Nicaragua – Part Uno

And almost after 3 months I am still not ready to write this. 

I have decided to write about my Nicaragua journey in a few different posts. I still have not processed everything mentally and I am still not ready to let go of the fact that it is over. SO…here goes my first attempt.

In February, I traveled to a small village in Nicaragua with 10 other amazing women. It was a (long) year in the making.

The whole year prior was spent raising $5,000 through buildOn, the organization we were traveling with to help build a school in a small village. Fundraising – an emotional roller coaster all on its own. I was so beyond thankful to have an extremely supportive yoga community, family and friends who not only willingly donated, they often donated twice and three times. It was a sigh of relief to see that everyone was on board.

It was an even bigger sigh of relief when I hit my goal.

The actual trip part was still two months away, which felt like an eternity. I’d say the hardest part of this whole process were those two months. I remember thinking, “ok, now what”? I felt a disconnect. I felt like I should still be asking people for money, creating fundraiser events and giving it my all. I felt like I should have been doing something, anything. But all I really had to do was learn more about Nicaragua, pack and practice my Spanish.

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I wasn’t really nervous at all until the morning of our departure. I said goodbye to my mom and my boyfriend dropped me off at the airport. This was my first time ever flying out of the country. I felt silly trying to figure out how to swipe my passport through the airport check-in. It must have taken me a good 15 times to figure it out. This only added to my nervousness.

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We landed in Nicaragua and walked outside to our colorful bus. The air smelled of burnt tires, a smell I don’t think I will ever forget. I smiled and breathed it all in. My first sip of Nicaraguan air.

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On the bus ride I was quiet, I went into my “observe mode”, which happens a lot when I am nervous or in a new place. The landscape was beautiful and the towns we drove through were just as colorful as the bus we were driving on. Though two things could not be denied, the extreme poverty in the country and the happiness and joy of its citizens. People waived, smiled, giggled. It reminded me of the politeness and friendliness of Montana. It was nothing I ever expected.

Detox Gone Bad

Not all detoxes are created equal. I know this, I study this, I have a passion for this.

I was in a big slump, feeling very “blah” and I knew the first thing I needed to change was my eating habits.  More greens, less doughnuts.  I didn’t want to do my own personal detox; I wanted to try something new, something different. So I googled, I searched and I came across a vegan detox that looked pretty decent so I clicked ‘purchase’.

The PDF booklet of the detox was sent right to my email and I started glancing through it. Some days seemed pretty good and others barely had enough food for a rabbit.  This was not a detox; it was more like a starvation diet.  My stomach yearned for food just looking at it.  And I was a little sad. A lot sad. I decided to continue to do the detox anyway but add more to it, particularly protein.

Day one was decent; your typical detox day one. But after that it took a deep downhill turn. You see, I wasn’t eating enough and I knew it. But I decided to stick with it just because, just to see, just to test it out.

I lasted 4 out of the 5 days.

Besides my huge drop in energy, I had physically become weaker, I gained weight (yup, gained!), my skin broke out, my stomach was allllllll messed up and I was in a deep state of irritation.

After consulting (whining) to my bff and bf, they both told me what I already knew but didn’t want to listen to. I know my body, I know what it needs. I deprived it of what it needed and my physical and emotional state was going way out of balance to tell me to stop. Detoxes should be about feeling good. They should give you boatloads of energy and make your skin glow like the sunshine. But this was a detox gone bad, simply because I wasn’t listening to what I needed.

My hope for you is that you take this lesson that I learned and apply it to your own life.  It can be so easy to press ‘buy now’ after reading a sneaky good marketing campaign and jump right in without consulting with your needs first.  Become in tune with what your body requests, what your soul craves and what you need on a daily basis to live an optimal healthy lifestyle.

The Beauty in the Beast

beauty_and_the_beast_by_fernl-d4cwobhHeaded to the Poconos on Saturday I kept hearing the phrase ‘Beauty in the Beast’ on the radio. As the natural yoga weirdo that I am, I figured I had to connect this to yoga somehow. Beauty in the Beast would prove to be the theme of the week!

I broke it down into three different phases (1) Finding the beauty in every pose and only focusing on that (2) Finding the beast in every pose and only focusing on that (3) Being conscious of the beast and the beauty in every pose.

Every time we step onto our mat, we are greeted with different emotions, thoughts, physical boundaries or releases. Every day on the mat is different. We can be happy, sad, angry or joyful; no emotion is right or wrong. At the same time, each and every pose can be different for us. Warrior 2 might feel amazing one day and the next day feel like complete torture. Start to become aware of your thought patterns when you practice. Notice which phase you tend to move towards in each pose or throughout your whole practice. Be conscious of your patterns.

