The Irony & Bliss of Instagram Yoga

Lifestyle, Yoga

Life is balance guys. Every single thing can be detrimental to you if you indulge too much, right down to fruits and veggies. The reality is that we are always walking a sharp sword between two lakes, enjoying their beauty and indulging in their fragrances as immensely as possible with out falling in. With this key balance in mind, I’d like to talk about Instagram Yoga. You see, there is an entire world on Instagram of amazing people practicing yoga, taking snapshots and sharing them with each other. This has developed into challenges where a couple of people will give a key pose and then thousands will throw the pose back through a photo, the winner receives fun yoga clothes, bracelets, aromatherapy sprays and even privately roasted coffee beans. I got involved about 2 years ago on and off, after getting on my mat daily it felt natural to jump back into @carajuanabends and start making shapes.

Hanumasana

Many yogis look down on this practice, afterall yoga isn’t about getting likes and approval from others. It’s about calming your mind and bringing gratefulness into your life, but #igyoga can do that too… if you maintain a balance. I don’t make a lot of female friends, recently I’ve been working really hard at it because powerful women are just that, and I want that power in my life. But on InstaYoga I found beautiful wonderful women who support me and that is pretty magical. Aside from that I’ve also learned new poses and learned more trust in myself from the wonderful yogis in my InstaFeed. But I have seen some things that worry me for other people’s health and I am using this little soap box to cite these warnings.

  • Try not to compare. I’ve been there, 2 hours deep in Insta stalking and you’re wondering why you don’t have a six pack and then eat a ball of cookie dough. I’ve been there. But try your hardest to change the behavior, if you are going to compare in that realm of your life you’re going to do it elsewhere. Use Instagram as an opportunity to change your thought process when it begins to compare and instead learn to love yourself and others.
  • Don’t do poses that are too advanced, ever. If you’re thinking of attempting a new pose don’t do it with out physical help from an advanced instructor or yogi. You will hurt yourself eventually if you’re dangerous with yoga practice, it is imperative that your posture is correct or your skeletal structure will become irregular and eventually painful.
  • My most hopeful request, please also go to yoga class and get professional instruction. Don’t only practice at home because it is possible to learn something wrong and repeat it enough to cause pain. Get a gym pass or some classes at a local yoga studio to supplement your home practice, this will ensure that you’re safe in your endeavors. Making the pose look good is fun but doing it RIGHT is imperative.

Last but not least, YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL, YEAH, I’M TALKING TO YOU, and so are all these wonderful yogis on Instagram. Try not to get down on yourself or others, if you think it’s lame or defies “What Yoga Is” then just look the other way because it is a community full of love and harmony that nestles comfortably into precisely what yoga is, simply designed for a modern age.

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Don’t judge a cake by it’s frosting.

Existentialism

I baked a cake the other day, it had been awhile. Ever since cupcakes went mainstream I’ve just used them as a go-to when a friend’s birthday rolls around or just when I feel like eating something downright cakey. This time I couldn’t find my muffin tin and had made some perfect cupcake batter so I figured, what the heck, let’s take it full cake on this one.

As the cakes cooled I whipped up some epic dairy free strawberry and chocolate frosting and started to get really excited. After all, what former fat kid doesn’t get excited when there’s a bowl of frosting sitting in front of them and the smell of fresh cake emanating from the oven. I was so excited in fact that I flipped the cake over too soon and turned it into a mountain of failure crumbs instead of the gorgeous, sharp edged cake that I had imagined delicately smearing oodles of frosting onto.

Sitting there, staring at the disaster of a cake that I had created I felt deflated. I just looked at it as it cooled thinking about what a failure I was and what a failure this cake was but I would still frost it because I had created a perfect consistency of frosting and something like that just can’t go to waste. I frosted the cake and tried my hardest to make it look somewhat presentable using the sugar laden glue that I had whipped up to hold sliding pieces in place. Frankencake. That is what I had created in my kitchen that day. It was hideous. The strawberry and chocolate frosting had started to become molten goo in one abstract, unattractive brownish color and the whole thing was sort of tilting off to one side.

So I cut into it, I cut a slice and I put the little triangle onto a plate. I looked down, sunk my fork in and guess what? It was still delicious despite what my already established view of cake had deemed as ugliness. My cake had been through some trauma that adjusted it’s appearance but there was still cake on the inside and frosting on the outside. Despite all of the trials that have made my cake absolutely hideous to look at from a subjective perspective, all of the effort that went into the creation of the cake still paid off. It still tasted like delicious, light and fluffy vanilla cake drowning in decadent frostings.

It just goes to show you, you can’t judge a cake by it’s frosting. And you can’t judge a person by your own perception of personness. We’re all delicious.

