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Virginia

PV yoga immersion in the OBX...more than just fun in the sand




Summer. Yoga. Friends. OBX. Dreamy right? Oh, but it was much more than that. 

This was the maiden voyage into deepening our yoga practice, not just on the mat but traveling further within ourselves to summon our true way of being and be willing to rock it.

These can be rough, intense yet exciting waters. We sailed through daily early morning Mysore (as in crack o' dawn early), group lecture and discussion, midday break (yay beach!), posture breakdown, our signature MO+RE (mobility+recovery), bridge the gap techniques, aaaaand homework assignments (some were spontaneously assigned by me...boo!). 


immersion collage 1_copy


In a cozy beach house with 8 peeps who've never lived together, it could've turned ugly, hostile and downright icky. But, that wasn't the case. We all worked together as a group and supported one another in our own ways. There was the cheerer of the underdog, the mother hen, the even keel, the free spirited, the studious, the adventurous, the tongue and cheek tour guide, and the anatomy buff. This is not to be putting labels on anyone but rather to recognize perhaps a spiritual signature.

A blend of unique yet equally beautiful individuals who shared a piece of their heart and soul at this immersion. There were various challenges but hopefully just as rewarding for everyone who participated. We learned a thing or two about our physical practice. More importantly, we had a window of opportunity to face ourselves and simply observe.


immersion collage 2


So, while we did enjoy some sweet beach time, a sprinkle of R&R, and scrumptious acai bowls, it was work...hard work. I'm eternally grateful to everyone who shared their time and energy at this 50 hour immersion. I appreciate all your feedback and look forward to guiding you all on the next tour.


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Virginia

is yoga enough?

badha padmasana


At the end of the day, hatha yoga is still a movement based practice. Very simply, this is why I believe the art of asana needs to be viewed with a broader spectrum beyond forward folds, twists, binds, backbends, and inversions. 

 

What may seem balanced to one individual, may not be the case for someone else. It depends on many factors. Some of the obvious ones are: genetics, lifestyle, proprioception, pre-existing conditions (known and un-known), personality (yes, this is a big one), and environment. Environment could include the teacher(s), props if available, and temperature.

 

For me, and let me say that again...for me, I found that the physical practice was not enough to build a strong balance in my body. Yoga is an opportunity to study the self and our patterns. We can then research what is needed to either create more stability or opening. 

 

It's true. I'm a rogue Ashtangi. I don't practice early in the mornings. I practice after workouts around 10:30am. I also do 4-5 times per week strength & conditioning along with other accessory work necessary to rebuild my body. Oh, and I do the occasional Rocket yoga because it's fun and frankly I feel it compliments my Ashtanga practice. 

I'm a lone practitioner 99% of the time. I've come to terms with it. While I loved and still love the energy of a large group, it doesn't determine whether or not I practice.

So yoga is enough. I found it in other forms outside of asana. In turn, I feel more at peace and harmony.

Follow your heart and intuition. Question dogmatic thinking. Search for answers. Be open minded. Define your practice as you deem fit for you.  


Virginia

20lbs, 1 year and 4 Whole30s later...

155 before pic


This is me 20lbs heavier from a year ago. Lots happened and I lost sight of my health and my eating got out of hand.

Some may call me crazy.

Over the course of a year, I decided to get my act together and did the Whole30...more than once...4 times to be exact.

Some were more successful than others. I'd like to share my experiences with you in hopes that you too won't give up and will learn something new about yourself each time.

First, what is Whole30? It's 30 days of eliminating processed foods, sugar, grains, legumes, dairy and anything artificial from your diet. We eat only whole foods such as high quality meats, leafy veggies, good starchy veggies, some less sugary fruits, nuts and seeds. That pretty much sums it up. You can also read more here

After years of practice cooking for me, Cashmere and Mex, I've learned the art of using spices and herbs to flavor things up, kicking it up a couple of notches. So, adapting to eating "clean" was fairly easy for me. The hard part was eating similar meals throughout the week and not eating out. 

Here are some things I've learned over the course of doing the Whole30 several times:

1. You need to prepare ahead of time. Grocery shop, prepare the foods, cook some of it in advance. If you don't cook order from a supplier such as Power Supply.

2. It takes work. No one ever said it was going to easy. Simple and easy are NOT the same thing. Just as everyone knows that exercise is good for you but it's still hard to stay committed to it. 

3. Your friends may or may not be supportive of your newfound way of eating (and drinking...alcohol is BIG for a lot of people). You have to hold your ground and don't cave into peer pressure. There's always a way around it.

