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Ask A Yogi: Body Differences + Pose Modifications

Ask A Yogi: Body Differences + Pose Modifications

Q:  I enjoy doing yoga but I get insecure about my body differences.

When I need help with modifications, I am embarrassed to ask. What can I do to let the instructor know that I need some assistance without disrupting the class?

 

Amy:  I’m so glad to receive this question, and I really appreciate the phrase “body differences.” 

There’s a lot to care for here, so I’m going to break up the answer into two parts. (look for Part Two to post soon!)

 

 

Part One: The Culture of Body Differences: Insecurity & Positivity

 

Because we live together in a society, we grow up learning what is and isn’t acceptable, as well as what is and isn’t desirable or worthy of attention, comfort, or praise from a variety of industries that make up our popular culture.  From entertainment and leisure to fashion and trends, to scores of news outlets, we see, hear, and internalize sets of beliefs that shape our world view and self-image.  In addition to these broader influences, our belief systems are also shaped by our specific family culture, which can include ethnic and religious traditions, shared knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors, as well as the outlook, attitudes, values, morals, goals, and customs shared by our own immediate and extended families.  Because our cultural formation is both broad and specific, we grow into adulthood with a variety of filters unique to our own experience; and to add more complexity, these different lenses might even be in conflict with each other.  

 

You are not alone.  Our unique world view and self-image shape how we function in relation to ourselves and other people during public events and private moments.  We tend to compare ourselves to an internal “ideal,” to other groups of people, and individuls to see where we fall on the spectrum of “socially acceptable.”   

 

It’s helpful to remember that not only are we not alone in the experience of being different, but every single one of us has some kind of body difference, whether subtle or obvious, as well as invisible differences, such as auto-immune diseases, mental injury, complex learning styles, and so much more.  So when we head into a body-based class like yoga, we’re all bringing with us thousands of years of ancestral DNA, our own cultural formation, and all of our “differences” both seen and unseen.  

 

It is natural to experience insecurity around our differences.  And it’s also natural to experience positive emotions around our differences.   The next time you feel unsure about an instruction, posture, or practice in a yoga class, remember it’s not just you; most likely, other students are unsure about it, too.  We’ll get into the details more in Part Two, but briefly, if the style of the class is not too terribly fast, and you can make eye contact with the teacher, trying asking for general suggestions.  For instance, if you’d rather not ask specific questions about a particular topic, consider asking for more general modifications.  Try something like, “Can you offer any other options if this isn’t working for us?”  Remember this, if nothing else: Yoga, and yoga postures, are here in service to you; you are not in class to be of service to the postures.  

 

If you’d like to take this discussion further, if you’ve ever thought, “yoga is not for me,” or if you’d like to explore the possibilities around shifting from insecurity to positivity, here are some great resources:  

  • Amber Karnes & Body Positive Yoga: Amber is the founder of BodyPositiveYoga.com and the creator of Body Positive Clubhouse, an online community for folks who want to make peace with their bodies and build unshakable confidence.  
  • Yoga for AmputeesMarsha T. Danzig 
  • Amputee Yoga Association
  • Accessible Yoga:  AccessibleYoga.org:  A nonprofit organization that believes all people, regardless of ability or background, deserve equal access to the ancient teachings of yoga.  By building a strong network and advocating for a diverse Yoga culture that is inclusive and welcoming, Accessible Yoga is sharing Yoga with all.

 

Part Two – The Yoga Classroom:  Student-Teacher Relationship & Class Agreements (coming soon!) 

Resident MBA Yogi, Amy Secrist, is available to answer questions, give insight and guidance, and help you feel great about your yoga practice. You can email your questions to Amy@mindbodyalign.com or message us on Facebook or Instagram  #AskAYogi  @MindBodyAlign 

You can also join Amy for practice at the Butterfly House on Mondays and Wednesdays at 9:30 am. Learn more here. 

 

 

 

3 Quick Tips to Start Practicing Self-Love Now!

3 Quick Tips to Start Practicing Self-Love Now!

Self-love is about being more committed to your happiness than to your suffering in every single moment.”- Nitika Chopra

 

 

We all know that love is the main topic of discussion in February. Everywhere we turn we see hearts, candy, and cards reminding us to honor our loved ones with a token of appreciation, which is a lovely sentiment.  While you’re contemplating the perfect way to tell someone else how much you care,  don’t forget to tune into your own heart. Here are a few ways you can carve out moments of love for yourself:

Wake with a grateful heart.

