Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana)

I have a confession. I fell off for a little bit. Life happened. All of a sudForearm Standen I looked up and a month had floForearm Stand.wn by. A whole month with not one postForearm S!? I failed. I was still doing yoga and hiking and all of that, but I failed at a goal I set for myself. At first I was disappointed, but then my inner queen said, “Sis, you’re human! Get back up and get to it!”. It wasn’t until yesterday, on an impromptu hike after work with one of my best friends, that inspiration smacked me in my face. So, your girl is back!! I needed to open my heart and clear my mind. What better way than Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana)?!

To start, begin on all fours and interlace your fingers together. Make a triangle shape with your forearms on the mat and your hands as the top point. Bring the crown of your head in between your hands. Aim to keep your arms shoulder-width distance apart. Maneuver your lower body into Dolphin Pose just like we did for Forearm Stand.

Begin walking inward and practice lifting one leg and then the other. When you feel ready, engage your core and lift both feet up. Stack your hips directly over your shoulders.

Lift your knees so they are parallel to the ground. Every time you lift, engage your core even more. This will help from collapsing into your shoulders and neck. There should be very little weight in either space, so lift up as much as possible.

When you feel comfortable here, extend your feet towards the sky. Remember to activate that core.

Bam! Heart and Crown chakras stimulated!

The way to get out is the same way you came in. Slow and in control.

Forearm plank and Standing Forward Fold are great poses to warm up, lengthen and strengthen before getting into this pose. Use the wall if you need to. It is fantastic for support until you feel stronger in your core, or you don’t want to exert as much energy but you’re body wants to get upside down.

So give it a shot. Keep meeting your edge. Stay motivated. And if life happens, that’s ok. Just make sure you’re living the way you want. Take the time to check in with yourself.

Comment below with tips, feedback, ideas or anything.

Namaste 🧘🏾❤🙏🏾

Why I Do Yoga – Turning I Can’t into I Can

I do yoga to remind myself that I am capable of doing anything I set my mind to. I like to take on the more challenging poses to motivate myself, but I also choose to share them with you and give tips because I want you to feel encouraged.

If you haven’t already noticed, I am not the thinnest person. I don’t look like your typical yogi that you see all over social media and magazine covers. That is slowly changing though 🤗. I am a thicker black woman and that alone isn’t seen as much. I am in no way perfect at yoga. The way I look in poses may not look like the Google photos you search or even you, but it feels right in my body. I am still building and growing on this journey.

I say all of that to say, I hope it inspires you to try or consider trying. Maybe this will help plant the seed. Once you are able to get out of the mindset of “I can’t do that.”, “I don’t look like that.”, “I’m not strong enough.”, “I’m not flexible enough.”, you unleash a power inside yourself that you may have never experienced or forgot was there!

Maybe just seeing me in a pose will trigger positive self talk within yourself and you’ll say, “Oh if she can do it, I bet I can too.” That is my goal! To turn your I can’t into I CAN.

Yoga is 100% a journey. Everyone who does yoga had to start somewhere. They didn’t just wake up and start walking on their hands 😂. We all fall. We may need multiple steps and attempts to reach the goal, but eventually we get there. That is why it is called a yoga practice. We are all on this journey together. That is the beauty of it all. Attempting, falling, trying again, finding ways to improve, cheering yourself on, listening to your body, and accomplishing something that initially scared you or was pretty challenging. That is why I do yoga. That is why I teach and share it with you. So that on and off of your mat you tell yourself, “Yes, I can.”

So whether you can relate to me or you are all the things I am not, I hope you feel empowered to start exactly where you are. The hardest part is starting, but to be on a journey you must start. Don’t worry, I’m right here with you!

