Making the Connection

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Each day this week, when I sat down to set an intention for my day, I found myself returning to the intention: keep reconnecting with yourself. Last week was a whirlwind of a week, mentally. I graduated from Cal State Long Beach and although I’m thrilled about accomplishing such a huge milestone, the whole process (the time leading up to the day, the day itself and even the week after) was exhausting. Quite frankly, I’m still in a fog! But with the intention, keep reconnecting with yourself, in my head throughout my daily practice this week, somehow Ardha Chandra Chapasana (a variation of Half Moon pose) found its way into most days of my practice and seemed to really bring me the connection I needed to make with myself.

It’s such beautiful pose not only to do (because it looks pretty), but mainly to feel. There is this calm strength that happens at the peak of the pose. When I know I’ve got my left foot planted into the ground and my left fingertips on the ground, powerfully supporting me and when I reach my right hand to meet my right foot, I feel a sense of accomplishment. But once I’ve made all of those bodily connections to the earth and to my foot, I make the connection to broaden my collarbone and open up my heart. The rest of the pose is about mentally staying in that space I’ve created near my heart. And all of a sudden, I find that Ardha Chandra Chapasana has totally Miyagi’d me. The whole time I was working on “wax on…wax off” and making the connections in the pose, I was building up a connection with myself internally!

So, thank you, Ardha Chandra Chapasana, for weirdly knowing I needed you to teach me to connect this week. That is such an awesome thing about yoga. It’s always there for you in whatever way you need it. Sensei Yoga, I bow to you.

Hope you guys have a fabulous weekend! Grad pictures coming next week!

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Fig + Yarrow

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I’m all about all-natural, organic products, especially skincare products. I’m quite the fanatic actually because, to me, they just work better than name brands and are ultimately healthier for my body. But it does take a lot of money and effort to sift through a lot of different products to find “the one” moisturizer or cleanser or whatever product that works best for my skin type (I spend a decent amount of money on skincare stuff in lieu of purchasing clothes that I want or need; I figure if my skin doesn’t look great, the clothes won’t matter!). I have pretty dry skin and have been on the hunt for years to find the perfect moisturizer and last year, lo and behold, I found Fig + Yarrow! My face has never been this healthy and supple, ever! This handcrafted line of small batch, organic products are made of amazing ingredients that came straight from Mama Earth.  Brandy Monique is the name of the artisan and she is so inspirational to me, as she has my dream job of making a beautiful, all-natural skincare line that makes the world a much healthier and beautiful place. She also has an Etsy shop and is super helpful with any questions you may have about her line. Read her Featured Shop interview on Etsy, she is awesome. And the sweet thing about ordering from her shop is you get pretty packaging and a sweet thank you note (and sometimes a free gift if you order a certain amount). Enjoy!

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-Her tangy-smelling Cleansing Nectar is incredible and her Rose Vanilla Tinted Lipbalm makes your lips nice and pretty-

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-You can tell just by looking at the creamy Yarrow Buttercream that it is made with love and real ingredients-

*This is not a sponsored post.

Balls to the Wall

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Lately, I’ve totally been balls to the wall with inversions, or I should say without the wall, because I am in uncharted territories as I discover my upside-down balancing skills without a wall to support me. And, let me tell you, it’s scary…but completely thrilling! I am challenging myself in my practice like never before and I have a broken laptop, lots of tender knee bruises and a retelling of an embarrassing fall in a yoga studio to prove it.

Inversions are a funny thing in yoga because they are so much fun, yet terrifying, but can also be quite dangerous when done improperly. Take, for example, my experience in using my boyfriend’s laptop to do a quick, 30 minute Yogaglo class entitled, “Find Stability,” which ended in the least stable way possible. I was instructed to do Sirsasana, Headstand Pose, and I think to myself I’ve done tripod headstand without a wall plenty of times before, I can definitely do Sirsasana without the wall. Same thing, right? Oh, I was so wrong! My legs flailed and fell behind me right onto the front cover of Sam’s laptop, breaking one of the hinges and bending the cover. But after a lot of tears, apologies and my entire tax return (and then some) to bring the laptop back to new, I am now a bit more weary of doing an inversion in the middle of the room with an expensive piece of equipment very close by.