 

Before your feet even touch the floor, take a moment to acknowledge what you are grateful for such as your health, your bed, etc.

Start your morning with an affirmation.

 

When sipping your coffee or washing your face try saying to yourself something like, “I am loved,” or ” Today I am capable of so much.”

Nourish your mind + body.

 

At lunchtime, fill up your water bottle and put on your favorite calming playlist or podcast. Take this moment to recharge and center yourself.

 

Looking for more opportunities to practice self-love?

 

Check out our podcast, Second Sip, which is a continuation of our wise-women conversations at MBA.

You may also enjoy our Girls Night In events.      

 

 

Gifting for the Love Languages

Gifting for the Love Languages

According to Dr. Gary Chapman, we all have a “love tank” inside of us. When the love tank is full, we feel connected, supported, and secure. When the love tank is empty, we feel disconnected, alone, and insecure. But how do you fill someone else’s love tank? You learn what their love language is and you use it to communicate how much they mean to you. It’s equally important that you understand your own love language. This way, you will know how to communicate to your loved ones what it is that you need to feel appreciated and secure.  

But what if their language is different from yours? Or perhaps you don’t exactly know what to do with the information? These concerns can create unnecessary stress when it comes time to acknowledge them with a gift or expression of love. No one needs MORE stress in their life. That’s why we’ve used the 5 Love Languages to curate a gift guide that is intentional and reflects each of the languages uniquely. 

 

Words of Affirmation

 

People with this as their top love language need words to help them feel loved. Choose gifts that make statements and show that you recognize an important aspect of them. 

Gift Ideas: 

ThoughtFull Pop-Open Cards- Each of these themed boxes come with 30 unique quotes. Stash them throughout their belongings to create a fun and unexpected surprise. Popping open the card is super satisfying and their small size makes them perfect to carry in your pocket or bag. 

Write Now Journals- These journals have beautiful and inspirational quotes on the cover and throughout the pages. A lover of words will surely appreciate the ability to keep their own words close by while being inspired by iconic quotes and poems. 

 

Physical Touch

 

The Touch love language is about the physical sensation that comes from a meaningful connection. Pick textural gifts that evoke a strong touch memory of you. 

Gift Ideas: 

Shawls/ Wraps/Blankets/Pillows- The key here is to find items that have a distinct texture and relate to something they already love. If they love to read in their favorite chair, perhaps a cozy shawl or wrap would be nice. If they love to Netflix and relax – a breathable blanket with some weight can help them unwind, if they’ve recently experienced a significant transition in their life, a weighted heart pillow can provide comfort in times of need. 

Sacred Heart Stones – These little trinkets are perfect for a pocket and can easily be retrieved and rubbed with their thumb when they miss you or need to feel comforted. 

 

Quality Time

 

QT people need you to make time for them. Gift them items that come with a follow-up event or date. 

Gift Ideas:

Yoga/meditation supplies + classes: a new yoga mat or bag, perhaps an eye pillow. Commit to attending a class with them by purchasing a class pass in advance. 

Books + discussion- Books are great for self-care but you can show your loved ones that you care by reading the same book and making time for discussion. Think about books that reflect their interests or will strengthen your relationship: The Mindful Couple, Awakened Relating, or The Untethered Soul. 

 

Acts of Service

 

Acts of Service speakers feel loved when you do something nice for them that makes their life easier or better. Think about gifts that will enhance their goals or free up their schedule so that they can pursue the things they really enjoy. 

Gift ideas: 

Wellness Kits:  Has your loved one been sick? Are they hoping to get healthy in the new year? Gift them a hand-curated wellness kit, complete with bath bombs, handmade soaps, reusable water bottles, wellness patches, etc. 

Prompted Journaling- Journaling is incredibly rewarding but busy people may find it to be a chore. Help them reap the benefits of journaling by gifting them a prompted journal such as Calm the Chaos,   I am here now, or 52 Weeks of Gratitude.

 

Receiving Gifts

 

This language may seem like the easiest one but in fact, can be the most stressful. Gifters are usually excellent at gifting meaningful items to their loved ones so you may feel pressure to make the same kind of effort. The key here is to take note of what brings them joy. Big or small, a meaningful gift will go a long way with this love language. 

