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Tucson Transformations

Tucson Transformation

The brook babbles, on unpaved, gravel roads, we see wild cattle.

The land we so quickly think is ours, is truly theirs, they would know how to navigate themselves even if this celestial body was bare.

Surrounded by soil, amazed by stone, emulating the calm cattle our primitive senses take control.

Bury your face in the weightless mountain air, remove distractions  and come to know what it is to not have a care.

Open your heart up to the sun’s first rays as they peek over mountain tops, open yourself up to the moon, offering your primordial dance until you drop.

Drop onto the ground, a rustic red canyon floor, in this moment we have it all, there is no need to want for more.

The plan all along was to let go of the road map, to follow the journey, to live in the mishaps.

every star, every constellation it glows- not for you but with you, because the biggest lesson all along was learning to go with the flow, to take the intriguing path even when we don’t know where it goes.

So pursue your truth, your gut instinct, and as you succeed on the track to happiness you may realize that being your purest form was always the missing link.

Let nature create the spark, let it inspire, may the world around you always kindle your inner fire. 

Katherina Capon

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Vast Varaaki

Vast Vikaari

In the largest of spaces I’ve found the quietest of places, slipping into the vastness I become nothing more than a small speck among all that is massive.

Nature’s fiery furnace protrudes from the ground beneath us, everywhere my eyes can see I take in a new hue of rust.

Sand and stone from millions of years encase me in this canyon, when I’m here I can let go of the planning and allow whatever is meant to be to happen.

There is no other option but to detach, to unplug and in the cold desert nights, arms wrapped around myself in a hug, I finally understand the definition of self-love.

Sleeping to the sound of wind crashing into canvas, the gusts die down, the howling will soon vanish.

The sun takes away the song the air had sung to me but it’s never really gone, it’s there every time I remember to just be.

To be the calm within the storm, to embrace the happenstances, Every challenge we face is an opportunity for mental expansion.

Free the mind of outward distractions, feel the ease within you as you kick start your internal chain reaction.

No longer harboring ego, judgement and doubt- it’s in this new head space we can understand what we are each truly about.

Learning who I am, I begin to find the same awe in myself that I have for the surrounding physical forms, my bodily self may appear the same but it is my soul that has transformed.

The Mountains, the trees, the arches are all as beautiful as I, I’m thankful for this lesson that we are all one, together resting under the same night sky.

Beet Falafel Recipe

Time to turn up the Beet and Turn up the color in our meals, with these Beet Falafels.

This is a fun way to make your food have a whole new appearance with a familiar flavor and some added bonus nutrients.  Beets are one of the few things in this world that are naturally Purple and we get there color from antioxidant Betalains, which studies prove help ward away cancer and other degenerative diseases.  On top of that Beets are packed with Vitamins A,B and C, helping our bodies feel beautiful. Lastly their high in Potassium, helping with the functions and flow of our vital organs. With all these positive benefits why avoid a chance to add these into your diet?

What you’ll Need:

  • 4 Beets
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 2 Cans Garbanzo Beans
  • 1/2 Cup Sunflower Seed Oil
  • 1 TBSP Salt
  • 1/2 TBSP Pepper
  • 2 TBSP Whole Foods Shwarma Seasoning

Let’s Get Cooking:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  • Add 2 cups of water to small pot
  • place pot on stovetop at high and bring to boil
  • Place Beets in Water until Softened, this may take 15 minutes
  • Take out your food processor and add Oil, Salt, Pepper, Shwarma Seasoning
  • Drain liquid from Garbanzo Beans, and then add beans to the Blender
  • Add tender Beets to blenderimg_5515
  • Pulse everything until smooth with a few lumps of chickpeas and beetsimg_5520
  • Take out a baking sheet and spray with Coconut Oil or lay down a parchment paper
  • using an ice cream scooper, scoop falafel mixture out of the blender and place each scoop on the trayimg_5521
  • If not exactly round or staying together, mold the mixture in your hands
  • When tray is full place in oven and let cook for 20 minutes
  • Remove and let cool for about 10 minutes before taking falafel off the tray

How to Serve:

These can be eaten solo, dipped in your sauce/dip of choosing or as a big greek salad

Dips:

I made Homemade Baba Ganoush and a Tzatziki of Greek Yogurt, Salt, Pepper, Swarma seasoning, Garlic, Diced Cucumber and Tomatoes.

“How Do I get Healthy?”

A friend of mine recently confided in me that she really wanted to turn her eating habits around, I honestly felt heart broken when she used the term, “fat lard” to describe herself.

