Tag Archives: transformation

Matthew Sweeney: “The Body Is Crooked For a Reason…”

25 Oct

matthew sweeney

I stumbled across a great Ashtanga podcast called Lonely Guru on Itunes. There was a lovely interview with Matthew Sweeney. I sure would love to study with him someday! The take away message for me was:

“The body is crooked for a reason…to force it into alignment, if this is going to cause you pain…I don’t think this is good alignment…accepting your experience, loving your body.”

I am quite good at not accepting my experience or loving my body. Lately, I have been wanting someone to just beat the stiffness and pain out of me (yeah, that makes NO sense at all!). I met with a trainer at my new gym and he gave me a regimen of specific, therapeutic stretches and god-awful foam rolling that is killing me. I thought I was going to throw up the first time we worked together. I know that this, coupled with a regular yoga practice, will move things along for me. But boy howdy, does it hurt. He told me that I am the stiffest, least flexible female client he has ever worked with! He said that my hips are just literally locked up.  Sigh. I know it will get better, but right now, it just hurts. A lot.

Herbivore or Vegan? Say it Loud, Say it Proud!

16 Sep

 

I’ll just come clean: I really don’t like calling myself a vegan lately. It seems like when I finally “out” myself to someone, I’m met with a look of horror or derision. Or I get the, “don’t you feel upset that you are killing all of those plants?” question. Or the, “I could never do that!” statement. Then there’s the other side of the coin: the Vegan Police…fellow vegans who critique me for a million and one reasons. They don’t like that I work for a non-vegan company or that I live with omnivores and frequently date omnivores . They scrutinize my shoes (yup, they’re vegan), scrunch their noses up because I eat at restaurants where meat is served and have to take medications that are not vegan. I do my best, but I can’t live in a 100% vegan bubble. I would love to work for a vegan company and I would really love to not have to take medication every day. However, that is not happening anytime soon (especially the medication). I try to act with compassion and conscience and practice the principle of non-harming in all of my affairs. I always go back to what one of my earliest vegan role models, Joanne Stepaniak, says about the issue:

“Because there are no perfect alternatives for every animal-based item, vegans must choose to tread as lightly as possible by selecting the most compassionate choices available. The amount of animal ingredients used in some plastics is trifling when compared with true animal commodities, such as leather, wool, or down, which directly fuel the continual slaughter of animals. After a while, it becomes exhausting and nonsensical to dissect the microscopic elements of our lives and rifle through every last belonging in search of the elusive animal ingredient. What would be the point? Purity? Consonance? Moral righteousness?

As vegans, we must confront the fact that our world, our options, and even our own actions are fallible. As much as we may want to be fastidious in our elimination of animal-based commodities, there are realistic considerations that make this impractical. From the perspective of compassion, economic impact, and the ability to inspire change and create a demand for genuinely humane products, our present-day substitutes, despite their drawbacks, are far superior to commodities that represent obvious suffering and death.” 

Lately I’ve been thinking that I’ll just start calling myself an herbivore if anyone asks me. So when the kind folks at Vegan Cuts asked me to start reviewing vegan products that they are featuring on their website (a vegan version of groupon? it’s about time!), I initially felt torn. I try not to make my blog this in-your-face vegan blog. But yeah, I’m a vegan, dammit. I read labels. I only buy cruelty-free products. I have Happy Cow bookmarked on my phone. I special order my freaking vegan vitamins even though I work for a vitamin company. But I want to stay in the closet about being vegan 99% of the time!

So imagine my surprise when the first item I get to review was this extremely cute necklace from Design Specimen:

That’s right: HERBIVORE. I love it! I’ve gotten lots of compliments on it.

Here’s the vegan design:

from vegancuts.com. Cute!

http://vegancuts.com/company/design-specimen

My readers can get a discount at vegancuts.com if they use the code BLOGFRIEND –  Save an additional 10% off your order, doesn’t apply to shipping, expires Oct 31/12.

Being vegan has been one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I celebrated my two year vega-a-versary on August 16th. This is me two years ago:

Me on my 40th birthday with my sister-in-law

And here is me two years later:

I feel healthier and happier at 42 than I did when I was 22. This was me at 22:

Me, 22, Baltimore, MD

Ironically, I will be in Baltimore next week for a trade show. I’m going to have to take a picture so we can have a side-by-side 20 year comparison! It’s the inner transformation I wish I could somehow capture for people to easily see–I am so different now that it’s crazy. Being vegan and living a really clean life full of yoga, metta meditation, heavy metal and love: it’s revolutionized me on every level.

