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Here we go. Because I don’t know how to start (who really does?), I’m going to dive right in.

Last summer, I weighed 100 pounds. I ate very, very healthy. Only whole foods, fruits and veggies, no sugar, minimal grains. I even found a “plan” that made me even skinnier. At first I was just consuming green smoothies with one paleo meal a day, but then I found this plan. So I dove in prepared to follow the militant restrictions. I kept my fats and carbs away from one another and spaced my meals every 3 hours like instructed. I never ate carrots (frowned on for carbs), and replaced my potatoes with radishes. I ate only sweet potatoes, on rare occasion and when I did…would watch my carbs the rest of the day.

I was eating very healthy foods.

But this is what I looked like.

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Meet me with grace here, in this post. I have tears as I post these pictures because, until just a few weeks ago, I longingly have gone back to these pictures. I’ve stood in front of the mirror and situated myself in these exact positions to see how close I am to this size. I’ve cried over these pictures. I’ve shut the computer after viewing these pictures and let my hands travel down to my thighs to feel how much bigger they are now.

I was a disordered eater, a disordered thinker and a disordered feeler. I was completely in disarray. But God is not a God of chaos, and because this space was truly chaotic, it meant I had given Him no invitation into this space.

Sometimes disordered eating doesn’t necessarily come in the form of starvation or over-eating….but in the form of mental/spiritual starvation and over-thinking. I found that I can eat all the whole and healthy foods that I want…but if I’m not eating them with the same freedom that I was given at the cross, i was not truly feeding my body. Nor was I truly grateful. I can worship in my eating, and should…but only when it’s done with the same abandon and freedom that I was given.

My path for healing didn’t begin until I began to feed myself. Not just eat.

I gave my big, heavy book about “the plan” away and sat down to refocus. Everything in my diet was good, whole, and healthy. Everything was from the earth and natural. I was supposed to have the best immune system in the WORLD according to my diet but I was sick almost every week. My adrenals were tanked. My organs weren’t even fully functioning.

What was missing?

I was eating whole healthy foods….but my whole self was starving.

The reason I write this post? Because in this fire of self-hatred….Dwell:Practicing Whole Wellness was forged. God led me to a Christian yoga instructor and as I began training I had never felt so thin….I felt spiritually thin. I felt emotionally thin. I felt mentally frail. My body wasn’t thin solely because of my lack of eating; my body was thin because I have learned that what I eat or don’t eat directly reflects what I’m feeding my heart, mind and soul–my heart was starved. 

So I made a commitment, starting at Lent. I was going to gain unbridled, unmeasured, un-time-intervaled weight. Not physical weight…spiritual weight. I decided it was time to spend all the tv time, the journaling & food journaling time (where I just poured out the frailties of my slender little heart), and my reading time ALL in the Word. I deleted my excel sheets of “the plan,” and all the complicated baking recipes. I hid the Facebook group from my feed. I poured myself onto the mat and the postures of my body- the sticky places- truly reflected the postures of my heart. I gave myself no spiritual restrictions and everything I didn’t understand I decided to go to the brave spaces, even the “non-theological” spaces for answers. Wherever I found Jesus…is where I went. I stopped looking at everything through the lens of how it effect me, and instead looked through the lens of Jesus….what does every situation and every word in the Bible say about HIM? Not about me. I embraced freedom and ate His Word in big, hungry bites. And the more I ate, the more hungry I realized I was. I didn’t even know it….but I was completely malnourished and starving in my soul space. I went through a beautiful process of learning my blessed inheritance and position as a daughter of the KING.

And then, something CRAZY happened: I gained weight. I gained probably 15-18 pounds. In 9 weeks of training. The crazier thing? I hadn’t realized it. That’s peace that passes all understanding…when I don’t notice my weight changing. That’s eyes glued to Jesus not my thighs. How did this weight gain happen? I truly lived. I had begun eating the cookies with the boys when we baked them together. Little Small Fry kissed the chocolate off of my cheek. Strawberries were on sale, and, one day when Nugget couldn’t fall asleep during nap time, we snuck into the kitchen and snacked on them together. He told me about how he wanted to be a chef that was also a fireman when he grew up and suddenly we realized that we’d eaten almost the whole container. I sat on the hood of the car with my hubs and dug into a crate of fresh peaches brought back from Michigan. We talked about everything from grace to Small Fry’s hilarious booty shake dance. When I got to retreat at the end of my training the girls would laugh at my full-to-the-brim plate. But I was really truly that hungry. I was so, so, hungry. If only you girls could have seen what my plate would have looked like before. You know–maybe it wouldn’t have looked that different as I ate the same healthy foods before. The foods I ate then and eat now didn’t change that much…but my heart when I ate them, and HOW I ate them….that transformed. So I take that back. If only you girls could have seen the girl holding the plate before. 