Why are we all so critical of our appearances? Why do we need to fit back into our skinny jeans? I myself am so guilty of this feeling, constantly thinking this isn’t the best me and if I work hard enough, eat clean enough I can go back to the “old me, the better me.” A call for help from a friend, derailed me to go look at old pictures of myself and pick myself apart, to compare, my belly, was it flatter? My arms, were they skinnier? Was I sexier? We are all human and feelings of doubt are quite natural at this point in where we’ve come in societal norms. Ways I combat the questioning of self-worth, is by choosing how I spend my time wisely. Time spent cooking something healthy and delicious in my kitchen, for ME to enjoy is time well spent. Incorporating a form of exercise into my schedule 4x/week, makes me happy and it makes me feel productive. Taking a moment to work on my mental capabilities, where my negative thoughts come from, is such a treat. When I have a moment to do this, Wow, does my day feel like it’s on another level. Now if you do not do any of these things, the idea of throwing yourself full force into all three would be a headache and overwhelming. The key is one small step at a time

So here are my key elements to my kitchen, begin to integrate these into your regular shopping and replace other items with these over time.

 

  • Oats
  • Almond Milk 
  • Peanut Butter
  • Brown, Cage Free, Organic Eggs
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Spinach (or any leafy green)
  • Vegetables of your choice-Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Asparagus, Onion, Peppers, Brussel Sprouts
  • Bananas
  • Additional Fruit of choice- Apples, Blueberries, Strawberries, Pineapple,Grapes, Pears
  • Protein Powder
  • Chickpeas
  • Black Beans
  • Hot Sauce
  • Sunflower Oil

With these key elements you are set to make Oatmeal bowls, smoothies and salads full of so many varieties plus so much more.

Additional to these items I tend to say buy or make one sauce or dressing, to keep things literally saucy and just that much more NomNom. lastly I say keep one sweet cheat in the house. Cravings are natural, if you have one, then let your self have a little something you deserve, Treat yourself Fools!

Yoga Teachers in a Cadaver Lab

Yesterday I had Cadaver Lab for my @yogaworks 300hr Yoga Teacher Training. When I woke up I didn’t think much about what I would wear, so I got dressed in my usual garb. Upon arrival at the lab, we hung our coats up in the hallway and made our way to the conference room for a short lecture before examining the bodies. As I took a seat the girl net to me, put a hand to her mouth as she exclaimed, ” You didn’t seriously wear a Grateful Dead shirt to the Cadaver lab, did you?” Oh, the irony, because yes, yes I did happen to wear that exact shirt on the day we would all be seeing our first dead body.

What at first seemed like a palm to the face moment actually became super serendipitous because I was grateful, grateful beyond belief for the opportunity being presented to me to see the human body so up close. Grateful that this person chose to donate their body to science. Grateful to find myself in a situation that is usually only presented to those who go to medical school. Grateful to know that a textbook doesn’t do justice to just how amazing our bodies are. Grateful to be Grateful.

A situation like this can present mixed feelings and with that there were students who did not show up at all, students who chose to never enter the room, students who entered but stayed in the back, and there were students like myself who wanted to take in every aspect of this wonderful learning experience. Standing so close I could rest my elbows on the table where the body lay, hovering over to see inside the chest cavity almost unaware my hair was brushing against human ribs. I held a human heart in my hands, it lay motionless as its’ life long task to pump blood is now over. It’s purpose though still rang loud and clear, to live, to live every moment, every second, this is my time to be alive. I held human lungs and thought of how precious every breathe we take truly is, how intrinsic every breathe we take truly is. An inhale in and the lungs expand 2-3 times their size, the diaphragm pulls the organs downward so we can take in as much air as we can, an exhale, and the lungs deflate, the diaphragm rising, organs coming back into place, this is all happening within me right now as I type this! Yet before seeing the human body like this, this was just a thought, a concept to me, but now I have seen it, all that fits within my torso, tiny organs, placed safely and perfectly, working together harmoniously, moving to make things fit and allow actions to happen, an entire factory at work all day, each day, non-stop so I can be here today. I saw the Liver and thought its’ huge, while I saw the kidneys and said, “How small.” But no matter size these things within ourself which we normally never get the chance to see, no matter big or small, they play out functions that are necessary for our survival. It made me think of people with Liver damage and how they’ll never know the scope of this organ, where it lies, so close to lungs and heart, the kidney so small yet doing so much work, effected poorly and can cause so much pain. The human body, a true, true masterpiece of science.

A masterpiece that people have chosen to trust me with. I so often get questions of ailments and pain and what should I do? And though I will continue to respond I am not a doctor, I now have insight I did not before. This experience can change my explanation to a student about their body, it may allow me to have an answer when I once had not. The asana practice of yoga is body and breathe and I have now seen the lungs, when I say breathe deeply into the lungs I now understand what has to happen for this to actually occur. When I talk of the psoas muscle, I have now seen it with my own eyes, when discussing the curvature of the spine, I have felt it.

