Unselfish self-care - is there such a thing?

If you’ve been following me on social media or read any of my recent blog posts, you know I’m trying to get back into a self-care routine. It’s been a struggle – and I’m not just talking about making the perfect matcha latte. Mostly, being able to care for myself while helping my personal training and yoga clients and caring for my niece and nephew…and not feeling selfish.

This week I planned some me time into my schedule for a haircut (pictures to come). I sat down in the chair at an Aveda Salon. In that moment I noticed how exhausted was In the mirror, I saw the dark circles under my eyes. And then my new stylist (and new BFF) told me to breathe – a cue I give to my clients EVERYDAY. He gave me a scalp and neck massage; similar to an assist I give my students during savasana. I probably haven’t intentionally taken a deep breath or relaxed my jaw or shoulders in months.

Sorry not sorry if this is too hippie-dippie for you: Recently I put out and into the Universe that I needed a way sustain myself financially and physically, while Yoga on the Fly grows, without over exerting myself and keeping me in this never ending cyclical pattern.

The Universe responded in many ways, including an introduction to Arbonne by the first yoga teacher I met after relocating to Orlando. Life is full of surprises (moving to Orlando being one of them), and so much of my health and family life is out of my control. Working with Arbonne will allow me to unselfishly stay present and interact with other like-minded individuals. I’ll be spending more quality time with family and consciously designing my own self-care routine, WHILE representing a company that encourages people to do the same!

Not gonna lie, I was hesitant at first – I’ve been asked to pitch, promote, and advertise for so many bogus products. However after doing my research and listening to testimonials, I’m happy to consciously choose Arbonne’s nutritional and bath and body products because they are made with a pure, safe, beneficial philosophy – qualities I have not found in many other companies.

Drop me a line if you’ve experienced any of their line, or if you want come on this self-care journey with me! <3

sometimes you can’t get through the tough stuff alone

I miss my freedom, however I recognize I’m freer from fear than I have been in a long time.

While living in Denver for six months, launching Yoga on the Fly, my judgment lapsed. Caring for my start-up business, my baby, became more important than caring for myself. Yes, I went to the doctor and took my medication, however I did not prioritize sleep, healthy eating, or meditation, as I have preached to so many people.

Yoga on the Fly’s temporary location in Denver International Airport closed. It was a success. My business partner and I celebrated and hopped on one of those airplanes to San Diego, where we reconnected with nature, and as a result, ourselves. Its outcome was effective; we both left reinvigorated and ready for Yoga on the Fly’s next steps.

It became clear that I should stay in Denver – the perfect balance of city and nature, full of people who prioritize self-care. “But you’d be alone,” so many people pointed out. I’ve lived by myself for nearly 10 years, however I didn’t realize during those years I had a support system outside of my apartment and family only hours away.

I flew to Orlando to see my family, a stopover before a business trip to Atlanta. I woke up the following morning in an ambulance, not knowing how I got there. I’d been here before. My body had let out all of the stress that had been building up over the past year in the form of a grand mal seizure. Previously my mom was able to manage them, however this time warranted a 911 call.

I’m ok. I made it to the other side. My mom managed me in the ambulance and in the ER, my sister picked us up from the hospital. My niece and nephew helped nurse me back to health. We had a family discussion about what the kids should do if they’re ever alone with me while I have a seizure. We also had a family discussion listing all of the reasons why I should not move back to a place without a support system, and why I should let others take care of me – something I’d resisted for a long time.

They raised some pretty fair points that I couldn’t argue with. I did stop prioritizing my self-care. I was pouring from an empty cup. But what I was about to do, what they were asking me to do, was more than reigniting my self-care routine, but giving up my freedom, my privacy, my routine.

What the event reignited was actually my PTSD. I was scared, and I was triggered. And I needed to be cared for, because sometimes you can’t get through the tough stuff alone. It’s not forever, and I was losing only one fragment of my freedom. While I’m living in a house with four other people, I’m living feeling freer than I have in ages.

