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Sophia Experience Palm Springs


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This past week I attended a beautiful retreat in Palm Springs where six women  gathered together to celebrate one another.  To find tools we already had within to heal past wounds SLOWLY.  To release negative self-talk and to awaken our inner Sophia.  AND, we had a ton of good old fashion girl time!

The Sophia Experience Palm Springs was just what I needed!  I reached out to Morgan a few months ago asking if she’d consider a state side retreat.  Wishing I could join her in Italy on her abroad Sophia retreats, but knowing that just wasn’t in the cards for me…I selfishly suggested Korakia Pensione in Palm Springs (remember when Geoff and I went when we found out we were pregnant with Jack?  If not, here’s the blog post).

To my excitement, Morgan agreed that Korakia would be PERFECT!  And voila! Sophia Experience Palm Springs was in the books!  I was so thrilled to know that I was getting the chance to finally meet one of my teachers in person (I’d only known about her through her online yoga videos and her teachings on Facebook).  Also, the chance to have a couple nights away with girls…in Palm Springs…AT THE MOST BEAUTIFUL B&B?

I was over the moon!

Once the day arrived I was so giddy!  Geoff took me to PS for brunch then we headed back to Korakia.  It was so sweet to have him drop me off at the retreat.  We reminisced on our time there before a couple years ago, he took pictures of me finding my room (which happened to be next door to the one he and I stayed in before), opening up my gifts from Morgan.  He had me pose outside on the patio and under the bougainvillea surrounding the suit.

Then he left…and I was alone without my family

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IMG_6012For the first time since having our son, I felt deeply saddened to be away from home.  I knew I had some heavy work to do over the next couple days at the retreat.  Even being away from them an entire week while doing my Holy Yoga training wasn’t this hard.  I had this amazing suit all to myself but soon realized I was going to have a lot of time..with myself.  Not by myself…but WITH parts of me I love and parts of me I don’t.

I remember someone telling me that sometimes what we learn from God, one on one with Him, should stay with us.  It’s not meant to be shared with the rest of the world.  It’s intimate and personal between you and Him.  I feel that way about my experience in Palm Springs.  Of course I’ll share some bits and pieces…but not all of it because it’s meant to stay there.

We did some of the best yoga I’ve ever done!  Jumping, dancing, laughing crying, we road the entire wave of emotions on our mats.  And some of us practiced in our undies and lingerie!  So freeing!  I did NOT wear a bra most of the trip! We exhaled sighs and SMILED at every part of our bodies.  We learned about the chakras and how they manifest or correlate to other parts of the body.  We soaked in the pool, ate great food together, got dressed up together, and had some EPIC girl time!  We talked about SEX and FEMININE WHOLENESS!!!  And it felt SOOOOO GOOD to be open about everything.  

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We need to be free.

I learned just how closed off I am at allowing myself freedom.  I entered the retreat feeling so confident in myself, but quickly realized just how quick I am to hide my true self.  Like I’ve been walking around with this persona of a strong confident woman, but inside I still feel like the 7 year old girl who was awkward with a short boy’s hair cut, huge ears, and freckles. The new kid in school because she moved away from her family due to divorce, with a stepdad who didn’t want to notice her.  She was a shadow in her own home.   And the attention she received was a lot of bullying or being made fun for the way she looked and dressed at school.  She felt unseen and no one wanted to hear her.

Hard pill to swallow.

Coming face to face with that girl made me realize that I’m still her…and that I need to comfort her and show her how strong she is now.  That she is important and WORTHY of being seen and HEARD.  She is beautiful.  And SMART.

SIGH……

I’m sitting on my couch writing this a day before my 5 year open heart surgery anniversary and WHAT A RIDE I’ve been on since then.  So much self-discovery.  And I’m thankful.  The Sophia Experience really couldn’t have happened at a better time.  There is a theme to every form of self-care I’ve been a part of, whether through counseling with my therapist, seeing a psychic, working with my friend through Theta healing, my church, yoga and my artwork, and now this experience with Morgan and the rest of the Sophias there.

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I need to speak.  My block is my voice.  Allowing myself to truly be ME when I speak.  To own my words.  To not be afraid to be vulnerable and own up to not knowing what something means or sharing my point of view if it conflicts with someone else.  I’ve wanted to belong for so long that I’ve become a people pleaser and my voice got tangled up in it.  I also need to allow myself to listen to compliments.  To truths said over me…and own them as truths.  VERY, very hard, more so than speaking up for myself.

It’s a slow process, and that’ ok.  But in order for me to help others love themselves right where they are, I need to do the same.

I feel more FREEDOM already.

COREageous

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, thatis all.