People so often think yoga is just having fun and sweating, but it’s an honor to be able to lead people through the practice amd it should be done so safely. The body is not something to take for granted. I know even more so now that our bodies are a gift, how precious our life is, how I want to continue to educate people to move but to do so with the prevention of injury, to live this life as best as we can, as long as we can.

This once in a lifetime experience, mine to hold onto to forever, mine to share, my knowledge now expanded so my learning and teaching can continue to grow.

Thank you to all those who made this possible.

SAT NAM, Namaste

Teaching Peace while being Picked on

Lemurian Quartz meant to be a healing agent, and create better insight with intuition. But what if your insight scares you? What if the things you want to say and who you want to say them to have so much power over you? What if your insight shows you you’ve been focused on the wrong things, the wrong parts of your practice?

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about what’s been going on with the ALO Yoga clothing company and what has been called by some to be “bullying”. We see these pictures presented to us of tall, thin, white women who seem like they have it all together and yoga is their reason for peace. But what we don’t see is their sponsorships, the truth that they are flown all over this country to take these gorgeous photographs, that some sponsored yogis and yoga models are paid up to $15,000 per sponsored post! A fact that I recently just learned as I read a piece on Elephant Journal by Kino Mcgregor. These advertisements create an unrealistic standard that I have been struggling to think I am meant to keep up with. They have created the image that has been accepted as what a yoga teacher is meant to look like. This unrealistic fantasy world that is unattainable for most. The average yoga teacher starts at a pay of $20/class and even over time and experience only end up making their hourly pay rate go to $50-$75 an hour. When hosting a special event or workshop many times the split between the yoga teacher and the studio is 40/60, and yes, the teacher receives the smaller amount. a very well-to-do yoga teacher recently told me that after being in the business for 15 years she now has a 70/30 split with the studio, but again that took 15 years!

So here I am only 4 years in the business, looking at these pictures of these beautiful women, smiling with their advanced practice and perfect bodies, selling the image that yoga brings peace but here I am over in complete turmoil all because of the business of yoga, the pressure of the yoga industry. I have certain jobs that haven’t given me a raise in four years, I’ve asked for a raise but have been denied, in kinder words leaving the message that rings “I can be replaced”. Places where students follow me through my weekly schedule to other places, come to all my workshops, places where I have the highest number of attendance out of every class the entire week, but still I hear a rock-solid NO. I used to work for a mom and pop regional yoga chain that was bought by a national corporate yoga company and when they came along they cut my hourly pay nearly in half. In two years I have not received a $1 raise. I run around all day class-to-class, no company insurance, no contract agreements of not being let go, just doing it out of pure love and truth of knowing this is what I love. But due to keeping such a busy schedule just to make ends meat, I am not free all day to practice like these yoga models I see, I don’t go to exotic places to take beautiful pictures, and I do not make enough to buy expensive clothes and live up to looking the way that has been created to be the uniform of the professional yoga teacher. I have shown up to class looking, well, the way I look. My face is my face and I can not change it, I can not look prettier, I can not change to be more accepted. I can not make more money just so I can show up in big name brands.

All of this is going on while I receive company emails asking about the numbers of my classes. Are your students happy? are you marketing enough? Has anyone mentioned that the class is too early, too late, too long, too short? Should  we make the class be at 12pm instead of 12:30pm, should it be 75 minutes instead of 90? What do you think needs to be done to make your class more popular? There is so much pressure. There is so much competition. My intuition telling me this isn’t yoga, but it is, it is the unseen business side of things. My intuition telling me to continue being myself but these other smaller, quieter voices telling me to change.

I was told that if I wore big names brands, which a lot of my students wear, it may creating a bonding experience for us, something to talk about, exchange when there are sales and even go shopping together. I didn’t want this to effect me but it did, it absolutely did. So what did I do, I went shopping, yup, I caved, but did I go to some big name brand store or even shop at the studio, Nope! I went to Marshall’s. I tried to buy what I could on my budget, but either way I felt like a fraud, I knew it was what was said to me that made me even go their in the first place.

The other week I couldn’t teach one of my classes due to a personal reason and I had another teacher sub the class for me. When I saw her later that week she told me she played rap music during class, Rap Music!?? She literally said, “I hope they don’t mind curse words, I played Andre 3000 and Lupe Fiasco.” Me on the other hand, always plays soft, subtle music, such as Karunesh,  so when she told me she played rap I was not only surprised but I was also slightly disappointed as this is so far off from my own practice that I offer, and I didn’t want the class that substituted my own to be so vastly different. The next week when I came back to class I was told it was fun and exciting, it was new and it was different. It made me question my own style, If I didn’t play such subtle music, classical music, or “yogaesque” music would there be more students? So though I will never play rap as I do not listen to that genre of music I thought maybe I should attempt to play music which has a little more of an upbeat tempo. I decided to give it a go and it just felt so unauthentically me, I knew I was striving to create an energy that wasn’t my own but rather was just trying to emulate the good that someone else brings.

