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“Smile!”

Women, and how we are expected to be smiling from the second our eyes open, until they close to sleep at night—and while you’re sleeping too if you’re extra lady-like. 

Currently, I am sitting at a table in a coffee shop, working. Headphones in ears typing away; writing, emailing…you know, generally pretty wrapped up in what I’m doing. Much like the other tables surrounding me with men doing the exact same thing. After sitting here for an hour, three separate men have approached me and each individually made the never-charming gesture of moving their mouths into a smile with their fingers—aka telling me I should be smiling—in some horribly juvenile attempt to be flirty, I think. Thus prompting me to address a topic that I run into quite a bit in my life: disproportionate expectations of women and their behavior, and smiling.

The funny part of this is that generally I smile a LOT. Walking down the street, I smile at strangers. I smile at people through my window to lighten the mood on the freeway when we are both equally miserable and stuck in traffic. I smile at dogs attached to leashes, and also at people attached to other people. In fact, I think I smile more than the average human. However, when I am sitting at my computer, working, drinking an iced coffee, alone on a friday afternoon…I do not feel the need to awkwardly smile at my inanimate laptop.

This leads me to my point. I look around at the five or so tables around me and see them all occupied with men doing the same thing as me: working alone on their computers with a straight expression of indifference on their scruffy faces. However, no one is approaching them, male or female, reminding them that they forgot to squinch their faces into a grin. Yet today,  and very frequently when I’m going about my business, three different men found the need to come up to me and take it upon themselves to direct me in my wrongdoing of being productive and alone, indifferent to their apparently unnoticed efforts to make me smile from behind my computer screen.

This idea that women are either feverishly smiling at all times of day, alone or accompanied, or they are bitter frowning bitches has got to be smashed. I am an extremely happy and satisfied human. I do what I love every day, I have great relationships with other happy humans, and live a very comfortable existence. But nothing about that means that I need to be sitting alone working and fucking smiling at a computer screen. Get the hell out of here with that. It is the most frustrating thing, and I hear it often. Yes, I’m busy. No, I’m not smiling right this second, but am still very happy in my life that you, strange man, know nothing about. Also yes you are correct! I DO indeed have a vagina, and no it does not want your penis inside of it. G’DAY. Find a non-sexist way of engaging someone or just leave us all alone please. Shocking as it may be, we aren’t all sitting around alone in coffee shops, in skirts without underwear on, waiting to be smiled at and directed into action by men. That’s called a strip club and you gotta pay for that shit.

*steps off soap box*

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Podcast and sass, with the one and only Jimmy Urbanovich

After a few month hiatus, the Wander People Podcast is back in action with guest Jimmy Urbanovich: professor, blogger of Jimmy’s In Tension, and fellow podcaster. We cover everything from Prius bashing, to sex with robots, to religion vs. logic. Tune in for some sass. I am going to try and get on some sort of a weekly schedule with these, so subscribe via the link on the right to get the updates!

 

(By the way if you were wondering what comes up when you google image “sexy robot”, there you have it.)

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Whole30, One Week Down

First check in! It’s now Sunday, the end of my first week eating according to the Whole30 framework and I feel GREAT, it was surprisingly easier than I thought. I tend to be more successful with black and white parameters when it comes to nutrition though; ie: “less dairy” for me, turns into no dairy all day and then having a glass of wine and eating half a brick of cheese at midnight… where as NO dairy seems to be an easier guideline for my cave woman brain to follow. So Whole30′s very strict regimen makes things easier in that sense.

The first 3 days or so were a lot of food-thought obsessing, and navigating my way into new routines for snacking and such.  But now on day 7 it feels like habit already, even drinking my coffee black (gasp!). It helped a lot that I was on vacation with family at the beach all week, so we stuck around the condo and laid low with a lot of homemade salads and grilled chicken. But for those of you not on a vacation and looking to integrate Whole30 into your busy work life, it is truly all about the prepping. Yes friends, I said it: the dreaded #mealprepmonday or whatever all those hip Instafitters are doing these days. Keeping a selection of foods ready to go will save your soul during the 30 days (as well as always). I also suggest keeping the social calendar pretty sparse for at least the first week until you are solid in your new habits. It makes it much harder when you’re out at a bar, surrounded by people drinking delicious looking craft beers and probably getting In N Out after. Save yourself the sorrow, at least while still vulnerable in the beginning.

