Personal Tool Kit

Hi my friends- TGIF! As you all know Monday was Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday.  He would’ve been 84 years old this year.  I’ve written previously what I used to do on MLK’s birthday but sadly I was working.  But- in all 3 of my Monday yoga classes (and continued through this week) I have been focusing on heart opening.  MLK Jr had many messages that really resonate with us today- but one of my  most favorites is love. 

I have decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great a burden to bear.  ~Martin Luther King Jr

So what I really wanted to write about was self love.  Even though it might sound cheesy- it’s necessary.  And think about it- do you take time for yourself?  Everyone needs their self care tool kit.  And everyone’s is different.  A very smart lady told me this and I’ve never looked back.  It’s like your own little prescription and while I sometimes don’t always follow it, it’s written down and used to be taped up on my mirror in my bathroom.  Here are some tools I think are beneficial for you to use in your every day.

1.  Take a time out.  This means put your phone on silent and turn off the tv, computer, and the radio.  How many times are you distracted while driving because of your iphone, facebook, someone calling, and the music blaring.  I can’t tell you how good silence can be.

2.  Take a few deep breaths.  OK again, I know you know this- but take 5 minutes do close  your eyes, listen to your heart beat, and breathe in and out fully.   Don’t rush to  get up, just take a few moments to be aware of how you’re feeling mentally and physically- and then go about your day.

3.  Get Happy.  Well really you should read this book.

The Happiness Project

(photo source)

Just read it. 

journals4.  Get creative.  This can come in so many forms.  First things first, join pinterest for inspiration.  Even if you don’t bake, knit, sew, paint, journal, or make your own baby food or wedding plans, this site will give you so many things to aspire to.  I am not a HUGE journal person but I will tell you I have two.  One is an art journal and one is  kind of a random thoughts/lists kind of journal.   I think there is something calming about using colorful markers and pencils and cutting and pasting nice images from magazines.  I also like to knit and sew although I’m not very good but having a project, completing it, and having something tangible in hand can feel very rewarding.  The same as if you baked your own bread or pie from scratch.  Here’s a site a like for journaling ideas.

plants5.  Do something for someone else.  Volunteer.  Donate.  Help out.  Doing something for someone else makes you feel good and it makes other people feel good too.  I’ve always wanted to do Habitat For Humanity or work in a community garden so maybe this will be the year.

So those are my top 5 but of course there are so many other things:

do yoga

marms1snuggle up with a furry friend

call a friend

give yourself a mani/pedi

take a nap

sip a cup of tea or coffer or have a glass of vino

sleep in flannel sheets

look through an old photo album

albumseat a cupcake

The list goes on so just make sure you take some YOU time.

Have a great weekend and STAY WARM!

xo- C

(MLK Jr Photo Source)

Spotlight: Brandy Washington

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Hi friends- Happy Tuesday!!   I hope you’re enjoying the week so far.  I know everyone over here in Baltimore is still feeling the rush of the Ravens win!  I still can’t believe it.  I remember when they were in the super bowl before.  I was a freshman in college and I had a paper to do when the game was on.  Anyways, it feels like ages ago and I am very excited for this years game!

Here is a spotlight post on my dear friend Brandy.  She’s a Baltimore native, yogini, rock climber, wife, dog lover, football fanatic, knitter- the list goes on!  Anyways, she’s amazing and I wanted to share her story because she isn’t a yoga teacher.  Well not yet at least.

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1.  How did you get into yoga and what made you want to become a yoga teacher?

I discovered yoga my Sophomore year at UPenn. It was my escape. Juggling a D-1 sport and a really demanding workload was very stressful. I know this is a challenge for many student athletes, but coupled with my "OCD, type-A" personality and predisposition for panic attacks my anxiety sky rocketed. Yoga really helped bring some calm and quiet to my racing brain and it provided me with a more soothing endorphin release than competitive tennis. I still find yoga a great compliment to the many sports I play.