4. Routine was and is my friend. It sounds boring but really it isn't. I like to call it...consistency.

5. You'll start trying recipes from cookbooks you bought 2 years ago and wondered how you never thought it looked appealing before. It's because your mind is seeing things a bit differently the more you grow accustomed to eating a certain way.

6. It's a slippery slope. So, the reason why I did the Whole30 more than once is because I didn't know how to handle the off-roading. I got a little better at it each time though. It was the aftermath of the 30 days I struggled with. One after-dinner treat became two or three. I allowed "cheats" to slip in once in a while thinking it couldn't hurt. And, it probably didn't but that little slip grew larger and more constant. Then, I just found myself back to square one again.

off roading
I worked hard at reducing stressors. Melissa's Stress video.


Keeping a 90/10 balance is my goal. Zoning helps a lot for portion control too. So, I allow the maple syrup in some of my recipes, I have a cheat meal maybe once a week, I don't go bonkers if I have to be socially polite and eat or drink something I'm normally not used to. 

It works. It takes practice guys. So, don't give up if you fall off this time around. Dust off and try again. Bottom line, you're creating a healthier lifestyle, it's not a one time diet gimmick. Off-roading the Whole30 can be controlled if you want to...if you really REALLY want to.

If this is something you'd like to try out for yourself, you can request to join our Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/pvpaleoprimal/


Here's a recent full photo of me with the Mex and Cashmere on our staycation. 

after pic




Virginia

Alchemy of Asana

 

 

Alchemy_Notebook_p12_by_bzylman

 

 

ALCHEMY "a power or process that changes or transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way" - Merriam Webster Dictionary

 

Have you given your practice enough time and dedication to witness your own evolution? Unfortunately, many people don't stick around long enough or practice consistently enough to experience the magic that DOES happen. 

 

Practice heals. Practice strengthens. Practice reveals and releases. 

 

It can feel or seem boring when there seems to be no growth. The growth isn't always physical. It's the state of mind and the art of breathing and moving that eventually offers transformation. 

 

We've forgotten that in order to be part of change, we have to do the work. Come. Practice. Show up even when you're tired, stressed, bored, too busy or whatever the trending excuse is. 

 

Stagnation happens when we approach it from a physical workout point of view. Yes, I hear this a lot. "It's an awesome workout." *cringe* Yes, it is. But, it's hardly why I practice. Honestly, I come to my mat to have a face to face with myself. It's a moment of truth.

 

There's not a lot of extra stuff now in my practice. Music is off. I do however use props when needed. #erectorsetyoga Usually it's just me practicing by myself and sometimes I'm fortunate to have a buddy or two to practice with me.

 

Alchemy. It's truth in a bottle. Drink up when you're ready. 


Virginia

why so serious?

 

 

why so serious

 

At first glance, it does look really serious. Yoga. While many of us have heard of its benefits, ie. increased flexibility, better body awareness, de-stress, enhanced breathing, etc. it's still not enough for some peeps to stick with it or even try it. 

 

The questions that I must ask are... Do you ever feel like the world is too noisy? Do you ever want to experience peace and quiet? Do you ever stop to smell the metaphorical roses?

 

Ironically, many of us take vacations to go after these very things. Yoga IS a break from the noise, the chatter and distractions that invevitably go along with our modern day lives in Northern Virginia and beyond.

 

The physical practice is a moving meditation. It's time for us to observe our breathing or lack thereof. It's time to reconnect to our bodies and listen to what it is telling us. If we truly listen, we can hear our hips and hamstrings tell us that we sit too much. We can hear our shoulders scream out that we need to stop slouching over computers for hours on end. We can hear our necks tell us that burying our faces in our phones is debilitating our spine. Finally, if we listen really carefully...we can hear that it loves yoga. 

 

So, that serious look on the faces of people practicing isn't that they're taking themselves too seriously but that they are going inward on this fun ride toward infinite discovery of who they are and being totally cool with it.

 

Namaste bitches. 

 

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Virginia

die hard or simply cray cray

 

 

snowmageddon

 

2014 Snow Stormageddon. 

 

As we all know in the DC area, any kind of precipitation creates a panic. While it's totally legit since we're not equipped like Colorado for such fun times, there are those few who choose to confront the challenge with a big fat smile on their faces.

 

That particular person is Mr. Shaun Louis Trujillo.

 

At the sparkly time of 6am, Shaun couldn't wait to get up and start shoveling snow so that we may get to the studio. Here I am, saying that the world is probably closed and maybe we shouldn't open. "If you don't want to go just say it." He knows me well. There's several inches of snow out there! Hookie! Time to spring clean, catch up on reading, yoga at home. 

