Yoga Beyond the Physical Limitations

YogaJulieThere comes a point in exercise — whether it’s yoga, strength training, running or whatever you enjoy doing — that we reach a point of physical exhaustion. What fuels you to keep going? Maybe it’s be a mantra, an inspirational quote, remembering the reason you started in the first place… whatever it may be, there’s a reason you keep coming back.

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When I started yoga a few months ago, I was such a newb. I always loved yoga because I’m naturally pretty flexible from dance, but I soon learned yoga is about WAY more than flexibility. (Note: I THOUGHT I was flexible until I saw the ways some people are able to bend their bodies…. Holy cow.)

I never understood why people were so obsessed with yoga, honestly. “Yeah. It’s a good way to stretch, but it’s not even really a workout,” I used to think to myself. Kind of like when I never understood why people were so obsessed with their dog until I adopted Cocoa.

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And like I never understood the obsession with animals until I met a giraffe.

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Yes, I’m a weirdo.

But, like what’s listed above, it’s one of those things you have to experience to understand.

How did my perception of yoga change? I found a fabulous yoga studio that challenges me physically and mentally. But you know what? It’s not solely a physical practice for me anymore. Obviously it challenges me physically (still waiting for the day I can hold a headstand/handstand/arm balance and be “at peace” like devoted yogis claim). But it also challenges me mentally.

I use my practice to connect to the universe. Honestly, I’ve never felt stronger in my relationship with God than I do right now. I set an intention for my practice — gratitude, grace, acceptance and I flow with it (quite literally).

So, what keeps me coming back to my mat?

Gratitude, strength, wisdom, peace of mind, mental clarity, JOY, peace, love, positive energy, the challenge, the ability to focus on the present, a room filled with people who are trying to better themselves, the rush of feeling things I’ve never felt before (physically and mentally), the ability to FINALLY love my body for what it’s able to do rather than how it looks, to honor God and to better myself.

Don’t let the fear of being inflexible scare you away from doing yoga. Trust me, if my dad can do it and love it, so can you :-P. As one of my instructors told me, there’s no such thing as a “good” yogi. Just when you think you’re good, someone comes along and makes something you struggle with seem effortless.

And yes, taking yoga classes at a studio is a bit more expensive than the free ones that come with your gym membership. Trust me, I get it. But unless you have a wonderful instructor at your chain gym that challenges you in the ways I’ve learned above (which I’ve never run into in all my time there. Generally that’s not their purpose because they’re looking to serve the masses and people who consider yoga just to be “stretching,” at no fault to them), it’s worth it to try a studio!

I see it as an investment in myself: the more I learn to understand my body and the way it works; the more I practice gratitude, self confidence, love, joy, grace and understanding; the better I’ll be able to serve others I’m in relationship with, especially my future personal training clients.

We’re all on this journey separately, but together. Humans are wired to crave a deeper connection beyond anything the physical world offers. I’ve found connection to the only One who will ever truly satisfy through yoga and meditation.

 

I hope you will, too. 🙂

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Ginger Chile Pork Recipe: Walrus Edition

Is it just me or do weekends seem to fly by? Actually, wasn’t New Years Day yesterday…? 

My Sunday was particularly fabulous! It involved my first experience at a yoga studio, a delicious espresso drink, church, and Publix Apron’s Ginger Chile Pork with Brown Sugar Ginger Squash.

Let’s start with my first EVER yoga studio experience.

FullCircleYoga
After receiving rave reviews from my friend about Full Circle Yoga in Winter Park, I decided to try it out this weekend. After a sweaty hour and a half of torture, I could not stop raving about how great the practice was! The staff does a great job personalizing the experience — the instructor learned my name right away and continued to encourage each of us by name throughout the class! I’ll definitely be back soon.

Full Circle Yoga is tucked away just a few blocks from Park Avenue, making it the ideal location to grab coffee and shop afterward! We decided to head over to Palmano’s on Park Avenue for a coffee, named after my friend’s cousin Bianca. We were with Bianca so that makes us famous too, right? 

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“The Bianca” is a venti iced coffee drink with two shots of espresso, chai tea powder and almond milk. Needless to say, I WAS WIRED long into the night… Perfect for making dinner!

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If you live in the Southeast, chances are you’ve been tempted many times by the enticing aromas of the Publix Aprons sample booth. They’re always so delicious! I’m a sucker for their recipes, and they conveniently place all the necessary ingredients right next to the sample station. You got me this time, Publix.

I’m new to this whole cooking real meals thing so I made sure to follow the recipe and directions almost exactly. There are definitely easy ways to “healthify” this, so feel free to create your own spin on this delicious dish!

Ginger Chile Pork

Active Time: 30 min.
Total Time: 1 hour
Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • Zest/juice of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce (I used Bragg’s liquid aminos — a healthier alternative)
  • 2 tbsp. ginger spice paste
  • 2 tbsp. chile spice paste
  • Large zip-top bag
  • 1 pork tenderloin (about 1 lb.)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

Prep

  • Chop onions (1/2 cup)
  • Zest/grate orange peel (no white; 1 tsp.); squeeze orange for juice (1/2 cup)  <– you may need more than one orange. Either that or I just suck at squeezing oranges.

