Most people don't know that my first yoga teaching gig was teaching to Staff & Faculty at Western Washington University at the lunch hour. My Graduate Assistantship was to craft a well rounded wellness program that would encourage staff & faculty to embrace a healthy lifestyle. The most popular program... you guessed it, Yoga! Now, 7 years later, that sapling of a program has been taken over by human resources and taken root, and is an award winning program for Employee Wellness. This was the first time I was able to start a project from the ground up, and fine tune it over a two year period. I realized that I had the option to start "making a living" in wellness, but I wanted more than just to make a living. I wanted it to be my lifestyle.
When I attended WWU, I was really passionate about Wellness (still am), and since then I have had had the opportunity to teach as an Adjunct Professor of Kinesiology, and mentor several interns on their paths. This coming Fall, I will return to WWU to teach a special workshop: Clubbell Yoga for the Kinesiology Student. This is the first time I will be coming back to teach Clubbell Yoga, and I couldn't be more excited... Why you ask?
I am excited to share with the students what I have learned in the last decade of working in the Wellness Industry.
When I was in school, it was really daunting to think about getting out of school to pay back school loans, work 40 hours a week (potentially in an office or walking the floors of a big gym). Not very many people talked about the path of becoming an entrepreneur in the Exercise Science (now Kinesiology) department. We focused on science, writing in the scientific voice, lab studies, research and program design. Now that I am out of college, and have had the opportunity to work for other people and for myself, I can say I much prefer the second. Though you wear many hats working for yourself, the trade off is intellectual and financial freedom. I would love to encourage students to find their own teaching voice and explore many paths of not just "making a living" but instead, "making a life" that you love. One that you look forward to being present in every single day.
Write your dream on a card, place it on the altar. Dance your dream into reality. Simple... right?
This weekend's movement adventure took me to Dream Dance, and event held at Om Culture in Seattle. I went with a friend of mine, not really knowing what the event entailed, but with an open mind. What I saw and experienced was beyond inspiring.
The Dream Dance community encourages attendees to dance their dreams into reality using Ecstatic Dance. No holding back, unlimited expression, pure potent energy through movement. There was also an altar front and center, where people shared their dreams on cards, and fastened them to a big dream catcher. Some folks meditated in front of the altar, some people created live art around the perimeter of the room, others had tea and stretched or rested. The best thing about this event, was how loosely organized it was. You had room to breath, stretch, and just do YOU. It was a sacred space where everyone honored and respected everyone else, and lifted others up.
Now doing a little research on this event and others like it, I see that:
"The sacred space created at Ecstatic Dance brings all who enter along on a journey of movement, where the veils of illusion have a chance to fall away and the opportunity to understand wholeness, aliveness and connection come into focus."
Dream Dance movement for me was like FlowFit meets Contact Improv Dance, with a bit of Yoga transitions. But more than the physical aspect, there was a very palpable spiritual component. Through the intuitive movement I was able to release some layers of emotional 'stuff' for lack of a better word. I found the music taking my body through many different forms, all within me but none pre-planned or programmed. Though this FlowState experience is subjective, and may not be repeatable, I found it to be very therapeutic, healthy and complementary to the other types of movement training that I do.
Day three of 100 days of blogging... Let's have a quick chat about Green Smoothies. Hopefully, you can get your ingredients and start a 10 day commitment to Going Green next week! I am going to keep this one super short and to the point. Some of you have probably heard of green smoothie cleanses, or green drinks. You may think these are hippie/yogi drinks, but I challenge you to try it for a week and see how you feel.
Strength training folk and athletes can get an edge with this super potent blend. I have given this recipe to my personal training clients as part of a nutrition overhaul and it sticks. I can think of two clients right now who have made the Green Smoothie religiously for over 4 years! Woah! Talk about committing to wellness! Let's get you on track. Here are some questions you may have...
1. Why should I start my day with a green smoothie?
Rich with antioxidants, fiber, magnesium (great for workout recovery) and plant protein, this drink can help you lift your brain fog, boost your energy and focus and clean out your digestive tract. People who have committed to a green smoothie a day report more regularity in digestion, and loads of energy that lasts. Opt for it instead of coffee (gasp) to start your day, and see what your experience is.
2. How do I make a basic green smoothie?
The cheap and no frills version of the green smoothie is:
1 apple (chopped up)
1 cup water with ice
1 cup spinach
3-4 leaves of torn kale
1/2 lemon's juice
Blend and enjoy
3. How do I make variations on the green smoothie?
Cedric and I experimented with a new recipe today and it was quite delicious. Try it out and let us know what you think. The main thing to remember when making a smoothie is that it needs to be 1 part fruit/melon/cucumber base blended with 1 part liquid and then one part leafy greens (super high in magnesium). 1:1:1
Note: if you are trying to lose weight, opt for cucumbers as a base instead of pears/melons/bananas.
