Tag Archives: yoga


That’s right! The time is finally here… MY YOGA VACATION!

My mom and I are leaving bright and early (ooph!) tomorrow to head to the Bahamas where we’ll be for the next week! The program is 5 days long and the other two days are for travel, basically. All I really know so far is that we do a class twice a day and have chanting and meditation. I’m still a bit nervous about the chanting and meditation, but my mom assures me that I will enjoy it.

I have been looking forward to this for so long and I feel like my renewed commitment to yoga and other health ventures will set a nice foundation for this trip. On top of all that, it will be totally relaxing 🙂 I’m sure I’ll have so much to write about once I get back. Until then, good luck with your own practice and have a great week!



Spring is in the Air

Well, I am less than four weeks away from my yoga vacation! Weeee!!!

I finished up my five weeks at CorePower Yoga and I had a great time. I love hot yoga–it’s so detoxifying, I feel amazing afterwards. This studio was super popular, but I found that on weekdays right after work it was a good amount of attendance–enough to feel like you’re not sticking out too much but enough room to move, breathe, and fall. I wish hot yoga wasn’t so expensive. I always end up getting Groupons for different studios whenever I can. Oh well, it’s always a nice treat.

Unfortunately, I’ve been slacking the last week or so, but I am definitely going to get back on track. Especially now that I got a brand new mat for my birthday that is super awesome (thanks, Mom!). I am thinking about revisiting Yoga Journal’s 21-Day Challenge again in preparation.

My juice cleanse ended wellI actually bought a (cheap) juicer to see if I could get in the habit of keeping it up and it turns out… I CAN! It is, however, an expensive habit to maintain. As you would expect, veggies like celery and cucumbers juice wonderfully and leafy greens like spinach, well, not so much. I’m sure I could get a bit more juice if I had a better juicer, but I’m sure it would still be hard to get much–right now I get between 6-8 ounces of juice out of one bag of spinach! Crazy! Why does being healthy have to be so expensive? 😦 I’ve been drinking about 8 ounces of veggie juice a day, whereas I was kind of hoping I could do 16, but I just don’t have the funds. Every bit counts, though!

On my cleanse, I lost about 6 pounds and then had gained about 3 back over that next week. But the cleanse wasn’t about loosing weight, it was about detoxifying, which definitely happened. I felt really really great and I wish I had the will power to always live that well and clean–absolutely no sugar, no gluten, etc. but alas, I am only human! I have still continued to cut back on my wheat, which is still hard, but I think I’m doing a good job. Once again, I wish I had the will power to cut out all gluten, but I’m just not there yet.

The weather has been wonderful in the good ol’ ‘burbs of Chicago and The Boy and I have been taking walks often, which is both refreshing, reenergizing, and provides some nice bonding time 🙂 And on that note, I will bid you adieu!



Wow, do I need to get some Spring Cleaning done. I’m one of those people who can’t function to my full ability until my environment is where I need it to be. I need to clear out the clutter in my room and my office and then my head will be able to be clear as well. I read an article about starting a blog once and it said to not ever write that “oh my gosh, I never write here anymore” post–so I’m not going to. Ha! This entry won’t be pretty, but I have to do it or I’ll fall into a bad habit that I don’t want to get in to.

I started a free trial week at a CorePower Yoga studio near my work last week. The first time I trekked out, it was a Saturday morning and it was SO crowded. Uncomfortably so. I’m all for allowing as many people as possible in the space, but come on! When I have to alter my correct positioning to not hit someone, then I’m not able to get the full benefit of the practice. Luckily, though, the next two times I went the classes were a perfect size. Enough people to fill the studio but not be cramped. It was like a big open-mouthed breath out!

The studio was nice. I had the same teacher for two of my classes and she was great. Her sequencing and visualization techniques were very effective. I’m glad I have another month worth of classes there (I got a Groupon a little while ago) because as much as I enjoy doing yoga with my podcasts and DVDs, I mostly enjoy being in a class with a teacher there to make sure I’m all good. Also, I love hot yoga. Especially now with all the cold days we’ve been having lately! 😦 COME ON SPRING!!!!