Endurance Training

Endurance exercises cause us to breathe hard. Maybe you know this type of exercise as cardio or aerobics. No matter what we call it, it’s cardiovascular exercise, meaning we’re using our cardiovascular and respiratory systems, which include the heart, blood vessels, and lungs.

Doing cardio increases heart and breathing rates from resting rates, improving endurance, cardiovascular and respiratory health, and physical fitness. Key components include the mode, intensity, and frequency of endurance exercise. Some examples include walking, running, and riding a bicycle. 

How do you choose which endurance exercise is best for you? Look around.

Continue reading on Lyfebulb

I'd rather be skating than dreaming

Ice skating saved my life. I was introduced to the sport when my mom took me to watch my cousin compete. I was four years old. Soon after I took my first steps on the ice, and I never wanted to take my skates off. I didn’t, until doctors told me I had to.

I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at eight years old. It attacks quickly with signs of severe fatigue and bruising. I went from ice skating five hours per day, five days per week to barely five minutes, and the slightest fall caused the largest bruise. I don’t know how long it would have taken my parents to recognize the signs had it not been for ice skating. But really, does it matter? I’m alive. What does matter is that ice skating continues to be my savior in a myriad of ways.


...Continue reading on Lyfebulb

Are you watching the Olympics?

Maybe you've noticed the purple dots on some of the athletes, most notably on Michael Phelps. 

They're a result of cupping - an ancient tradition found in Chinese medicine, used to draw blood to an affected area. Specialized cups are placed on the skin, which are then heated or pumped to suction the skin away from underlying fascia and muscles. This is what causes the capillaries under the skin to rupture, leaving the bruises behind.

Some western medicine practitioners explain the physiological benefits as a triggered immune response within the treated area. Psychologically speaking, the positive outcomes could also result from knowing you've taken steps to care for yourself. As an athlete, it might make you feel like you have a competitive advantage. 

My acupuncturist introduced me to cupping about a year ago when I was suffering from several overuse injuries. During my first treatment, cupping gave my muscles a short break and flooded my body with emotions. I was mostly mystified by relief suction cups were providing my muscles and my psyche. 

Bruises get a bad rap. Thanks to cupping, I've grown to view them in a positive light - taking care of myself with cupping is an impetus for my body to take care of itself. Thanks to Michael Phelps, perhaps the world will view bruises, and cupping, in a positive light as well. 

Need a vacation from your vacation?

Many of us long to travel for work, rather than sitting in office cubicles 9-5. Many of us long to take off from work to go on vacation. Especially when our newsfeed is full of photos of dreamy places.

But do you ever feel like you need a vacation from your vacation? We might not realize the physical demands travel requires from our bodies, mostly because they aren’t documented on instagram. Photos don’t highlight compromised immune systems or the runs to and from airports and in between terminals. We most certainly don’t see the tiredness and jet lag and illness from exposure to germs.

We gaze at pictures of the amazing gourmet meals from people's travels, however we don’t see photos of airport and airline food. It’s safe to say these undocumented meals aren’t balanced or naturally colorful and are filled with salt and sugar.

I'm confident in saying travelers' diets suffer. This combined with increased alcohol consumption and decreased exercise are likely to lead to weight gain.

Don’t fret – there are ways to overcome all of the obstacles because you can:

  • Decrease stress, exhaustion, and the suppression of your immune system by dedicating extra time to check in and find a meditation or yoga room or a spa to relax before your flight
  • Walk as much as possible in the airport by skipping people movers, escalators, and elevators
  • Drink water. The mixture salty foods and decreased humidity in the airplanes can dehydrate you. It doesn’t matter if you have to use the bathroom during the flight – the walk to the elevator is increases circulation and exercise!
  • Pack healthy snacks so you’re not limited by airplane or airport food
  • Stand instead of sit while waiting to board the plane
  • Take off your shoes and wear loose closing on the airplane to keep swelling to a minimum and decrease the likelihood of blood clotting
  • Chew gum or yawn and swallow often to decrease likelihood of dizziness
  • Exercise in the hotel gym or your hotel room. Pick up a health and wellness magazine in the airport for ideas, or do pushups, dips, sit ups, squats. Grab your sneakers and go for a run in a safely lit neighborhood

I don't want you to think it is unhealthy to travel because travel can offer incredible experiences. Some of my most rewarding friendships, learning experiences, and spiritual awakenings have occurred out of this country. I reap the rewards of my travels everyday. I want to offer some of the lessons I've learned along the way. 