 

Shaun's enthusiasm is quite contagious. I knew I'd feel better if I just got my ass to the studio and do whatever the Mex tells me to do in the workout. Then, I might have the delight of teaching a yoga class.

 

Could anyone out there also be as crazed as Shaun? I know for a fact that there are those who are just like him. It's not just snow, it could be any obstacle. It could be traffic, family, work, fatigue, stress, laziness. Yet, these individuals find a way to make it happen. It's not just a simple workout. It's not just stretching on the yoga mat. 

 

Going back to the blizzard, if you suck at driving in the snow, then please stay home and be safe. If someone else sucks at driving in the snow and you don't know how to avoid them, then please stay home and have some hot chocolate and build snowmen.

 

If you want to get good at driving in the snow, please make an appt with Shaun and he'll give you some lessons.

 

UPDATE: Shaun did the best he could but the Mini was just too low and the snow too high to make it out of the community in time for the morning classes. But, we did venture out later in the afternoon to ensure our studio parking lot was plowed. So get ready folks for some fun times at PV! Who knows, maybe we'll take our sleds out and make you push them outside!

 


Virginia

punch buggy!

orangecrush

 

Lo and behold we have a new family member! She's a 1973 VW Super Beetle. Her name is Orange Crush (Crush for short). After several months of waiting, she was finally ready and we drove out to West Virginia to pick this restored cutie up. 

 

It was me, Cashmere and Shaun together as one big family going to pick up Crush. The drive started out pretty smoothly. Shaun had never been to WV and the first part of the drive was sunny and glorious. The mountains were beautiful. However, the roads through the mountains were windy and graded. We drove through several small towns which of course slowed us down quite a bit. We knew it was going to be a long ride coming back. 

 

4.5 hours later, we reached French Creek. Gleaming with excitement, we met the business owner who restored Crush and he seemed pretty nice. After a quick cordial chat, we started the journey back home with Crush.

 

At first, it started out with no hitches. Whew! She was slow. We averaged about 40-50 mph. At our second pit stop, we started to notice a small issue. Crush had trouble starting up. Hmmm. After about 20 minutes, we got her running. In my mind, I prayed we wouldn't have any further problems. Not so lucky.

 

It was DARK. I mean DARK. Not so fun driving in pitch black through the mountainside. I could barely see poor little Crush in my rear view mirror as she struggled to keep up. After 6 hours, we finally reached Rt. 66. People zoomed past us in a 70mph speed limit zone while we were driving at the fastest 55mph. A big tractor trailer decided to get between us and stayed behind me for a good long while. I got nervous. Then, I got the fateful call from Shaun.

 

"I'm stalled out on the side of 66. Come get me." Argh! I was so far ahead by then that it took me a while to get to the next exit, turn around and find him. At that point we called my insurance company to get Crush towed. Long story short, the tow truck never came. During that time, I had to pee. We created a "stall" by opening the front and rear passenger doors. Hey, whatever works. Luckily, I also brought enough food for us to have "dinner". I WAS PISSED. We were only about 30 minutes away from home. Why oh why?

 

tow

 

2 hours later, a random tow truck came to our rescue. We finally made our way back home after we dropped Crush off at an autoshop. It was 3am. 14 hours later. We made it back.

 

"Well at least were together as a family and it was an adventure." I'll give Shaun props for being positive. But, that didn't last long when he found out a few days later there wasn't a heater box in Crush. WTF.

 

I know Crush will be fine. This journey was chock full of fun, excitement, frustration, exhaustion, and disappointment. It's much like life. You just gotta roll with it. 


Virginia

defining moments at 40

 

life collage 

I admit turning 40 made me think a lot about what I've done thus far with my life and what I want to do with the rest of it. It went from idealistic wish lists to pissed off rants (reminder: don't blog when PMSing).

 

I decided to go back and redo this post...again...with an intention of how my reflection could help others. My collage is of everything that is truly important to me. It was easy actually. The ones that stuck out were of my sweet family Shaun and Cashmere, our studio, our members and friends, helping those in need, yoga, adventures, making yummy and healthy meals, intimacy, and rest.  

 

You see, I fell into the trap of "not enough" at 40 syndrome. Not enough attention, not enough money, not enough members, not enough time off, not enough lululemon. I secretly wanted a surprise birthday party even though I was butt ass tired from all the crazy goings on in January. I told myself it was materialistic to want more yoga clothes and that I've matured out of that outward gratification.

