Posts Tagged ‘Yoga and Wellness’

Wellness Wednesday: Step Up Revolution Workout DVD

Step Up Revolution

I normally spend my weekend nights relaxing and catching up on silly movies if the husband is not around. As I was flipping through channels a few weekends back I came along another version of the Step Up dance movies. I totally forgot about how much I love them. They are cheesy, crazy, and fun to watch if you like dancing. These are the movies that gave us Channing Tatum. I won’t even start on how I watch Shall We Dance with Jennifer Lopez and Richard Gere.

It also reminded me of how much I miss dancing. In my late teens and early twenties I was always the first one on the dance floor. I went out to dance. I mean the kind of sweaty dancing where you have to come and take another shower because it was really a workout. As I’ve gotten older I realize I workout, but I really miss dancing. Thank goodness for Amazon and Step Up Revolution Workout DVDs. Now I can bust a move in my home, get a good workout, and don’t have to deal with the drama of going “up in da club.” Pass the leg warmers please.

Wellness Wednesday: Getting My Yoga on With Gaiam

Gaiam Yoga Tools

When the lovely folks at Gaiam asked to assist me in my 2014 health and wellness journey I was thrilled. As part of my yoga journey I am trying to do some form of yoga at home every day, even if I make it to class at the studio. A few mornings a week I head to the gym because I’m training for a half-marathon in April. I get up early enough to do at least 10-20 minutes of yoga before heading to the gym.

I’m happy to say that I am in love with this Gaiam Sol Dry Grip Yoga Mat. I have a thick mat at the studio where I normally practice yoga, but have been using a travel mat at home. This has changed my home practice. It’s super thick and is so cushioned that I don’t have to double fold my mat when I go into a deep crescent lunge. I’m using the blocks to not only extend my hands in poses, but to actually help me work on my core. Core? Yes. I’m working on this pose a few breaths in my practice. It is called a practice for a reason because this pose is no joke. How is your fitness journey for 2014 going?

Thank you Gaiam for making my home practice even more special.

This Yoga Body is a Wonderland!

{After completing my 200 hour level 2 yoga training at Tranquil Space}
{Notice I’m the ONLY Black girl and I’m okay}


I’m sure by now my lovely readers have read the story about a white yoga student being uncomfortable watching a “young, fairly heavy black woman” in her yoga class. Really? The interwebs went crazy. Twitter and Facebook were going bananas. Why is this story even on xoJane’s site. I discovered it late Tuesday evening and spent all day Wednesday going back and forth on social media about how I felt the story was offensive and racist. I stand by my responses. I wanted to write when I wasn’t angry and saddened that the piece was ever published. I needed to step back, assess it for myself again, and write from my heart.

Why? I didn’t come to yoga because I was trying to get a yoga butt, get fit or in shape. I came to yoga because I was DEPRESSED. Yes, depressed.

I spent days on the floor of my apartment crying, not showering or eating because I had just come back to DC from Houston because I had to bury my oldest brother. It wasn’t easy. To take a sibling off life support was one of the worst experiences in my life. I was alone in a city that I had only lived in for 10  months. To add insult to injury the job I moved for was in transition and the guy I was dating was unfaithful. This all happened in a matter of 4 weeks. You do the math. It didn’t take long for the cloud of sadness to stay like a veil I couldn’t get off. I went to church because as a young Black girl growing up I was taught that God would take care of it. Well, I prayed and I cried and cried and I prayed. I was still depressed. No amount of running and weights could get rid of it for me. I called my doctor and said I need an anti-depressant. After a deep moment of pause he said “Julia, can you do one thing for me first. Try yoga.” Say what? “Doctor, doctor I am a runner. I run marathons,” I pleaded. He said “do this for me and if it doesn’t work then I will give you the anti-depressant. Find a place that’s hip and fun. Yoga can be fun you know?”

I threw caution to the wind. This was going to be my lifeline I hope. I started googling “hip, tranquil, and yoga” to find what I needed in a yoga studio. I found something better. I found Kimberly Wilson’s podcast called Hip Tranquil Chick. Seriously? And it’s all pink? I spent two days listening to every single episode. I made plans to visit Tranquil Space and take a class. How bad could it be? She’s from Oklahoma and she like pink.