Keep yourself on the hook to workout

I'm dedicated to helping you live your healthiest life possible. Whatever the circumstances are that keep us from working one-on-one, I want to to encourage you to exercise! I'm proud to provide you with a new tool to do just that - tailored exercises to do on your own and still interact with me. 

What you get: 

  • One workout per week (four per month)
  • One monthly check-in with me by e-mail or on the phone. 

How does this really work?

  1. We'll share a spreadsheet. 
  2. Each week you will set goals. Based on your goals, I will list a workout you can do as many times as you'd like per week. 
  3. You will keep notes on which days you exercised and how many of the exercises you completed - no judgement!
  4. If you need instructions for an exercise, I will provide video or written guidance.
  5. I will follow your daily progress and answer questions you might have.
  6. At the end of each week, you will rate the difficulty of the workouts and provide comments or questions. I'll adjust the following week's workout accordingly.
  7. At the end of one month, we'll check in with each other by e-mail or on the phone.

Why do this?

  • You are on the hook to work out
  • You have me at your finger tips for any questions you might have about exercise
  • You will to see positive changes in your health and happiness

This is a one-of-a-kind training program. The price is $50 dollars per month, as compared to $75 per live session. I am committed to get you moving!

...PS For a more discounted price, follow me on social media below. You'll get more tips and tricks to live a healthy life!

Get your job done...better.

We all work in different environments. I spend most of my work day walking with a backpack and working out with clients or teaching yoga. A lot of us spend many hours sitting at a desk all day. I know as a student, when I wasn’t sitting at a desk looking at the computer screen or a professor or taking notes in a notebook, I was sitting on the couch with a book or watching TV. This wasn’t an ideal scenario – I experienced a lot of upper body aches and pains and tension headaches.

Many of our daily work habits put our bodies at risk for different musculoskeletal problems, such as pain in muscles, ligaments, tendons, and/or bones. Problems might arise from long periods of straightened arms, bent wrists, and hunched backs and necks. Prolonged over bending can cause pressure on spinal discs and stretching and fatigue of back ligaments and muscles. Prolonged extension of arms can cause aches and pains in all areas of arms, fatigue in shoulders, and tightness in back muscles, which can lead to neck problems and tension headaches.

Maybe you don’t think this is important, or think the pain doesn’t bother you. But it’s probably affecting your work and you don’t even know it. Sometimes the pain can decrease work product and increase sick days. Most of these are bound to happen when sitting at a desk, and the more types of prolonged strains placed on the body, the more likely you are to have a musculoskeletal problem.

There are several simple fixes that can prevent or alleviate aches and pains. For example changing the height of computer screens, changing keyboard location, rearranging work surface, and changing chairs. Computer screens should be about 2 feet away from eyes, so the top line is at eye level. Ideally keyboards have palm rests, or wrist braces can be worn while at the computer. Chairs should have base stability, a seat pan with slight angles and padding, and back and arms rests. If like me, your feet don’t reach the floor, try a foot rest.

Ideally your new situation will allow free movement so you don’t feel restricted or confined in your space. Your back will not be hunched, your head will be straight, and your arms will be relaxed so you get your job done…better. 

Make your 10,000 steps count.

Have you heard about taking 10,000 steps per day? Make your steps count. 

Have you hit the 10,000 step mark? Great! Well done. You've probably exercised for at least 30 minutes today, working towards the Surgeon General's goal of exercising 150 minutes per week, outside of your daily activities. 

Are you consistently taking 10,000 steps? Even better. Now let's see how we can make quality of your step count. 

If you're currently gaining your steps through short intervals, mix it up. Try to take steps in a longer bouts of time. Perhaps walk to a new restaurant a little further away for lunch. Park further away from your destination so you have more time to make your steps count. Hop off the subway a stop or two early to walk for a longer period of time to your destination.