Edification of My Divide Between Religion & Spirituality

Existentialism, Religion

Religion is weird, but spirituality is important. At least to me. My journey to religion has been a long one that started with defiance for the sake of fitting in with other rebellious teens. After life threw me through the ringer a bit and I ended up living with my parents after college, after being on my own for 7 years. I was disheartened to say the least and the last year or so before that time had sort of turned my soul into a battered piece of garbage. This is when I walked into a Christian church and started my investigation of Christianity, faith and God as he appears in the chapel. Those first months that fellowship with happy people delighted in their Lord rebuilt my spirit from the ground up. I am positive that if I never went to church and met those women, that my life would not be the way that it is today.

I’m writing this because at the moment I’m having a bit of a spiritual existential crisis.
And yes, all existential crises get a bit spiritual, but this one is based on the foundations of my religious life so I have deemed it as such. You see, I go to Christian church and I absolutely love the ability to share with others my faith in God; but I’m pretty sure I’m not a Christian and that has been making me realize that I don’t belong in the chapel even if it feels comfy sometimes. You see, I believe in all religion. I’m sure some of the crazy ones might all on the very outskirts of my theorizing but I’m pretty positive that all religions started as a divine thought from the true God & Goddess. In this thought a person was given a grand idea: GOD IS LOVE. After that, I believe that religions were shaped in relation to social, ecological, economical, etc. circumstances of the time period and region in which they were created. With this  and my deep studies of philosophy combined I have decided that I need to take hold of my worship for the good of my own faith and stop falling into something that has been created by another.

I spend most of my religious studies in Buddhism, Wicca & Pagan tradition and Christianity. The latter two generally combat each other, mostly Christian faith telling me not to practice my earth spirit studies and generally not the other way around. As I dive into studying the bible and what it means to me, I just don’t think it’s fair of me to go to church anymore. Nature is my church and since we live on 80 acres adjacent to a national forest I am always praising God(des). I will still read the bible, I will still pray and I will never stop believing in a divine spirit. But I don’t think that one omnipresent man created the Earth, that was definitely science. I’m also pretty positive that astrology, diviScreen Shot 2016-05-26 at 12.57.53 PM.pngnation and herbal work have some sort of meaning to humanity and aren’t the work of the devil. Also I certainly don’t think that yoga was started to “worship a penis god”. So I will keep on being my own weird self and talking to God about it until I reach some sort of understanding with that great big spirit in the sky.

Anyways, I had to get that off of my heart, my chest has been heavy these past weeks. Do you ponder deeply on the existence of man and the metaphysics behind creation?

A Strange Trip to the Chiropractor

Body Image, Existentialism, Yoga

Healthcare hasn’t been readily available to me since I turned 26, I probably could have been more proactive but I really didn’t trust Western medicine and decided I’d instead turn to herbs and Eastern medicine to solve my issues. At the end of the day, whichever side of the spectrum that you lean towards should be balanced out with the other. But anyways, the reason that I write this post is because I’ve been consistently let down by doctors. From the dentist charging me for a deep cleaning that I didn’t need when I was 19 to the veterinarian that gouged me for $170 of steroid shots that my kitten didn’t need to get better; my trust in doctors has been fully revoked.

I still had a shred of ability to believe in their wily ways when I walked into a chiropractor appointment last week. I had to visit to renew my cannabis card through the state of Arizona and was really excited because with all of the yoga that I do I know that there is something bad going on in there. We had a nice long talk about my background in athletics, my hip injury that took me out of the game and my current aches and pains. Well, I’m guessing in relation to my biceps but he told me immediately to stop working out. That I needed to stop doing yoga altogether and just go on long walks. This made me really, really bummed. I feel convinced that he gave me this advice and called me “big” and a “maniac” consistently throughout my appointment to reiterate that I have a muscular build, which I’m already very aware of.

Perhaps he’s from a different generation. Perhaps I am being too sensitive. Or perhaps I missed an opportunity to call a misogynistic old man out on his oppressive medical advice based on his opinions of what a woman’s body should look like. Don’t get me wrong, his assessment of my hip injury being related to a spinal issue that has caused sciatica was dead on. But I will never go back to him because he could not remove his own subjective life from the session that we had, and that is un called for. I was offended and I share because maybe someone just like him is reading, and realizing that they’re offending when before these words they had no idea. Maybe a person is reading this and now has the courage to stand up for themselves and their right to have their body. I guess the moral of the story is that when it comes to other people’s bodies you should just stay out of it.