Namaste friends! 🙏🏾❤🧘🏾

Yoga Anywhere, Yoga Everywhere – Cancùn, Mexico

Last weekend was my first vacation in over a year! It was my aunt’s 40th birthday (woo woo!) and she wanted to celebrate by going to Cancùn, Mexico! Who would say no? Definitely not me or my cousin either. So it was a cute small girls trip. When we got to our resort, we got a schedule of activities, and wouldn’t ya know yoga is on there! I came prepared to do yoga anyway because I packed my yoga mat and towel. I figured even on vacation you should find time to reconnect. Even if that just means breathing techniques or meditation. My Yoga Anywhere, Yoga Everywhere series will be about finding time to connect while traveling. This one will mostly be some of the poses I did on the trip that I enjoyed most. So let’s start with Cancùn!

Dancer’s Pose (Natarajasana)

This was in the yoga class provided by the resort. This pose is all about balance and focus.

King Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

This pose feels so amazing because it stretches your quads in the best way!

Warrior II (Virabhdrasana II)

Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)

Crow Pose (Bakasana)

After Crow

Is this not the funniest picture?! 😂🤣

Falling is a part of the process. But you get back up and try again. You have to learn to laugh at yourself. Yoga is fun even when you fall. 😂

Reverse Warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana)

Great side body stretch.

It was important to me to find time on this trip to connect. That’s why I came prepared with my mat, towel, etc. But on the beach, it reminded me you just need your body. The Earth was our mat. It was our playground.

The biggest take away for me on this trip and in my practice was to slow down. We get so busy trying to take care of everything else and rushing through to meet deadlines whether they are ones we set for ourselves or set by others. Remember to relax. Everything will get done when it’s supposed to. No need to stress over anything you can’t control. Focus on what you can control and move forward.

Photos featuring my aunt Brandi and photo cred to my cousin Karlisha!📸 ❤

Until next time friends, namaste 🙏🏾❤🧘🏾

Wheel Pose (Urdva Dhanurasana)

I’ve always loved this pose. I remember as a kid doing it with such ease especially when I was doing gymnastics. I tried again as an adult a couple years back and man did I struggle! I’ve always been stronger in my lower body than I was in my upper body. As time went on in my yoga journey, I continued to get stronger and my love for this pose reignited. Practice makes progress friends. So, let’s practice Wheel Pose (Urdva Dhanurasana) together!

We’ll start by lying on our backs. Bend your knees and bring your feet towards your butt. Make sure both your knees and your feet are hip width distance apart.

*Tip – place a block in between your thighs and squeeze to activate your muscles in your lower body and keep the appropriate distance between knees and feet.*

Bring your hands down by your ears with your finger tips pointing towards your shoulders.

Take a deep inhale to lengthen through your spine. Exhale, lift your hips and chest up toward the sky or ceiling. Press into your hands to lift up onto the crown of your head.

This step can be omitted, but it definitely helps when maybe your mind is uneasy about doing it, but you hear your body telling you to go for it. It also helps to get to that final push off to come into full Wheel.

So when you’re ready, inhale to get your mind right, and exhale press into your hands and straighten your arms. Lift your head off of your mat. You’re there! We’re in Wheel!

Try to lift and press your chest forward in the direction of your gaze.

Option to come onto your toes if that’s where you are in your journey. If not, that’s ok. It’s something to work towards and look forward to!

To safely come out of this pose, tuck your chin into your chest and start to roll down your spine one vertebrae at a time.

Benefits of Wheel

  • Strengthens liver and kidneys
  • Heart opener
  • Strengthens arms, hands, wrists, ankles, legs, butt, abs, and spine.
  • Stretches chest
  • Increases energy, relieves stress and counteracts depression.

This pose is a fun one! I hope it is something you can incorporate into your practice. If you feel a bit discouraged, try out Bridge Pose for a bit until you feel comfortable in your body to give wheel try!

Namaste🙏🏾❤🧘🏾

5 Stress Relieving Yoga Poses

Yoga doesn’t always have to be these fancy poses that look cool (and are really fun) but can be difficult to get into especially as a beginner. We’ve been practicing some of those cool poses with our inversion Forearm Stand and our arm balance Firefly. However, today we will be lower to the ground. These poses may seem simple, but they help quiet the mind, relieve stress and help you to reassess mental, physical and emotional states by checking in to better serve yourself and others. They are acts of self love and care. I challenge you to find ease and focus on how you move into each pose as we go through 5 Stress Relieving Yoga Poses.