Here’s one of the most beautiful parts of my weight gain: it stopped. I haven’t budged since then. When God brought me back to balance…He replaced what I had lost. All of my broken things, and empty spaces were filled and I was balanced again. My body needed those extra 18 pounds to be at my healthy weight and Jesus gave them back to me. It’s where my body’s healthy balance is. He does this with us. He gives back what we’ve lost…what we’ve thrown out…what we’ve rejected because it’s hurt us in the past. He puts the pieces back into the confusing puzzle of our hearts and suddenly we see the picture we forgot that we made when we’re wholly living.

This is me now…in the same spot as last year. 18 pounds and 1 million inches of grace and mercy later….

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Where I realized that I am not well when I’m eating perfectly with portioned ratios. I am not well when I’m exercising 60 minutes a day. I’m not well when I’m practicing yoga 5 times a week. I’m not well when I achieve a handstand.

I am only well when it is well with my soul.

Now I’m not the girl afraid to do anything. I go SUP boarding.

And I do crazy things…things that could hurt me & heal me.

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IMG_9071I laugh. I laugh so much…with the one that I love.

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And I truly….for the first time, FEEL that love. I accept it.

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When I forget…when my heart is screaming lies and my mind is overwhelmed, not knowing how to process, I just go upside down, knowing that I, without Jesus, am disordered. He sets me right when I don’t lean on my own understanding, let go, and invert myself…bowing to His plan.

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I’m just not skinny anymore. I am strong.

T53A8807tI will always struggled with disordered thinking and wanting to eat with disorder as well. But I do not have to BE disordered.

Because I’m free.

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So, my heart for you, friends is that when we look at ourselves, we don’t see the overweight, the underweight, because we know it’s ALL under the blood.  This means that, when we give our hearts over to Him and let Him feed THAT space you will find yourself in the best place for your body as well as your life. He will guide you…and when it’s time, you will shed what needs to be shed, and He will fill what needs to be filled. He restores our souls and restores balance. That’s HIs character.

I have learned that I should never pick up the fork without picking up the cross. Picking up His grace. Picking up His mercy.

Friends, my prayer for you today is that you have joy and have it more abundantly. That you eat peaches, carrots, onions, and brownies. That balance is found in your healing. That freedom is found in your faithfulness to just try.

That you know that He desires to make it WHOLLY well with your soul.

Feed friends….feed on His grace, feed on His fruit of the spirit, and then….feed on the fruit of the earth.

All of my love,

~Kate

**All archived posts are still on lockdown as we break things down for the new site. All new posts will be visible and available here for now! Enjoy, friends..

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It’s 95 degrees and there is sweat dumping out of pores that you didn’t even know you had (aka who knew your forearms could sweat?). As you lower into plank, your mat is getting soaked by the drop full. It’s running down your arms, into your eyes, soaking your clothes. You breathe into that space, filling the belly and enjoy that tingling sensation of the systems in your body coming alive.

This is hot yoga. It is hard work, friends. It is healing.

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What It’s Like: 

A typical hot yoga class will run about 60 minutes in a room set to 95 degrees. The lights are a bit lower in these classes as it takes an incredible amount of focus and breath work to practice in this space. Aka don’t look at other people for comparison. Stay on your own mat and focus on taking your practice to a whole new space. Breathe. You will go through a series of postures, and possibly even a flow, depending on the level. It will be similar to your regular practice. The challenge comes from the environment.

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I’m no guru, and I haven’t been practicing for many years, so I’m still in the space that most of you are: still exploring and finding their own practice on the mat. From this space of authenticity, yet educated awareness as an instructor, I thought I’d share some information that is most useful to the hot yoga newbie. From one friend to another 🙂

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Pros:

1. Advance your physical practice. If you thought your forward fold was deep, wait till you do it in a hot practice. Flexibility increases in this warm environment. So come willing to try out those wraps and binds…you may find yourself more able to get into them. Just be careful to not push yourself too far…let your body tell you where to venture and where to stop.

2. Detox, baby. This space is a dumping ground for all that negative ick we gather throughout the day. You’ll find your heart is pumping pretty fast and that’s totally normal…this is hard work and you’re increasing your circulation, further helping the body restore and cleanse. Expect lots of twists in a hot class as they are highly beneficial in the detox process.

3. Yoga high. This class will give you a pretty amazing rush as those endorphins flood in, especially as your body temp settles back to normal. I love this space after a good practice. It reminds me of the miracle and incredible gift my body is. I am grateful to the Lord for gifting me with this vessel.