1/2 honeydew melon chopped
1/2 cup rasberries (frozen)
1 cup almond milk
1 cup spinach
3-4 kale leaves
Either I have a very unique child who actually likes green drinks, or this smoothie ain't half bad. If you are a parent who has trouble getting your kid to eat anything other than cheese and bread, then the green smoothie may be your new best friend. Will keep you updated next weekend with our next recipe :)
Check out ClubbellYogaPrenatal for other mama friendly workout tips.
Day two of 100 Days of blogging... today's topic is Beginner's Yoga. Now since that is such a very broad topic, I will be taking a slightly different angle on it addressing the Beginner's Mind. When I hear Beginner's Yoga, I immediately think easy. Though most beginning yogis may think that an easy class is the best way to learn, I would disagree and state that repetition, practice and good alignment coaching is the best way to start yoga. If Beginner's Yoga is too easy, or improper alignment is overlooked, the student will not reach his/her maximum potential.
What comes up for you when you hear Beginner's Yoga?
On any given day, we can be in any one of those boats. The important thing to remember is that when you approach your practice with a Beginner's Mind, you will be able to reap the most benefits. A Beginner's Mind is one that is hyper aware of all details because it is the very first time being exposed to what they will be learning. A person practicing with a Beginner's Mind seeks out all of the minute details and instructions, so as to soak in the entire essence of the skill being learned. To absorb information, we must be challenged appropriately (not too much, and not too little).
I created Primal 12, which is a program that trains the transitions in yoga using different 'TACFIT like' timing protocols, so that beginners are challenged with reps & training, while subconsciously storing the information in their nervous system. When challenged in timed interval format, the brain and body have to work together to complete the task. Then by the time you get to the "yoga flows,", you have already done all of the transitions and are ready for the complex work of yoga.
The majority of my professional experience is in teaching Beginner's how to do yoga properly, safely and with strength & focus. After years and years of observing the most common pitfalls for beginning yogis, I created Primal 12 to help address the common issues that beginners face. All Clubbell Yoga exercises are broken down even further to three levels of difficulty.
Even if it's not your first rodeo, and you have a fair amount of yoga practice under your belt... you can still come to your practice with a Beginner's Mind being humble and open to learn. Try approaching every sun salute as if it were your first. Notice the nuiances in your transitions. Be conscious of your breath guiding your practice, and teaching you things continuously along the way.
Check out a few of my FREE videos online to get some guidance on joint mobility & beginners yoga.
The very first topic in my 100 days of Blogging challenge is: Bliss.
"Bliss" is quite the buzzword in the yoga community and the 'new age' community. Sweaty yogis will say, "I was so blissed out after that savasana" or "That class/experience was complete bliss". The Bliss word gets thrown around a lot, and one would think it is a pretty good thing to reach a stage of bliss, right? Let's inquire...
Let's start with a working definition of Bliss (feel free to add onto this definition in the comments below). From what I gather, Bliss is joy, elation, great happiness, the ecstatic joy of heaven. As a verb it is reaching a supreme state of happiness, sometimes the elation is so strong that you may even become oblivious to everything else.
Being the science minded type, the first questions that come to mind are:
What exactly is going on at a physiological level when we have entered into that "bliss" state of being?
That one is pretty simple. The act of trying and relaxing with yogic breathwork (physical asana practice), induces bliss at the end of a sustained practice. Beginners may struggle with this at first, but over time it comes. Breathing with movement and reaching 'flow state' during a yoga class can also result in a flood of serotonin to the brain (resulting in Bliss) when the body finally shuts of the sympathetic nervous system.
How can I recreate "Bliss" on a daily basis?
a. Commit to doing something that makes society better everyday.
b. Commit to self care through yoga and meditation, or some other physical endeavor that recreates that flowstate for you.
How can I bring myself closer to the "Bliss" physiological state throughout my normal day.
Mindfulness practice in the morning. Check out this simple video tutorial I made for non-dogmatic mindfulness practice on the youtubes.
Is Bliss a valuable feeling/emotion to have, or can I get along just fine without it?
I would say that eudaimonic well-being is the best kind of happy that you can be... not sure what that word means? Then you may want to keep reading.
Do we need to be happy all of the time? It seems like a tall order. I was just listening to a podcast today (Joe Rogan interviewing Rhonda Rousey - the Women's World Champion UFC fighter) and something she said stuck with me [minute 11:14]. Rhonda said that she:
'was brought up not to think it was her mission in life to be Happy, but it was her mission in life to leave the world better than she found it'.
This goes along with her don't be a #donothingbitch #dnb campaign, which emphasizes that her body and and (all muscles on it) is for her sport - not for her to get a free ride and live off of somebody else. I like this gal, she is kind of a badass. What I took home from that statement, is that you can't expect to be happy 100% of the time, but you can do things to help society and help the world that will leave you feeling fulfilled, and even "Blissed Out".