bran4Turn Utthita Parsvakonasana/Extended Side Angel Pose 45 degrees and you are in perfect rock climbing position; an activity I discovered a passion for after graduation in 2005!
I’m not a certified instructor, but it is on my bucket list. I think there is something really powerful about sharing something with a stranger that can be so transformative and healing. I would love to explore the type of yoga instructor I would be and how tapping into this side of myself would aid in my own personal growth and development.

bran12.  How does yoga help you to express who you are and who you want to be?
I am my truest and best self in yoga class; strong yet vulnerable, open, focused and moving with purpose. I really try to replicate that feeling in my hectic life off of the mat.

bran53.  What important lessons have you learned about yourself through your yoga practice?
For me, "scaling back" is often more of a challenge than "pushing forward." Learning to be "ok" with where I am now and listening to what my body needs, and is capable of, in that moment has been a great lesson that I continue to learn.

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4.  What’s your favorite pose? Why?
I have the world’s tightest hips! I think its a combination of having been an athlete my entire life and just the basic composition of my body. Eka-Pada Kapotasana/One Legged Pigeon really is a physical challenge for me, but even more so a mental one. I dread it, but know how great the benefits are and really just try and surrender to the "good hurt." It can only get easier right?
I also love Natarajasana/Dancer Pose and Adho Mukha Vrksasana/Handstand. I find these poses exhilarating!

branbrk5.  What inspires you?
I’m inspired by selfless, caring, hardworking people; family, friends and strangers alike. It is amazing the impact one individual can make just by setting their mind on a goal.

(Photo Credit)

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I hope you enjoyed my interview with Brandy!  Isn’t this picture adorable?  I was at their wedding and they are honestly the sweetest couple.  Love them.  Anyways- I hope you’re staying warm.  I’m sick of the cold already. 

Photo Source

Have a great day!!!

xxoxo- C

woods

Yoga, art, and average Joe

Hi my friends- I hope you had a great week and are totally enjoying your weekend.  Things have been going pretty well on my side.  My yoga classes have been really packed and I am so enjoying meeting new students.  PBJ and I have also been hanging out with friends and loving life. Here are some pics from the last week!

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So as you can see- there’s been yummy food (cucumber salsa, quinoa with squash, carrots, onion, chickpeas, and avocado and some sort of apple pie something or other but it wasn’t really pie- I’m awaiting the recipes), hiking at Catoctain mountain park, green smoothies (every day this week!), a new yoga mat to test out from Under Amour and pictures of my parents and I with my twin sis from the way back machine.  There are many more that I have to save in order not to embarrass anyone.

I had the privilege of being invited this past Friday to the Smithsonian Freer-Sackler Museum of Asian Art  with numerous other Baltimore and DC yogis, yoginis, studio owners, and the lovely people of Lululemon to talk about an amazing art exhibit that will be opening in October called Yoga: The Art of Transformation.  The exhibit is going to feature paintings, sculptures, and photography from the 3rd century until about the early 1940’s- and .  My friends Amelia and Sarah went with me and we got to be part of the creative team who brainstorms about the events surrounding the exhibition and how they can actually make the show an experience.

But what really intrigued me most was being in a room full of people who live and breathe in the yoga world- I was the one to bring up how an exhibit like this and the yoga practice itself can bring in average Joe off the street.  Average Joe or Joan (for the ladies) doesn’t think they are flexible enough, they’re afraid and well, maybe they just aren’t interested in yoga.  I grew up taking dance and gymnastics so yoga was a natural fit for me.  Yoga studios make a lot of marketing efforts to bring in new students every  month, but only 50% of them return on a regular basis.  So how can we get the average Joe’s and Joan’s into yoga? I don’t know if there is one particular answer but I think letting people know not only the physical benefits but the mental ones (hello stress relief!) and that taking a few moments of quiet, sitting still, and breathing deeply can really help.

I will definitely let you know when the events surrounding the exhibit are happening because I will be there for sure.

I hope you’re enjoying your weekend!  GO RAVENS!!!

 

Photo Source Yoga Narasimha Vishnu in his Man-Lion Avatar.  India, Tamil Nadu, ca. 1250.  Courtesy, Cleveland Museum of Art.