August 2011 versus August 2012: Ashtanga and Transformation

4 Sep

Smile, you’re on Candid Ashtanga Camera!

I had to backtrack and look at my old blog to review something that I did last year. Right around this time in 2011, I went to a Baptiste Power Yoga class that nearly killed me. I almost threw up like five times. I had to get up and go sit in the corner and take a break. No one else took a break. It was either take a break or throw up or pass out or all of the above. My normal MO would have been to leave the class and be pissed off and humiliated. Instead, I stayed and finished. And didn’t go to another class for almost a year! I stayed at home and practiced alone with DVD’s until I started the Ashtanga experiment at the end of March 2012.

Fast forward to August 26th, 2012—I went to my very first yoga workshop ever. It also happened to be my first official Ashtanga class with a teacher. I just have to jump into the fire! It was me and three other women (two of whom were Ashtanga teachers!) and it was two and a half hours long. My home practices just recently increased to 45 minutes.

The yoga studio holding the workshop is called Blue Sky. The owner is a former showgirl who is a Jivamukti instructor. The space is in the Arts Factory in downtown Las Vegas, and all of the walls are covered in art from local artists. There’s also a bar next door to the studio and they happened to have a bluegrass band playing for the duration of the entire workshop. Hearing banjos while I was sweating and cursing and crying was at the very least amusing. It made me feel instantly at home, like I was back in Austin, TX.

Me, after two and a half hours of Primary Series

Wall at Blue Sky Yoga

My first thought after I stopped ooooing and aaahing all of the Catholic-themed art and giggling about the banjos was: I am going down in flames. Tapas barbeque. There is no way that I am going to be able to do this. My second thought: of course, I am the fattest person in the room, goddammit. Luckily, there was not much time to think about my fatness once Jen Knox got rolling. I plunged into Primary Series and just tried to stay alive. I’ve never even truly looked at the entire Primary series, never mind tried to actually do it. It seems so daunting that I just focus on one asana at a time and don’t look at any of the ones beyond that unless I am forced to (like while watching Kino MacGregor youtube videos or something).  I used to watch just the beginning of the Richard Freeman Primary Series VHS back in the day and then I would panic and turn it off.

Well, I did every asana in the entire freaking Primary Series, albeit severely modified. There was no begging off and no backing out. There were straps and bricks and bolsters going on like crazy. Jen was amazingly kind and made me feel like I was where I belonged. By the end of it, I was wrung out/high/delusional/severely dehydrated from sweating like a beast. I’m not even sure how I got home. For the next three days, I felt like I got run over by the Ashtanga truck. However, now I am hooked. I want more. I can do this.  Even though on a daily basis I frequently feel like an Ashtanga failure, this workshop made me see how far I have come in a year.

Pattabhi Jois was right, Ashtanga is for everyone, even old, fat, busted up desk jockeys. On Labor Day I am going back to Blue Sky for their beginning Ashtanga class, since I looove to do things backwards. Different teacher, so wish me luck!

Lake Over Earth

11 May

Whenever I have doubts about how I am living and whether it really fucking matters at all (why bother with all of this yoga and service and  metta meditation crap when I could be binge eating cookies and pizza or, better yet, drinking beer and shots of Jager), I get a little nudge that sets me right. I do love the I Ching…from May 9th’s  conversation with The Oracle:

Hexagram 45: Ts’ui/Gathering Together (Massing)

“Every step of progress leads not only to our own success, but to a better world and heightened spirituality in all beings. Our smallest self-improvement is of the greatest importance to ending suffering in the world, and to bettering the human condition, for how things are in the world is a reflection of the accumulated effort of human beings to follow the good within themselves.”  Carol K Anthony, A Guide to the I Ching.

Just Because I Can’t Do It Today Doesn’t Mean I’m Not Going Be Able To Do It Someday

8 May

 

 

I saw this video on Andrea Leber’s blog (http://andrealeber.com/) and I just had to share it again. Selfishly,  I also want to be able to easily find it so that I can watch it over and over when I am feeling discouraged. This video brought tears to my eyes. I so related to the opening scenes where he’s using the chair and the bricks and falling down repeatedly. I am still in shock that I am doing 10 Sun Salutations a day and not using a chair. When I first started doing yoga again in 2010, I could only do Sun Salutations with the help of a chair and I was gritting my teeth and cursing and crying.  Arthur Boorman is a total bad ass! Please share this with your friends, especially those who are struggling.

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