1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

To get into this pose, bring your big toes together to touch. Spread your knees as wide as your mat. Reach your hands out long in front of you. Bring your forehead to your mat and try to reach your hips towards your heels. Breathe here. Child’s pose is a great resting pose. It’s perfect to come into if while you’re flowing you need a moment to regroup. I know for me, I love starting out my practices this way to really get into the head space of being and remaining present throughout my practice.

Benefits:

  • Stretches and opens your hips and thighs. *We carry a lot of emotions in our hips so this helps release some of that*.
  • Restorative/resting pose

2. Supported Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

Place a block a little above your sacrum (the small of your back) and bring your head down to your mat. Your feet can be stretched out yet relaxed. Your chest should feel lifted. Release your shoulders towards your mat and let them hang heavy. Relax the muscles in your face. If your neck is uncomfortable here, place another block underneath your head.

I love this pose because most of my work day I am sitting, and I don’t have the best posture so right away I feel a release.

Benefits:

  • Stretches out the front body.
  • Strengthens upper back
  • Improves spinal flexibility

3. Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

While standing, bring your feet together to touch. Fold forward at your hips and reach your hands towards the ground. You can bring a slight bend into your knees and have your stomach and thighs meet. You can also wrap your arms around your legs for a deeper hamstring stretch. Let your head and neck hang heavy.

Benefits:

  • Stretches hips and hamstings
  • Reverses blood flow in the body

*Tip – when coming up, roll up slowly so you don’t get a head rush.

4. Corpse Pose (Savasana)

I mean this is obviously the best one right? 😂

Come to lying on your back. Close your eyes. Stretch your feet and legs out long in front of you. Stretch your arms out beside you. Palms can be facing up to receive the energy around you, or down for grounding. Relax the muscles in your face. Unclench your jaw. Remove your tongue from the roof of your mouth. Be still.

Benefits:

  • Relaxes the entire body.
  • Relieves stress, depression and tension.

5. Easy Pose (Sukhasana)

Come to a cross legged seated position. Ground down through your hips. Sit up nice and tall. Gaze forward softly or close your eyes. Your hands can be on your knees palms up or down. You can also bring your hands together at heart center. Look inward. Notice how you feel. Try to find ease. This is also a great pose for meditation.

Benefits:

  • Strengethens back
  • Stretches knees
  • Opens hips and outer thighs

I hope these poses can be incorporated into your practice or just in daily life when you need to take a moment to yourself to relieve some stress.

Namaste🙏🏾

*Benefits to each pose found on yogajournal.com*

Firefly (Tittibhasana)

This week I thought we could try an arm balance! The last yoga pose (Forearm Stand) was an inversion. The difference between the two are that inversions are poses where your head is below your heart, and arm balances are a foundational change where your hands and arms become your “feet” and “legs”. An example of an arm balance is Firefly (Tittibhasana).

First, you’ll need 2 blocks and I recommend a blanket. To get into this pose, keep your feet a little wider than shoulder width distance apart. The blocks should be behind you. Come into a squat and place your hands on the blocks finger tips facing forward. Lift your butt into the air so that your thighs begin to rest as close to the tops of your shoulders as possible.

It’s definitely going to look funny/weird. Try to focus more on the sensation here.

Ask yourself, how does this feel?

Next, bend into your arms and begin to lower your hips while lifting one foot off of the ground or maybe both. Engage your core to help lift you up. Play here.

You will definitely start to feel this in your wrists and arms as your weight begins to shift.

Eventually you will be able to lift both feet off of the ground! This friends, is Firefly! Try to straighten your legs as much as possible.

Omg I’m doing it!

Breathe. Look up and smile! Have some fun with it!