Spotlight: Michelle Cagan

Hi my blog lovelies- I hope you’re having a great week.  I know the year just started but I feel like my weeks and weekends are getting filled up already.  This weekend is going to be jam packed.  Ravens game, birthday dinner for a friend, hiking (because it’s supposed to be almost 70 degrees!).  Life is good.

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I want to introduce to you my dear friend and fellow yoga teacher Michelle Cagan.  She is not only one of the sweetest and kindest people I know, but she is also a fantastic yoga teacher, spin and Pilates instructor, and a Lululemon Ambassador here in Baltimore.  Here’s my spotlight post on Michelle!

michelle2

1.  How does yoga help you to express who you are and who you want to be?

Living a yogic lifestyle has allowed me a greater understanding of how to reach my potential. I simply aspire to live a spiritual life and be the best person that I can be. My biggest inspiration is my family, and I want to be a good example for my children.

michelle32. What important lessons have you learned about yourself through your yoga practice?

Through yoga, I have learned first and foremost that it is ok not to be perfect, and that I NEVER will be. Being awake in the present moment, on and off my mat, is essential to living a most gratifying life.

3. What’s your favorite pose? Why?

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana- One Legged King Pigeon

I enjoy the surrender, stretch and openings of the pose. It typically comes toward the end of the asana practice, and marries the balance of effort and non-effort. Also, the variations are challenging and fun.

michelle5

4. What inspires you?

Honesty, kindness, and generosity of spirit are important, but mostly my children inspire me!

5. How did you get into yoga and what made you want to become a yoga teacher?

After practicing on and off for several years, a vigorous power vinyasa flow brought me to a regular practice. My Mother had passed away very suddenly leaving me feeling lost, depressed and extremely confused. After such a huge wake up call that life is precious and fleeting, yoga channeled my energy and feelings toward making my life and my family life better. Yoga improved my life in more ways than words can express and I wanted to share my passion with others through teaching. Being a part of the yoga community allows us to feel that we are not alone and can be there for each other. That is what drew me to teach.

michelle46. How will you incorporate your yoga teaching into your career?

I taught Pilates and Spinning prior to teaching yoga. I believe that teaching yoga is my calling, and now incorporate its teaching in all of my classes.

 

Here’s the list of Michelle’s public classes- She teaches at The MAC and at Charm City Yoga 

Monday

MAC Timonium 930am Spin 60 and 10:45am Pilates

Charm City Yoga Midtown 12:30pm-1:30pm $6 Community Hot Vinyasa

michelle1Tuesday

MAC Timonium 10:30am Vinyasa Flow

Wednesday

9:30am-10:45am Charm City Yoga Pikesville Hot Vinyasa

12:30pm-1:30pm $6 Charm City Yoga Midtown Hot Vinyasa

Thursday

MAC Harbor East 9:30am Spin 45

heartopeningwksp

Friday

MAC Harbor East 12:15pm-1:15pm Power Vinyasa

Make sure you Like Michelle on Facebook

And she’s also teaching a wonderful heart opening workshop at Charm City on Sunday Februrary 10th.  Click here to register (it’s towards the bottom).

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I hope you enjoyed my interview with Michelle!  I will have one next week for you as I have a few lined up.  If you want to contribute your yoga story or experience please feel free to send me an email at camiekarma@gmail.com.  I’m hoping to have one more post for you this week.  Happy Wednesday!

Monday Monday

flowers1Hi my friends- did you have a nice weekend?  I have to say- but I had a great weekend.  Good food, music, friends, and family.  I’m feeling pretty happy these days.  This is my first full week back at work since the holidays and I taught 3 classes today.  I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the work week- but all of my classes were packed!  It always makes me really happy to see so many people interested in yoga.  I know some of it is part of the new years rush, but it still makes me smile.

On Friday night I made a delicious dinner that you must recreate! Super easy and good for a night in with a glass of vino (and watching the Sopranos.  I know- I’m ten years behind.)

Sweet potato bisque

potatosoupThis soup is super easy. I used two cans of organic sweet potato puree and added water to my desired thickness and one veggie bullion cube, garlic, rosemary, and some parsley. I used an immersion blender to mix it all together and simmer over medium heat. You can also add salt and pepper to taste!