Cons:

1. It’s hot. Like really, really hot. Combat dehydration by drinking at least 20 ounces of water throughout the hour before your class. Drink during your class and flush your system with a good 20-60 ounces throughout the next two hours after your class.

2. You may become dizzy or feel sick. First, that’s what child’s pose is for. Take it a lot. When your teacher calls for the chattarunga (which will happen in most transitions from one standing pose to another), rock back into child’s pose and meet up with the class at the next directive. Eat your last meal before class about 1-2 hours before class. If you eat too far away from your class time you’ll feel dizzy or faint. If you eat too closely to your class time, you could feel pretty sick to your stomach. When you go from a bent or folded position to a standing position, take it slow, and make sure our head is last to come up. If you still feel dizzy, lower into child’s pose, sip some water and wait patiently for this to subside. BREATHE. A lot. Most of the time, we get dizzy in yoga because we aren’t breathing anymore. If you are trying to breathe, but you find that you can’t find your deep yogic breath then what you’re doing is maybe still too advanced for you. Modify, or take a child’s pose to recenter. You have not failed, friend. You are super brave and a crazy yoga lady trying all these new fun things!

3. Spiritual. It’s no mystery that hot, sweaty environments have been used for transic, meditative practices throughout history. While most yoga studios in the US focus mainly on the physical practice of yoga joined with the breath, the hot classes will sometimes incorporate more of a spiritual element. There may be chanting music, or meditative practices within these classes. If this is not your thing, and you like to keep religion out of your practice then it’s worth a call ahead to check. For my Christian sisters out there, as believers in Jesus Christ, we want to be very careful about these situations, and that is for you to discern. Check in with Spirit on this. If, for whatever reason, this is an environment that causes you to feel uncomfortable, you’ll struggle to relax. Your spiritual spidey senses will be all alert as you’re trying to filter out some of the mystic practices. It’s not worth the $10+ drop-in fee at that point. So, it never hurts to call and ask about the practice and what typically goes down in the hot classes if this is a concern. Better to know now then awkwardly walk out later if you end up not feeling comfortable.

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QUICK TIPS:

In addition to the other tips that I provided above, here’s a few extra little tidbits.

– consult your doctor before attending a hot yoga class. This unique and somewhat intense environment shouldn’t be taken lightly and you should definitely make sure that your doctor or naturopath, who knows your medical history and possible medical conditions, considers it to be a beneficial addition to your yoga practice.

– plan on attending one class for now, and space out your classes a week or two apart from one another. It can take a while for the body to acclimate to the environment. Going longer than 2 months in-between hot classes may mean you will start the acclimation process all over again. So if you’re planning on only occasionally attending hot classes, they will always be a bit more exhausting and difficult than if you made it a more regular thing.

– come early for class and tell the teacher that you’ve never done this before so could she please make sure she gives plenty of directives for modifications for some of the poses? (aka, knee to the mat in crescent lunge, child’s pose instead of chattarunga). Your teacher wants you to enjoy your practice and grow your practice. She will be more than happy to do that. (Sidenote: we love when you talk to us. We have no idea what your struggles are or what directives you need by just looking at you sometimes…give us some love so we can love all over you in class).

– Wear loose clothing. For your first time, leave the leggings and tight yoga top at home and trade them for shorts and a loose flowing tank top and a sports bra.

– Hair up. If your hair is short, make sure you have a nice wide headband that stays in place. You may not want that in the future but the first time you experience this kind of sweating it could distract you as it runs in your eyes.

– Ditch the makeup. Take it off before you enter the room….it could end up in your eyes and BURN.

– Bring your own towel(s). I mean–it’s a LOT of sweat. Keep it to yourself 🙂

– Most studios provide water or bottles of water. But, if you’re not sure, bring 2-3 bottles of water, and keep them right by your mat. You may not drink it all, but better to be safe than dizzy 🙂 Sip, don’t chug. Yoga doesn’t like a full tummy.

– After class, when they offer you to wipe your mat off with their spray, do that. Rolling up your mat with all that sweat still on it could cause your mat to smell terrible tomorrow when you unroll it again.

Hopefully this helps as you consider venturing into the hot yoga world 🙂 Call the studios in your area, check Facebook, get a good idea of what’s out there! And try it!

Happy Thursday!

~katie-did

**All archived posts are still on lockdown as we break things down for the new site. All new posts will be visible and available here for now! Enjoy, friends…

In my home, we fight sometimes, and in my home, I fail in the midst of this. We fight against each other, for each other and with each other. I fight for my son, and here I write, for the first time about a real struggle in our home, and it’s not an easy space to enter.

