To get back into the swing of things, I knew I had some options of attending mellow yoga classes at my favorite local studio or trying out a local prenatal studio, but once again my interest just wasn’t there. A couple of weeks later, after moving to North County San Diego, I suddenly one day realized I missed yoga. I YEARNED for it. (Maybe it was because I had stopped teaching…maybe it was the change of location and the realization that all my friends were now 30 minutes away…) I researched nearby studios and found a prenatal one with a new student deal. Sidenote: Those first week deals for new students really work for studios!  

YOGA JAI MA. What a lifesaver! My first prenatal class was absolutely phenomenal. It’s strange to describe a yoga class as phenomenal…this one really was though! It was such an emotional journey with practical poses too. We learned birthing poses while chanting, AUMing, and bonding. The experience reminded me of my teacher training. It brought me back in time! I felt so much joy. I purchased the unlimited month deal for new students and now have gone a couple more times and will definitely be back for more. There’s something special about sharing the space with other pregnant women. Something MAGICAL. Anyway, I’m IN LOVE with yoga again.

I guess my point here is that your love/your passion for something like yoga may ebb and flow. Your frustrations, your ego, your struggle may seem like an impossible barrier. Give it some time. Breathe through it. Trust in the universe. Know that if it’s meant to be, you will find your way back!