The Three Phases:

(1)    Finding the beauty

In your favorite poses, this can be really easy to do. If you simply adore a pose, it will be so easy to find the beauty in it; to feel its splendor. On the other hand, if you cannot stand a pose and tend to only think of the negative (the beast) it will be really hard to switch your thoughts and only focus on the beauty.

(2)    Finding the beast

The beast is the pain, the anger, the irritation that comes up in poses. Often times this is easier to focus on the beast than the beauty because it’s more dominant in our thoughts.

(3)    Finding the beauty in the beast

This is my favorite. Can you be conscious of the beast, while still being conscious of the beauty? For example, in Crescent lunge, maybe your legs get so easily tired, sore and beastly but at the same time your heart feels open and filled with beauty.

I encourage you to take this into your practice this week. First, just start to become aware of your natural thought pattern and which phase you tend to naturally go to. Then if you want to change it to a specific phase, make that your intention for your practice. I find the third phase, finding the beauty in the beast, to be my intention in each practice. Just like in life, we are all faced with challenges and beasts, but we can always find the beauty in every situation if we look hard enough.

 

How do I know if I am ready for Yoga Teacher Training?

As some of you might know, my Wild Soul Yoga Teacher Training program starts March 30th!  I am beyond excited about this and cannot wait to share all that I have learned in my yoga journey.

When multiple people ask the same questions, I know it’s time to make a post about it.

How do I know if I am ready for Yoga Teacher Training?

People take yoga trainings for so many different reasons.  The biggest reason is because they want to become a teacher. Another reason is because they simply want to deepen their practice, learn more and aren’t entirely sure if they want to teach, they are simply taking it to learn. Everyone has a different yoga journey and we are all on different paths.

This training is for you if you:

  • Want to deepen your practice (physical and spiritual)
  • Want to build confidence as a person and teacher
  • Want to teach
  • Don’t want to teach but want to learn more
  • Want to find your uniqueness
  • Want to grow, expand, evolve

But I can’t do a handstand/headstand/crow/touch my heels in down dog/etc.!!

None of this matters and none of this makes a good teacher/student. During the training, your practice will greatly deepen (physically and spiritually). What makes a good teacher is not how long she/he can hold a handstand or do some crazy pose. In fact, as a teacher, your goal is to make your students 100x better of a yogi than you!

I would love to attend but financially cannot afford it.

There is a partial scholarship available to anyone who is only being held back by financial reasons.  I never want someone to not be able to attend a program because of money. To apply for partial scholarship please click here. Deadline is March 3rd!

In short:

This program is for “everyone”. Every level of yogi! I truly believe that yoga is a journey and that journey is so different for everyone. Everyone’s practice is unique to their body, so don’t let your current limitations hold you back from expanding your practice.

As always, if you have any other questions, please feel free to email me at brittanyraeyoga@gmail.com

Much Love,
Brittany

Using Anger in a Positive Way

I am not typically an angry person. Spending my life being happy and joyful is important to me. It feeds me. But if I am going to be honest here, lately I have been experiencing deep anger and rage.  

Anger and rage are not words in my vocabulary. I avoid them in all areas of my life.

Even if that means faking it.

Even if that means lying to myself.

But what I have learned is faking and lying about your emotions is unhealthy. It means that I have been sitting on the sidelines, not experiencing life to its fullest and not using my emotions in a proper and most effective way.

Anger and rage are good. They feed the soul as much as joy and happiness. They create passion and amazing fire energy.

When you feel anger or rage, ask yourself this:

  • What are you specifically angry about?
  • Are you angry because you need change?
  • Are you angry because you are settling?
  • Are you angry because of circumstances outside of your control?
  • How can you use your anger in a positive way?
  • How can you use your anger as passion and positive fire energy?

Since you cannot change anyone else, how can you change yourself to better use this emotion?

When we start to get angry at a situation, we can take a moment to pause and process.  Where is the anger rooted from? What change is needed? Personally, I have become so angry due to politics lately. Yes, I can ignore this anger. Yes, I can tell myself that I alone cannot change the way the world works. But those are barriers that I have created for myself. Those are lies. Surely if everyone thought this way change would never happen.

SOUL Tip: Hiding anger is never appropriate. Feel what you feel. Acknowledge it. Use it to spark a positive fire inside of you. Use it to make the changes necessary in your life.

Craving Peanut Butter? Read this.

ImageSometimes nothing sounds better than a big ol’spoonful of peanut butter straight out of the jar.

It’s comforting. It’s creamy. It’s satisfying.

I get it.

But what does it mean? Why do we crave it? Why can we not put the spoon down?

Here are three factors that could be causing you to crave peanut butter:

Calorie Deficient:  Yup, you are not eating enough so your body is craving high calorie foods. This is the number one factor to why we crave peanut butter (or other dense, rich foods like fast food and cheese). We simply have not been giving our bodies enough fuel for the past day, week or even month. We can fix this by eating more! Of course not by eating denser rich foods, but by eating more nutrient dense foods like greens.  Make sure you are eating three meals a day and healthy morning and afternoon snacks. Quick Tip: Eat more!

