Okay. Back to chronological posts that don’t talk about American politics. I won’t mention T**** ever again.
So let’s chat about the Full Moon Party, yeah?
Koh Phangan was at the top of our bucket list. Why? Three words: Full Moon Party. We didn’t know much about it, but we heard it was a big ol’ party on the beach and we weren’t going to turn that down. The overnight bus and ferry from Bangkok to Koh Phangan was an exhausting journey, so we gave ourselves four days on the island before heading back and continuing to Siem Reap. We went to the Full Moon Party. But then we had the question: what else is there to do on Koh Phangan?
Getting down to the wire! Soon you’ll be bombarded with gorgeous photos of Thailand, Cambodia, and Australia.
But for this post, I’m gonna switch the spotlight over to some amazing people in my life who are making some cool stuff. Y’all, it’s so important to support your friends who are making some cool stuff. Coming from someone who briefly had an Etsy shop, the support of friends and friends-of-friends is more touching and beautiful than I can accurately describe. This support creates a connection and a validation that is hard to find as a small business owner or artist, especially when we are constantly being bombarded with products and brands and ads and algorithms fueled by corporations who have more money, reach, and resources than small business owners have when they start out.
Hello hello! I am excited to share my latest yoga flow with you! This is a very gentle flow and can all be done sitting down in a chair. Around 23 minutes in, I start a meditation for relaxation. This flow can be done in the morning or at night, for an exciting day or sweet dreams.
My headstand prep flow is now on YouTube! This flow activates your shoulders, core, and butt to help you practice this advanced inversion. I wrote and recorded this flow after a friend asked my advice for getting into a headstand.
Headstands are still a pose that drum up nerves and dread. Sure, I’ve hit the pose a dozen or so times, and flying up after a flow class is really fun. But as I mention in the video, inversions aren’t just a test of physical strength. There is a moment during a headstand when you align your hips over your shoulders and feel really light. This is a make-or-break moment. Without a wall behind me, I can’t always guarantee that I will get there, even after two or three tries (or two or three friends around to cheer me on.)
We recorded this flow earlier than I anticipated, but I continued to reassure myself that the video would look “legit,” …meaning I would have a full headstand in the video. I sheepishly tried to position my mat next to a wall (and when we moved the shoot outdoors, next to a tree) in order to guarantee a headstand for the shot. And you may have already guessed (or saw while watching the video.) I didn’t get there while we were shooting. I didn’t reach the full expression of the pose while we were shooting after the flow either. (Okay, I did, but the sun had already set, and my camera had pooped out.)
After my first failed attempts to hit a headstand, I was extremely disappointed in myself. How could I teach someone else to do a headstand if I couldn’t get there on demand? What was I doing wrong? Would I ever get to the point in my practice where I could do a headstand?
As I moved on through the recording and through the flow, a favorite nugget of yoga wisdom crawled its way into my consciousness: let go of what happened or didn’t happen during the flow. Sure, I didn’t hit a headstand a minute ago, but in the present moment, I wasn’t trying to get into a headstand. I was cooling my body down – while still recording the flow. In the present moment, I had to be present for the video. After all, what was the whole point of the video…to prove that I could do a headstand? No. I wanted to help others as they navigated the world of inversions. Getting upset for not being able to hit a pose is not going to help anyone.
I don’t want to share or teach my yoga perfect. I want to share my yoga practice. If I want to be an authentic and accessible teacher, I have to share an authentic practice. Sometimes “practice” consists of falling on your face trying to transition out of a crow pose. Sometimes practice is hitting your first plow. In between every “milestone” are dozens of classes and flows where you just go to practice. (And by the way, milestones aren’t just hitting a new inversion; milestones could include making contact between two parts of your body, or simply discovering something new about your body and the space that it inhabits.)
The reality is that I could have spent hours and hours to make it appear that I flew up into a headstand with the 30 minute flow that I gave you. But let’s be honest. I’m not expecting anyone who hasn’t tried inversions before to soar up into a headstand just because they watched my flow. That’s ridiculous. I guarantee nothing. I’m not a Pinterest pin that advertising “30 days to splits” or “lose 8 inches in 8 days.” I get so upset at posts and pins and clickbait articles that guarantee reaching goals that aren’t physically, monetarily, or mentally possible for everyone reading. Each human experience is different. We are all navigating a different reality that presents limits and possibilities that aren’t always available to others. So why should we pretend that any diet, flow, or routine is guaranteed to work for anyone?