Tips:

  1. Keep your heart and mind open to trying out this pose. It is difficult, but that’s the beauty of our yoga journey. Each time you practice and grow stronger you bring yourself that much closer to achieving it.
  2. Use a blanket. You will fall. I did so many times 😂. If you can land on something soft it helps and makes it easier to get back up and try again.
  3. Use blocks to bring the Earth to you. You can definitely practice this pose without them, but for me I just needed that extra lift.
  4. Have fun! It’s just yoga. Keep breathing and keep trying.

Namaste 🙏🏾

A Lighter Take On Cheesecake

Baking cakes runs in my family. It’s like in our genes or something. Whether it’s my grandma, mom or aunts, somebody has some cake around to satisfy your sweet tooth. I decided to try my own. I love a good cheesecake. Especially from The Cheesecake Factory (ermergerd! 🤤). My take isn’t as super sweet as theirs, but it is still delicious and you’ll see why I call it A Lighter Take On Cheesecake.

Not pictured but necessary are Vanilla Extract and Cornstarch.

It doesn’t take too many ingredients to make this delicious dessert. I found everything (minus the honey and chocolate) at Trader Joe’s. Instead of sugar I substituted with honey, and instead of dairy milk I used almond milk.

Excuse the wine. That’s just me doing me. 💁🏾

Just a tip: You’ll want to add each ingredient separately, even the eggs, and mix together after each addition. This eliminates lumps and clumps in your batter.

Your cheesecake will come out a bit puffy and slightly browned which is exactly what we want! And while it’s cooling, you can cut up your fruit or just have your toppings ready for when it has completely cooled.

Add your toppings before you set it in the fridge to chill.

Once chilled, remove the plastic wrap and the springform pan and voilà!

Adding a drizzle of semi-sweet or even dark chocolate is perfect if you want a little more sweetness!

Below is the recipe!

Ingredients:

Cheesecake:

  • 16oz. of cream cheese at room temp
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 3/4 cup of sour cream
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch

Crust:

  • 10 Honey Graham crackers
  • 3 tbsp Almond milk

Toppings:

  • Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries
  • Melted semi-sweet chocolate

Directions:

Crust – Crumble up graham crackers in a plastic bag by hitting them with a rolling pin or something similar until fine. Add the now crushed graham crackers to a bowl along with almond milk. Stir until it sticks together. Pour crust mix into a springform pan and spread across the pan evenly with fingers or the bottom of a cup. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. In the meantime, start the batter for your cheesecake.

Cheesecake – To a large bowl add cream cheese and stir until somewhat smooth. As mentioned before, begin to add each of the other ingredients separately and stir in between each addition. Once everything is mixed, pour batter over crust. Bake at 300° for 60 minutes. Let it cool off for about an hour before adding your toppings. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for at least 12 hrs.

Cut, serve and time to treat yourself with a guilt free yet delicious cheesecake!

Let me know if you’re going to try out the recipe, or when you do I’d love to see! I hope you enjoy.

Namaste.

Forearm Stand (Pincha Mayurasana)

I love yoga so much! It is an exercise that is about more than just the physical but about the mental as well. Inversions are a great example of how those two really depend on one another. I try to practice one inversion every day for a week to truly see how it feels in my body and to get more comfortable in trying and doing that pose. This past week has been all about Forearm Stand aka Pincha Mayurasana.

In my very first attempt, I was at home doing Yoga With Adriene for her 30 day yoga journey Dedicate. After I finished the practice, I decided to give Forearm Stand a try as suggested by one of my best friends. Here’s how to get into the pose and some tips I’ve learned along the way.

Set Up For Success

  • Come down to lying on your belly.
  • Place your forearms down on your mat shoulder width distance apart.

**Make sure your shoulders are stacked directly above your elbows.**

  • Start to lift your hips towards the ceiling or sky and walk your feet towards your elbows as if you were coming into Downward Facing Dog.
  • Draw your shoulders down away from your ears to create space. This is called Dolphin Pose.
Dolphin Pose
  • Once you feel comfortable here, start to lift one leg up then maybe the other. Eventually, you’ll want to start to kick up.
  • Play around with kicking up to see how it feels in your body and also how it feels to have that weight distributed upside down.