Courageous Definitions:

Dictionary Definition

Cou·ra·geous : kəˈrājəs/

adjective

not deterred by danger or pain; brave.

“her courageous human rights work”

synonyms: brave, plucky, fearless, valiant, valorous, intrepid, heroic, lionhearted, bold, daring, daredevil, audacious, undaunted, unflinching, unshrinking, unafraid, dauntless, indomitable, doughty, mettlesome, venturesome, stouthearted, gallant

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Definition

Courage : kur’-aj:

Hebrew chazaq, “to show oneself strong” (Numbers 13:20; 2 Samuel 10:12; 1 Chronicles 19:13; 2 Chronicles 15:8; Ezra 10:4; Psalms 27:14; 31:24; Isaiah 41:6); ruach, “spirit,” “animus” (Joshua 2:11 the King James Version); ‘amats, “to be alert” (physically and mentally), “to be agile,” “quick,” “energetic” (Deuteronomy 31:6,7,23; Joshua 1:6,9,18; 10:25; 1 Chronicles 22:13; 28:20); lebhabh, “the heart,” and figuratively, “person,” “spirit” (Daniel 11:25); Greek tharsos, “cheer” (Acts 28:15). A virtue highly esteemed among all nations, one of the four chief “natural” (cardinal) virtues (The Wisdom of Solomon 8:7), while cowardice ranks as one of the mortal sins (Ecclesiasticus 2:12,13; Revelation 21:8).

Do any of these synonyms resonate with you?  Do you find it hard to believe that you ARE COREageous?  Sometimes it takes us being thrown into compromising circumstances, or even gentle gestures of lending a helping hand, that shed light on the courage we all have residing in our bodies and in our hearts.  You’ve been invited to discover, uncover, and reveal your own, unique COREage.  Whether you signed up for this mini 4 week course to strengthen your physical core (includes the trunk and lower torso), revive and grasp your CORE (who you are and are meant to be!), you will AWAKEN BOTH!

For 4 weeks we will focus on the CORE.  I use all caps when writing about the CORE because I want to hit home the message that our CORE isn’t merely our abs, torso, what holds us upright, but it goes much deeper.  We are human beings, and part of our life’s journey involves discovering our purpose, our mission, our true self.  And that’s the CORE.

An outline of how we’ll strengthen both our physical and personal CORE is as follows:

