Restoring Under the Hammock

Just a short drive from the overdeveloped madness of South Florida , is a state park called Highland Hammock. The drive and the surrounding town, are not spectacular, but as soon as you enter the park, you enter another world.

Highland Hammock is one of the oldest state parks in Florida. There are trails all around the park. And all of the trails are so different. So beautiful. So healing.  There are Oak trees that are estimated to be over 1000 years old. Cypress swamps, and wildlife, we saw so much  wildlife.

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Barred Owl

Some of the park feels very prehistoric. Especially the Cypress swamp. Early in the morning on a hike, I spotted a cottonmouth, a very venomous snake, swallowing a large fish. We watched in fear and amazement, as the snake unhinged its jaw, and swallowed this fish.

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Cottonmouth Eating a Fish

 

We camped in one of the primitive campsites. As the sunset, with the clear sky, and the new moon, the stars were bright and beautiful. I saw a shooting star. I made a wish.

The whole trip was so restorative. We hiked slowly on the trails. We gazed up at the stars. We hugged trees. I did Restorative yoga everyday, (which my son called “sleeping”), and we ate good nutritious food.

 

We saw deer, pigs, hawks, osprey, owls, turtles, alligators, snakes, opossums, armadillos, and even two river otters.

Being in nature is so healing. Like a soul shower. We feel balanced.

Nature is the best teacher. We can never have enough nature.

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~Tiff

 

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Yoga Retreat Santa Maria Azores June 17th-June 24th

 

I am very excited to announce that I am co-hosting a yoga retreat on the island of Santa Maria, Azores, with a beautiful Kundalini yoga teacher who lives in Dubai. This will be a special retreat for many reasons, LOCATION is magical! The people are magical. And what could be better than a retreat that combines Kundalini yoga and Vinyasa Flow. And Hiking everyday!!!

We have worked very hard to provide the cheapest possible retreat, in hopes that many like-minded friends can join us.  This is sure to be the trip of lifetime! If you have any questions please email me flowingyogini@gmail.com

See you in the Azores!~Tiff

 

 

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The Magic Of Yoga

Like most people, I was originally drawn to yoga for the physical benefits. It was more than 16 years ago, I was 21 and pregnant, and I read that Madonna (who was also pregnant at the same time) was doing yoga to stay in shape.
Inspired by that news and Madonna’s arm muscles, I bought a yoga video (VHS, remember those?). It was a Kundalini prenatal yoga video, and I started practicing daily. It was difficult, strange, fun, powerful..and that was the beginning of my yoga journey. After I had my son, and for the first few years of my yoga journey, yoga seemed to weave in and out of my life. (Always coming back to my practice when crisis hit.)

A Fun Variation of Goddess Pose
A Fun Variation of Goddess Pose

Anyways, now, many years later, my yoga practice has become a huge part of my life. Yoga is medicine. Yoga is therapy. YOGA IS MAGIC.

I have been teaching yoga full-time now for nearly 7 years. My first yoga teacher training was truly incredible. Nearly 1 year-long, I learned so much. My physical body changed so much. The way I moved my body changed. The way I sat changed. My eating habits and choices changed. I started healing. But beyond the physical, there were spiritual experiences that I cannot even begin to describe in words, though likely, if you practice yoga or meditation, you understand.
Initially, my life as a yoga teacher took very little effort, things just manifested. A friend of mine owned a popular yoga studio in South Florida, and offered me the opportunity to teach there. For the first few years, all my classes and students, appeared with very little effort. Things just floated into my lap.  I was offered so many classes, that I had to say no, many times.  Anyways, I showed up to teach, relaxed my mind, and allowed the yoga to flow through and to me..  The best way to describe it, I somehow quiet my mind, and access a place inside where the yoga magic just flows. Intuitive classes.
I took my advanced yoga teacher training and it was difficult mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Trying to use the mind to understand that which is beyond the mind. The written exam took so long. But I did it, I learned so much. I am still learning. In fact, I am still very much a beginner. Yoga takes lifetimes.

Anyways, I moved to another Country, where yoga is still relatively new and strange, And my goodness, my life as a yoga teacher changed. First of all, it was difficult to even find a place to teach. There are no yoga studios on this island. There are 5000 people here. Once I found a place to teach, I had to try to attract students. Not only was I suddenly working with students who were brand new to yoga, but also, I was trying to learn to teach in a new language. PORTUGUESE! Ask any yoga teacher, and I am sure they will agree, that one of the most difficult classes one could teach is a class full of beginners. There is so much to learn, so much to teach, so much to describe, and how does one do that if their vocabulary is seriously limited to a few basic words? (Think vocabulary of a two year old).