Gift Ideas:

Unique Finds: trendsetters love a unique find. Think jewelry with a story such as a Mala prayer necklace or a stone bracelet charged in a Sedona energy vortex. 

Conscious Living- Think about items that do good in the world: reusable paper towels, glass water bottles, or fair-trade items such as bags and rugs. 

Holistic and Mindful Living: gift items that will help them with their practice such as a singing bowl, meditation chime, or a crystal grid.

 

 

Take the FREE Love Language Quiz here

All of the above-mentioned gift ideas can be found at the Butterfly House retail shop. Visit us on Tu-Friday from 10 am – 5 pm or email mary@mindbodyalign.com to have a custom gift package put together for you. 

 

Upcoming Event

Girls Night In: 

The Power of Self-Compassion

February 28th  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stripping Labels: Leading By Living

Stripping Labels: Leading By Living

Seeing the world through rose-colored glasses is an idiom often used to express an optimistic perception of life. But the sad truth is, optimism is a disposition rarely extended to others. Instead, we tend to look at others and decide what color glasses to wear when viewing them, based on our judgment of them.

Humans have a natural inclination to favor certain sects of society while believing there is justification for harboring caution (at the least) if not outright hatred (at the worst) against certain groups of society. Generally, those biases are formed to include themselves and people like them.

Despite recent trends, I believe women more than men are pigeonholed in their careers and their relationships. Women still don’t receive equal pay for equal work (especially minorities). Women more often than men are trapped in abusive relationships. Women are sexually assaulted more than men. Women are forced into human trafficking more than men. Women are forced into underage marriage more than men. Women are forced to endure female mutilation. I can go on. The topic of bias relates to me both personally and professionally. I face huge biases – not just due to my gender but also my race, which is stereotypically associated with my tendency to speak up. From what I’ve experienced, there is an overt and obvious difference between me and my white, especially male, colleagues and friends. When I speak up firmly, I face resistance from certain people and am made to feel discounted as a nuisance. When my white friends and/or colleagues, male or female, behave in the same manner, often more frequently and more blatantly, they are taken so much more seriously, and their opinions are valued. It got to the point, where I found myself having to confront the dilemma of whether to lighten up or stop speaking up altogether. It felt to me as if I was never heard, and I didn’t want to be labeled as the so-called “Angry Black Woman,” (ABW). I didn’t want to be viewed as unintelligent or bitter either. Talking while black and female proved to be quite the double-hurdle for me. I have personally had other colleagues tell me they have had to face some form of negative labeling in their career. One woman was told by a manager that she “did not fit the corporate image” when she was being considered for an advancement opportunity. She asked for feedback regarding how she didn’t fit the corporate image but then asked for the interview anyway. She got the interview. It went well and she was offered the position.

Humans also have a natural inclination to form biases. I sincerely believe one must consciously will themselves to not behave in those undereducated, underdeveloped ways of thinking. How do you inspire humans to think for themselves?? To break away from their norms and their beliefs? In this climate and in what I see happening in this country, it seems virtually impossible. The answer for me is to live it. Show others in my own behavior and choices. If you want to see an improved environment, be an improved environment all the time – without exception.

In order to be compassionate and try to help others remove filters, my path lies in Christ. By showing others that they can look at the world through the lens of Christ,  they can free themselves of preconceived ideas, biases, and bigotry against others; they can, instead, open themselves up to love. And like so many others, I believe we must love as Christ loved.

 

Love is a verb

Love is a verb

Some say love is a feeling, but I maintain that love, in fact, is a way of being.

An ancient text* tells us that love is patient and kind. That it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. That love honors others and is not self-seeking or easily angered. That it keeps no record of wrong. This same text tells us that love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. That it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. It tells us that love never fails.

Perhaps you’ve heard this ancient text read at a wedding? It was read at my wedding many years ago… and many others I’ve attended before and since. It is indeed a good recipe for a successful marriage.

A good recipe for living, for being, in the world-at-large

If you take a moment to really consider the definition of love above, you will see that it is filled with actions—being patient and kind, honoring others, delighting in truth and justice, protecting, trusting, hoping, persevering. I read these actions and think, while I’m certainly not perfect, I’m fairly decent at these things, or at least I try my best to be. These are high ideals—ideals I want to work towards.

