Good morning lovelies,
You all met Sophie, the adorable yogini standing on her head, yesterday. Well, today, her mother, our feisty and fiercely-good-looking Thoa van Seventer, shares a smoothie that tastes delicious and actually helps you look good in a bikini. She sent the recipe from the sunny shores of Puerto Rico, and she claims she drinks this twice a day because it's so good!
In a blender, combine:
1 cup of soy milk
1 and 1/2 tbsp of peanut butter
2 tsp of cocoa powder
3 tbsp of silken tofu
Blend until smooth, and enjoy!
Hello, all you Smokin' Hot Yoga Moms!
Inspired by Morgan's adorable 11-month-old yogi, we're kicking off a new series here on the blog: Yoga Babies. Send in photos of your little yogis showing off their tricks, and we'll share them with the rest of the YB family.
Here, we have Thoa's daughter working on tanning the soles of her feet on vacation in Puerto Rico. So THAT'S what happens when your mom's a yoga instructor!
To send in photos, please email the general mailbox at email@example.com.
Last week, I celebrated a little personal milestone: my one year anniversary with yoga. In many ways, this is nothing: I'm still a beginner in every sense of the word, I hope to practice for the rest of my life, so a year is nothing. But at the same time, it feels like a pretty big deal for me. So, I thought I'd share a little bit about why this milestone mattered so much to me that I finally bit the bullet and bought a Manduka mat last Friday.
First, I'll set the scene. I've always been pretty active; I swam competitively in high school, danced in college, and snowboarded every chance I got. My mother is a nutrition science major, so I ate pretty well. But, I also run my own business, and my crazy schedule kept leaving my workouts further and further on the back burner. I kept a stash of granola bars in the car and occasionally called it lunch (or, who am I kidding, I also ate them for dinner). Combine that with my family history of high cholesterol (on both sides! My cholesterol was 350 WHEN I WAS FIVE YEARS OLD. I was basically a walking lipid!) and you got me, a girl who looked pretty healthy to the untrained eye, but who was on the verge of cholesterol medication at the tender age of 26. I decided it was time to get serious about this whole "diet and exercise" thing: I needed a lifestyle change, a routine, something I could do year-round, something that wouldn't leave me curled up in bed because the thought of chipping ice off a kickboard at 6:00am on a November morning sounded about as appealing as chewing off my arms and legs and dragging myself over a cliff by my chin.
Long story short, I found yoga, and more importantly, I found Yoga Belly. After my first power class, I realized that my previous definition of "yoga" had been far too narrow. I associated yoga with prayer hands and Oms and dorky spa music. I certainly didn't think of sweat, Lady Gaga, and disco balls. But luckily, I was naive!
One year ago, I couldn't touch my toes without straining. I was competitive, focused on the ripped abs of the girl next to me, wondering why I couldn't stick my head through my knees in my backbends like she could. I held my breath through difficult poses, and gave up early in balancing poses because I hadn't learned how to recover. I hated the heat. I didn't enjoy stretching. I shook through my chaturangas, and the next day, I was so sore I could hardly brush my teeth. I had never even heard of pigeon pose, bandhas, or kombucha.
A year later, not all of that has changed, but not all of that is true, either. I still catch myself being competitive, and I still hear words in class that I don't even remotely recognize. But, there have been some noteworthy changes. Mainly, I have come to enjoy, and even crave, the sensation of stretch. I have learned how to open areas of my body that were previously foreign or inaccessible. I have learned how to breathe through the poses that challenge me, though I still hold my breath sometimes (I don't know HOW to breathe in handstand or those crazy twists... maybe in a few years). I have learned that my body is not the same on Friday as it was on Monday, and it's not the same at 1:00 as it was at noon. I can touch my toes, and even lay my palms on the ground. My cholesterol's down 30 points. I have learned that an extra 90-120 seconds of savasana is always worth it. I have learned that I love to be upside down, even if it's only for a few blissful nanoseconds before my feet go sailing over my head and thudding back to the floor. I have found my "edge," and I'm learning how to push it, and how to respect it.
It has been a simple, lovely, incredible year of yoga. Thank you, Yoga Belly, for offering me the kind of workout I can actually get behind. Thank you all for creating such an awesome community that I'm so lucky to be a part of.
Love, love, love(!),
PS: Back to my mat. Shortly after starting yoga, I realized my mat sucked. But, I wasn't ready to cough up the cash for a Manduka, either. So, I made myself a deal that if I did 200 hours of yoga in my first year, I would buy myself a Manduka. I did, so I did, and last Friday, I broke in my new mat in Edna's Fantasy Friday class. Then, I went out for drinks in San Francisco, and my car was broken in to. As we surveyed the broken glass, the first thing I said was, "Oh no! Did they take my mat?!!"
They didn't. Whew. Apparently GPS thieves don't do much yoga.
