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Embracing Change

Hello! Some of you, I speak to nearly every day, while others haven’t heard from me since my last post in January. For those, in the latter group, I apologize for my gap in communication with you. Please know that while I do not write my blog posts nearly as often as I once did, I think of you often.

I am primarily writing today to announce that our family of 3 is growing! We are expecting our second baby girl on July 16 – yes, very very soon!

And while I have been quite focused on planning & preparing for “baby sister”, what I have noticed most of all is how differently I am responding to this major change in my life and family.  Despite all the unknowns about what it will be like to be a mom of two, I truly trust that I will be okay and that the resources and support that I need during this time of change, will be there for me. This has certainly not always been the case for me. Change and uncertainty has been really, really tough. I used to “brace” for change, gripping to what I knew, holding on to what was familiar and comfortable. “What if…” became quite a familiar sentiment.


Gratefully, my practice of yoga, mindfulness, radical acceptance as well as marriage & motherhood have shown me how to “embrace” change rather than “brace” for it.

Over the last few weeks in my yoga classes, I have found myself guiding students to “soften” in their poses – physically, mentally and emotionally. Something in me has softened enough to trust the unknown and expand my heart to all the possibilities that are ahead.


Are you gripping to a belief, thought or feeling that keeps you stuck? Is there room to soften around it and give yourself permission to trust.

What would it be like to EMBRACE CHANGE?

I would absolutely love to hear from you and find out how you’re doing!

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“You’re So Tiny!”

You’re so tiny!
You aren’t even showing!
You’re all baby!
Do you even have to wear maternity clothes yet?
You don’t even look pregnant from behind!

Never has my body felt so on display and such a topic of public discussion as when I announced that I am pregnant. (Oh and if you haven’t heard the news…I am pregnant!)

From announcing my pregnancy at 14 weeks until today at 27 weeks, my body – more specifically my belly – has been evaluated, scrutinized, complimented, questioned and of course – touched.

While the comments above are certainly well-meaning and friendly,  their focus solely on my size. Each one prompting the thought: Is my baby growing okay? Is something wrong if I’m not showing by now? Now that I’m showing, am I too big? Do my clothes fit okay? And WHAT WHAT THE HECK IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO MY BEHIND??

Though there have certainly been some rough days in the last 7 months, overall I am really enjoying being pregnant. The truth is, I feel beautiful, comfortable in my body, and even sexy (at times).  Growing a baby inside of my body is truly miraculous and I do not take it for granted. I cherish each day, love feeling the kicks of my baby, and take on the challenge of finding new ways into a yoga pose.  But when someone comments on the size or shape of my body, it’s like the essence of this miracle inside of me is reduced to my weight, when it is so much more than that.

Perhaps, rather than commenting specifically on a pregnant woman’s body and her belly, you might notice what YOU FEEL when you see her. Longing? Love? Resentment? Noticing what you feel, may help direct your comments in a way that feels genuine, authentic and vulnerable and may fill up mama-to-be with gratitude and appreciation.

Comments that I’ve received that have put me at ease and captured the essence of my pregnancy:

You are beautiful!
You are so adorable/cute!
You look really comfortable in your growing body!
You’re carrying your baby beautifully!

You’re so full of energy!

You look happy and relaxed being pregnant!
You are going to be a great mom!

It is my passion to be the voice of positive body-image and to lead the way toward body-acceptance.  Let us witness the miracle of pregnancy, moving beyond evaluation of size, shape and weight to express our wonder, excitement and joy for the life that grows within.

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The Body Shaming Trap

I recently had a new student who appeared apprehensive, yet curious about beginning yoga for the first time.  When asked if she had any injuries or pain in her body, she replied that she did not. Soon after class begun, I recognized her body’s natural flexibility. Despite her ease in certain poses, she seemed quite discouraged in poses that required more strength and stamina. After class, I asked her how she was feeling. She replied, “Well, I’m bigger than the other girls and have more fat in my middle, so that makes it a lot harder. I’ll have to work on that.”

It is these moments that I am so grateful for my experience and training in the field of eating disorders and body image. I truly believe in health at every size (http://haescommunity.org/) and know that any body regardless of size and shape can practice yoga with ease and stability.  I am grateful that I could respond to her with compassion, but also a firmness that did not fall victim to the body shaming trap.