To say my first class was hard is an insult. It was bloody hell. My hamstrings screamed as they opened up. I couldn’t help confuse my right with my left. You want me to flow, what the hell is that? Chata-who? Oh that thing. I was out of my element, but I stuck with it. I never realized I spent 30+ years on this planet not really breathing. I proceeded to “inhale, let – exhale, go.” Tears flowed, but I didn’t feel uncomfortable. After 75 minutes I was spent. I lay in savasana (resting pose) in tears. Not because I was in pain, but because as my curvy, tight hip, and distended belly from three uterine surgeries moved through each pose their was a freedom I just couldn’t explain. For weeks I felt like a weight was constantly pressing on me and I couldn’t lift it on my own. I knew at the end of the class that yoga was going to be a part of my life. It has. After my first teacher training in 2007 and my second in 2012 I am always grateful for the practice.

The problem with the article is the problem with what yoga represents in this country. It seems that we only get images of the super flexible, super skinny, you aren’t a good yogi if you can’t put your foot behind your head, blond, and white. A lot of this is true, but a lot of it isn’t. I have met numerous yogis of all races, ages, and body types. I’m looking forward to my next yoga retreat (probably yoga and stand-up paddleboarding) and yoga conference. I have practiced and studied under many famous yoga teachers. Did I feel out of place. Not once. Do I notice that I’m normally the only Black girl in the room, yes. But, what I also notice are the nice yogis that chat with me and make me feel welcome because we are bonding over our love of yoga. I think back often how I felt after that first class. I was on a high. Why? I had a skilled and conscious instructor who helped me, I had yogis smile and tell me where to set up my mat, and after class there was tea, cookies, and conversation. Special. Yes, I felt special.

This is the very problem with the story. The teacher should have made sure she was okay, checked on her during her multiple child poses, gave her modifications, and her encouragement. The student, instead of gawking and feeling pity because the student wasn’t a “skinny white girl” should have chatted before class to the student, asked if she was new, told her to go at her own pace, and that to continue coming back because we all have to start somewhere. Instead of staring at her during downward facing dog because she was curvy and black, she should have practiced kindness and smiled at the student then returned to her breath and concentrated on her own inner peace. She should have told the student “practice and all is coming.”

That my beauties is the true meaning of yoga.

{Yoga can be awesome, fun, and just a little crazy!}


P.S. If you are curious about yoga, have questions, or want to drop me a private line – email me: Namaste y’all.

Wellness Wednesday: Pick Your Yoga Practice by Meagan McCray

Pick Your Yoga Practice

I always say there are so many books and not enough time to read them all. Between my current Daniel Silva, self-help, and yoga books I need to go away for two weeks and do nothing but read. Yoga is such a huge part of my life and I can’t imagine my life without my practice. With that being said I’ve had numerous questions regarding yoga. Most people assume that you have to be super flexible in order to attend a yoga class or you have to know all the poses. That’s why it’s called yoga practice, not yoga perfect. It takes time to learn the practice like most things. Don’t be discouraged that you can’t put your foot behind your head. I can’t either, but every time I step on that mat I am happy.

I received a review copy of Meagan McCrary’s Pick Your Yoga Practice and I am glad Meagan chose me as a reviewer. This book is great for anyone interested in learning the different types of yoga and useful tips to get started. The book is written like a friend giving you information so you can determine if vinyasa or kundalini is for you. When I came to yoga I had no clue there were so many different kinds. I am a natural explorer and love to try new styles, but my practice is vinyasa based. Meagan’s book comes at the right time. Yoga is everywhere now and Meagan’s book is the guide to getting your OM on.

Namaste darlings.

Sleep, It’s a Beautiful Thing

I have stated before that I’m not the best sleeper in the world. There are places I can sleep wonderfully (any place near water) and places I have issues (home) because my my does not shut off. In yoga we call it the monkey mind. My mind races more than it should. Also, sometimes that extra glass of wine she not be at my lips at 8:30pm. I keep telling myself I am going to get better at keeping up with a sleep routine. It’s better in the fall. What’s helping me now? The Sleep Cycle app. Where has this been in my sleep life? The app tells me about my sleep quality which is as important as how many hours of sleep, and how many times my sleep cycle was broken (way to many times).

I’m taking the information I received using the Sleep Cycle app and applying it to better sleep. I know it’s going to be tough with my upcoming travel schedule and time zone changes, but I’m looking forward to great sleep. How’s your sleep? It’s very important to your beauty lifestyle.