 

Sure, I'd like to once in a while get a new piece of cool gear, treat myself to a massage, go on a vacation with the fam and eat something totally bad for me.

 

pizza

 

Yesterday was the first day I've been able to practice second series in two weeks. I wasn't sure how my backbends would feel but they were AMAZING. Who knows. Maybe I'll evenutally finish the series and move onto third. Yikes! We'll see, only time will tell.

 

Spend your time wisely folks. Focus on those whom you love. Do what you love. And, share it. Let go of unserving thoughts. Enjoy what you have. You'll be surprised that you don't need much to be happy at 40 or 50 or 100. 

 

 


Virginia

three's a crowd + a pekingese

 

 

onioncake 

 

It's been 3 months since I've slept in my own bed. My mom stayed with us for the duration of her second knee replacement. Our cozy 754sf home with 1BA/1BR felt like a shoebox but somehow we made it work. How? I mean, I think most people would lose their shit. Did I mention there's also a Pekingese and a Mex under this one roof? 

 

At first, we both were very obliging. I went to town cleaning our humble abode to make my mom comfortable. We moved the bed to make it easier for her to get up and down from it. We made space in the bathroom for her toiletries and such. Ok, this time around she'll be much more comfortable!

 

Our first bit of conflict came about when she voiced her desire to lose weight. I got psyched! Here's my chance to educate her and rock her world! Not so much. We hit head on.

 

Rams-battle

 

She didn't see how eating the cheapest, most processed crap was bad for her. "All of China use MSG. What's wrong with cheap eggs? I drink diet milk (translation 2%)" 

 

The carpet was too dirty and needed to be steam cleaned. She had to be in our small kitchen at the very same time as me to put the dishes away while we were in a hurry to make breakfast and head out to the studio. My mom's hearing was even worse than mine! Oh, and of course there was still a bit of a language barrier. For someone who made a living working at a computer as a desktop pubisher, she wasn't very tech savvy. Simple web browsing was as foreign as trying to read alien %&^$#. Arggghhhh!

 

Oh and of course there was no pressure to have grandkids. "Shaun has good strong body. You so-so, not so young anymore. Better have baby now."

 

I finally gave in, not to the baby part. I was mentally drained, frustrated and a tad claustrophobic. I was annoyed with myself for feeling this way. It's my mom for chrissakes! Why couldn't I bend? Why did I have to be right? I knew she really didn't want to stay with us but had no choice. What it must feel like to be a prisoner in your daughter's own home. 

 

white flag

 

It hit me hard. I was being selfish. It was my way or it was wrong. She's lived her life much longer than me and from a different cultural background altogether. That's when I first resolved to start compromising for the sake of our relationship. My first white flag was getting what my mom really wanted...instant Ramen noodles, the 20 cents variety.

 

I was sad at first but then it felt like this big weight had been lifted off my shoulders. While I wanted her to eat healthier, it wasn't worth the anguish arguing over it. Once the pressure was off, I saw she really didn't eat those fake noodles all that much. She just wanted some sense of her former independent life. 

 

Then, I took her to Lotte, an International grocery store near our studio. It was like watching a kid in a candy store. I haven't seen her that happy for a long while. My compassion for my mom grew even deeper. I patiently accomodated her queries no matter how elementary they may have seemed. 

 

Her slouchy posture started to improve, her furrowed brows started to relax, she laughed and smiled more. While most of her time spent at our home were either watching Chinese drama or banging around in the kitchen, the other times were spent with us. 

 

I made every attempt to put away my computer and sat patiently to listen to her stories. She's very funny and entertaining. I was reminded that I should let her retell her past over and over. She just needed someone to listen to her. 

 

My mom's a strong survivor, albeit from a totally different reality than mine. She survived my dad who passed away in 2012. He was supposed to live another 20 years, at least that's what the docs told her. She wasn't prepared to be alone. My dad did everything from pumping gas to paying all the bills to operating the washer to cleaning the snow off the car. My mom had a crash course in learning how to live without my dad. They'd been together for 40 years. Even though it wasn't always a happy marriage, she still had a companion.

 

Lately, I saw more similarities between us than differences. I was a kitchen banger and binge watcher too! We both got giddy when we ate something we shouldn't have. I caved in and had more than a few onion pancakes, a Chinese yum yum. Some things were just not meant to be Paeo-fied. It was worth it. We sat there making these things from scratch. She eagerly taught me how to make them and I was amazed how little measuring was done. It was all by a feeling. There was an eerily familiar bonding moment.