Or take your steps at a greater intensity. Pick up the pace. Power walk. Jog up the stairs instead of walk. Jog instead of walk. Run instead of walk. Alternate walking for 3 minutes and running for 3 minutes, or whatever interval feels good for you. 

If you're feeling ambitious, you can even try to do both. However it's important to note a few things:

  • If you're not consistently taking 10,000 steps now, slowly work up to it. If you're taking 3,000 steps, push yourself to 3,5000 and so on.
  • You can use something like a fitbit, pedometer, or app on your phone to count your steps.
  • Make sure you have comfy, supportive sneakers!
  • Check in with your doctor if you experience any aches or pains

You can do what you love and care for yourself at the same time.

I put my first pair of ice skates on at the age of 4. With each passing year I fell more in love and became more competitive. Sometime within those years I also developed more and more acute and chronic diseases.

I didn’t let disease get in the way of doing what I loved. In fact it was my main source of catharsis. I remember heading to the rink after doctor’s appointments, whenever the doctor gave in and said I was well enough. Ice skating allowed me to thrive, even when everybody was yelling at me to stop, which I understood as letting the disease win. My own body was telling me to stop, however in a way unlike everyone else was.

My body was telling me to adapt to my circumstances. I had to change how I was skating to make it more sustainable. My newfound commitment to skating was unlike the commitments of those I shared the rink with. I continued skating because I was finally skating for myself. I changed my approach because my lungs could no longer catch my breath, my brain could no longer slow down, and body could not longer take the beating. I hadn’t yet developed the connectedness between my mind and body. All I knew at the time was that something inside of me told me it was OK to love ice skating however I needed to.

I couldn’t share my mind shift with other people because couldn’t put it into words. I can now, having roughly 10 years to reflect. I didn't speak up because I didn’t want to let my family or my coach down. I agreed to compete in competitions and test in test sessions, however I was no longer passionate about wearing pretty dresses and skating for other people. I can express now what I couldn't then: I couldn’t continue on the necessary path to be a competitor, and admitting that to my supportive parents and coach felt impossible (which is why I never did, until now). Rather than feeling defeated and failing to thrive, I consciously chose to skate in a way that was fun and not a chore. I chose to skate in a way that supported my body and what I couldn’t name at the time – my spirit.

I’m sharing this story for all to see that it's possible do what you love in a way that will allow you to love your True Self.  Change your goals so that they are more realistic. I decided to skate 4 days per week rather than train 5 hours per day 5 days per week. I skated in intervals rather than for 3 hours straight.

My world didn't end. I'm still here. I thrived.

Doing what you love shouldn’t destroy your body or your relationships. Speak up. Your body and support system will love you, just in different ways. 

Want to push restart on exercise? It’s time to look to your past.

Looking at your exercise history is important because you will remember what you like and what you don’t like

When you look back and only remember hating (a word I don't use lightly) exercise, ask yourself why.
Did it maybe make you uncomfortable?
Did people stare at you in the gym?
Did it physically hurt?

Or maybe you only have positive memories!
Do you see something in your old self that you want to see now?
Do you remember finding enjoyment from exercise but don’t know how to do that now?

At what time of day did you enjoy exercising?
For example, exercise before work might motivate you to get through your day! Or perhaps exercise after work will prepare you for a good night’s rest. Oftentimes people will take a break during their workday to go sweat outside, in a gym, or in a class to replace their afternoon caffeine kick.

Which did you enjoy more: exercising in a group more than exercising solo?
If you’re constantly surrounded by people, whether you’re in school, in an office, or at home with a child, it’s nice to have some alone time. What if you were to put on some headphones, the universal do not disturb sign? And if you’re busy during the day, sometimes you fall behind on your favorite tv shows or podcasts. Exercising can be the time to catch up!
If you find yourself lonely during the day, working from home or in a space that doesn’t require conversation, maybe you’d like a group class. You’ll have a social interaction whether you talk to other people or not! Being in a class surrounded by other people can motivate you to push yourself just a bit harder. And in a yoga class, you might find that your breath connects with others’ in the room. While these classes can give you piece of mind, connecting with others will also motivate you to work towards your own personal potential.