  • Monday 6-7am-Weekly Wellness Practice (the yoga/yogalates/movement portion):
    • I am a Holy Yoga teacher, therefore the yoga practices will be influenced by Holy Yoga. Even if you consider yourself a non-believer, YOU ARE WELCOME!  And if you are a believer but are afraid of the practice of yoga along with faith, please feel free to read more about Holy Yoga.  For more information about Holy Yoga and their mission, go to their website at https://holyyoga.net/about/why-holy-yoga
    • Participate in a 30-40 minute Yoga/Yogalates practice with me! We will be participating in these practices together every Monday.  I will be jumping on FB Live in our closed COREageous group between 6-7am PST.  I chose Mondays because this will allow you to come back to the practice multiple times a week. I encourage you to practice 2-3 times, or more, a week.  Of course we will be focusing on our CORE physical strength, using yoga flows (vinyasa) and incorporating Pilates pelvic floor and core moves to build up momentum and muscle.
  • Weekly Lectio Divina- From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    • The four movements of Lectio Divina: Lectio (“read”); Meditatio (“meditate”); Oratio (“pray”); Contemplatio (“contemplate”).
    • Christianity, Lectio Divina (Latin for “Divine Reading”) is a traditional Benedictine practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God’s Word. It does not treat Scripture as texts to be studied, but as the Living Word. Traditionally, Lectio Divina has four separate steps: read; meditate; pray; contemplate. First a passage of Scripture is read, then its meaning is reflected upon. This is followed by prayer and contemplation on the Word of God.
    • We will be focusing on one passage a week. Every week the focus will be on Courage, or COREage, if you will.  This is a great practice to incorporate into your physical practice.  Life is about balance, so if we’re constantly moving (vinyasa flow), then we need to balance it out with being still, quiet, and prayerful (yin, meditate, pray, slow down the breath).  I will introduce the weekly Lectio Divina during the Weekly Wellness practice (saved for the end during Savasana).  Throughout the week I will also be popping on FB Live to read the scripture with you (some mornings and some evenings).
    • I encourage you to just sit, and be, while we participate in Lectio Divina. If you feel moved, have a revelation, or want to jot down your experience after, PLEASE journal.  But save the writing for after.
    • I encourage diffusing essential oils during the weekly Lectio Divina readings (even during the Weekly Wellness Practice). I will suggest specific oils for the practice, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand.  Even a candle works.
    • Have your Bible handy if you’d like to write or take notes in it after the prayer/meditation next to the verse.
  • Thursday 6-8am (20 mins)- Art Therapy:
    • Why Art Therapy? Why Thursday?  Well, Therapy and Thursday start with “Th” so I thought it just worked organically.  You might be wondering “I thought this was a yoga course? Why are we doing art?”  Let me explain below for you why I think it’s important:
    • Art therapy helps us to express ourselves. It takes some really DEEP COREage to share ourselves with others.  Being able to express some of our inner most thoughts, secrets, concerns, joys, dreams…whatever we have hidden inside…allows us to become more open, more free, and to be who we are meant to be.  This allows us to find our truest CORE strength.
    • Health/Art therapy mediums:
      • When I speak of health, I’m referring to our mental health. I’m sure you’re also thinking “Heidi, I am NO artist! I can’t draw to save my life!” I’ve heard every excuse my friends.  Being an art teacher for over 7 years now I get it.  Art therapy for this course DOES NOT HAVE TO BE PAINTING.  Friends, being able to express ourselves artistically and creatively means having the freedom to express!  So I encourage you to pick a medium that makes you come alive.  Examples can be:
        • Painting, drawing, photography, sketching, watercolor, pen and ink, printmaking (all visual arts).
        • Dance, movement of some sort (maybe you enjoy taking yoga or other “fitness” classes)
        • Singing, playing an instrument, composing, creating playlists
        • Writing, poetry, short stories, writing books
      • The list goes on! And if I didn’t mention something here that doesn’t mean it’s off limits.  In order to release some things that hold us back from strengthening our CORE, we must shed some extra layers that haven been building up around us, within us, in order to reveal who we truly are.
    • I will have a prompt for each week that will inspire our Art Therapy Sessions (20 mins). We will be compiling our Art Therapy notes, sketches, whatever it is you are working on throughout the 4 weeks. On the Final Week, we will reveal these artworks to the rest of the group through either photographs or FB Live.  I know this can be scary and uncomfortable.  I’ve been through this myself in my own therapy sessions through the years.  But I also know the weight that lifts off of me and the freedom I feel after sharing my work with others…This is key to finding our CORE.  It takes COREage.  And you can do this.
  • Daily 6am Beauty/Self-care
    • I will post a prompt on our FB COREageous group in the morning about one way you can incorporate beauty and self-care into your day. These prompts will focus on very simple and attainable steps concerning make-up, your #ootd (outfit of the day), skin care, hygiene, etc.  I am a firm believer that feeling good on the outside plays a role on how we feel on the inside (and vice versa).  Plus it’s fun to get dressed up and feel beautiful, even if we only swipe on some red lipstick and throw our hair up in a top knot, right?
  • Materials and equipment needed for COREageous
    • You will need only two items:
      • Yoga mat and sketchbook/notebook.
    • Additional items:
      • Bible, essential oils, candles, towels, a quiet space to practice at home
  • Dates:
    • The course will start on Monday, April 3rd, and end Friday April 28th. We will not meet on weekends, but feel free to practice Saturday and Sunday!  I will more than likely pop on FB Live throughout the week unplanned to chit chat and see how things are going/checking in with you all.  Also, if I feel inspired or moved to do so, I might add to the course as well.  Even with an outline, allowing room to organically grow this course is my way of honoring this ministry that I have been given.
  • The Price: $50 a month
    • Breakdown of $50
    • Onetime payment of $50.oo. That makes it $12.50 a week (includes guided Yoga/Yogalates practice, guided Lectio Divina 3 times a week, guided Art Therapy Thursday, weekly beauty/self-care prompts).
    • You are participating in the first round of COREageous, so therefore you are a BETA group. This is a great way for me to be your teacher, but ultimately you will be teaching me!  This is a course that I plan on teaching monthly, with different themes for each month.
    • Payments will be made through my PayPal account.  See link below.



Thank you so much for inquiring and showing interest in joining this course with me.  It has been a dream of mine, and maybe even a calling, for many years now to create a program that combines my passions for serving others.  Yoga, psychology/art therapy, and beauty are all very near and dear to me.  I look forward to sharing my heart with you and discovering alongside you our COREageous spirit.  Let’s do this together.  So happy you’re here.

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Mommy and Me: How it gave me confidence

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I will be the first to admit that I go insane if I’m stuck in the house for more than 12 hours.  So the early days with Jack were definitely some of the hardest days, simply because being home 24/7, with the exception of a walk outside here and there and maybe a quick drive thru through Starbucks, was just how it goes with a newborn.  Also, the struggle was VERY real with breast feeding so on top of “failing” at that and not being around others made postpartum depression a reality for this new mama.

