Yoga Dance

Dance With Yoga Asana. I choreographed and performed this a couple of days ago. It was a lot of fun and very healing. Feeling that creative energy flowing. Excited to put on a show! I hope to write and dance more soon. ❤

Tiff

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The Beauty In The Storm:Florida Keys Camping

We headed down to the Florida Keys last weekend, knowing well that a cold front was scheduled to arrive, and with that cold, it was predicted to storm. We felt a little nervous about the weather, but we already had a camping reservation (which can be hard to come by in winter), and we all wanted  to get out of town, and enjoy the beauty of the islands, only a few hours south of where we live.

 

We arrived to Long Key State Park, early in the morning, and the weather was beautiful and warm. After setting up camp, we headed into the warm water, on the Atlantic side.. For hours, in some sort of trance, silently we all wadded in knee deep water. Observing the crabs, the seagrass, the fish, the sand, the mud, the coral.  I felt every cell of my body being cleansed, purified, renewed. The healing of the element of water.. I did some gentle yoga, it felt so good.

 

We went on a late afternoon hike, and soon after, we felt the weather change.

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The wind blew stronger, and with it, crisp air.  The temperature quickly dropped. With the setting sun, and the dropping temperature, we made a fire, and cooked tofu dogs on a stick. As soon as my son finished heating his last tofu dog, the rain began.

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The rain was heavy, cats and dogs for sure. We ran inside the tent, but even with the rain guard on, it wasn’t enough. The rain was so strong, that it began to drip inside the tent. The wind was howling. My sweetheart and son, rushed outside to put a large tarp over the tent.They came back in the tent, drenched, but smiling.  With that, the storm raged on, but we stayed dry.

The entire night, it poured. The wind was so strong. The tent blew from side to side. But we stayed dry, we stayed warm, and we slept soundly lulled by the energy of the ocean and the rainstorm.

Before the sunrise, I woke up. The rain had stopped. I went outside, and sat near the ocean.  The air so fresh and clean. As the sun came up, my family woke up and we all went on a morning walk. It was chilly, but the colors of the sky, the water, the trees, everything seemed to be extra vibrant.

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We had a morning fire, and the sky very slowly shifted from stormy into blue..it wasn’t warm enough to swim, but somehow that cool weather and the colors of the sky seemed to make everything even more beautiful.

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I felt really sad that we had to leave. But more than that, I felt really grateful that we got to go.. We all felt that with the storm, the trip was somehow more magical, more sacred, more healing. We took a chance, and we are glad we did.

The beauty in the Storm.

~Tiff

Yoga: Stage Sailing

Yesterday morning, I woke up, made a cup of hot Yerba Mate, and got ready to teach a yoga class. I picked great music, created  some fun flows, kissed my family, and headed to class.

Every  Monday and Friday, at 9am, I  teach yoga at a theatre downtown. I teach in the dance studio, a rehearsal room that we Yogis lovingly call the “cave.” It has a large curtained window, beautiful wooden floors and a fully mirrored wall. There are often chairs and props in our practice space, but we barely see them. I set up a little altar, we turn off the lights, and we flow. We have really tapped into some magic in that cave. I love that space.

Anyways, yesterday when I arrived to teach, I tried to unlock the door to the studio, but it wouldn’t unlock. I tried and tried but the door knob was broken. Feeling defeated, my head and shoulders instantly dropped, and my mind sarcastically said “Oh GREAT!”

I kept trying to get the door to open. But, as student after student arrived, I realized our only option was to practice yoga on the main stage. I wrote a little note, saying the class was moved, put the note on the door, and we all headed over for “Stage Yoga.”It took a few extra minutes to get everything figured out. We had to figure out how we to fit everyone, making sure no one would fall into the orchestra pit. Adventure Yoga!! It turned out there was exactly the right amount of space. We almost always practice with music, but yesterday we practiced without music. It felt good to practice with only the sound of the breath.

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Even though it was completely unexpected to practice on the stage, with a sailboat behind us, and a sea of empty chairs in front of us, it was still fun. And enormously beneficial.

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It was different than we had all planned, but it was good. We had to let go of any expectation of how class should look, and enjoy it for what it was. Life. Sometimes we make these plans, and they don’t turn out the way we expected.  Modify. Breathe.  And Enjoy. 

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“Smooth seas never made a skilled sailor.”

~Tiff

Healing An Eating Disorder With Yoga

I am not even sure what triggered it, but when I was 14, I developed an eating disorder. I suffered from bulimia. And for twelve years, the disorder weaved in and out my life. In high school, I was a cheerleader, and when my eating disorder first grabbed hold,  my weight went down drastically. After the gossip spread, a really sweet guy, started to refer to me and a friend of mine, as “bulimic bitches”..sometimes he threw handfuls of grass on us,and called us bulimic cows  (One can only hope he matured). 🙂

I could blame a number of things as the trigger of my eating disorder. My family was pretty dysfunctional (like most),   and my mind was always racing, full of thoughts and questions. “Why do we die? Where do we go? Why do we exisit?Why do we have war?” Why, why, why…and so on. It was exhausting.  I am also an empath, and I think that perhaps I used food to try to help me ground. 