Noticeable differences:

  • Skin: in the past 7 days my skin when from looking like a hormonal 17 year old to nearly completely clear. It is god damn miraculous. This alone is enough for me to keep up the regimen–but there’s more.
  • Tummy: I can see my very precious 2 abs that tend to go into hiding when eating my regular diet of a few beers a week and the occasional sandwich, grains, and sugar. Overall I have a consistent level of zero bloating and feel light and healthy–which was admittedly very nice while being in a bikini all week.
  • Joints/Inflammation: I no longer have to do my tin woman routine of warming my knee joints to stand up! Overall I feel a lot more fluid and…23 again. But I did drive for 2 hours home from the beach yesterday and my legs still got very cramped up; staying tuned on that front.

Here are some meal examples from the week. Nothing extravagant, just simple meals for busy people looking to incorporate this into their lives.

Breakfast: 2 hard boiled eggs, half an avocado (save the other half for the lunch salad) and a banana, with 2 glasses of water. It is always best to start the day super hydrated so you’re not playing catch up all day. Hydration helps with curbing cravings, and over all wellness. *Tip: I like to get 2 cartons of eggs when shopping. One carton to hard boil all at once and keep in the fridge for snacking/easy breakfasts, and the other for a Saturday morning omelet or sunny side ups.

Lunch: Kale Salad

  • pre-cut kale from Trader Joes *TIP: I like to use kale mainly for the fact that it is the most nutrient rich vegetable, but also from a cost effective point of view. Lettuce tends to go wilty in my fridge within 3 days, whereas a bag of kale will last 7-10 days–major difference.
  • diced mango
  • raw almond shreds
  • organic grilled chicken (I didn’t use any oil to cook it up. I just cut the raw chicken into cubes, threw it in the pan, and squeezed a bunch of lemon juice on it; tasted like a dream.)
  • baby tomatoes
  • avocado
  • half a lemon squeezed over the top as the dressing

End product: a delicious and super satisfying salad that covers all your nutrition bases–protein, healthy fats to help vitamin absorption in the body from the veggies, some mango to appease the sweet tooth, almonds for crunch, and kale to help ya poop!

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Next, the dreaded “let’s go to dinner” problem solver. Eating out is definitely the most difficult aspect of Whole30. When staying around the house, it’s easy to be good because you have everything prepped and shopped accordingly. But restaurants are the devil during this 30 days with hidden sugar, gross re-used oils, and preservatives. Here is what I ordered when I went out with my family for dinner:

Seared albacore with cajun pepper seasoning, and a Perrier for a drink. I felt pretty proud of myself during this meal because I sat at a table of 8 people all eating tacos (potentially my favorite meal) and I happily chowed down on tuna with ginger, and it was delicious. Always make sure to ask for sauce on the side though, because you can almost guarantee there will be sugar in the sauce (ponzu, soy, vinaigrettes, etc).

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And last for today, the snack:

  • 1 heaping tablespoon of almond butter (make sure to check the ingredients here. Hint, there should only be one: almonds.)
  • half a banana (or whole, depending on your hunger level)
  • a handful of sugar snap peas
  • one glass of carrot juice

An annoying part of Whole30 is that I have been hungry enough to eat a full meal about every 2 hours all day every day. This is an unfortunate side effect of not eating filler foods like bread/quinoa/fatty coffee drinks. So having healthy snack foods and fun fruit juices (watch ingredients for added sugars) around is KEY. And because you are not eating processed foods or sugar, you don’t need to count calories. That is a major tenant of Whole30, eat as much as you like, because it is all ADDING to your health, not detracting.

 

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Well friends I hope that was helpful! I’ve had a few people message me after my last post and jump on board, so be sure to let me know if you have any questions, or decide to start with me too. I promise…it’s worth the dedication. Stay well my friends!