I’m also going to start a 21-day meditation program soon. Again, I say soon because I need to get other things in order before I can get my brain in order. But it will come.

On another note, I bought a Groupon (love it!) for a 3-day juice cleanse and I’m starting it April 2nd–plenty of time to mentally prepare haha! Have you ever done a juice cleanse? Any tips on how to prepare, survive (ha!), and recover?

Wish me luck on my cleaning cleansing!


LUNGevity Breathe Deep Yogathon Part Two: THE GONG BATH!

Thanks for sticking around for Part Two of my LUNGevity Breathe Deep Yogathon! (If you missed Part One, check it out!)

After lunch, my mom had a previous engagement, so I headed back to the Yogathon myself. I made the mistake of eating an awesome but very filling lunch right before, so I was glad to have about an hour to relax before the current class finished and the next one began. As I waited, I overheard a couple of people mention how excited they were for the gong bath later. My mom (and dad!) have done one before and told me all about it, but it still seemed kind of strange to me.

So I just lay there for an hour? And the vibrations are supposed to “cleanse me?”

I was just very confused with the whole process. But at the same time, I was looking forward to it. A lot. It’s something not many people can say they’ve experienced! And it’s very popular among yogis, so I was definitely ready to try it.

But first, there was one more yoga class: Vinyasa Flow–my favorite! I’ve taken a lot of Vinyasa Flow classes and I have to say that this one was the most different and exciting one I have taken in a while. Most of the classes I take follow the simple procedure of doing a few Sun Salutations and then gradually you start incorporating warriors and lunges and triangles, etc. This was still the same, but it just felt different. It was taught by two women who would switch off between leading the class and walking around to check everyone’s positioning. It was really great to have a teacher who was focused on leading and one who was focused on correcting form–I can imagine how hard it is for teachers to be the leader and the checker at the same time, so this was an awesome advantage for them and everyone else taking the class. They did little variations that gave their class some OOMPH! and edge. For instance, instead of always steeping to the front of the mat to end a sequence, they would have you walk your hands back towards your feet and start at the bottom of the mat. Just that little change was enough to add a spark of change! It was a rigorous but really really fun class to take! A great way to end the day 🙂

And then it was time. The moment we had all been waiting for: THE GONG BATH! A gong bath is a very simple concept to explain, but the experience is much more difficult to express, especially because everyone’s experience can be so different and varied. (This website has a good explication for what it all is specifically.) All you have to do is lay with your head facing the gong with a blanket and pillow and get comfortable. That’s it! You just get comfortable and relax and let the vibrations wash over you.


Here’s what is so significant about an Earth Gong:

Not all gongs are alike. The Earth Gong…is a large, 38-inch gong harmonically tuned to the vibration of the primordial AUM, the Universal Chord, the source of all vibrations, and to the fundamental vibration of Planet Earth as she revolves around the Sun.” [via]



When the gong is hit, the vibrations wash over your body–the “bath” idea–and cleanse you and also help realign you. I know this sounds all very Hippie Dippie, but trust me, it was one of the coolest, weirdest, most interesting and amazing things I’ve ever experienced.

Before it all began the woman let us now that towards the end, there would be a very loud section of constantly hitting the gong very hard. They started out with some simple taping of the gong and some other maraca-type instrument while a woman sang and chanted in Tibetan. And then I fell asleep–into a really deep sleep. I woke up in a panic to the sound of the gong and thought that that was the loud part (I was wrong); I felt like I had been asleep for hours. I woke up very disoriented and confused–I had to remind myself where I was and once that was settled, I began to worry that I had missed everything, so I had to tell myself that I obviously had not because everyone else was still in the room and the “band” (not sure what to call them, haha!) was still playing. I KNOW!