Anyways, with great effort, (and some very kind students), I am happy to say, we have built a small yoga community here. The other day, I was teaching a class, and I noticed how strong my students have become.  The sound of the deep audible ujjayi pranayama brought tingles of joy to my body and soul. It hit me, I was teaching a room full of Yogis.

Upward Facing Dog, Healing with the Trees
Upward Facing Dog, Healing with the Trees and my Beautiful Daughter

During the month of February, I hosted a yoga challenge on Instagram, just a small challenge with a few students, designed to increase awareness about asana and the physical benefits. The challenge was 21 days, 21 asanas, and was called “The Magic of Yoga.” It was a small group but we had participation from Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Santa Maria, Sao Miguel, Germany, Ohio, and Florida. My students learned and were inspired to take their practice further. The challenge inspired others to give yoga a try. The challenge inspired me! What an honor to share something so special. LIFE CHANGING! Everyday I was excited to see the beautiful photos of my students working on Asana. Everyday I was inspired to share.

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Our Advanced Yoga Challenge Asana, Bird Of Paradise

I guess if I was a little more organized I should have written about it on my website so my reader friends could join in. BUT, I am happy to say, I am putting together another yoga challenge right now. This new challenge is sponsored by Jade Yoga mats, there will be prizes. I PROMISE to keep the website updated with this challenge! And I hope you will feel inspired to join in. 🙂

One of the most powerful and healing poses, Tadasana-Namaste
One of the most powerful and healing poses, Tadasana-Namaste

I am so honored and grateful to practice, share, and teach The Magic Of Yoga.

Namaste~Tiff

Pirate Treasures and Greek Muses:The Law Of Perfect Timing

There is so much to write about. But today I feel the need to write about timing. Fate. Destiny.

I was driving home the other day and decided to go a route I normally don’t take. My daughter started having a melt down in her car seat, she was exhausted and hungry from a long day playing in the ocean. I decided to drive on an old dirt road in hopes the bumps on the road would lull my baby to sleep. It didn’t work. She started screaming. I needed to stop the car. I drove a little further and then stopped the car. I got out, picked up my exhausted, sweaty, red-faced screaming baby and started to nurse her. She instantly was calm. I looked down beside me and saw a dirty tarnished old coin. I picked it up, brushed it off and realized I found an extremely old coin.

Turns out the coin is hundreds of years old and is a pirate coin. If I would have stopped the car 5 feet away I never would have seen it. I looked at my treasure with amazement and laughed as I thought of how earlier in the day I made up a crazy story about pirates and my great great grandparents.. (The Azores are rich in Pirate History).

Anyways, my daughter fell asleep. I laid her down,  put the coin in a safe place, and unrolled my yoga mat. I had a beautiful yoga practice on the dirt road, next to the spot where I found the old coin, that I found while I was breastfeeding my tired baby. The Yoga Practice was  amazing. All of it was unplanned. Unexpected. Wonderful.

Anyways, the next day,  I had another even stranger ‘timing event’. My sweetheart and I were going to have a picnic lunch at the port here on the island, but while I was driving to our lunch spot, I suddenly had a strong urge to have  lunch somewhere else. A nearby fort. So without even discussing it, I changed our plan and we had lunch  at the fort. We enjoyed our favas and cantaloupe and the beauty of the day.  Santa Maria  in summer is absolutely breathtaking.

We saw two women come out of a youth hostel. They were about  to start a hike. I smiled, they smiled. And then one of them smiled extra bright and said “Excuse me, are you a yoga teacher?” I said yes.  The woman  said, “I came to this island because I read your website and it seemed so beautiful here I wanted to see this place for myself.”

We were both excited at the fated encounter. We made plans to spend time together and she joined my beach yoga class. She feels strangely familiar. Perhaps we are of the same soul tribe.

Beach Yoga Sao Lourenco Azores
Beach Yoga Sao Lourenco Azores

Yesterday I picked her up and we spent the morning together walking around the woods, talking, connecting, and reminding each other of our true purpose.

It feels amazing to know I influenced this magical woman’s  life through my writing. But the real magic is how she influenced me, more than she probably will ever realize. She brought me a message. A reminder.  I understand.

A fated friendship
A fated friendship

My new beautiful Greek Yogini friend flew away to Lisbon and  is heading off for more adventures.  I wish her a life full of wonderful, magical, and meaningful experiences.

The pirate coin is in my jewelry box, the memories are in my heart, but the greatest treasure is in the message. The law of perfect timing.   Some things are meant to be. Destiny.

Follow Your Intuition~Yogini Tiff

 

Pose of the Week:Corpse Pose -Savasana  

Known to be the most important and beneficial pose in yoga, this is a pose where we can and often experience profound healing and magic.