And yet, this definition is also filled with inaction—holding your tongue, your anger, your envy, and not keeping score or seeking on behalf of self. If I’m transparent with you, that’s a list I need a little more work on. I think of how often I state my opinion when I should hold silent instead. How my anger rises to the surface at a moment’s notice. How I keep account of others’ wrongdoings, but not my own. How I often seek for self, and myself alone. Yes, for certain this is the list that needs some attention in my life.

See, love is an action-word, a verb. Love must be demonstrated; it must be acted out and acted upon. It must guide our actions and the things we say and do. Moreover, love is sometimes an action word requiring inaction, restraint, and self-control. It is a way of being in the world, a way of living life, every day, even (and especially) when it’s hard.

Love in action: be love

When the tiny things grate on our nerves, love is patience and kindness. When we feel our opinion must be heard, love holds it’s tongue and stops self-seeking. When our spouse or friend makes the same mistake (you know, the one you told them really annoys you), love keeps no record of their wrong.

And our love—does it always protect, always trust, always hope, and always persevere?

Those, my friends, are some VERBS—soul-attending, voice-stilling, heart-opening verbs!

In this holiday season ahead perhaps our love could look or “act” differently? Perhaps you can join me on working on these ideals—not as a goal of perfection, but as a way of living out of grace and beauty and compassion? A way of being with others, especially those we espouse to love and serve?

Won’t you let love guide your actions, as well as your inactions?
Won’t you join me in living out love? Acting out of love?
If love indeed is a verb…
let’s be love!

* This ancient text was written two-thousand years ago by the Apostle Paul and appears in the First Letter to the Corinthian Church in The Holy Bible.

Loving someone takes action

Loving someone takes action

It’s 4:30 am and I awake to the smell of apples cooking.  I stretch and move Sam, our dog, off my feet so I can get up to stir the apples.  I don’t think I imagined at the age of 13 or 14 that I would sleep all night on my couch and stir apples cooking in a roaster every two hours so my family could have Grandma’s apple butter for the holidays, but here I am, loving every minute of it.

As I add the cinnamon flavor, the aroma fills my kitchen and I can almost see my mom and grandma
sitting at my kitchen table, enjoying a cup of coffee and great conversation. Watching them together, it
was always obvious the love they shared for one another.

My Grandma’s apple butter was a staple at our house growing up and to be honest, I’ve never tasted store bought apple butter. I sometimes see it in the store and think maybe I should buy it. But I pass it up
knowing it won’t be as good. As is often the case, I took for granted that it would just be there, available anytime I wanted some. I also took for granted the work that went into those reddish-brown jars of caramelized apples. Although I had witnessed the process, it wasn’t until Grandma shared her recipe with me and I made it, that I realized, making apple butter is a labor of love.

Cooking with Love

Most of our family’s meals were raised in our gardens, harvested in the fall and canned or frozen to enjoy throughout the year.  We spent many hours picking and cleaning green beans, shucking corn or enjoying fresh strawberries while growing up, always with mom and grandma by our side showing us how it was done.

I retrieved fresh eggs from Grandma’s chicken coop and watched my Grandfather collect honey from his
hives many times when I was younger. Although they told us often they loved us, their actions surrounded us and we never doubted their love.

Spending time with my grandparents happened weekly and almost always involved food. Whether it was Sunday dinners, Thanksgiving or Christmas, the air was filled with mouth-watering aromas from the kitchen, the deep baritone laughter of my grandfather and us impatiently waiting for the blessing over the meal to be done.

Passing it along

It’s been 30 years since my mom passed and 22 for my grandmother, so for me canning apple butter is so much more than simply filling jars. It’s sharing a part of my heritage with our children, our family and
friends. It’s remembering that I was completely loved as a daughter of Gatha and Doug and granddaughter of Sarah and Roland. It has taught me that sometimes loving is hard and time-consuming, but it’s worth it.

One of the ways I love my children and others is through my cooking just like Grandma. When my son
comes home from college or my daughter has had a bad day, my first thought is what can I cook for them
to make them feel better. When I hear someone is sick or struggling with life, I wonder what they would
like for dinner.

Loving someone takes action, whether it’s making them a meal, sending them a card or just spending time with them making apple butter. And the return is just as sweet. Watching my children as they sit down to a favorite meal that I prepared, is a great joy to me. It might be a simple act of love, but it is one I pass along to them and I hope someday they will pass along as well.