Just a few days ago, the manager of my studio mentions another yoga teacher and says,   ” she’s the hardest working yogi I know, she’s definitely the most successful, she’s all over social media, and she gets all the young yogis to come.” Again I do not want these words to affect me but as soon as they fell to my ears I was automatically hurt and right away comparing myself to her practice. She looks like that “instagram model”, young, blonde, fantastic shape, she teaches a “work out” style class, plays top 40 music, wears all the big name brands, and is always all over social media. I right away feel as if my own career has been looked down upon, once again the pressure is on, the competition is present.

So I guess after all of this my point is how do I teach yoga, all of yoga not just asana, when the business side of things create all that which I teach students to try and let go of. I tell student’s to let go of their work when they enter the room, to try to practice detachment of earlier moments that have rattled them, but here I am at the top of the class still thinking about that email I got about changing my class times and making my students happy. I tell my students to arrive onto their yoga mat, their micro-cosm, allowing the practice to be the evolution of what they create on their four corners rather then comparing themselves to others, but here I am wondering why my class isn’t as successful as others, why don’t I fit the Yogi Model look that’s been created.

I ask my students to be authentically themselves, to throw away labels and to find their truest identity, yet I am quick to try to play music that worked for someone else or go shopping to look like someone else. So am I bullied? It is hard to answer this with a solid answer. But to say the pressure isn’t there or that the large companies themselves aren’t contributing would be false. We sell this idea of yoga but than are asked to work like sharks. We may wear yoga clothes but the intensity and inner company competition is just as high as what I’ve experienced in corporate life. So do I stay true, to myself or do I enter the ring? Do I raise my class numbers by including more planks and playing Taylor Swift? Soon enough another email will arrive about my numbers, I will be “bullied’ to believe that I must do something to meet the company standards or face the fact that I can be replaced.

Infinite Possibilities

In yoga we have the mantra Sat Nam, Sat meaning truth and Nam meaning name. Together the mantra means truth is my name or truth is my identity, reminding us to be our most authentic self.

When we break down the syllables of Sat Nam we get …

Sa- Birth

Ta- Life

Na- Death

Ma- Infinity

When broken down like this the mantra shows us the cycle of infinity, how nothing really ends, not even ourself. If we live a life so full of love, light and happiness, then our soul lives on, we are remembered by these true attributes of ourself, our most genuine self is the part of us that lives on for us.

I find it fascinating that the breathe is the life force that allows us to live on, to prevail and survive, without breathe, or what we call Prana in yoga, then there can be no us. If you eliminate breathe from our bodies we are left to just be a corpse. What I find Fascinating is this life force of ours can also be broken down into the 4 syllables of Sat Nam.

Sa- Birth- the Inhale of the breathe

Ta- Life- the traveling of the breathe through our bodies

Na- Death- the Exhale

Ma- Infinity- When the cycle starts over and we inhale all over again

Beyond the breathe there is even the physical practice which shows us this infinite cycle. At the end of a yoga practice we come to lay down at the end of the class into what we call Savasana or Corpse Pose. After a few moments of laying back in this position that emulates eternal stillness we are asked to begin to wake up and come into the Fetal Pose, or the posture which embodies rebirth. I always take this as though the class is over the yoga has not ended but it is up to us to decide how we choose to allow yoga to live on outside of the yoga space. So what are some ways we can take what we’ve learned or achieved in a yoga class and keep that with us even though there is no longer an instructor with us in our day to life, no soothing music, no singing bowls, no incense.

Ways to allow yoga to be infinite, to live on outside of class is to continue with…

  •  Focus on Breathe
  • De-clutter the mind
  • Quiet the mind
  • Use breathe to relax
  • Take body scans to notice how you feel
  • Appreciate the body
  • meditate
  • stretch

These small actions are all yoga. Sitting in traffic, upset that we may be running late, rather then get enveloped into such a thought instead take three deep breathes. Sitting at work and feeling uncomfortable, briefly close the eyes and scan the body and notice where your attention is being called too. Frazzled by all that needs to be done and the mind is drifting from groceries to lists, take one thing at a time and draw all your attention  and energy to finishing that task rather then be spread too thin. By taking yoga into the everyday, the work life, home life, and everywhere else see how these subtle changes over time end up becoming our go-to way to handling certain situations. Keep practicing them until they become second nature, until they become our first reaction. That is how we allow yoga and small possible changes to create new positive pathways for our brain. Through more positive thinking we come back to being overall more positive beings, and that is how we allow our true self, the Sat Nam to live on beyond our physical time in this life.