“No, I don’t think your body size or shape is a problem at all. I do think you can balance your body’s natural inclination toward flexibility with more strengthening poses. However, feeling stronger doesn’t have anything to do with changing how your body looks,” I replied. She looked at me a bit shocked, probably expecting me to say, “You’re right. But don’t worry, we will get you down a size and looking fabulous in no time.”

Thankfully, I can respond with confidence that bodies of all sizes and shapes and abilities are just right for yoga. This is not to say that yoga is EASY for everyone, but with a disciplined practice or tapas, any body can work toward sthira sukham asanam, a steady yet easeful pose.

Whether you are a yoga instructor or student, here are some helpful tips and examples for avoiding the body shaming trap with yourself and others.

1) It’s okay to politely disagree when someone shames their body, by simply offering, “No, I don’t agree with the way you see your body and I don’t think the size of your body has as much impact on your practice as you may think”.
2) Watch out for joining in by body shaming yourself. Instead of, “Oh, I know, and my thighs are so huge that I could never do Warrior 1 correctly” offer, “I used to think that way about my body too, but now I know that the strength of my legs allows me to be more stable in Warrior 1”.
3) Let go of comparing bodies in yoga class. Rather than noting everyone around you, keep your practice on your own experience by staying connected to your body, mind and breath.  When connected and grounded on our own mats, we can go deeper in our practice without effort and with more ease.

Loving shout-out to Jessamyn Stanley (http://jessamynstanley.com/) who provides constant inspiration for all bodies to practice yoga with joy!

jessamyn+squarespace+3

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Celebrate Freedom

declaration
As we celebrate our country’s freedom, I challenge us all to celebrate freedom from body shaming!

If you live with a voice in your head that tells you that you’re fat, ugly, too short/tall, you need to lose weight, or you’re just not good enough – TODAY is an excellent day to declare your freedom!

Ready for independence? Write your own Declaration of Independence! What truths do you hold to be self-evident?

1) All bodies, regardless of size, shape and weight, are worthy of acceptance and love.
2) All bodies deserve a balance of movement and rest.
3) My body is enough – it doesn’t require any changes or modifications!

Feel free to expand on these or create your own statements for your own Declaration of Independence! No longer live under the rule of fear, oppression and hate!

Also – check out author, singer/song writer, and speaker, Jenni Schaefer’s website for more inspiration – http://www.jennischaefer.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Declaration-of-Independence-2014.pdf

Have fun and let freedom reign!

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The ‘F-Word’

I have been thinking a lot lately about the F-word (FAT!). How has it come to take on such a negative connotation that seems to be equivalent with words like lazy, sloth, and worthless?
After all, fat is just a description to describe a shape. For example, when I look in my upper cupboard where I store all my glassware, I can find tall, short, narrow, wide, thin and even fat glasses! Is the narrow thin glass more superior to the wide fat glass? Of course not!
Ironically, society has deemed that instead of the word fat, we use the word ‘politically correct’ word ‘overweight’ – which actually implies more judgment than when we just use the word fat to describe someone who is in fact just that – fat. Overweight implies that someone is over and beyond the standard of what is ‘good’ or ‘normal’ and how can we really judge what is good, normal or better yet, comfortable for someone’s body.
To make assumptions about someone – whether about their health, wellness, personality or attitude – just because they are fat, thin, tall or short is a complete waste of time and energy.
Likewise, when some body – tall, fat, thin, or short – walks into a yoga class, what judgments do you make about them? Do you assume a tall, lean, thin body is a more capable and advanced yogi than a short, fat, wide body?
Today is a great day to recognize and increase your awareness surrounding your own prejudices and judgments that you may have about others bodies or your own. If you’re a yoga instructor, make note of how you treat different size bodies, perhaps giving special treatment to some body’s while ignoring others. If you’re a student, note your expectations of a fellow yogi before a class as even begun.
Questions to consider:
Am I completely comfortable with the shape of my body?
Do I have any desire to change the shape of my body?
Do I judge other people’s bodies as ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than my own?
What judgments or stereotypes do I associate with different body types(my own or others) – fat, thin, narrow, wide, tall, short?
Attached is an article about yoga studios across the United States that are reclaiming the word fat.
What does this article bring up for you?