  • Eventually you will be able to have both feet in the air!
  • Stacking is so important. Elbows, shoulders, hips then feet is how it should all be aligned to protect your joints starting out.
  • Be sure to lift up from your core.
20190111_1658217197599234035186566.jpg
Forearm Stand! My alignment isn’t perfect, but hey, I’m working on it!

Tips

  1. Use the wall for support!

When I first tried this pose, I didn’t do this. I started doing the kicks, and on my third kick up I flipped over and smacked the fan on our floor with my entire body! 😂 Luckily, I didn’t get hurt, but you better believe I switched to using the wall. There is nothing wrong with using the wall and it doesn’t make you weak for using it each time either. It helps build trust within yourself and also guarantees you won’t do what I did and flip over.

2. Notice how it feels in your body

Wherever you are in your process notice how it feels and make adjustments where it feels best.

3. Use a block

Blocks are awesome! I used it to keep the space in between my arms because they have a tendency to inch together.

4. Trust yourself

The more you practice and listen to your body the easier this will become. Believe that you have the tools inside you already there.

5. Breathe

The most important in my opinion. Don’t forget to breathe friends. No matter where you are.

If you have tips of your own be sure to share!

Namaste.

Release

I walked into Avondale Towne Cinema anxious as hell. I tried to get there early, so I could grab a glass of wine to calm my nerves before everyone comes in and this thing gets started. I mean I’ve never done this before! Go to a private movie screening and participate in a Q&A with the cast and crew after.  It’s exciting and also a little nerve wrecking meeting people you don’t know at all to view their creation and then judge it. But just because it seems weird when said that way, doesn’t mean I won’t do it. So here we go.

Most of us have heard the saying, “Silence speaks louder than words.” That saying is not only evident, but was also beautifully captured in the new film Release. This particular film is about a woman, Rosalinda, in an abusive relationship and is extracted from her life by her estranged sister, Ariana, who has her own set of problems. The film is quite deep and ventures into very vivid emotions and concerning situations where silence seems necessary to engage the audience in a different way than we are accustomed.

I immediately found the film interesting because of that silence that draws you to take a closer look at what the characters are feeling and psychologically how they are thinking. You can infer the situation at hand without being outright told. It was also interesting to see and be able to ask the actresses how they were able to draw out such emotion.

“It was tough. Looking at women who feel like they don’t have a literal voice and a figurative one as well.” – Jackie Renee Robinson (Actress/Rosalinda)

“I tried to personalize it as much as I could and then just really open myself up to Jackie and everyone else working on the project.” – Lauren Karaman (Actress/Ariana)

I loved that because it makes you engage more and start to think rather than just watch mindlessly which is more common these days. Of course there is dialogue, but what struck me most were the nonverbal or even musical instances. We’ve grown accustomed to being talked at and told in movies. This one is different.

“I’m a firm believer that true performance is rooted in body language.” – Edward Varnie (Director)

“If we could do anything with less dialogue or create more mystery or things like that, we were all for it.” – Graham Waldrop (Writer/Producer)

There were also multiple relationship dynamics between Rosalinda and all others that were a part of or became a part of her life and journey.

Rosalinda vs. husband (Jared)

Rosalinda vs. sister (Ariana)

Rosalinda vs. kidnapper (Burnett)

Rosalinda vs. father

“Expectation vs. being in the reality of the moment with someone you really care for.”  – Lauren Karaman

“I like the idea that we all have these relationships where we get so wrapped up and sometimes lose who we are, and it sometimes takes someone or something to physically or figuratively pull us out.” – Edward Varnie

This movie is so relatable. Whether you have been in the situations or know someone who has, or maybe it’s just sheer emotion and what is trying to be conveyed that you identify with. The struggle to remain present in different aspects of life. It could also be unresolved family issues. It is a really good movie that I want to see again with my friends! It’s worth the watch. See the trailer here.