After I regained my complete consciousness, I realized that I had been having a very vivid dream, but in the panic of everything, I had completely forgotten it. I’m still very upset about that. I’m usually very good at remembering my dreams and I felt like this one had the potential to be very important and possibly a guidance of some kind. I remember one single frame and I’ll try to describe it the best I can:

I call it “one single frame” because it’s literally like looking at a picture in a frame, for me. Imagine that the frame is an orangeish-gold with glitter swirled in it–think lava-like or like a spilled bottle of nail polish. I am with two other women–you can only see us from the waist up. I am near the upper left hand corner with my palms cupped together and open with my arms extended out toward the other two women. They are both dressed in black cloaks. The way she is facing, you can only see the one woman’s back and she is standing near the lower left hand corner. The other woman is on the right and she is placing a strand of white beads into my cupped hands. She looks a bit like “Strega Nona.”

And that’s it. I know it’s weird! I have no idea what it means. I’ve been thinking about it for days and days, but I am oddly OK with not knowing. Hmm. Strange.



Anyway, the gong bath continued as I tried to re-relax myself and re-clear my mind. I didn’t really notice anything too drastic during the process until I placed my hands together for a little bit–they tell you to lie with your hands out at your sides, not touching anything. When I released my hands down at my sides again, I felt a big WHOOSH! of energy go out from my hands to my fingers. It was nuts! Then the super loud part came. I can’t explain how loud it was. It was like being on the main floor at a rock concert, but since the frequency was low, there wasn’t that ringing in your ears. It was just a lot of crashing sounds all at once for what was probably only a minute but that felt like 5. After that was done, they went back to the gentle, rhythmic sound that was at the beginning for a little while before bringing it to an end.


I stood up and walked around a little bit. I expected to feel light as a feather and renewed, but I didn’t. (Not that that’s a bad thing!) I felt very empty–but not in a bad way! (Yeesh, these descriptions are terrible, I’m sorry!) I’m not sure why, but it took me a while to come up with the word cleansed to describe how I ultimately felt. I was very thirsty afterward, which was odd because I had been drinking water all throughout my yoga classes. The woman who ran the whole thing said to drink plenty of water, as that would help flush out anything you had knocked loose during the gong bath. That’s another great way to think about it–it was like clearing all the cob webs out of your body.

I can’t explain to you how feeling more aligned feels until you experience it yourself. When I walked, I felt more centered and evenly placed, instead of leaning from one side to the other or clomping and plopping my feet down on the ground. I wasn’t weightless, but I definitely was not as bogged down as I was–something you don’t realize you are until you’re not anymore, I think. I felt very new. Like I had hit a restart button on my body.

I could go on and on and on about it. I will definitely be doing a gong bath again. And I think everyone should experience it at least once. You do need to have an open mind with it if you ever do one, though. If you go into it thinking it’s silly, it will absolutely be the silliest thing you’ve ever done–but I suppose most things are like that. I think if you are open to the spirituality of it and are willing to be vulnerable, you will have great success and unbelievable results with a gong bath. Highly recommended.

Above all else, this experience was all a part of LUNGevity‘s desire to bring awareness to lung cancer and help raise funds for research. Lung cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in America. It is also the least funded type of cancer in America. One of the women who runs the organization said that a yogathon was a great way to bring awareness to this disease because yoga relies so much on your breath, which is completely taken away when someone has lung cancer. I can’t imagine not having my breath to guide me through the postures and help me meditate and center myself. It is such a vital thing in all of our lives, yogis or not. This was a wonderful event for a wonderful organization. Visit their website for more information about their mission and how you can help in the future.

Thanks for listening. And on that note (da-dun-CH!), I’m outta here 🙂


LUNGevity Breathe Deep Yogathon Part One

Yesterday was the long awaited LUNGevity Breathe Deep Yogathon that I have been so excited about for weeks. After having been very pre-occupied lately, I was feeling very neglectful of my yoga practice and my blog. I was hoping that this would be a kind of “reset button” for me, and it turned out to be exactly that and so much more. This was such an amazing experience and I hope that LUNGevity brings it back next year.