Although I do pride myself in getting out as much as I could to have coffee dates with my girlfriends who were also stay at home moms, or Geoff and I would take Jack out with us for a quick lunch, I realized what I needed was to see other moms in action with their little people!

The thought of mommy and me classes made me self conscious.  By the time we were ready to go to them (around 2-3 months) I was already back and forth between breast milk and formula, feeding Jack with a bottle…so the thought of being judged or being asked why I give my son a bottle gave me anxiety.  However, I finally took the plunge and signed up for bootcamp classes taught by my friend Bobbi.  She assured me that other moms would be there with their kids and if Jack cried she’d be more than happy to help him, feed him, whatever I needed!

I also signed up for mommy and me yoga classes.  This was the one I was most intimidated by because I knew more moms would be breast feeding their little ones.  Plus, yoga is such a huge part of my life, I didn’t want to look like I couldn’t do some poses like I used to!  The first class I was assured that it was ok to breast feed my baby if I needed.  At first I took it personally that it was assumed I breastfeed…and feeling like a failure crept up…and once Jack got hungry and I had to whip out the bottle…no one cared!

These classes gave me so much more confidence in my ability as a mother.  For the first 2 months of Jack’s life I felt like the biggest failure.  But being around other moms, actually NOT feeling judged for the way I feed my kid, and supporting one another and even helping each other out when our babies are fussy and mama just needs a breather, helped my bond with Jack grow even stronger.  Plus, I’ve made some really wonderful friendships through bootcamp and mommy and me yoga.  If you’re a new mom, or even a seasoned one, and feel you’re lacking in your mothering, check and see if you are involved with other moms?  Are you getting out of the house?  Are you sharing your struggles and victories with your friends?  Once I started getting out every day (bootcamp was MWF and yoga was T/Th) I noticed such a drastic change in how I treated myself and how much more I loved my son!  Confidence as a mom can be hard to come by with all the rules and opinions that are thrown at us daily.  But when you get the opportunity to be immersed with other moms, seeing that they too have their struggles and “failures” it makes motherhood that much more beautiful :)

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Holy Yoga

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As I’ve written before about yoga, it’s the closest I feel to God.
When I’m on my mat, breathing, moving, celebrating how my body works…and let’s face it, some days it works better than others.  I had the opportunity to teach a yin class to a group of about 50 women at the Refresh Summit West retreat back in late April.  The retreat was a fitness and faith based weekend, filled with a variety of fitness classes including Zumba and Pilates, as well as kickboxing and TRX!  I led the yoga portion of the retreat on the first night so it was a treat to have everyone attend my workshop.  Because the retreat was fitness based, I was able to lead my class using inspiration from the Word, allowing the women to not use their quiet time to focus on their breath, but to focus on the message God wanted to them to hear.
I barely remember what I said.  There were times during the 60 minute yin that I was surprised by the words that were coming out of my mouth.  Growing up around believers but not being a practicing one I am not well versed in the Bible.  But what I was sharing with the women were words that felt stemmed straight from my heart and were placed there by God.
Because of the opportunity I had to teach at Refresh, I discovered, and haven’t heard God more clearly, that I need to finally jump out and get my certification for Holy Yoga.  I’ve wanted to do this for years but always felt like I wasn’t good enough.  The timing wasn’t right.  Finances wouldn’t cut it.
But I know it’s my calling at this time.  The timing is right.  I’m a stay at home mom trying to build her side business for yoga.  I feel somewhat empty when I teach traditional styles of yoga these days…like I’m meant to have and experience that Christian focus throughout the practice.  The finances are the part that I alone am unable to provide for the training that begins at the end of August.
So friends, I’ve prayed and have had others pray for me, and a handful of people shared a GoFundMe campaign.  I took the plunge and created a fundraiser specifically focused on raising money for my Holy Yoga Instructor Training beginning the very end of August 2016.  This fundraiser will help cover the cost of the training, the literature and materials, as well as travel expenses for the week long retreat at the end of the training in AZ.  I’d love it if you would hop over to my page, read more about what happened at Refresh Summit…open heart surgery was my sign…of course!
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And if you could share either this post or the link to my GoFundMe, OR BOTH, would mean the world to me and my family.  Thank you all so much for the support, prayers, good vibes, and encouragement I’ve received lately!