Last thing. Growing up, was there a sport that you truly loved?
Nowadays there are exercises that will mimic the exact sport you adored. Or maybe you could join a league and play for fun. There’s something to be said about nostalgia to increase your likelihood of getting out of the house. For me, it’s figure skating. There’s nothing like the smell of the ice to get me moving.

To move forwards towards our exercise goals, it’s really helpful to look backwards, whether it’s to something you loved or something you hated. History doesn’t always have to repeat itself. You will either learn what you can love now, or reignite a fire underneath you to get you moving. 

Sticking to My New Year's Resolution with Thug Kitchen

Last February a friend gave me a cookbook, Thug Kitchen, as what I believe to be a half-joke, half-serious birthday gift. Last March I searched for and moved into an apartment with a large bathroom and small kitchen. This week (mid-January) I opened the cookbook and learned my way around my small kitchen for the first time.

Don’t get me wrong, I do often use my kitchen, but never to make meals by following recipes. Usually I’m in there making coffee, tea, smoothies or cutting fruits and vegetables. I went pro in college cooking well-balanced meals in the microwave.

I didn’t realize how unreliant I was on the stove or the oven until the gas was turned off to my building for about one month. The only thing I missed was boiling water. People kept asking how I was possibly surviving. During that month, I did get comfortable using a slow cooker that my mom gave me…years ago. However, life hadn’t changed that much because I’d gotten so crafty never cooking with a stove.

My time without a stove piqued my interest in cooking. I was tipped further over the edge after setting my new year’s resolution, to improve my self-nourishment techniques. As a person who spends her days helping others live healthier lives, it is important that I don't forget to do my own work. A week after setting my intention for the year, I cracked open the cookbook and chose to make lentil soup.

After a quick trip to Trader Joe’s, I was set. Because shokingly, I had all of the kitchen equipment I needed. I searched through cabinets and found a large soup pot, Martha Stewart utensils, a Vitamix, spices, vegetables, etc and fearlessly dove in.

What I learned:

  1. A vitamix is great for making soup. It’s not false advertising.
  2. Thug Kitchen helps make cooking less of a chore.
  3. It wouldn’t have mattered if I messed it up because I was and still am so proud of my tangible accomplishment, and knowing that I was actively taking steps to better care for myself. For the record though, I didn’t mess it up. The soup was delicious. And I enjoyed two meals from it. 

Why are Americans so concerned about weight?

Why are Americans so concerned about weight? It’s not just because thinness is portrayed as ideal. Overweight and obesity are public health concerns because of the increased likelihood of concurrent  diseases and increased likelihood of death. People who are overweight are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, and decreased reproductive health. Of women in the United States, 63% are overweight, 36% are obese, and 8% are extremely obese.

What is it like for overweight women trying to lose weight in the US? Challenging. Society’s negative views of overweight and obesity create more than just physiological barriers for women who are motivated to become healthier. Overweight and obese women are oppressed by stress and anxiety from stigma, more than those of women of normal weight. The American culture is the most powerful factor that contributes to how, when, and why people eat and the amount they exercise they perform.

The easiest way to understand overweight and obesity is as results from an energy imbalance. While the body needs a certain amount of calories from food to maintain basic life functions, people continuously eat and drink more calories than they burn. How and where we live also affect our energy balance. Our new living environments require a lot more driving and a lot less walking. These lifestyle changes tip the energy balance towards weight gain. Our energy imbalances are a result of eating habits, our bigger portion sizes, and our food selections, which are mostly full of calories from high-fructose corn syrup and refined fats. Not only are they full of calories, they contribute to the changing patterns of food consumption – how and what we eat.