 

potato

This is the brand I used- I got it at whole foods.

The second thing I made was gluten free veggie pizza.  Now I have made this before and you can really make it however you want.  When I made the pizzas before I made vegan ones using vegan cheese but I don’t do much soy these days so I stop using that.  You can see that post here

 

 

veg  pizza

I made the dough according to the directions and I did use egg this time.  Toppings were broccoli, mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, and homemade pesto (I don’t use they vegan cheese anymore, just parmesan).  It was pretty  tasty and PBJ was impressed.  I think the cauliflower pizza crust is next on my list. 

For the record- this is PBJ:

pbj

Anyways Smile

 

Here’s a playlist for you:

Stevie Wonder – Higher Ground
OneRepublic – Feel Again
STRFKR – Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second
V V Brown – Shark In The Water
Calvin Harris Feat. Kelis – Bounce – Radio Edit
Nicki Minaj – Moment 4 Life
Clive Tanaka y su orquesta – Neu Chicago :: Side A :: For Dance
The Psychedelic Furs – Heaven
Mr Little Jeans – Rescue Song
Alexander – Let’s Win!
Portugal The Man – People Say
Hudson – Against The Grain
Grimes – Colour of Moonlight (Antiochus) [feat. Doldrums]
Milo Greene – 1957
Charlie Mars – Listen to the Darkside
The xx – Crystalised
The Lumineers – Stubborn Love
Zee Avi – Swell Window
Sting – Always On Your Side
Joshua Radin – Anywhere Your Love Goes
Chris Bathgate – Salt Year

You can click here to listen on spotify. 

I hope you had a great Monday!! See you later this week with a spotlight interview!

marms1

 

As I grow to understand life less and less,
I learn to love it more and more.
~Jules Renard

 

 

xoxo- C

magic

Into 2013

cholHi my friends~Happy New Year!  I cannot believe it is winter and the holidays have literally come and gone.  Time goes so fast so I hope you have all been enjoying every second.  I know I have.

I know the new year always opens up so much space for planning and making goals- but I think it’s also important to reflect on the past year and all that you have accomplished!

Here are some things I tackled in 2012:

Completed my 500 hour Yoga Teacher Training

yttI have to say- this training was an amazing experience.  I made so many new friends and learned so so so much.  And not just about yoga, but about myself.  I learned to get out of my comfort zone a lot with my teaching (I co-led a yin yoga workshop) and started teaching more breath work and restorative poses in my advanced classes.  And I continued to delve into my own exploration of self awareness, which leads into another accomplishment!

Continued to work on being self aware

This may not seem like much, but I used to be well- a highly reactive person.  One thing would happen and I’d let my whole day be turned upside down.  I was on a roller coaster.  This went on for so long that it felt normal.  It really just got to a point that I couldn’t deal with it so things had to change.  Being self aware has become a practice- noticing how I’m breathing, if my jaw is tight, am I just letting myself become angry or upset before taking a few moments to sit with whatever just happened.  You can read more about self awareness here but I feel pretty good in my efforts and I am hoping they continue into 2013!

Adopted a little ginger kitten

marmsThere really aren’t any words to describe his cuteness.  I love him.  Except when he jumped into the Christmas tree 24/7 and onto the top of the cabinets.

marms2

I mean look at his little face!  Precious. Ok moving on.

I made homemade bread

breadVegan! but not gluten free.  For everyone who saw these pics of the bread before on facebook– the most amazing bread book is called My Bread and the recipes are super easy.

Cultivated new friendships (and kept up with the existing ones!)

This also doesn’t really need any words- pictures are good enough.

parentscbrandy

charnfriendsclocmhalcchan

cmanniecjb

Stayed true to what I wanted

Life can be really hard sometimes.  We put all kinds of pressure on ourselves to be a certain way, to do certain things, and go go go until we’re burned out.  And even then we don’t like to take a break.  I’ve learned the hard way through injury and sickness and anxiety that sometimes I need a rest.  But I also remember to have fun in life too!

cpb

You should take some time to write out your accomplishments and then on a separate page write out your goals for the new year.