The most that I can do is offer my experiences with inversions and offer tools to help navigate the body and how it’s used during practice. So let’s be real here. Let’s get rid of expectations, of goals, of “perfect poses” and Instagram-worthy photos. Let’s focus on the present moment, whatever it brings. Let’s just practice.
I am so excited to show you guys my latest video, How To Prep for Headstand! The video activates the shoulders, core, and butt to help you prep for this inversion. One of the best parts of this video is the background music. My friend Elliot (aka Many Voices) is super talented and was able to whip up some tunes that went perfectly with the flow. You’ll see him in the back while I’m flowing because that jawn was live. I felt super empowered throughout the flow.
Behind the cameras were my boyfriend Jeremy, Elliot’s girlfriend Liza, and Liza and Jeremy’s roommate Julia. Add on the help of Jeremy’s bandmates Austin and Jack for letting us use their space, and you’ve got one hell of a team producing one video.
My first online flow (check it out here if you haven’t already) also involved Jeremy, Jack, and Austin. As I looked around the backyard where we shot the flow, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “How the hell am I going to record more flows on my own?” (If you’re curious, I have four more recordings that I will add video to during my travels, and I plan on recording a few more before I move. If you have any requests for flows, leave a comment below.) When I first started “freelancing” a little over a year ago, I thought that blogging, writing, and even teaching yoga would be independent gigs that didn’t require correspondence outside of a few emails. I was really wrong.
I wanted to write this post just to recognize and appreciate the people involved in my teaching journey. Of course, all I’m doing is chipping away at the tip of the iceberg; everyone who I’ve practiced with in class, flowed with, gathered strength and inspiration from…anything I present, write, or teach is the cumulation of everything and everyone I have ever met. Even though I enjoy yoga for the solo journey it offers, sometimes yoga feels like a team sport…especially when you’re sharing that yoga with others and would like it to sound and look professional.
Another reason I wanted to write this post is to give a behind-the-scenes look at the world of yoga on Instagram. There are many discussions to be had about the authenticity of yoga and social media, yogis and brand ambassadors, hashtags, blogs, content marketing, sponsored posts, etc. As I begin to explore this world (out of pure curiosity but also to expand my budget while I’m traveling,) I’m seeing firsthand how much work is behind one photo or post. What looks like one person just hanging out in the park with cute clothes may actually be three people, fancy gear, a contract with a leggings brand, etc. This isn’t to bash anyone who is a brand ambassador at all; but it is a reminder that hitting the perfect pose or looking like a million bucks isn’t as easy as many influencers make it seem.
I will be editing this video while working my final week at my full-time job (!!!) preparing for the launch of Our Future Footprint, and managing the stress of packing up my life and moving across the world. So it’ll be done in a few days. Sign up to subscribe to the blog and you’ll be the first to see it! Until then, namaste!
I didn’t care how much the laughing gas would be, I simply requested it for three fillings that had to be replaced. I’m glad I have that kind of financial freedom.
Weekly, I write for a dentist in South Florida, and in that time I’ve learned that I’m not the only person to avoid making a dentist appointment. Most people would prefer to wait in long lines or accept a jury duty invitation than subject themselves to scrutiny over their flossing habits. But every time I would write for this dentist, my teeth would start to ache, so I made an appointment. My months (fine, years) of apprehension led to some tartar, and a few weeks later, I was crossing my eyes at the ceiling and praying that the anesthesia wouldn’t wear off.
To relax, I turned to yoga. I decided to focus on a breathing technique called Krama, or “Stair Step” breathing. This cooling breath allows you to count your breath and feel where your breath is moving through your body. Krama breath was one of five breathing techniques that we went over while I was in yoga teacher training, but the Krama breath always stood out to me because it just felt right.