Corpse Pose, Deep Relaxation
Corpse Pose, Deep Relaxation

 

Some of the many benefits:

Relaxes your central nervous system

Relaxes the body and calms the mind

Reduces headache and fatigue

Helps relieve depression

Cleans and balances our energetic body

And Much More!!

How to properly perform Savasana:

First, slowly lay on your back.

Arms at your sides, palms facing up (the hands are about 6-12 inches away from the body)

Feet open a little more than hip width apart

Toes relax out to the sides

Make any slight adjustments so you can become comfortable

Follow the breath as you allow the body to relax

Relax through the feet, legs, hips, buttocks, back, stomach, heart, chest, shoulders, neck, muscles of the face, and the head.

Relax the mind

Move deeper, relax deeper, relax the breathing

If the mind begins to wander, guide it back to the breath, feel tension dissolve in the mind and the body and float. Don’t judge anything you experience in this pose, just breathe.  Be present.

 

Guiding  A Student deeper into Corpse pose with Tibetan Singing Bowls
Guiding A Student deeper into Corpse pose with Tibetan Singing Bowls

As an experienced yoga teacher and a long time yoga student, I know this pose is actually very difficult for many people“How is this a pose? We are doing nothing?”

I have seen a number of students get very uncomfortable with this pose, fidgeting, eyes open, chewing gum, texting, or getting up and leaving class..

In fact, in one of the largest classes I used to teach, I had a few students, who would not do this pose (for a few weeks). They thought, “The workout is over”.

My higher wisdom recognizes that not being able to do corpse pose has to do with the restless ‘monkey mind’We can try to explain the importance of the pose, but there really are no words to describe the power and healing. It has to be experienced by the practitioner.

This pose is where so much healing occurs. Breath by breath we let go and tap into our true nature.

Have a Chill Day ~Yogini Tiff

The Beauty of the Pregnant Body

I was a nude art model during my pregnancy with my daughter. It was something I had never done, never even considered, but the opportunity to model for an art class appeared, and I did it. Several classes. I thought I would be scared to sit in front of  a room full of artists, totally naked. But I wasn’t scared.. I actually really enjoyed it. I felt powerful. The pregnant body is so beautiful. Magical. Sacred.

Naked Art Modeling
Naked Art Modeling

We live in a society that tells us our bodies are not beautiful if we are not thin. We live in a society where many women spend their entire pregnancy stressed and obsessed about their weight gain. Well it is time to change all that!  I say we celebrate and flaunt our pregnant bodies. Whatever size we may be.

Healthy and happy is Beautiful. Full, round, confident. I refuse to let a magazine tell me how to look, act, or be. 

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Belly Casting with my dear friend Katherine

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Bikinis, belly casts, photography, paintings, sketches. Take your clothes off.  Embrace it. Enjoy it. Dance.

A 15 minute art sketch by the  super talented artist Jill Lavetsky
A 15 minute art sketch of me, by the super talented artist Jill Lavetsky 

 

 

Another 15 minute sketch, my body when I was 6 1/2 months pregnant
Another 15 minute sketch, my body when I was 6 1/2 months pregnant

We are Goddesses of Creation. We bring life and light to the world. We are mothers. We are beautiful.

~Yogini Tiff

Check out Jill’s art work at  jilllavetsky.com

Be present…And Let Nature Be Your Teacher

My friend owns an old water-mill house in the Azores. It is one of my favorite places on the island and certainly one of my favorite places to do yoga. There are no roads to get here, it is a hike.  The hike passes through a giant field of cactus, a cow pasture, and then down a steep hill.  There are no other houses. There are no other people. Today, needing to recharge, we spent the day there. We had a picnic, did some yoga, got our feet wet, and took some photos. We spent the day being present with the river (stream/ribeira). The sounds,the smells, the sun, the clouds, the bugs, the plants…everything was beautiful.

Natarajasana, Santa Maria Azores
Natarajasana (Dancer Pose), Santa Maria Azores

Breathing it all in..

be present, breathing it all in

I like to quietly explore, get my feet wet, and let nature be my teacher..

Warrior III, Santa Maria Azores
Warrior III in the Ribeira, Santa Maria Azores

My sweetheart took these photos. And in the photos, I am wearing clothes from my favorite yoga clothing company, be present.

As a yoga teacher (and student), I rarely wear anything I can’t do yoga in. I like clothes that are comfortable, cute, and honor my lifestyle. be present makes really high quality clothes that are perfect for hiking, yoga, and other adventures.. 😉

If you are looking for clothes and want to support a great and environmentally conscious company, I suggest checking out be present. Here is their website.  http://www.bepresent.com/store/home.php

Magical Watermill house
Magical Watermill house

By the way, this is the same little river that passes in front of my house…. but I guess all rivers lead to the same place. Same is true with life. Enjoy it. Be present.

~Yogini Tiff