But I think the laptop fiasco has given me more of a drive to stick a handstand in the middle of the room, almost like I want to prove to myself that I’m capable of inverting with grace and poise and without breaking anything. Which brings me to the not-so-graceful incident in the studio. Since my inversion-thristy ways have started, I’ve had the comfort of my own room to fall as I please. But when I stepped into a studio the other week, I think my brain didn’t switch off from comfy-home-space mode to in-a-room-full-of-people mode because I attempted to handstand for the first time without a wall. And I did it! For like a second. My thoughts, while most of my body was in midair, went a little something like this: Wow! Cool, I made it up here! I can’t believe…oh woa, where are my legs going? Oh my god, I’m going backwards, aren’t I? Oh shit. How do I get out….BAM! I land on the hardwood floor knees first.  After the lady next to me gasped like I was hit by a car and asked, “Are you okay?!” in the most worried tone, and to ease her alarmed state, I said “I’m fine,” I quickly scrambled back to Downward Facing Dog to come back to my breath and realized my knees are not fine. But I was actually so excited in my shaky, adrenaline-filled Down Dog because, despite falling, I stuck the pose! And despite, needing some more core awareness to zip up my abdominal muscles so I can maintain balance without falling backwards, I need to keep reminding myself that in sloppy times like these I am being bold and brave in my practice. And that’s a beautiful thing. I’m only a novice at inversions once in my life and that’s exciting.

I’ve come to realize that testing my inverting skills in the un-walled waters, that is the middle of room, is the only way to get good at it. Eventually the wall will get farther and farther away if I continue to challenge myself. And although these challenging postures can turn into expensive and awkward mishaps, it’s worth it. As I consistently tell my own students and have learned from my mentors: there is no perfect yoga pose. Wherever I am at in my practice or even in my life is exactly where I’m supposed to be. In the process of growing and evolving in my practice, things will get messy from time to time and that’s okay. It is just a reflection that I’m not stuck in a yoga rut and that I’m pretty ballsy!

Note to self: must learn new emergency exit strategies when inverting.

And here are some playful handstands that all happen to be at the beach! Enjoy the rest of your week!

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Handstand Photos Source: Google Images

Wall Photo Source: Me

I Found My Love in Avalon

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Avalon of Catalina Island is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. This magical little town in the heart of a beautiful island is a place that has totally captivated my soul for many years now. I consider it to be a big part of who I am, as my immediate family would go a couple times a year and always once every summer for a reunion with our extended family. We no longer make the annual trips, yet I feel I have a deeper connection with the island now that I’ve been removed from it for awhile. I’ve had a chance to appreciate all that it’s quirky environment offered my family and to imagine the joy it has brought to so many families since the late 1800s. Calling to mind that midnight, blue water gently lapping on the side of our boat at night comforts me to my core, the thought of the charming tolls of the bell tower make my heart beat a little faster and even though I haven’t tanned in four years, I swear, that warm, Avalon sun still radiates from within me. No joke; it is quite a love affair that I have with this place.

It’s amazing to think of how much my family had changed during the 14 years we took the 3 hour excursion to Catalina. With the new additions to the family almost every year, the growing into adults between us cousins, and with my mother and stepfather finally tying the knot in Avalon, our clan grew big and happy and Catalina was always there to experience the newest version of  the Ibey/Cott/Bingham/Davis family. And yet, it’s heartaching to think about the difficult changes that have happened with the family in the 5 years since those cherished reunions came to an end.

But that’s life. Just like Avalon has transformed in the last 100 years of being a town, the people and places in my life are constantly evolving, as they are never completely finished growing and always changing. And sometimes those changes totally suck. They make me feel like my sea-sick, ten-year-old self after I ate a giant breakfast before our boat left the mainland for Avalon. And currently, I’m still in the throws of those endless waves, as I try to patiently wait for how my family will be redefined. Because at the moment, relationships are getting uncomfortably shuffled and they feel nothing like the ones we had during our times in Catalina and that’s deeply upsetting to me. But eventually, each of my relationships with my family will settle into calmer, yet different waters. And once the seemingly boundless waves stop churning my insides, I will feel safe in being able to say that each of my parents are here for me now in a brand new way than before.

It’s been hard for my family and I to not have Catalina to rely on to bring us together. And although the island gave us endless joy, I think it needs to be out of our lives for now, while we try to figure out how to be a family without it. Avalon will always be there. And so too my family, in whatever shape it decides to be. In the meantime, while the waves keep tumbling, I’ll learn to surf.

Happy Birthday, Avalon.

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Photos taken by me.

And here’s Al Jolson’s “Avalon” that transports you back in time.