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Whole30, It Starts With Food

Weight loss, blah blah blah. Gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, this-free, that-free, carb loading, paleo, cheat day, herbalife, weight watchers, processed, raw, juiced, blended…the nutrition/health lingo has exploded to an almost unbearable level. Yesterday it was soy milk, today it’s almond milk, and their sly competitor coconut milk is rising in popularity, ready to take over tomorrow. So with all of these theories floating about, how do we know what to actually follow? I consider myself a pretty health-conscious person, and on a daily basis my level of wellness is pretty damn good. I feel rested most every morning, keep my alcohol consumption relatively low, eat lots of leafy greens, as well as all the Whole Foods-y habits that your average 20-something begins to pay attention to when our teenage iron stomachs fade to nostalgic memory-land.

But after returning from India and beginning to eat a completely different diet again, my stomach hasn’t been right (lots of bloating and tummy aches) and my skin that was clear the entire time I was gone flared right back up within a week of being back. As well I recently developed some chronic knee pain in both legs: so much so that if I sit for longer than 10 minutes it takes a ridiculous ritual of slowly standing up, tin-woman style, extending each leg one by one *cue squeaky door sound effect* to warm up my knee joints before walking. So I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and needed to figure out the cause of these issues. But, what to do now? I am not injured, so that takes out the option of rest and recovery. I take fish oil daily which is hypothetically supposed to help my knees, as well as do yoga every day. I had covered all of my potential pain-causing bases, except one.image

I am a firm believer that food is medicine, and should be used to address any discomfort or illness before resorting to modern medicine, and worst case scenario, surgery. But I did not consider that my already healthy diet could still be contributing to my leg pain. In telling a fellow yoga teacher friend (who’s amazing organic food blog is HERE) about my knee issue, she told me about a 30 day food reset program she is doing for similar inflammatory issues. It’s called Whole30, from the book It Starts With Food. The basis of the plan is similar to the Paleo diet framework. For my unfamiliar friends, the Paleo way of eating recently emerged as a nutritional framework that urges people to revert back to the way our Paleolithic ancestors ate: meat, vegetables, fruit, eggs…very simple and unprocessed, and cutting out all of the Franken-food that is engineered to get us addicted, unhealthy, and fat. The difference between Paleo and Whole30 though, is that the latter is not concerned with what is “technically paleo” or what our cavemen ancestors actually did or did not eat, but rather inspired by our cavemen ancestry with the influence of modern nutritional research on what we should be eating NOW.

Whole30 is a 30 day nutritional reset program that is geared toward restarting our body’s natural (but currently suppressed) mechanisms to monitor cravings, hormones, and gut health. The goal of it is not weight loss, but that is undoubtedly a side effect of super clean eating for 4+ weeks. The food system, especially in America, has been tainted towards profitability rather than health. Suck out nutrients, pump in high fructose corn syrup and preservatives; longer shelf life, shorter human life…

What you CAN eat:

    • clean, organic meats
    • vegetables
    • fruit (fresh fruit juice as well)
    • nuts
    • eggs
    • and the kicker…COFFEE, so long as it’s black

What you can NOT eat:

  • dairy
  • sugar (including honey, agave, and stevia)
  • alcohol
  • legumes (beans)
  • anything processed–including protein powder

The basic idea is to only eat WHOLE foods for 30 days. You are not checking labels/ingredients because you aren’t buying or eating things that someone else made. It’s intended to get us back in touch with the process of making and cooking our own meals. No cheat days, and no “it’s my dad’s birthday so I’ll have a beer and a piece of cake, just this once”.  It’s intended to reset hormonal responses that influence bad habits, clean out your system, and decrease inflammation in the joints and gut, so it is crucially important to stick to it 100%, or it will not work. For example, you can’t just open your dishwasher half way through the cycle and expect all of the water to not slosh out onto the floor and ruin everything…Just finish the cycle dammit!

I started my Whole30 month on Sunday, and will be documenting the changes and posting some of my note worthy meals, and tips for those of you who would like to try it out also. It’s only day 3 and I am already feeling so much lighter mentally and physically.  If you are curious and have some ailments that you can’t seem to determine the cause for, I definitely encourage you to read the book and try it out with me. Check out the Whole30 website for details and more success stories!

 

P.S. Don’t forget to subscribe to TheWanderWoman via the box on the right side of the page if you’d like to get emails when I update. Cheers!

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So, I graduated.