It is easy to understand weight gain and loss through the lens of energy balance. However it is more complex than that, which is why we need more comprehensive treatment and prevention. Other treatments might be related to behavioral, nutritional, surgical, or pharmaceutical…but not everybody has access to these strategies. I know I’ve said this before, but I will say it again – Yoga provides overweight women with many means to change their lifestyle and decrease their weight. Yoga is becoming a part of our American culture. Our culture affects our eating and exercise habits. Let’s pick this new part of our culture to influence our lifestyle habits. 

The Dead's Vibrations

My mom missed the Grateful Dead’s “farewell tour” already this year because she was dog-sitting Fonzy, the love of my life, while I was gallivanting across the Atlantic. She pleaded with me to see Dead & Company with her at Madison Square Garden on Halloween. I really wanted to make it happen for her and a friend. But she didn’t want to go with a friend - she wanted to go with me. I’d only heard of the negative connotations associated with Dead Heads. I was certain I wouldn’t fit in.

But then she sold me, very easily, “John Mayer is the company, Elizabeth.” She knew she had me.

Next to Fonzy, John Mayer is the next love of my life. He’s been there for me through all of the best and worst times since I met him in 2006, the year Continuum was released. I know him to be a great storyteller and a guitarist who brings me to happy tears and sad tears regularly.

Anyway, I knew John would be amazing on the guitar, like he has every other time I’ve seen him. But I can’t lie, I had doubts. I was skeptical of the greatness he has combined with the greatness of the Grateful Dead. While I’d never seen the Grateful Dead in concert, I listened to them growing up. I could recognize their hypnotic effects. I knew of the hypnotic effect John Mayer has on me…but they seemed to be two different methods of hypnosis.

Three generations of Feinstones spent Halloween in Madison Square Garden. I was nervous and excited. I was nervous because I knew of the misconception that John Mayer caters to pop loving girls and has little guitar talent. I was nervous because the stadium was filled with skepticism. I too was skeptical. There was no way two methods of hypnosis could meld into one.

Thank goodness, we were all mistaken, and in the best ways possible. Different generations became one that night. You could see the old members embracing the new members and the torch being passed, immediately making The Grateful Dead accessible to the youth of America. The young gained respect for the Dead and the old gained respect for John.

In my opinion, the blending of the old and new was the most hypnotic part of the four-hour evening. I was in a trance. My focus never wandered for a second. I’ve always known the effect music has over me, but I’ve never known it to be so powerful. The different vibrations became one, triggering what I can only describe as an alchemical experience. I left the concert a changed person. Maybe even a better person for learning how appreciate life on a whole new level.

The Day I Accidentally Took 23,176 Steps

I’d already been wandering around Europe for about 2 weeks, and prided myself for not yet taking taxis or public transit… my friends and I walked EVERYWHERE. I never thought twice about it because walking was the easiest way to soak up all of the culture and scenery. I was able to immerse myself in Dublin, Edinburgh, London, and Barcelona.

It wasn’t until I arrived in Old Town Dubrovnik, Croatia, a town relatively smaller in size than the other places I’d already visited, that my legs started telling me something. I often times forget I’m not superhuman, and that day my legs reminded me. They didn’t speak up until after I was halfway around the City Walls, a system of forts, bastions, casemates, towers, and detached forts with a magnificent view of Old Port and the Adriatic Sea. Its height reaches 83 feet and is about 1.2 miles around.

It doesn’t sound like that much. However, once you’re in the city walls, there’s really no turning back. There are endless stairs to climb (I also accidentally climbed 61 flights of stairs that day). And of course I had to stop to walk through and climb to see every fort and tower. My friend and I walked the city walls and saw almost everything the city had to offer. We left the walls where we’d started, and we both had the same look in our eyes saying, “I need food and water…now.”

My legs, my whole body, were telling me to chill out. But I didn’t want to hear it. Oftentimes, our minds are not aware of what our physical bodies are telling us. It’s a practice to become mindful of our bodies. I’ve learned to listen the hard way, but still forget in times when it’s most important to be aware.