Directions

  • After posing as a walrus with the remaining onions, combine all ingredients (except pork and oil) for marinade. Set aside 1/2 cup marinade for later.

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  • Place remaining marinade in bag, add pork, and pose with the marinating pork. Let stand for 15 minutes (or overnight).

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  • Tell the paparazzi to get off your back and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Preheat large pan on medium 2-3 minutes. Place oil in pan, then add pork; cook 4-5 minutes until browned on all sides.
  • Transfer pork to shallow baking dish; top with reserved 1/2 cup marinade. Bake 18-20 minutes or until pork is 145 degrees. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes.

Brown Sugar Ginger Squash

Ingredients

  • 1 box frozen cooked butternut squash
  • 1 cup prepared mashed potatoes (I used Bob Evans)
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. ginger spice paste
  • 1/4 tsp. salt + pepper each
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped

Directions

  • Microwave squash according to package instructions. Transfer to medium bowl.
  • Microwave potatoes following package instructions.
  • Stir into squash: brown sugar, ginger paste, salt and pepper
  • Chop onions. Fold mashed potatoes & onions into squash mixture.
  • Combine with the delicious ginger chile pork and DEVOUR 🙂

The end result was absolutely to. die. for. I’m not kidding. You can just refer to me as chef Julie from now on 😉

All joking aside, I’m starting to LOVE cooking! I love the food itself (obviously) but more importantly, I love the way food brings people together. Nothing compares to sitting down at the dinner table and having wonderful conversations with the people I love the most.

This is a big week for me! I can’t wait to share the news with you all soon. Have a fantastic Monday my beautiful friends! 🙂 

[Of Possible Interest]

Herb-Marinated Pork Tenderloin Recipe via The Food Network
At Home Yoga Exercises via Women’s Health <– great way to relax for a few minutes at home or in the office!
Yogasync.TV on YouTube <– yoga videos FO FREE. What’s better? 

Making Tough Decisions

Tough Decisions Ahead Road Sign

As I’m faced with a time in my life where I have to make some pretty tough decisions… What more appropriate blog topic than making tough decisions?

We’ve all had to make them. We have our every day tough decisions — what to have for lunch, what clothes to wear, what gym class to go to. Tough life, right? It really puts things in perspective when you’re faced with a truly tough decision. The kind where you know your choice ultimately shapes the fate of your future.

Let me start by saying that no choice is the wrong choice. Sure, there are better choices than others. But in the end, you’ll find yourself just where you need to be. Take comfort in that. Work hard, love others and be true to who you are. That will take you far in life.

I find myself going through a similar thought process whenever I need to make tough decisions:

  • I make a pro/con list.

This is my Type A personality shining through. I like to visually see things represented in front of me and completely organized. Writing my thoughts and feelings allows me to look at the situation from an outside perspective and not get bogged down by the million things running through my mind at the time.

  • I meditate or do yoga.

I always envisioned meditation as the standard for your average hippie — they would sit cross legged on the floor in bell-bottoms and drink green tea afterward. But take my word on this — it is JUST as important (if not more) to have a healthy mind as it is to have a healthy body. They go hand in hand. When your mind is free of distractions, you’ll be able to make rational decisions. Meditation allows you to clear your mind and focus on your thoughts. Paired with yoga, I’m able to relax and rid myself of anxiety which helps make decision making easier.

  • I have an end goal in mind.

Long-term, what do I want to see happen? What decision is going to make me happy? In the end that’s what we all want, right? Envision yourself in your dream job or dream situation and take the steps necessary to get there. You will know what’s going to push you to become the person you want to be.

  • I take the advice of others with a grain of salt.

I have many different mentors in my life — my parents, family members, advisors, professors, friends. I truly value their advice and know that they have my best interests at heart. However, this is difficult because often everyone has a different opinion. Remember that the decision is yours and while you should listen to the advice of others, make the choice that you feel in your heart is correct. If your choice is unpopular, so be it. I’ve always been the happiest taking the thoughts of others into consideration but ultimately listening to my gut. Which brings me to my next point….

  • I listen to my gut.

You know that little voice in the back of your mind that tells you to do something? That’s your gut. Your instincts. Your voice of reason. We often try to suppress that little voice because we’re clouded with our own thoughts or others are trying to persuade us against it. We might be scared because our gut is telling us to take this huge risk that we don’t know if we’re ready to handle. Take the risk. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

  • I know that ultimately I’m not in control of my own destiny.

How many times have you planned for a situation to go a certain way and it hasn’t? That’s God’s plan at work in your life. I can count on my fingers, toes, hair follicles and every body part the times in my life where I thought to myself, “Wow. I never thought it would end up like this.” And I don’t mean this in a bad way. Things just turned out differently than I expected. It’s ironic because as I grow older, I start to notice how all those different puzzle pieces started to fit together — one thing led to another, meeting one person led to meeting someone else, saying no to a job offer led me to a better one. It’s all faith and trust that your plan is not your own but that things will work out for your good in the end. 

Most importantly, no matter where you end up, stay true to your values and beliefs. Every situation we’re presented with is there for a reason. Whatever choice you decide to make, it will lead you to your destiny. Work hard, play fair and love others as you do yourself. The rest is already decided.