There were times, when I was angry with myself, and I would stop eating. I would get thin. Very thin. Very quickly. There were other times, where it seemed food was the only way to relax, to get out of my “mind”. My body would quickly balloon. My thoughts. My judgements. My confusion. My feelings of being inadequate and ugly.  I could quickly scarf down a box of Tiger Milk bars. A bag of chips. Half a cake. I would try to feed my soul, my worries, my fears, with food.  Then of course, stomach full and hurting, feelings of disgust would rise up, fear of getting fat, and it was off to the bathroom. Or 3 hours of exercise.  Or swearing to myself that i would not eat for an entire week (I never lasted)!! During those 12 years, sometimes I would go long periods without any bouts of bingeing or starving myself. But sometimes, particularly when I was stressed, the disorder took hold and ravaged my body and soul. My weight easily yo-yo´d  up and down a good thirty pounds.

From the time I was 15-18, I also started experimenting quite heavily with drugs. I was unbalanced, reckless, and I had no idea about self-care, or how to process stress.  

I feel no shame in sharing this. It is a part of my story. I have no desire to come across as a perfect person, I am far from it. Many people suffer from eating disorders, and they feel deep shame.  But we shouldn´t. Life is hard. Confusing. Sometimes very painful. We all look for ways to cope. Recently a friend opened up and shared that she was suffering from bulimia. I guess in a way, I feel compelled to write, so she can understand my story. How I healed.

I healed through YOGA.

beautiful trees, beach yoga, mother daughter yoga
Teaching My Daughter Young. 🙂 Self Care. Healthy Choices. YOGA

Learning to breathe through my nose, those nice deep mindful breaths, helped me cultivate an inner-peace I had never felt. Learning to quiet the mind in meditation, helped me tap into my higher wisdom. When we tame the mind, truth, wisdom, and compassion emerge.Even if we just feel it for 30 seconds, it changes everything.

Practicing Asana, taught me about my body. I learned to observe where I was holding tension, I could feel how the breath helped relax the muscles, and the mind. I learned to move my body in harmony with my breath. I started tapping into more subtle energies. Awareness.  I started to observe how different I felt after eating certain foods. I felt heavy and gross after eating greasy french fries, or a candy bar. But after a large carrot, kale, and ginger juice, or a large avocado smoothie, I felt light, healthy, peaceful, beautiful. Naturally I prefer feeling healthy, and as my awareness increased, my food choices changed.

I started to notice even more subtle cues from my body. How my body felt when I was thirsty, When I was stressed, When I was tired. Simply put,  I started to get to know me. And I realized my body was counting on me to make healthy loving choices.

Our energy changes drastically based on our food choices. This is talked about often in Yoga. Food can be divided into three categories. 

Tamasic Foods: Red Meat, Alcohol, Refined sugar, soda, fast food, and overly processed foods. Foods that are tamsic, lead to overeating, promote negative emotions, build up of toxins, dull heavy energy, and blocks the flow of PRANA.

Rajasic Foods:coffee, salt, chicken, fried foods, overly spicy. (some say chocolate too, but i disagree STRONGLY) 🙂  Foods that are rajasic create an overstimulated mind, make us feel restless, and keep us very attached to our ego desires.

Sattvic Foods:Fruits, vegetables, honey, herbal tea, grains, nuts, beans, seeds, ghee. Sattvic foods promote the flow of pure and positive energy, and lead to peace, intelligence and wisdom.

Next time you eat something  really observe how you feel, and then, think about these three categories, and what you ate. 

Yoga, leads to increased awareness. Body, mind, and Spirit. And the straight up truth is that when I eat a Sattvic based diet, I feel good.

I honor my yoga body. I am not anywhere near being “skinny”. And I don’t care. But I do feel strong. And I know I am taking active steps, and breaths, everyday to live as healthy as I can. I don’t count calories. I don’t limit food. I eat when I want, I eat what I want.. But the difference is, that through yoga, I learned about self-care. I started to love myself, flaws and all. I found healing by going within. I eat food that nourishes me. Fruits, vegetables, lentils, seeds, nuts.. Sattvic foods. I eat Ice cream nearly everyday, but I make it RAW with avocados, coconut, cacau, and honey.  And it is good. Nourishing, filling.  My whole family loves it.

I know with absolute certainty, that my yoga practice put my life and my body on a completely different path. I know with absolute certainty, that yoga heals.

Yoga. Open the door. Take a deep breath. You will be amazed.

Happy Healing-Tiff

Worlds Within Worlds

 Worlds Within Worlds
Worlds Within Worlds

Last night I drove to teach a yoga class and the only traffic I encountered, was a man with a horse-drawn wagon. This was not a fancy Central Park Tourist dream wagon. No, it was an old, beat up wagon, driven by an old man with weathered skin, who was working the fields.

I have these moments, these flashes, several times a day, where it hits me, and I realize, “I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore.” In fact, just as I was finishing this sentence, a large herd of cows walked right in front of the house.