My friend and I sat down to eat and rehydrate, and I looked at my iPhone Health App to learn I’d taken 23,176 steps by about noon. No wonder why my leg muscles ached. My mind went to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, reminding me that I am not my physical body – a concept I struggle with on a daily basis. That day it was quite important. Actually, everyday it is quite important. I don’t regret for a second not being aware of the amount of steps I was taking or flights I was climbing, or forcing myself to listen to the repercussions, or meditating on what it means to not have a superhuman body. There wasn’t a better place to contemplate the sutras than that day overlooking the Adriatic Sea.

Yoga Teachers as Public Health Professionals

The yoga teacher community is an untapped source of public health professionals. We reach many people in deep, meaningful ways, but our students don’t know the little amount of training that is required for us to call ourselves yoga teachers.

Students look to us as sources of health related information. We have the power to influence people’s lives by teaching what it means to be at risk for chronic diseases and how to reduce those risks… but many teachers don’t actually know how to answer their students’ questions. We aren’t taught such powerful information. If we were, we would all be correctly responding to our students and helping them enjoy their lives without disease, disability, or loss of productivity.

At this moment in high-income countries, thinness is portrayed as ideal. And despite being the norm in the United States, overweight women are stigmatized… which creates an extra hurdle to lose weight for women who actually are motivated to lose weight. With proper instruction, yoga can increase positive health options for overweight women.

While research shows yoga practitioners are not free of health concerns, most believe their health has improved because of yoga. Yoga is proven to be beneficial for those with chronic diseases. Yoga students agree that yoga has helped them attain or maintain a healthier weight. People do believe that yoga helps their health. Yoga does have the potential to increase healthy behaviors. Why aren’t we tapping into that, taking it for a ride on this crazy yoga craze American has going on, and promoting health for overweight women in America?

It doesn’t matter whether beliefs that yoga improves health cause women to seek yoga or if yoga practitioners develop beliefs after they see the benefits of yoga. Either way, we need to train yoga teachers to disseminate health information to overweight women. Because yoga teachers miss out on this crucial piece of education, there is no way for us to be aware of this population’s special needs. With an increased awareness, yoga teachers would maximize yoga’s impact as a weight reduction, health improvement practice, connect with their overweight female students in an even deeper, meaningful way, AND work to improve the health of the public. 

Yoga for Weight Loss: The Power of Yoga Teachers

As many of you know, I am a yoga teacher and a personal trainer. This past year (which actually still isn’t over), I was working, writing a master’s thesis, and finishing up grad school. My thesis topic was inspired by each and every one of my personal training clients (thanks you guys). Specifically though, the topic emerged after several somewhat overweight female personal training clients approached me to teach them yoga privately. I couldn’t figure it out. I encourage all of the people I work with to practice yoga outside of our sessions and do other forms of exercise. However, they were feeling uncomfortable attending group yoga classes. 

 As yoga teachers, we are taught and trained to create safe, non-judgmental spaces for all of our students. While conducting research, I attended classes imagining I was an overweight woman and observing how teachers and other students treat overweight women in the studio. This is what I learned: most classes aren’t safe or non-judgmental for all students. I was confused, and still am, that teachers are focusing on only one type of student. Maybe it’s just here in New York City, but it got under my skin.

 I began to understand many of the ways yoga classes can help overweight women, and it became my mission because these women I care about don’t feel comfortable attending yoga classes! Overweight women need to be taught yoga in a safe, non-judgmental space - a space that ALL yoga classes call for.

 And the type of yoga class I’m proposing will benefit everyone. When a person practices yoga asana, they are active, moving their body, and exercising, in addition to joining a supportive community. If overweight women feel comfortable attending yoga classes, research shows the physical activity they perform will encourage them to exercise outside of yoga classes. When yoga classes are successfully designed to include helping overweight women (which is the new normal in the United States), yoga teachers will help increase their mind-body connections, something we yoga teachers are all taught to do.

 While I recognize that yoga is about more than just asana, it is true that a physical yoga practice expends energy. Yoga and its teachers can help students decrease their food intake and feel more connected with their bodies. Yoga can act as a stepping-stone for health promoting diets and changes in physical activity, and we as yoga teachers have the power to empower overweight women to take steps towards lifestyle overhauls to increase their well-being.