A recap:

My final time in Rishikesh was bittersweet. That city and my time there holds a massive chunk of my soul that will never be replicated by any other time or place. Being in such a supportive environment with a group of 24 friends, where we all endured the same funky soul-journey together, dealing with instances of inopportune tears, saying ridiculous things like “I can’t sleep because my energy is too sensitive after meditation” and having it sound normal, getting sick to your stomach randomly through out the day because of any possibility of 34952 things, getting rammed by a cow on the street when it was trying to mount another cow, lovingly making fun of our teachers…or any number of off-kilter oddities that would cause us to really check ourselves and get back to basics.[monkey just wants to do some yoga...]

The bitter part of the bargain was the having-to-leave part, and the anticipation that came with that. My last day before graduation I found myself sulking around town, near tears the entire day. I was avoiding people I loved because I hate goodbyes. I’ve never been good with talking about things that really make me upset, like death or break ups or goodbyes–I’m a total avoider. I was just staring off into space, while simultaneously spazzing out because I had a 2 hour yoga class I still had to teach in the evening.

I finally bucked up and set up for my class in this little attic-like room on the roof, and proceeded to teach… and it was excruciating. I was so out of it, starving, hot, seriously bummed out…totally the opposite of the class I had taught earlier in the week that I was really proud of. It was as if all of the demons of my entire life, every insecurity I had, came out of my body and were just dancing around me staring while I was trying to teach; those two hours felt like years. I had a moment after class where I just finally lost it and broke down and called my mom and wailed “TEACHING YOGA IS LIKE REALLY HARD, what have I gotten myself into?!” In moments like that, the only person I can talk to is my one and only momma. That day and through that experience I gained so much respect for every yoga teacher I had ever had. Teaching is such an intimate exchange with other humans, and you really have to bring your whole self to the table–insecurities and all. Emotionally, physically, every aspect of you is utilized in a class if you’re teaching well, and you always owe it to your students to be fully present for them.

I was looking around during the final restorative portion where I like to push people to go really deep into their poses, and two people discretely had tears streaming down their cheeks. I approached them both after class, feeling like I had just taught the worst class I could possibly have taught, and everyone’s life was ruined, but instead they each hugged me and wholeheartedly thanked me for the class and giving them the energetic space to free up those emotions in themselves. Meanwhile, I was thinking my emotional state had brought them a terrible class, they felt the opposite. I know not all of my readers are yoga people, so I’m trying not to get too froo-froo on you, but that exchange is exactly why I am here and why I want to continue on my teaching journey. So even though that day I was very low and sad, it was all worth it when two teary eyed students hugged me from a serious soul-place.IMG_6642IMG_6649IMG_6801 IMG_6717  IMG_6723Leaving the place I attribute so much personal evolution to, and so many sweet moments that I can’t even really do justice to by writing about, and transitioning to actually teaching students instead of just talking about it; reducing our egos to a place where we can openly talk about qualities we’d like to change in our personalities but have never admitted needed attention… All of it was so good. So so good. Then to put the most beautiful seal on the time in Rishikesh, my fellow students and I went out that night after graduation to a cafe in town and played a bunch of instruments and covered every awesome 90′s song in the book, and just smothered each other with love and typical yoga people nonsense. It was beautiful. THERE WERE EVEN BONGOS AND INCENSE. : ]

But seriously, it takes a heart being this full to feel this heavy. I love you my teaching friends, I love you more than you’ll ever know. Thanks for cracking my shell back open.IMG_6702

 

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Lianne La Havas, Don’t Wake Me Up

Her voice is just pure heaven. She was the missing link in what I felt has been a beautiful explosion of new talent in recent musical developments, minus a little soul tunes–then she came along.