Fitness and Pregnancy

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I’ve definitely taken it easy during this pregnancy when it comes to being physically active.  After undergoing open heart surgery three years ago, I began to really focus on my fitness.  I’d always been aware of my body and the importance of being active.  But once I’d recovered from the surgery enough to begin lifting weights and holding up my own body weight in planks or chatarangas, I really dedicated myself to fitness and wellness.  I’d never been in better shape!

And then I got pregnant.

I had lost all ambition to get up and move in the first trimester!  Feeling fatigued and nauseous weren’t great motivators to inspire any kind of vinyasa or down dog.  I’d go on walks instead of runs.  I started doing yoga at home because the heat of a yoga studio made me want to pass out (I’d go home with nose bleeds).  I felt like I was being a wuss, like I was allowing this little sesame seed to take over my entire body and force me to quit the intensity of my workouts!  So frustrating!

But then I got a second wind around week 9.  Still in the first trimester, I noticed that I could walk pretty far if I had fueled myself enough beforehand.  And I always ALWAYS brought water a long with me.  Walking became my new love.  When I ran I listened to music, or nothing at all (yes, two extremes that both work well for me).  But with walking, I craved a slower paced form of entertainment, so I started listening to podcasts.  Look out for Friday’s post where I’ll be sharing my top 3 favorite podcasts!

Really, from week 9 up until about week 32 I practiced yoga and walked like a maniac.  The weight lifting/body toning I love to do from Tone It Up fell to the wayside.

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Yoga

Since the heat of a yoga studio was killing me (even when I’m not pregnant it can be a bit miserable for me) I wanted to create an at home practice that worked with my body and my schedule.  I started getting really into yoga from a holy yoga instructor on Youtube, Morgan Day Cecil.  Her videos are short and sweet, and can easily be modified (if you know how to listen to your body) to fit pregnancy.  Plus, if you feel like 20 or 30 minutes isn’t enough for yoga, you can play more videos.  I love how I can just wake up in the morning, put on some shorts and a sports bra, roll out my mat, and get a wonderful practice in.  People will probably shake their finger at me and frown, but I haven’t had any Lamaze breathing technique training or birth training period because I’m confident that my body will help me know what to do because of yoga.  We’ll find out in a couple weeks, right?!

Walking

When I got my second wind I walked and walked and walked!  The weather wasn’t too hot in May here in Redlands.  Evenings were cool until we got into August.  Most of my long walks were near sunset or in the mornings on the weekends.  While I walked, even though I listened to podcasts, I did try to keep up the pace a bit and take streets that were at an incline.  I kept track of my miles using NikePlus.  Something I really love about walking rather than running was a chance to really take in the scenery of where I live.  One of my favorite features of our town are the Victorian and Craftsman style homes.  While Geoff and I don’t live in a historic home, the vibe of our town is filled with nostalgia.  I might sound like a creeper, but I enjoyed the chance of getting to see how people decorated their yards, and maybe even get a glimpse of families eating dinner together.

I think slowing down has helped me prepare for the family we are about to start together.  I really needed to slow down around week 33.  My doctor warned me that I was having too many contractions, that I needed to stay off of my feet when I could, drink more water, and RELAX.  This scared me a bit because I was so used to having “good” check ups.  The first one I had where I was told I was possibly doing something wrong made me fear walks and yoga.  Maybe I was causing the contractions because I was being too active, although I had greatly cut down the amount of time I spent walking and flowing.  However, I did notice that I was feeling exhausted.  Not just fatigued, but exhausted AND depressed.  I took her advice and when I’d get home from being on my feet and teaching preteens all day, I’d prop my feet up and try to relax.  I started drinking more and more water.  But I was still stressed.  I stopped practicing yoga and walking for almost a month.

Now that I’m on maternity leave, and I can use the bathroom whenever I need (meaning I drink MUCH MORE WATER) and I can put my feet up when I notice the swelling is starting up, I’ve had a little more energy.  Not a ton, but enough to practice a 15-20 minutes gentle, and I mean GENTLE yoga flow from Morgan.  And I typically end my practice with one of her stretching routines.  I haven’t been on a walk because of pelvic pain and hips slipping out of  sockets…oh pregnancy :)  Sometimes I’ll do an arm routine from Tone It Up with 3 pound weights, but my arms get attention from holding up my heavy body in planks these days.   Geoff and I are thinking of trying a little walk around the block to see how my body reacts.  No more walks by myself!  My depression and anxiety I was experiencing a couple weeks ago has died down a good amount since bringing yoga back.  I’m feeling more in tune with my body again, even though it feels like it’s falling apart haha.  I’m loving my body again and I have yoga to thank.

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What are your favorite forms of fitness?  That make you feel like you and help get you out of a funk?  I’d love to know!  Do them today!