Stress and Boredom:  Welcome to the world of psychologically-rooted cravings. You might associate peanut butter as calming, relaxing and a mood-lifter so anytime you are bored or stressed your psychologically-rooted craving kicks in.  When you start to crave peanut butter, before reaching for a spoon, take a moment to reflect on where the craving is coming from. Is it because you are searching for something outside of yourself (i.e. excitement, tranquility, comfort) and can you get those feelings without using food as a numbing agent?  Quick Tip: Pause and reflect. Where is your craving rooted from?

Energy: Peanut Butter (organic of course), provides us with energy. When you are craving peanut butter your body might need a pick me up! Reach for green tea first and see if that kicks the urge. Quick Tip: Have a cup of green tea.

The Nitty Gritty:

The benefits to eating peanut butter:

-Each serving (2 tablespoons) provides you with about 7.7 grams of protein (keeps your tissues strong and promotes immune function), 16 grams of fat (source of energy), 6.9 grams of carbohydrates (fuel your brain, liver and muscle tissue), 2.6 grams of fiber. 

-Vitamin E (controls inflammation and prevents tissue damage)

-Vitamin B-3 (energy production, cell development)

-Magnesium & Cooper

There are also negatives:

-Overeating is big. Since the portion size (2 tbls) is small we tend to eat way more.

-Overly processed. This is key here. I am allergic to peanuts but have no issue eating processed peanut butter (like Skippy) because it is mostly made up of sugar, salt and corn syrup! That is scary. When choosing peanut butter, look at the ingredients. It should mainly be just peanuts.  

Soul Tips: Before you opt for a spoonful, pause for a moment and see what you are really craving. If you actually are craving peanut butter for reasons that make sense, stick to the correct serving size and make sure you are eating organic peanut butter.

The Year of the Horse

A horse is the projection of peoples’ dreams about themselves – strong, powerful, beautiful – and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence.
Pam Brown
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Since a young girl, I have had a deep connection with horses. Riding for the first time at the age of four and taking lessons starting at the age of six. My life has been immersed in horses and I would not have it any other way. Today marks the Chinese New Year, the year of the wood horse. Here are 5 tips to help guide you through the year of the horse with ease and grace.

1)      Be Heroic: Horses are full of heroism and valor. Step into your bravery this year and go for it! Find a sense of fearlessness and have the courage to do the things you have been holding yourself back from.

2)      Find Strength: The strongest part of a horse is their neck. It’s how they jump and find balance. They can also easily step into the role of a leader if chosen to do so. Find confidence in your throat chakra – speak your truth. Where can you step into the leader in your life?

3)      Fly: Horses are associated with fire and action and often move on impulse. Take a leap and fly this year. Try not to overthink things. Listen deep down to what your soul needs and follow that.

4)      Connect: Horses do not like to be alone. They enjoy the company of other horses. Use this year to mingle and meet new people. Be outgoing and approachable.

5)      Freedom: Find passion in your opportunity for freedom. Let go of the ties that bind you to anything holding you down.

 SOUL Action: What is one trait that you can bring into your life today? Where can you be more heroic, strong, free or connected? Leave a comment below committing to this SOUL action.

If you feel deeply connected to horses I highly encourage you to take a Cowgirl Yoga retreat with Big Sky Yoga Retreats. I have had the privilege to go their twice. Each time was magical and inspiring. There is nothing greater than connection to nature, horses and yoga.

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Cowgirl Yoga with Big Sky Yoga Retreats

I discovered that the horse is life itself, a metaphor but also an example of life’s mystery and unpredictability, of life’s generosity and beauty, a worthy object of repeated and ever changing contemplation.
Jane Smiley

How to Decide

“You don’t need more time, you just need to decide.” – Seth Godin

Waiting is not for me. I have a huge lack of patience.

It’s something I am trying to work on this year. Though each day and every situation is different.

In some areas in my life, I am trying to welcome patience and time. In other areas of my life, I am trying to work on taking the big leap and just going for it.

It’s all about balance I suppose.

But, I can’t help but ask, are we holding ourselves back from living an amazing life because we are scared, because we have created barriers for ourselves, or because we do not know which way to go.

Deciding is hard for one simple reason: The fear of the unknown.

The fear of making the wrong decision.

We tell ourselves we need more time to think it over. More time to see what the universe has in store for us. We should wait for the “right time.”

I am here to tell you: There will never be a right time.

Have faith in yourself. Take a leap. If you fail, who cares. The only barriers holding you back are ones that you have created. Push past them. Jump into the unknown.

Decide to go for it.