On the significance of dots and other tiny things:
""What would happen if a plane dropped you in the middle of the Sahara Desert and you picked up a single grain of sand... and moved it one millimeter?"... I said, "I dunno, what?" [Dad] said, "Think about it." I thought about it. "I guess I would have moved a grain of sand." "Which would mean?" "Which would mean I moved a grain of sand?" "Which would mean you changed the Sahara." "So?" "So? So the Sahara is a vast desert. And it has existed for millions of years. And you changed it!... If you hadn't done it, human history would have been one way..." "Uh huh?" "But you did do it, so...?" I stood on the bed, pointed my fingers at the fake stars, and screamed: "I changed the course of human history!"" -- From Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
By now, you've all seen them: the striking pointillist pieces adorning the walls of Yoga Belly. The prayer hands, the rippling abdomens, and my personal favorite, the hands in pockets. The first time I saw them, I didn't realize they were entirely composed of dots: I just saw them and thought, "Whoa." But then I looked more closely, and recognized the painstaking craft and care behind each image, and the way the artist combined something as simple and unremarkable as a dot into a compelling, arresting visual experience. One seemingly insignificant dot plays an important role in the overall composition... such an apt metaphor, especially in a yoga studio.
For those of you who haven't read the bio, Kyle Taylor is the man behind the art. You'll find him in the studio on Wednesday nights, getting his Warrior 2 on with Will and the YB family. He is largely self-taught: beyond a survey course in high school, he hasn't had any formal training. Coulda fooled me!
Kyle grew up in the midwest and now studies Cellular and Molecular Biology at Stanford University. His friend introduced him to yoga, and he relished the chance to get out of the lab and onto the mat. Since then, he has (no surprise!) fallen in love with the YB community, and yoga has increasingly informed his art (Hence, the Namaste hands).
When it comes to his art, Kyle is both a lover of challenge and a glutton for punishment. While explaining the inspiration behind his work, he says, "The hands on the 'Namaste' piece annoyed me, so I decided to do a piece that highlighted the parts that I didn't like - hands." While Kyle sometimes approaches his art with a dogged sense of determination (that no doubt bolsters his academic career), art also offers him an escape. Both art and yoga grant him a brief respite from the helter-skelter of life at Stanford, and a glimpse of possibility beyond Things We Can See and Things We Can Measure and Things We Can Explain. "[Art] helps me access my more emotional and irrational side," he says, "Something that I find incredibly challenging to do."
Art has also offered Kyle insight. Because it forces him to tune in to his intuition and emotions, it also helped him recognize and respect his sexuality. "This is basically how I came out to myself," he says, "and dealing with those issues is the motivation for this burst of artwork. Long story short, I started with a couple of self-portraits. I had always thought I'd wanted to be other guys, that I wasn't 'man' enough. The self-portraits were a silent scream saying no I am man enough. From there, I explored wanting to be with other guys, and then just wanting to connect with people instead of being (largely) alone."
So yes, Yoga Belly, meet Kyle. A fantastic artist, budding scientist, and humble yogi. The best part is, besides his obvious talents, he's so down to earth. When I asked him about his art and "aesthetic" (sorry, I'm a writer, I can't help it), he said, "Ma'am, I'm from rural Kansas, I'm not sure I've ever thought about my aesthetic." Well. How 'bout them apples.
I've been trying to work on this whole uddiyana-bandha thing for a while now. Clearly, I've got a long way to go.
You know that brings back waaaaaaaaaaaaay too many memories... have a great weekend!
to our favorite William Cristobal! Who is, and I quote, "turning forty-something, looking thirty-something, and tasting twenty-something!"
We love you. For reals.
Shoulderstand is not an inversion that I've always loved. It's hard to breathe, you have to squeeze everything, and some women *cough* get nearly suffocated by their boobs. Nevertheless, there are many benefits to this position, and inversions in general: they're good for the brain, and can help relieve stress and depression. In particular, shoulderstand can help stimulate the thyroid, and since my thyroid went kaput about ten years ago, I tried to learn to love this pose. I also just love being upside down, and this is a nice inversion for days when I'm too tired to go into handstand or headstand.
I'm not there yet, but Yoga Journal's video helped. I love practicing at home... with carpet! Hope you enjoy...
Is it just me, or does this Tuesday feel like it should be Thursday? One of those weeks... luckily, we have some eye candy. Topher Simon just released the fabulous photos he took of our lovely instructor, Wendy Howell. Look for it on the YB website soon!
If you can't wait that long, here's a sneak peek.
I'd also like to give a quick shout-out to Wendy's daughter, the adorable Lauren, who sometimes moonlights as the YB Savasana Fairy. Thank you for sharing your wonderful energy with us at YB, we hope you're excited to go back to school... even though we'll really miss our visits from the Savasana Fairy!