Wild Adventure-Grayson Highlands State Park

For the entire month of July we were on vacation.  YEAH! We camped, hiked, swam, and visited friends as we slowly made our way up to New York City and then back down again. Our whole trip was based around my son’s acceptance into an “elite” theatre  intensive with the Broadway Artists Alliance in New York City.  On this trip, we experienced the powerful magic of nature and the crazy-making magic of the city.  A little bit of everything. Perfect Gemini road trip!

One of the most beautiful places we explored on our trip is called Grayson Highlands State Park, in Southwestern Virginia. The park is home to several herds of wild ponies.

There are signs telling visitors not to pet or harass the ponies, but in all honesty, those sweet little ponies walked right up to us and forced us to pet them! We had no choice!!! (Not sure how wild they really are, but we loved them!)

ponies

 

 

The weather on the mountain is known to change very quickly, and it did. The first afternoon we were there it was warm and sunny, but by late afternoon, and with no warning, strong winds began to blow. The temperature quickly dropped from perfect to freezing, and as the wind howled, heavy rain poured out of the sky. We huddled in the tent, feeling both excited and nervous…rain began to drip into the tent. Would our tent hold up?  Thankfully the storm passed quickly but the cold stayed with us. It was so cold that we had to bundle up in our winter jackets, the only time we needed them on our trip. IMG_4122

The air was so fresh. The views so beautiful. The energy so calm but so alive. The forest speaks a language my soul remembers.

The park has several hiking trails, there are beautiful waterfalls,  and the Appalachian trail runs right through the park too.  We spent hours skipping rocks into the river. I am certain the world would be a better place if we all spent more time quietly skipping rocks. 

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If you ever find yourself in the mountains of Virginia, go to this park, it is worth it. So beautiful.

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Beautiful waterfall At Grayson Highlands State Park

Our whole trip was really magical and I will try to write soon about each place.  

Go on a WILD  adventure~Tiff

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”~John Muir

 

 

 

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Purifying Force

A few nights ago, at sunset, I taught yoga on the beach to my very dear friends.We started class, soaking our feet in the water. (Partially because of an injury to my foot. A very sharp piece of wood stabbed through my shoe and straight into my foot, two days ago, and it hurt and was beginning to look infected). We put ocean water in our mouths, to taste, to feel, to cleanse, to connect. We “washed” our bodies, rubbing magical ocean water on our arms, shoulders, face, third eye. Feeling both the vibrations of the setting sun and the rising moon, we did the first part of class,standing in the water. The waves were strong and splashed up on us, forcing us to balance with strength and flexibility. 

There was a powerful energetic intensity to that class, it felt like a huge energetic upgrade. That sensation of floating between two magnets.Physically our practice was soft. Energetically, so strong.  The wind blew with purifying force. I felt so free, at peace, energy pulsing. We all shared wide grins. Our energy was so open, so connected. We were absorbing the magic of the sea..

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We celebrated the Full Moon in Scorpio.  Earth Day.  We went to a Drum circle, dancing with the moon as she rose over the ocean..

It seems  like most people I know are going through some heavy stuff. Emotional basket case time. Detoxing. Cleansing. Processing the reality that this life is temporary. And it goes by so fast. We are all receiving big lessons, along with subtle little messages, reminding us of our true purpose, path, mission. We are being challenged to make changes in how we live. We know there are many problems in our world right now. We have to try as hard as we can to begin to live the solution.

All that you have is your soul. ~ Tiff

 

 

 

Inspired: Bryan Kest Yoga Workshop

Last night I had the opportunity and pleasure of meeting and studying with a well known Yoga teacher, Bryan Kest. It was the first time I had ever met or studied with Bryan, and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.

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Me, Bryan Kest, and Jessica McCarrick

The room was crowded, full of yogis.  The workshop began with a lecture, or a talk rather. Bryan is funny, charismatic, and a bit of a rebel.. His words are what I will remember long after these sore arms of mine recover.

Bryan shared the story of how and why Asana practice began. He talked about the true meaning and purpose of yoga.“To still the fluctuations of the mind.”  He talked about the ultimate goal of yoga, enlightenment, Samadhi. Not pose perfection.”You are never going to heal relationships with loose hamstrings. We have to try to develop the benevolent qualities of our mind. Through awareness we can start eradicating the shit that is hurting us.”

Something in him, I connected to on a deep level. Perhaps it was his honesty. He was real. He talked about his angry and wild past (which I can totally relate to).  He openly shared that he smokes pot, and he said the “F” word, more than once. He did not come across as a phoney know it all yoga purist. He came across as someone just like me, a person, a parent, who came to yoga to heal.  He talked with passion about the state of our world, and how we are all contributing, creating this world, this chaos. He also stressed that it is up to each of us to change. We have to be the change… or nothing will change. 

He also talked about how even within the yoga community, there are fights, judgments, egos, teacher bashing, blacklisting.. Each style claiming they do it correctly and other practices, styles, and teachers are wrong… I have experienced this first hand, and it is really toxic. The snobbery that can be found within the yoga community is intense. Yoga is not about designer yoga pants and a perfect body. It isn’t about memorizing the sanskrit words for poses. It isn’t even about the ability to perform a difficult pose. It is about stilling the fluctuations of the mind..

Bryan is known for teaching a strong physical practice called Power Yoga. And while I am a yoga teacher,  I do not have a very strong physical practice, and I certainly don’t have buns or abs of steel. Since my recent car accident, my practice has become even more gentle. I am very aware of my injuries, and I am very gentle with my body.

Thankfully, during the asana practice, Bryan repeatedly reminded us to listen to our bodies. He said, “No yoga teacher on earth knows where your body should be.” He instructed us to rest in childs pose whenever we needed. “There are 7 billion right ways to do a yoga pose.”  With a strong voice he told us not to look at what other people in the class were doing, but to focus on our own breath, our own body. I was dripping in sweat halfway through the practice.

We ended the practice with a long and quiet Gratitude meditation..

I feel grateful and inspired by Bryan. I feel grateful to connect with a yoga teacher who is sharing (on a much larger scale), the message that I share with my own students..

The workshop was hosted by The Cozy Yogi, a yoga studio in Lake Worth Florida. The workshop was awesome. It ended up running late, past the scheduled time. So, without a proper thank you, I had to rush off and pick up my son and breastfeed my tired daughter.

Bryan Kest, Thank you. When I do my “head touching my leg pose” I will think of you and smile.

~Tiff

 

Guided Visualization and Relaxation For Healing And Purification

A couple of weeks ago, while driving home, my daughter in a deep sleep, a strange feeling flooded through me, and I pulled to the side of the road, closed my eyes, and recorded this visualization and relaxation.

I hope it brings you healing and peace.

With love, Yogini 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.

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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