Flabby Arms: A Tale of Love & Loss

Existentialism

It’s true, I’ve ALWAYS hated my big flabby arms. Since I was young I’ve been attempting to cut all of the fat off of my body and be a perfect 10. I realize of course that this is a bit of an overstretch for an 8 year old girl but I’m guessing anyone who thinks that didn’t grow up in Orange County, CA. Being skinny was a life goal and I often lamented so whole heartedly that my little girl body wasn’t skinny like the other girls. You see, I’m built like a work horse; I come from thick stock. Once I hit high school this need to be thin only escalated to unhealthy eating and exercising behavior, things that would make me cringe if I knew my daughter was partaking. Whether I was working out drunk in the sauna at the gym or trying not to eat for as long as possible until I only saw spots; I wasn’t doing things the right way.

For the first time in my days I am cutting the fat frunnamedom my arms and revealing the beautiful tools that lay underneath. I am a natural athlete and my arms are now reflecting that, even though they are more buff than limbs of models or actresses. I have dimples (the good kind this time) and am seeing results in definition that I have never experienced. But this is bringing up a whole new slew of weird conversations. Cowboyfriend, the sweetest man that I’ve ever known, said this exact quote to me,

“Your arms are going to be bigger than mine, and I want you to know that I’m OK with it. But I need you to know if you’re OK with it.”

You guys, I’m OK with it. I’m not building my muscle I’m shaving off fat and seeing what is going on under there. Last weekend my father informed me that I’m built like his side of the family which means that I have to avoid working out my arms. But why? If this is almost like a super power for our genetic line, why must I stop. Because society. UGH. The thing is I’m not bodybuilding, I’m not bulking up; I’m just being myself. 

Society decided sometime way before I was even around that women should be weak waifs that never spoke their mind. Well we probably all know now that I rarely shut up but my struggle with my body comes from the external world infiltrating my mind, that’s not fair! Women of the world, remember that you were built a specific way, trying to smash your epic body into a box that contains an idea of what size a woman should be will only make you miserable and make you hate yourself. I am going to keep exercising and keep feeling good about myself NO MATTER how big my arms get because this is how my body looks when I’m HEALTHY. Remind yourself, everyone, that it doesn’t matter what anyone says, even that little voice in your head telling you to lose just 10 more lbs to feel comfortable. Stop looking to the future, your body is all around you right now… learn to love it in the present and only then will results come in the future.

The Quest for Healthy Bread

Carajuana's Kitchen, how to

I’m sure I know what you’re thinking. Healthy bread? Impossible. Who does she think she is! Well guys, the reality is that the bread that we’re buying from stores tastes nothing like what bread really tastes like. There are sugars and preservatives and dangerous things added to mass produced bread products that can cause IBS, bloating and stomach ache. It’s possible that the massive surge in gluten allergies in the united states is due in large part to these exact additives. People aren’t allergic to gluten, their allergic to the chemicals that are used to make the process of creating real gluten easier and faster.

I’ve been making my own bread both by hand and in a bread maker for the last 6 months or so. Aside from breads I buy in a dish at a restaurant or the occasional bagel from the
store bakery every bit of gluten that I eat has been made at home. I thought that I was doing my best, that a loaf of bread needed eggs and milk and yeast and all of the ingredients that we were adding to the bread machine. But dudes, I was totally wrong. Michael Pollan’s documentary series Cooked on Netflix changed the way I will look at bread forever. He said that bread only need be made with three ingredients: flour, water and salt.  First I felt discouraged and then I pulled up my bootstraps and took action.

The first order of business was finding a flour mill that was close enough not to give me guilt on transport but organic and small enough to be freshly milled. I went with Montana Flour & Grains and ordered 10 lbs. of whole wheat. My starter was alive in only days and all of my tips on making it and everything afterwards was from The Kitchn. This blog is seriously one of the best for learning how to live from scratch, I highly recommend checking it out. The hardest part for me was turning my starter into bountiful dough that actually rose. I spent hours and hours multiple days in the last month or so tending to bread Bread 3 copydough that never rose. I pulled hard horrible rocks out of the oven and lamented about my failure.

BUT YOU GUYS! Today I finally cut into a crusty loaf of sourdough that had airy bubbles inside and a rich, sour flavor. I was so proud, now I can’t believe how much bread that I’ve eaten today because it is unbelievable delicious. I’m pondering on the thought that putting this much effort, failure and excitement into these loaves of bread makes them taste that much better. I think we owe it to ourselves to feel this feeling. Not just the deliciousness of the bread but the feeling of hard work blossoming into accomplishment.

Say you set a goal that seems too far off after assessing your current skill level. If someone has accomplished this goal in the past, then you’re capable of doing it too. Sure, there are prodigies that have an innate ability to carry out certain tasks with poetic ease but true prodigies are rare. In reality, with diligent study any human being can accomplish the same as any other. We’re all equal, it just depends if we believe in ourselves enough to keep trying. If the base of our existence is to be our best human selves that very truth lays out the groundwork to say that we’re capable of anything that we put our resources (mind, body & spirit) into.

“If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else!?” -RuPaul