I started my Saturday bright and early and had a bowl of my favorite Breakfast Cookie Dough Cereal–without the toppings this time; yoga on a full stomach = no good.

photo (3)After that, I was off to the Yogathon! I met my mom there and we settled into our places.

photo (1) photo (2)

Not my best crow, but it’s the one that was captured on film, so I can live with it 😉 The Yogathon had a live DJ group who picked great music to go with whatever we were doing (amazing, seamless transitions–the teachers even said they couldn’t have planned the music better themselves) and at one point had a live band! Complete with a harmonium and everything!


I wish I could tell you for sure what other instruments were involved, but I don’t want to be wrong… That’s a true Tibetan gong you see in the center there. It was really a unique experience .. but I’ll get to that later.

photo (4)

The day started at 8:00 with an Anusara class. This class was a great warm up–easy, classic poses (think forward bends, triangle and side angles) that utilized props. I’m not a huge fan of props unless they help you to achieve a pose you can’t get naturally. We also did a shoulder stand with a chair, which was so bizzarre-feeling for me. It also featured a lot of binding of the legs that I didn’t think was always necessary–but oh well, that’s the nature of the class. It really was a good start to a long day, but I don’t think I’ll be doing Anusara very much in the future.

The next class was at 9:30 and was my favorite of the day, mainly because of the teacher. Adam taught a class that wasn’t exactly defined, but it was a bit of Ashtanaga and Power Vinyasa. He has a really amazing way of explaining exactly how the poses should be executed and what you should be feeling while you’re in them. He also stressed the importance of being active in each pose–he always had you do one action on an inhale and another on the exhales, such as lengthening and then turning out for certain poses. He also was very visual with his word choice and made sure that you never felt discouraged in a pose. He was one of those teachers who was so articulate you didn’t really have to watch him most of the time. It was a really great class and I may just have to make a trip to the studio he teaches at one day!

The next class was at 11:00. It was a Yin yoga class, my anxious mind’s nemesis! I have mixed feelings about the class: On the one hand, it was very well placed in the course of the day–it was nice to slow down and relax after two classes straight of active yoga. This class was also the one that brought in the live Kirtan band. But, as I’ve mentioned before, Yin yoga focuses on holding poses for about 5 minutes each. 5 whole minutes! The teacher did acknowledge that it was OK for your mind to wander, which made me feel less like a big dope during the class 🙂 But I also felt she was too loosey-goosey with the class. She’d say, “Get into this pose. You can lean like this if you want, or like this, or like this in it, do whatever you want, really.” My feeling is that if I’m taking a class from you, I want to know exactly what I should be doing. I also felt like a lot of the suggestions for how you’re “in it” might not be ideal for everyone–I really just wanted her to be decisive and make sure we had correct form, is all.

After that class, I was so relaxed, I wanted to go home and take a nap! My mom and I decided to ditch the fourth class and get some lunch instead. Before we left, though, we each got a chair massage and a Reiki massage. We left feeling renewed and reenergized–but still very hungry! We left our sanctuary in search of some sustenance…

(Stay tuned for Part Two!)

Looking Ahead

I am so proud of my girly girls who made it to State this last weekend! They ended the weekend being ranked 6th, 7th, 12th, and 12th in their respective events! 🙂 So proud of them! Once again, I have neglected My Meatless Monday due to my busy weekend and lack of planning 😦 Sorry, buddies! I promise I will be better from now on.