Sleep Cycle 2

Big Girl Bath Time: Aura Cacia Comforting Geranium Bubble Bath

Aura Cacia Geranium

It seems summer is flying by. This weekend I plan to do nothing. I plan on finishing August magazines before those super thick September magazines start overpowering my mailbox. As busy as I’ve been I have made it a point to spend more time luxuriating in the bath most evenings. Showers are so rushed. They are meant to be relaxing. Wash, wash, wash! Scrub, scrub, scrub. Boom, you are done. Baths are a treat. They are the gift that keeps on giving.  I put on my favorite Pandora station of the moment – Marcus Johnson and light the current candle in rotation – Diptyque Opopanax. My baths have to have ambiance.

The key to having a great bath is a tub full of great scents. I need bath salts, oils, milks, and lots of  bubbles. I’m usually a lavender girl, but the lovely folks at Aura Cacia scent me the Geranium scent to try. It has been love ever since. I am basking in this mixture of rose, lavender, and geranium so much I did what any bath loving beauty would do. I ordered two more bottles. I can’t run out.

Om Pretty: Yoga Everywhere With My New Mat

New Yoga Mat

A few weeks ago I realized that I hated my travel yoga mat. Hate is a strong word I know, but I was just tired of how heavy it felt at the bottom of my suitcase. My carry-on goes with me on my trips and adding an addition two pounds can add up. When I went to Louisiana I didn’t bring it for that reason. But, I missed it. I missed sitting on my mat for my morning meditation. Don’t get me wrong, it is not as heavy as a regular mat, but I wanted something super light, that can go over a yoga studio mat, and lighter than what I had. I found that and more in the Manduka eKo SuperLite Travel Mat. Ladies, this mat has me head over heels in love jut like when I buy a new lip gloss. It is so light that it’s barely there. I can fold it and put it in my tote bag. Yep, that good. I can’t wait to have this new beauty with me on my trip next month. It now has a permanent residence in my carry-on. I’m in a major state of yoga love. I’m trying to do some type of yoga practice every day and this mat will help when I’m traveling.

Have you lightened your travel load for summer? I’m curious.

P.S. Yep, I’m turning into a hippy. Very obsessed with this incense. 



Wellness Wednesday: My Yoga Home Practice

Yoga Mat

{My yoga mat on retreat in Provence, France – May 2012}

It’s no secret how much I love yoga. But lately my yoga practice has been placed on the back burner in terms of workouts. It’s been swimming  running, boot camp and doing as much cardio I could get in. I was working out every day, but I missed my yoga. I missed the peacefulness that I get from practicing yoga. It took me realizing I need a quiet to start my day. If someone had told me this when I was in my 20s I would have looked at them as though their head was spinning. Waking up at 5 a.m. and dashing to the gym worked for awhile, but I needed my mat.

I’m not giving up my cardio, but I know it’s time for more morning yoga at home. I decided to take my home practice back into my own yoga hands. Over the past week I have practiced yoga every morning at home. I skipped the gym. It has been nice to move at my own pace, listen to my breath, take time to meditate and get back to what brings me joy – yoga. My body is thanking me. I practice on a Jade Yoga Mat. A good mat makes the difference in yoga. I’ve tried to practice on the cheaper mats and my hands and feet go sliding in all directions. This mat is yoga perfection. I leave one at the studio where I practice in DC and loved it so much I bought one for the house.

After my yoga teacher training last year I told myself I would practice more at home. Yeah right! I had all the tools to do it, but it was about not making any more excuses and listening to my body. The deep stretches help with the tightness in my hamstrings and the sciatica that keeps creeping up. My friend Monique sent me a list of her favorite yoga podcasts which I plan to incorporate into my home practice.

I know yoga is the big thing now. I know it is hard to walk into a yoga studio and want to take a class where the majority of people in the class don’t look like you. I realize the picture of yoga in this country is of thin and super flexible white women. It’s marketing and media. Yes, it’s sad, but I have seen people of all shapes, sizes and races practicing yoga. I get it. Don’t let the Instagram yoga challenges stop you from trying yoga. All yogis aren’t standing on our heads in each practice. Take all that and throw it out the window. Try it because you have been wanting to try it. Don’t let that stop you from exploring the practice. I know you will thank me later.

Namaste y’all.

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