Breathing through my nose when I had a wide-open mouth (and, due to unfortunate orthodontic flaws, live as a natural mouth-breather) wasn’t easy, but it took my focus away from whatever thin slice of metal was heading toward my teeth.
Pranayama, the practice of breath control, is the fourth limb of yoga. It prepares us for additional limbs: dharana (concentration) and dhyana (meditation.) Asana, the physical poses that we typically associate with the practice, is the third limb. There are eight limbs total, the eighth being samadhi, a state of ecstasy and union of the mind, body, and soul. I was nowhere near samadhi while I was trying to relax my tongue and take in as much laughing gas as possible, but, hey, we’re all on a journey.
The dentist’s chair is probably the least likely place one would think to practice yoga, but using Krama during the procedure reminded me that yoga isn’t just a physical practice. I’m as guilty as anyone of posting #yogachallenge photos and going to the studio in order to get a good sweat. While I pass no judgment on anyone who strictly does yoga for the physical benefits, yoga is more than just a workout. Yoga is a lifestyle, it’s way of being, its a guide that brings you closer to yourself, closer to the god(s) you worship, and closer to infinity.
Yoga is open to everyone, at any point in their life. You don’t need a mat to do yoga. You don’t need $100 yoga pants. You don’t need washboard abs or abstain from eating meat. You don’t need to know what Firefly Pose is or be able to pronounce anything in Sanskrit. You don’t need to feel comfortable with your body or touch your toes to do yoga. You don’t need to have a cute hairdo (once you see my yoga flow, you’ll understand what I mean.)
As a yoga teacher, my goal is to make my classes accessible and communicate them through love and compassion. If you have never taken a yoga class before, if you prefer ribs to kale, if you are physically disabled, if you just want to lay in Savasana or Child’s Pose for 40 minutes, you are welcome to my classes. And I will try my best to guide you through this beautiful practice and give you something you can take with you.
We may start practicing in a studio or through online videos, but the lessons that we collect through our flows follow us as we roll up our mat, walk out the door, and enter the spaces we may be trying to escape with yoga, meditation, or mindfulness.
Below is a flow I wrote to soothe anxious minds and bodies. In the flow, I guide you through Krama and Nodi Shodhan Pranayama. The flow is gentle, all of the poses are optional, and I recommend trying it before a good night’s sleep. This is the first flow I have posted online, and I would love any and all feedback that you have for me. Leave a comment, send me a message on Facebook, or shoot me an email. I teach for the benefit of students, so your opinion is very important to me! Enjoy this flow!
Warning: this post ended up being way longer than I thought.
I never take days off from my full-time job, but with the craziness of SXSW and the celebration of completing my yoga teacher training, I’m shutting my work to-do list for a whopping three days. I’m still working on a new project – the details of which will come later – but for the most part, I’m focusing on taking a little SXSW vacay.
I’m a certified yoga teacher! After 10 long weeks of reading, learning, sweating, playing tears off as sweat, and practicing, the journey inside the classroom at Black Swan has come to an end. The journey around the world, teaching and continuing to learn, has just begun.
Beat, Broke, Backpacking is going to resurrect now that I have weekends. I’ll also be uploading flows amongst my travel pictures and wanderlust-y thoughts. In the meantime, I wanted to share some reflections from teacher training. Any yogi, any level, any body type, age, gender, comfort level, etc. can benefit from yoga teacher training. It’s like going to group therapy and the gym and job training at the same time. Pretty cool. Here are some things that I learned.
Everyone Can Enjoy Yoga Teacher Training – I was surprised to learn that not everyone wanted to pursue teaching after the training was over; at first, I honestly had trouble justifying the cost of training for someone who just wanted to deepen their practice. As the weeks went on, however, I was hooked on everything I was learning about yoga, its history, the body, the chakras…we obviously learned a lot about sequencing, adjusting, and the ethics of teaching, but we learned so much more about the practice in general. We went through the primary series in Ashtanga yoga every Saturday morning, eventually practicing in the Mysore style (without verbal instruction.) Learning the primary series alone, and the recommended alignment, is worth the cash. In addition, we had more time to focus on advanced poses and dive deeper into the history of yoga. As someone who is constantly working and not able to put aside much time for Svādhyāya (self-study,) yoga teacher training was a nice kick in the asana. (Get it? I’m hilarious.) Whether you’ve mastered a headstand, full splits, or you’ve just stepped onto your yoga mat this year, you can benefit from yoga teacher training.