My Daughter in front of our house, connecting with  her Friends
My Daughter in front of our house, connecting with her Friends

Santa Maria is a strange, beautiful, and unique place. It is bizarre mix of old world and modern world. Some people ride horses into the village to drink a beer,while others drive Mini Coopers on their way to get a manicure. Everyone has internet and satellite tv. The stores sell soy milk, oat milk, chia seeds, and tofu dogs. There are homes here as large and majestic as the ones in Palm Beach, but there are other homes that are so old, so run down, from another time, another world. . There is a dance club here, where people dance to modern American music until 7am. But there are also festivals here and folklore dances that make you feel you have gone back in time, several hundred years. There are people who live here, who have travelled the world. And there are others, who rarely leave their village, or some who have never left this island. Different worlds within the same world.

Last weekend was the Festival of Santo Christ. A festival that celebrates the miracles and magic of Jesus Christ. The streets and churches are decorated with flowers, it is beautiful, but still strange.

Santo Christ, Santa Maria
Santo Christ, Santa Maria

Last weekend there was also an Imperio here. I guess the easiest way to explain it, is that during an Imperio, nobody goes hungry. It is a religious ritual and celebration, held at a chapel, and honoring a promise made to God.  During an Imperio, people cook enough soup for everyone on the island. They cook  in giant black cauldrons over fire. All weekend long, people can come and eat the soups, the bread, and drink wine. They light firecrackers several times a day, as a way to let the islanders know, there is an Imperio, come eat food. They also deliver giant pots of soup to the homes in the nearby villages. Someone delivered soup to our home, and although the soup is not vegetarian (I didnt eat it), the act was greatly appreciated.  It is so special and strange. And so different from the world I grew up in.

Cauldrons...
Cauldrons…

My sweeheart celebrated his birthday this weekend too. We of course enjoyed some healthy cake, a little party at our house, the festivals,  and we hiked to an old lighthouse in Maia.

Birthday Hike
Birthday Hike

There are things about this place I have grown to love so much. There are people here so dear to my heart.

 

People dream of moving to another country, to experience a different world, reality, culture.  And although it hasnt been entirely easy, I am in awe that my path has sent me on this magical adventure.

There are thousands of lives, within a single life.” -Tiff

By the way, The man that delivered the soup to our house, is someone i share a strange connection with. I wrote part of our story, in a blog post a few years ago. It is still strong and very weird. Check it out  http://flowingyogini.org/2012/10/08/love-at-first-sight-or-something-even-weirder/

My Right Shoulder Alert System

In the late fall of 2008, I got sick. Very sick. Stress was undoubtedly a huge contributing factor. I was teaching high school History at a Title 1 school, halfway through a very demanding year-long yoga teacher training program, raising my son, and to top it off, I was newly married and walking on eggshells, suspicious that my (now ex) husband had some sort of severe mental illness (which was absolutely heartbreaking and terrifying).

Needless to say, it was too much for me to handle, and my body let me know. One morning when I was teaching, i felt a stab of burning pain in my right shoulder and chest. In pain and panic, I left the classroom, got a substitute and headed to the Dr. The pain I felt was so intense, burning, stabbing, unrelenting torture. After many days and many different Drs, a rash appeared, and a neurologist finally informed me that I in fact had shingles. He said it was very uncommon for anyone my age to develop shingles unless they were under severe stress or had a compromised immune system. He scheduled an MRI, and said it was possible I had some sort of autoimmune disease. He mentioned lupus, rhemetoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, MS, and even lyme disease.. The MRI revealed I had some lesions on my spine, and the Dr said it was possible I had multiple sclerosis. There is supposed to be a link between shingles and MS.  I was put on 8 weeks of medical leave, and given several medications, with strong side effects.

The rash came and went fairly quickly, but the pain I felt from the Shingles was constant agony for months. If my hair brushed against my shoulder, I cried out in pain. The only thing that I can compare it to, is childbirth. I understand i had a very severe case of shingles. Months later, I still was in pain. The neurologist explained that I had in fact developed PHN, and would likely feel the pain in those affected nerves for a very long time.

During that time, I got skinny, and i mean really skinny. I lost nearly thirty pounds and weighed a whopping 90 pounds. During that time,there was a point where I realized it was up to me to heal. I started juicing regularly, eating more fruits and vegetables. I quit my job teaching, and started focusing more on my yoga practice.

It was also during that time, that I became more aware of how certain foods affected my body. I noticed that when I needed to sleep or was fighting some sort of cold or infection,my right shoulder would start hurting again.

Even now, many years later, when i feel run down or eat junk food, the first place i feel it, is in my right shoulder. My right shoulder serves as an alarm, a warning bell, letting me know it is time to load up on herbs, vegetable juices, healthy food, vitamins, and REST.

It has taken me years to truly love and respect my body. It has scars, cellulite,  thick black leg hair, and some chin hair too. But it is beautiful.  It is my temple. The place where my soul resides.

It is up to us to pick up on the signals our bodies send. It is up to us to discover what we need to heal. It is up to us to go inside and LISTEN.

Right Shoulder LOVE, Self Care, Self Love, HEALING
Right Shoulder LOVE, Self Care, Self Love, HEALING

Self Care and self love.

With much gratitude for my temple and my right shoulder alert system. -Tiff