Lianne La Havas, Don’t Wake Me Up

Don’t wake me up
I’m trying to find you
Oh, as I walk through
You’re hiding in the corners of my mind
Never fear, I’ll be close behind
My only love, I’ll follow behind you
Won’t go without you
I know your love weighs heavy on my heart
But you are my only counterpart
Will I know
Why I lost control
Of my heart and soul
Because I know you,
I can’t reach through
(Oo aah)

I made mistakes but they’re safely behind me
Now I can run free
The only true love I have ever known
Into yours my life has been thrown
Still early days so
It’s just the beginning
Sing when you’re willing
They say somethings are better left unsaid
But I’d take my life to stay in your bed…

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The Epic Journey to the Golden Temple

Amritsar is a city in northern India on the border of Pakistan that is home to the Golden Temple—one of India’s most prized religious sites and architectural works of art, as well as the top piece of “The Golden Triangle” popular tourist circuit; including Jaipur for the Amber Fort and City Palace, and Agra for the Taj Mahal. I had already seen Jaipur and Agra, so my friends from training and I decided to plan a weekend getaway to visit the final piece of the triangle. We left on Friday night on an overnight train to arrive in Amritsar the following morning, stay all day, and turn around and take the same night train back to Rishikesh (a 10 hour ride each way).

We got there and walked through a wild maze of dirty city streets with sad donkeys and cows and street dogs—your very stereotypical movie-scene-depiction of India—to then see the incredible Golden Temple shining out of the middle of it all. A sad but true fact of how India is…often the most incredible beauty is surrounded by filth and ruin. It’s required to cover your head before entering the holy ground so after waiting for the guys to get their make shift turbans wrapped around their heads (finally the men are equally required to cover up as much as the women) we checked our shoes, washed our feet, and entered.

The way it’s all laid out and built is breathtaking. The golden glowing temple itself sits serenely in the middle of a small lake. There’s a walking ledge around the border for people to take a dip in the holy water, complete with a special closed off area for women to bath in peace, away from the constant piercing gaze of the lusty dudes. We snapped some fun shots doing yoga by the lake, and then headed over to the dining hall. The Golden Temple is known for feeding over 70,000 people per day—FOR FREE, (take notes Vatican City…) So we made sure to save room for the epic food we’d heard so much about. And what an experience that was… We got in line—and lines in India are more just like hoards of people smooshing into each other and sneakily trying to get in front of you. It’s push or be pushed; whether you’re waiting at the train station or in line at a restaurant, if you get lazy for one second, someone has already snuck in front of you to steal your spot. We smooshed and pushed our way into the dining hall where everyone piled in and sat down on the floor with big trays for the food to be served on.

yogi pyramidAfterward the 8 of us got into a cab that would drive us the hour drive over to the Pakistan border so we could see the rally that happens every night at sunset in Lahore. It’s symbolic of the competition between India and Pakistan. There’s this march and dance charade with music and fake fighting (think Medieval Times-type show). We hit crazy traffic on the way there and then got a flat tire amongst all of that, so we arrived late and had to climb some fences to see the rally over about 10,000 people’s heads…BUT we made it and saw the show and set foot in Pakistan. Mission accomplished.

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Lykke Li, Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone

Lykke Li is one of those artists who always seems to find her way into my circulation of tunes no matter what’s going on in life. I love her authentic haunting voice, and even more her simple but poignant lyrics. Enjoy.

Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone

There’s a heart I cannot hide
There’s a beat I can’t deny
When it sings, when it lies
when it cheats, when it bribes
There is a war inside my core
I hear it fight, I hear it roar
Go ahead, go ahead
Lay your head where it burns

Even though it hurts, even though it scars
Love me when it storms, love me when I fall
Every time it breaks, every time its torn
Love me like I’m not made of stone
Love me like I’m not made of stone

A devil’s hand across my heart
As we dance through the dark
So go ahead, go ahead
Love me deep, until you can’t

Even though it hurts, even though it scars
Love me when it storms, love me when I fall
Every time it breaks, every time its torn
Love me like I’m not made of stone
Love me like I’m not made of stone

Love me hard until it heats
Will you love my scars so I can heal

Even though it hurts, baby, scars
Love me when I fall, it breaks baby, it’s torn baby, every storm

Love me like I’m not made of stone
Love me like I’m not made of stone
Love me like I’m not made of stone

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Yoga School Life in Rishikesh