Though She Be Little, She Is Fierce – I was able to befriend and talk to a lot of strong women (and two men) during my training. When you’re spending 10 hours a day & two days a week with people, you get to know them pretty well and grow comfortable sharing yourself.
One day in particular sticks with me. One of my friends, a quieter, humble yogi with lots of knowledge and experience to share, told our group she was feeling small that day. One of our group members was awed at her ability to identify and express that emotion, although we’ve all felt that way in our lives. We were also taken aback at how someone with such knowledge and so many ideas to share could feel like they have a smaller presence in the room.
Yoga meetups can reach hundreds of people. Flows can be taught over booming microphones. When we practice yoga, we find ourselves connected to infinity, the whole, vast universe. But we harness this power and build this connection from the smallest beginnings. An inhale and an exhale may not look like much, but they hold power. Even though we may feel intimidated by our height, our voice, or our place in the universe, we can take comfort in the idea that we are connected to something bigger than we could ever imagine.
Burning Through Samskaras Is A Lifelong Process – When you’re in Pigeon Pose for four minutes, on each side, you’re going to face some emotions that you thought were long-gone. When we encounter these moments, we face samskaras. In short, samskaras are patterns and habits that we’ve developed since the moment our life has begun (or before that, if you’re into reincarnation.) When we practice, we aim to burn through and release ourselves from these samskaras.
I remember a particular flow (probably the one where I was in Pigeon for four minutes, on each side) that ended in a lot of anxiety. Without going into too much detail, I was bringing up past trauma and past discomfort that I just wanted (/want) to get rid of. It was an intense moment, and in that moment I decided that I was going to face the trauma head-on, get over it, and move forward. Yoga teacher training was the time to do it. I was going to get over, get through, and get rid of it.
It was probably during the next flow that I realized that things weren’t going to change that dramatically, that quickly.
I look at samskaras as a giant concrete block that we chip away at when we practice. One blaze is not going to burn and disintegrate our samskaras (I did have to check on the internet to see if concrete was flame-resistant, it is.) It takes a lot of time, and even though we’re constantly making progress, we may come back and think that we’ve done nothing at all. There is still much work to be done. The sooner we accept the task ahead of us (the past that has led us here, and the fact that our future is not going to be perfect,) the easier our job gets.
So I continue to work, even after receiving my certificate.
I am starting to build, record, and film flows that I will put online through my blog, YouTube, and an online studio (coming soon!) If you have suggestions for flows that you would like to see, let me know in the comments or on my Facebook page! Until next time,
I apologize if this post reads as frantic or a bit rushed.
I’ve been pressuring myself to share the moment I’m living in with you; there’s no Beat Broke Backpacking without my loved ones, faraway friends, and anyone who stumbles upon this blog for whatever reason. The past few weeks I’ve been challenged to think about why I want to go further with this project. What are my intentions? What am I willing to compromise? Can I sum my mission for Beat Broke Backpacking up in a sentence? How has that changed?
(More on that below.)
I have also felt pressured to share because each moment disappears so quickly. Since the New Year, I’ve hit so many turning points that I need something for nausea.
I’m writing this from yoga teacher training (we’re on lunch break.) I could go on and on in additional posts about my love for yoga (and I will, and I have) but I’ll have to focus.
You know that beautiful feeling when you realize you’re actually taking the action you’ve been dreaming up for months, years, etc.? That was present in every moment and every pose during my first flow of my first class. Since I’ve moved to Austin I’ve been saving for this training by working two jobs (one was always full-time.) In hindsight, I could have flipped my thinking into appreciating every moment heading to and from work as taking action toward my daydreams, but hindsight’s 20/20. Every moment from now until July I’ll be taking action toward the big plan (or lack thereof) my thoughts have drummed up since I got back from backpacking in September 2015.
My best friend and I purchased plane tickets to Bangkok that leave on July 5. His ticket is roundtrip and mine is one-way. After six weeks backpacking around Southeast Asia, he’s going back to work. The pages in my planner are left blank.