Researchers from the Annual Review of Psychology put happiness into two camps:
1. The hedonic approach, which focuses on happiness and defines well-being in terms of pleasure attainment and pain avoidance.
2. The eudaimonic approach, which focuses on meaning and self-realization and defines well-being in terms of the degree to which a person is fully functioning. It also emphasizes a connection between body and mind.
These authors, Deci and Ryan (2001) suggest not placing too much priority on material goods which are associated with controlled motivation and focusing on close relationships, personal growth and community will satisfy basic needs, develop authenticity and promote eudaimonic well-being.
There you have it... in order to keep your "Bliss-tank" full, simply work on:
Your closest relationships, your spouse, children, friends and closest colleagues. After returning from a summer of travel and adventure, I came home eager to start nurturing my friendships, because they mean something to me 9and help me stay blissed out). Spending time with the people I love, and being fully present during that time, is the most practical way that I know to remain in a state of gratitude and bliss.
Work on your personal growth, by committing to learning something new. This can be anything from yoga to another language, to learning to cook something new and healthy. Personal growth comes in all shapes and sizes depending on the person. Writing out your goals and posting them where you will see them daily can help you focus on your personal growth. Surrounding yourself by others who are also committed to personal growth helps a ton too...
Being involved in your community, in a way that is authentic and meaningful. Walk or bike instead of drive. Connect with strangers in line, or at a stop light. Be grateful for the community you live in, and the people that make it up. Give back to the community, whatever that may mean to you.
You want bliss? Then you create bliss. It is at your fingertips.
The best way to get started on something is to just do it. Commit and do it (sort of like going to BurningMan... which I just returned from). A week after being back, feeling like I needed some direction, I recently put a post out on everyone's favorite social media platform [StalkerBook] asking what people wanted me to blog about. The answers were pretty darn good, I have to say.
Just when you think we are oversaturated with information, people want more! I am guilty of it myself. I am constantly learning, researching, speculating, listening to podcasts, sharing ideas, brainstorming, workshopping, prepping for teaching... the list goes on. Apparently, I have acquired some knowledge over the years and I have some stuff to share.
This all came to light when I started my Tuesday morning doing a podcast interview with a former Brazilian Jujitzu athlete/coach and now Podcast personality. I have listened to so many podcasts, that it just felt normal to spout off information about things related to Clubbell Yoga, Clubs, functional training, coaching and more. So, after doing some research on starting a podcast (which I may put on the backburner for now), I thought I would commit to 100 days of blogging and see what happens.
For this first blog, I will write out my intentions for the preliminary topics to be addressed in the order they were received. If you have some more ideas, simply comment below and I will add them to my list of topics to cover (in a practical and easy to understand way). And if I don't know about that topic, then I will research it or contact someone who does know about it, and perhaps pick their brains about it. That is what blogging is about, right? Well even if I don't follow the traditional blogging format, I care about what you care about, so let's get this ideas sharing thing started. In rainbow and chakra order (because I can)...
1. Bliss (Yes! I love that the first one is an esoteric one)
2. Beginners Yoga (hmmm, Primal 12 is created specifically for beginners, so we can tackle that one together)
3. Yoga for Injury Recovery (I could spend a lifetime talking on this one)
4. Lessons Learned in Personal Practice (ditto)
5. Home Yoga: How to get started & keep going (commit! we will go into more detail on this one, don't worry)
6. Prenatal Yoga (I actually made a full length DVD on this one... its pretty rad. There is also a free youtube video online)
7. Breathwork (I freaking love breath. No really, I do)
8. Alignment (Katy Bowman is my favorite on this topic, but I will give you my two cents)
9. How to become a yoga teacher (luckily, I host a Course on this in cities worldwide)
10. Using Yoga to Improve Posture Deviations (you mean like stretching?)
11. Yoga Programming: Timing & Reps vs. Intuition (I like that one a lot! A+)
12. Components of Movement: How they relate to yoga/athletics/life (also a good one)
Its a good list, but I want some even juicier questions and topics. What do you really want to know about? Again, don't be shy comment below if you want to see blogs on other topics in the functional fitness & yoga realm. My background is in coaching/wellness/yoga/mind body practice/business/speaking/teaching/motivating.
And for those of you who are wondering about the whole burning man thing, yes it is a very eye opening experience to live in community with Burners for a week. Following the 10 principles in Black Rock City (including radical inclusion, radical expression, decommodification, gifting, leaving no trace, etc.) for a week demonstrates that we can manifest our own realities on a large scale. Culture shock sets in when you get home, and you realize that you only have this one chance to be YOU and express yourself and your ideas. So really, that is what this blog is about, getting ideas out there and talking about them. Then making action. See you in cyberspace!
Summer Huntington, MS
Founder of Clubbell Yoga
Engaged in the movement toward more functional fitness. Mama, entrepreneur, leader, mentor, and co-creator of Clubbell Yoga.
Co-Creator of Clubbell Yoga, Movement & Performance Specialist, Head Coach at RMAX International