Now that I’m in the 5th week of my 300 hour yoga training, it seems like I should probably post something about it. Our schedule is pretty packed so there is not as much time for word-pressing–which is not a bad thing.
Our schedule:
6am wake up
6:30 tea
6:45 daily neti pot cleaning (the little pot that you stick in your nostrils and it flushes out the nasal cavity—it’s awesome)
7- 9:15 physical yoga practice (called asana)
9:30 breakfast
10:30-1 yoga philosophy and anatomy
1:15 lunch
3 self study
4:30-6:30 physical yoga practice #2
6:45 dinner
8-8:30 meditation

the ganges
Our group of 24 students have all become so close and supportive, and we are all growing so much both with regards to our physical yoga practice and capabilities, but also and more importantly on a self level (cheeeeeeeeese fest! but this is my blog and I’ll cheese if I wanna). Sometimes it takes feeling really balanced and happy every day to realize how unhappy and scattered you were  before. I like it so much here that I’ve been avoiding buying my flight home; I feel very apprehensive about leaving my yoga bubble in a couple weeks… We are all thriving so much that it seems like a cruel joke to have to leave yoga blissed out life for somewhere else—all the more motivation to carry on living in a healthy balanced way back home and spread the love. It won’t be as easy to keep to zen life as it is when I live in a town where the shop keepers literally say namasté instead of hello, and you can only get beer by hiking up to this one shop on a hill 2 miles away and the guy then rides away for 30 minutes on a motorcycle to illegally purchase it for you (true story—Rishikesh is a prohibition city). But when something is worth it, you do what you have to do to make it work (yoga life, not beer smuggling life). All about the yin and yang man.

So that being said, this training is kicking all of our asses. Not just in a physical sense but in a mental one. We have a break in the middle of the day for a couple hours but other than that it is thinking/ talking/ and doing yoga from 6:30am to 8:30pm every day but Sunday. And that is a lot of fucking yoga. But I would not want to spend 14 hours a day doing anything else, I can say that with certainty. We do these stretches that seriously make your soul hurt they are so deep–holding your hips in contorted torturous angles for minutes on end… but it is making such a difference in my flexibility and openness.

This course, in it’s essence is teaching us to be yoga teachers by cracking us open as humans. It’s designed in a way that isn’t so much “say this to your students” or “teach this way” but instead giving you the means to develop real zen inside. I say that with a semi wink in my eye, because I realize how silly it sounds…but it’s fo real. And having 6 weeks is not an accidental amount of time, it’s the time it takes to literally on a cellular and mental level develop new habits and lasting mental change, and in our case to cultivate a real yogic lifestyle. Yoga teacher training courses are basically therapy for your brain as much or more than for your body. Freeing up emotional and physical blockages to make for happier humans; and as a result yoga teachers.

From the neti nasal cleansing in the morning so that your nose is clear for meditation and breathing practices, to a satvic, or easily digestible, no-harm vegetarian diet to make digestion happy and then much easier to practice 4 hours of physical yoga each day. *Side note, I emphasize by saying physical yoga because when you get down to specifics there are actually 8 limbs of yoga, and only 1 of them is the physical practice, or asana. And in India it is super sacrilegious to say “yoga” and only mean the physical asana—it’s a sure fire way to get the Indians to think you’re “that white girl” who is only here for the yoga booty and doesn’t give a shit about anything on a deeper more meditative level. It would be like saying sports and expecting people to know you’re talking about a soccer game. Meditation, pranayama (breathing exercises) and some other things are also a part of the bigger category of yoga. But the western emphasis and the eastern one differ quite a bit.

So we are in week 5 and I just taught my first real yoga class yesterday! It was for 2 hours and it was amazing and I’m hooked on teaching for life. It was my first one, so it was not this flawless class, but all in all I feel very happy about how it turned out. We did some sun salutations, some pose break downs, and at the end I led a meditation from a book I love, and then had the class sit silently for 10 minutes to an Explosions in the Sky song playing that I’ve always found to be super emotional and meditative in and of itself, then the infamous corpse pose for another ten to finish it off. And then we sat and they gave me brilliant feedback on how to improve and which parts they enjoyed. All in all it could not have gone better and more educational for me. I teach a workshop on the chakras as well as another 2 hour class to the beginner teacher trainers next week and now I’m not terrified, but super stoked to work out more kinks. I can finally say…I’m a yoga teacher–and it feels FUCKING AWESOME. :D

*end cheese*

happy time, all the time.