I would still be doing teacher training if I planned on putting a down payment on a house in Austin and staying here for my foreseeable future. But I’ve known for a while that this training is going to take me across continents. Yoga is everywhere, and it serves as the one form of universal expression I am comfortable using to connect with and show my love for everyone I meet.
I don’t want to have set plans for after Andrew leaves Asia; maybe I’ll hit up all of the places I will hear about in hostels, maybe I’ll stay in Bangkok, maybe that’s when I’ll head to Australia.
I am almost finished applying for my working holiday visa…where I hear they have quite a decent market for yoga.
Up until now this post is anti-climactic; I’m going to Asia aaaaaand…then what?
That’s why I’m going to revisit this blog. I won’t be posting every week again at first…I’m still working 55 hours a week on top of teacher training. But I want to make myself vulnerable and share my plans for BBB. I write full-time. I would like to use BBB as a project and experiment with making it a full-time job, while still keeping the integrity of what I want to share and promote. I want to explore making a career out of writing, out of traveling, out of being a travel writer. The moment I first picked up travel guides I knew it was possible to pursue my passions and make it a living. So I’m going to give it a try.
Buying my plane ticket to Asia was not as scary as writing this post because in July, it’s pretty set in stone that I’ll be on that plane. (Andrew and I even got seats next to each other after a hot mess of trying to book through different sites.) Trying to manifest my vision for this blog is terrifying because there is so much gray area. What will I consider “successful?” Can a blog that I completely control even “fail?” I know what the end result should look like, but I don’t even know how to begin.
The road ahead is foggy. I’ve been told to expect a lot of rain in July in Southeast Asia. But I’ve made a promise to myself since the beginning of teacher training that I would appreciate each moment and my effort to run (work, stand, fold, plank, downward dog, whatever) toward this new adventure.
Revisiting Chicago has always been something on my travel to-do list and luckily, I have an excuse to go whenever I want. My lovely sister lives in Lincoln Park, and she was moving into a new apartment when I went to visit.
Best sister ever, right? I flew over 1,000 miles to help her move.
I was able to get back into the travel groove with an old vice: art museum hopping. And guys, Chicago did not disappoint. I managed to check out the Museum of Contemporary Art the day before “Surrealism: The Conjured Life” ended its run. (If you’ve heard me talk about my trip to Figueres, you’ll know I’d go to any lengths to immerse myself in some good Surrealism.) My sister led me through the Art Institute of Chicago, which may have bumped a museum in my Top 5 out of its place. Hearing how much my father and grandmother enjoyed this museum when they visited was also super sweet.
Chicago was also a test of sorts. Since I can write for my job anywhere (with Wi-Fi), I wanted to see how I could manage working and traveling. I also tried to squeeze in as many yoga classes as I could, and shows, visiting friends who happened to be in Chicago, touristy food spots, buying stuff for my sister’s apartment…
Picking my “real life” up and moving it to a chilly, windy city was a little jolting. I was trying to live the working life while playing tourist and also big sister. At times, I couldn’t find the right balance and felt like I was letting myself or my sister down.
Shit really hit the fan when I went to a yoga class that I did not vibe with, at all. It wasn’t a bad class by any means; there were different poses and sequences that I really enjoyed! But here I was again, caught finding the perfect balance of separate lovely and stressful experiences. I felt wobbly. Not a good feeling when you know you’ve got to head into tree pose.
To ride out the tipping scales, I found myself going back to a little nugget of yoga knowledge that I’ve heard in various ways the past couple weeks: accept the pose. Whether you’re in a passive child’s pose or an excruciating chair, you’ve got to accept it. You’re here. I found myself using, “This is where I am” as a mantra in yoga, and throughout my day. In a bagel shop, on the train observing Chicago’s beautiful buildings, or enjoying some quality time with my sister, “This is where I am.”
It makes stressful moments bearable and sweet moments even more enjoyable.
Chicago was a learning experience and a great trip; I became more confident in my ability to balance work, travel, and life simultaneously. For now I’m back in Austin, but stay tuned for where I find myself next…