 

I've learned instead of focusing on our trivial disputes, I searched for common ground. There was more commonality than difference.

 

I will miss you mom when you go back home. I hope your stay with us didn't suck too bad. I will miss making you coffee every day and seeing you smile when I give you a slice of my homemade cheesecake. I will miss giving you baths and pedicures. I will happily brave the Asian grocery store parking lot to get you your veggies, packaged noodles and exotic yet questionable seasonings.

 

You're welcome to stay with us anytime. I will gladly sleep on the floor. Love you. 

 


Virginia

a strength&conditioning yogi?! 8 reasons why I'm a hybrid

 strengthandconditioningyoga

 

Yep, I do both Strength & Conditioning AND Yoga.

 

It's a very personal choice for me. Honestly, it just works...for me. Some may consider me rogue or not even a yogi. Well, I guess you could call me a two-timer. How dare I even consider practicing other forms of yoga let alone strength training! Gasp!  

 

I've read blogs here and there about people who've done both yoga and strength & conditioning. While most of what I've read is about how yoga can benefit the latter, I found that the sheer physical and mental strength to get through some of those workouts demand a will greater than I thought I had. This has helped my Ashtanga practice, not hinder it.

 

It's tough. But, I'm going to share with you 8 reasons why I feel mixing a sound Strength & Conditioning program to a dedicated yoga practice is so rewarding.

 

1. There's always room for improvement but there's no hurry nor pressure. PRs (personal records) are what a lot of S&C athletes are after. It takes consistency to make this happen and sometimes, the numbers don't go up, they go down. Be ok with it. It's all just temporary.  

 

Poses and transitions in Ashtanga are difficult and they take time and patience to really come to a place of depth, refinement and strength. 

 

2. You're SO present. For the allotted time for the workout, which is usually pretty short (5-15 minutes on average), you can't think of anything else but the task at hand. My mind is empty.

 

If only this happened every time I practiced on my mat. It's getting better, but there are those days...monkeys all over the place! Over time, our physical practice leads towards a meditative one. If there is such a thing as an end goal in yoga, that'd be to find enlightenment or spiritual bliss.

 

3. Once you get going, you don't stop or regret. As with anything that is hard, showing up has proven to be THE hardest thing to do.

 

I've never ever regretted working out or getting on my mat. EVER.

 

4. Expose your weakness. I have no problems whatsoever to say that word. Weakness. I heard in some schools, they use the word "needs" instead. Hey, whatever works for you. I already knew I needed to strengthen my lower body and core. Oh and my upper body too. Um, so everything.

 

Ashtanga is very much that way too. The practice can make you feel vulnerable, frustrated, not good enough. Work on it. Study and apply. And, don't take it too seriously.


5. Strength. With great coaching, good body mechanics, consistency, and a dab of faith, it's inevitable that you will get stronger. Over the last year and a half we've been open, people have gotten so much stronger than they ever thought possible!

 

Quite honestly, I didn't start getting my jump back consistently or feel stable through my hips and shoulders until I added in the strength & conditioning into my physical regimen. Sure, there was an initial threshold of incredible soreness and tightness, but it did get much better. There are days when it doesn't feel like I can move my body but I just do the best I can and I usually come back to the next practice even stronger. 

 

6. Pure raw love. I have to admit that I freaking LOVE our programming at Prana Vibe. While many still call it CrossFit, there are definitely aspects of how we (aka Shaun) run the program that make it feel non threatening and super supportive for anyone and everyone.

 

I've come to love my practice and I approach it as a deep self-study and compassion for my body, breath and mind. I don't push it. I look for the joy in all my postures and transitions. If there's conflict, I try another approach.

 

7. Fear smasher. Pre-workout anxiety is the norm. Sweaty palms, unsettled stomach, cursing. But once that clock starts, it's go time. No fear. Just a lot of gasping for air, lactic burn and brief moments of doubt. It all goes away when the clock stops.

 

"Vande gurunam..." Ah, yes. Just start the process. Practice unfolds as it should. It doesn't matter what I can or cannot do, but I just do the best I can that day, that practice.

 

8. You're not alone. I've not met one person who's felt like they got this down pat. We all "suffer" throught the same workout even when it's scaled down or modified altogether. 

 

Practice should be approached with that same mindset. Scale or modify it accordingly. Use blocks? I'm a fan. But, maybe at some point, you won't need it. Then, no blocks. See? Simple. We're all in this together. We may not look the same or transition the same, but we're still breathing as one collective.

 

 


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