My eldest son struggles with mild sensory processing disorder and his main symptom lies in an intense concern and precision over his environment. Today we were on a bike ride, and a few of his leaves that he had collected fell from his bike basket. He stopped, in the middle of the road, cars flying around him to pick them all up. I was waiting for traffic to allow me to get to him, flagging cars, and yelling at him to leave them.

But when life happens, and chips away at his world, his sensory blinders go up and all he has is the broken bits of perfection in his hands. He melts away from us, a pool of intention to fix the pieces. And here he was–blinders up–in the middle of the road. I finally physically drug him and his bike and headed toward the side of the road. But his backpack, strategically hung on his handlebars, came loose, falling to the ground. He collapsed, hunched over his bag and ripped it open beginning to arrange and rearrange all of the pieces inside. The cars–who were preparing to finally move again, had to halt once more.

My son flinched at every honk, his hands moving faster and more frantic within his bag. I lurched him and his things to the side. He looked up at me, and his face completely changed to something I couldn’t quite recognize. “I’M SORRY!!!! I BREAK YOUR HEART!!!” He shrieked.

That’s when I realized I was crying.

I opened my mouth to respond when I heard a little bell chiming at the top of the street. My 3 year old, unaware of the situation, had continued zipping up the road toward home. I yelled for him to come back but he couldn’t hear me, though so I took off running after him.

I don’t know what was louder: the sound of my eldest son’s loud weeping of abandonment in my ears, or the shatter of his heart in my own.

This was probably the hardest piece I’ve ever written. I never write about this part of my eldest’s life, not even in my journals. My inability to fix or sometimes prevent the constant destruction of his heart, and hopes aches in a space I didn’t know existed inside of me…and sometimes I can’t speak it. Like it won’t come into existence.

My hands have never felt so small, and so incapable. Because of the way his world appears to him, I do not ever love enough for him to feel loved completely. This is the breaking of that aching space.

But here, friends…here is where the balm comes into my soul. And it’s in the action of love. It’s in the training that I’ve received and the Word that I cling to.

No matter what happens in our day…be it bike rides or abandonment. This is where we are, every night, an hour before bedtime.

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 I turn on the essential oil diffuser. Tonight I wished that I had “Forgive” oil blend. But I went with Cedarwood and Lavendar. To calm and to heal.

I bring the towel into the room and my boys instantly remove their socks and lift their little legs for me to place the towel under their feet.

I take great care to bring the oils and massage oil on a little tray over to them, along with a damp Norwex rag.

And then…I wash their feet.

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They are dirty, and wear the remains of the day. I wash them clean.

I pump massage oil into my hands and work their calves, toes and arches. They tell me to avoid scratches and bruises, and I find out about places they’d been and trees they climbed that I must have missed. Answering emails, or cleaning.

They tell me where it feels good, and I press into those spaces.

Then I get the Thieves blend. I place one drop in my hand and do one foot at a time. Thieves cleanses, restores, removes impurities and detoxifies. We’re removing the bad, the sinful, the sarcastic, the slanderous, the sullen, and the sorrowfuls.

And I’m saying that I’m sorry.

And I’m saying that this, boys, is how I really feel about you. If I haven’t shown it today…I’m showing it now. I haven’t been an active part in your healing process, your coping process. I’ve aided in your stress, and I’ve even caused you hurt. Here I am, at your feet, moving in the action of loving you. Moving in the action of working with you not against you…with your healing, not aiding your hurting.

It’s an abrupt turn from the space we were in, from the path we were on, from where we would have ended our day. It’s a time that I’m grateful for…to assume the ultimate position of humility, gratitude, and love. The practice of oving my children is holy, humble work.

Truth I’ve learned: Being in the ministry of healing and wholeness, we yoga instructors spend a lot of time at people’s feet. We hold ourselves in positions of servitude, leading our friends into a space of healing and rest. I’m new to the field, and I haven’t taught a whole host of classes, and I haven’t any wisdom to give. But at the end of my first teaching session, shaking and exhausted from the complete emotional, physical and spiritual drain that I’d experienced, hands still resting on the student’s feet, I realized…this is holy, humble work.

Our lives are not separate compartments, insulated from one another…or at least they don’t have to be. We can remove those walls and allow it all to mix into a great pool of love and service within our giftedness and callings. But the breaking of the walls is the hardest part. It’s the part I’ve experienced…when my real has mixed with my reality.

Friends, this is my space today & everyday.

I am honored to work at your feet. For the rest of my days.

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