Anyway, I have a couple fun things ahead in my yoga life. First of all, this weekend my mom and I are participating in the LUNGevity Foundation‘s Breathe Deep Yogathon. My mom is a radiation therapist and is always finding cool cancer foundation benefits like this, but I have to say this is one of the more unique ones I’ve ever heard of. It costs $25 to register in advance and for that, you get an entire day of yoga classes and food and massages! Free massages, you guys! Also, the day ends with a gong bath, which I have never done before but my Hippie Dippie Mother swears by, so that’s going to be exciting to experience. Unbelievably good deal for you as well as supporting a wonderful cause. Win, win, win! If you are in the Chicagoland area, I hope you’ll consider signing up.

My awesome mom also bought me a new Rodney Yee yoga DVD for Valentine’s Day, so I’m excited to try that one in the next few days. Now that I can do crow at the drop of a hat, I have moved on to dolphin and headstand (against a wall–I’m not quite a yoga-beast yet! :)) and this DVD explores that, so I am definitely looking forward to that extra practice.

Finally, I found a pot of gold over at Groupon last week: $59 for one month of unlimited yoga PLUS the studio gives an extra week free for first time visitors! It’s for COREpower Yoga, which conveniently has studios within a few miles of my work AND my house. Such a lucky thing to find! I think I’ll start my five weeks in the middle or end of March so that I can be nice and ready for my yoga trip in May. I am so pumped!

Anyway, I hope you had a great weekend and that you have a great week!


Leading a Full Life

There are times in our life when we are so busy that we can’t, or feel like we can’t, make time for the things we love. We let our personal joys and pleasures fall by the wayside in place of our “obligations.” I often despise when people lament about how stressed they are or how busy they think they are because I fell that too often it is used as a negative outlet.

Oh, I’ve just been soooo busy. I’m soooo stressed, like, you don’t even know. I have no time to do anything I want to. I’m just so stressed.

Whenever anyone complains to me about their never-ending schedule or elevating stress-level, I always think of my good friend Nick, who also coaches the speech team with me. Nick is someone who really lives his life the way everyone should–with love, pride, and joy. I admire him so much for this. Nick is an actor in every sense of the word. He loves the craft with all he has. In addition to coaching the speech team, which he commutes by train for, he is often involved with one or two shows and at least another couple side projects at a time. He also works and still manages to find time to be active and healthy. I and many other people ask him if he ever sleeps.

The wonderful thing about Nick is that in the three years I’ve known him, I’ve never once heard him complain about his packed schedule and I can’t recall a time when the word “stressed” left his lips to describe himself. I am in awe of him for this. I’ve never asked him why he is the way he is because I already know the answer: He loves everything he is doing. Nick is only involved with things that contribute positively to his life and he only devotes his precious time to causes he truly has a passion for.

I often think of Nick when I find that I am looking at a situation in my life has half-empty, rather than half-full. I was about ready to write a sad, self-pitying post about how I have neglected my blog for the past week and a half and how bad I feel for it. Because I love my blog. It gives me an outlet for my writing, which is a huge passion of mine, as well as a way to track my growing love for yoga. And I love the support and kindness that comes from the people who read it.

But lately, my blog and usual practice have taken a back seat to something that is another passion of mine: the kids on the speech team. These past three weeks have been long and time-consuming–they had their Regional, Sectional, and this weekend is the State competition–but I don’t see this as a burden, because I love what I’ve been doing in this time. I’ve been keeping up with my yoga, but it haven’t done it as much as I had. I’ve done 15 minutes every morning and maybe an hour on the weekends.

I once had a yoga teacher who would say during meditation, “If a thought or worry comes to your mind during this time, acknowledge it, and then put it away for later.” She didn’t shun these distractions or make you feel guilty for losing focus, she simply asked that you put it to the side to come back to it. That’s how I feel right now. I have not given up on my blog or my yoga, I just had to put it in the background for a bit while something else required more of my focus. And I am sorry for this. But not so sorry. As long as you are doing what you love to do, who cares how much of it you have? I can honestly say that, though very packed, the past few weeks have been very happy, satisfying ones. And that’s what makes a full life.