Here are some of mine:

Live a gluten free lifestyle (I kind of fell off the wagon last year)

Be more organized (financially, home/living space, how I spend my spare time during the work week)

Lead more specialty yoga classes and workshops (I actually wrote down 6 this year)

Do more cardio

Travel- day/weekend trips and hikes and plan a real vacation

Have more girls nights (I’ve been known to sing karaoke a few times)

Blog more of course and add videos

And there are so many more but I will update you all year long!

Begin today.  Declare out loud to the universe that you are willing to let go of struggle and eager to learn through joy.  ~Sarah Ban Breathnach

I hope you all have a great weekend and I’d love to know your goals and new years resolutions for 2013!

xoxo-C

**Here’s my updated teaching schedule**

To be or not to be: aware

cjHi friends- did you have a great weekend? Tomorrow is Monday and I am already thinking about next weekend- but that’s mainly because my college roommate J is coming!!  So exciting!!! I tried to find a picture of us from college but- well I didn’t want to mjembarrass either one of us.  But this is from 5 years ago! Anyway- she, M, and I laugh like we’re all sisters.  We’re already laughing just thinking about all of our fun times together.  Can’t wait!

 

ckI spent my weekend at the 500 hour yoga teacher training (we are almost finished!!) and every time I come back with some many new tidbits to bring to my classes and more inspiration.  And not to mention I have become so close with some amazing people!

Aside from learning more advanced poses, a lot of focus has been on breath work and meditation and then through that- awareness.  The whole process of awareness is really fascinating to me so I thought I would take some time to talk about my own journey and thoughts about it. 

I’ve been teaching yoga for over six years now and practicing for about 8.  Yoga used to be something that was really purely physical for me.  I’ve been the bendy one always wanting something harder, faster, more handstands, more upside down, more backbends.  There’s still a big part of me that wants that, but it’s been so interesting to see myself not crave that so much and really be able to tap into what my body needs- without judgment.  Skipping a backbend or doing more restorative poses when I know I need it.  It takes practice to notice that and then to actually put that into action. 

Being truly aware means not judging, finding compassion, and accepting yourself for who you are right now, today, and tomorrow no matter what. 

This is obviously easier said than done.  Every day we judge ourselves.  Every day we create our own suffering, pain, anxiety, and worry because we create the idea that what it is we are experiencing should be different than what it really is.  We want to control what’s happening, we want to be able to fix or change it, and then we are attached to the outcome.  I know this is sounding all too familiar because we all do this.  But starting to notice it can really be freeing. 

So how do we start to be aware? By finding stillness.  Try to start with 5-10 minutes sitting in a comfortable position closing the eyes.  Take 3 deep breaths and just start to let yourself settle in to stillness.  Yes your mind is going to wander and yes, it might be uncomfortable to sit in a cross legged position but for this to be successful is that you are purely being aware that you mind is wandering or that your leg is asleep.  That’s really simply the point.  To notice and be OK with the way it is.  Can you hold an intense yoga pose?  Another way of starting to find awareness is tapping into your edge in your yoga practice- I’d say hip openers are a good one.  Start to breathe in the pose and just notice.  Are you in your comfy place? Or are you finding your edge and being OK with some discomfort (without going to the place of injury) and staying in it without going too far or hanging back. 

Once you have this practice- this will start to transfer to your everyday life.  Are you noticing your tendencies when your sitting in traffic and running late? When you want to lash out or complain about your boss? When your criticizing the way you look? I think it’s really important to be tuned into finding the balance of striving too much or not enough and then coming back to that place of acceptance without having to do anything else but just be.  When you become aware/awake/alert to these things we can start to realize that the universe (or god or whatever higher power you like to believe in) accepts us for who we are- flaws and all, good days and bad days. 

I think you get the gist- and there is so much more I could say but I’d love for you to give it a try.  There’s nothing to fix and there’s nothing to change.  See if you can be content- even for a moment.

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I hope you had a great weekend and are ready for the week ahead.  Can you believe Thanksgiving is almost here???  Time is going by way too fast. 

I’m planning a post where I can answer any questions you have to please ask away- it can be about food, music, yoga, Baltimore, family- anything! 

Love love love- C