Category Archives: Uncategorized

Featured Image -- 437

How To Make Shi* Happen?

Arielle:

Short, simple and to the point. What are you waiting for to make Shit Happen?! Go. Be. Do.

Originally posted on Pack Your Mat:

Often we hear:

  • Follow your dreams
  • Let your dreams come alive
  • Dream!
  • Make your dreams come true

How about we replace PLAN with DREAM. I am just offering another way to just take a look at the power of dreams and the power of plans.

Do we just put off our plans by attaching ourselves to dreams, which are in reality unattainable and unreal. Whereas plans are abstract and ideas, but they can be visualized and carried out, with the right amount of motivation and work. I do not want to say that the universe does not work in outstanding ways to bring opportunities our way. However, I just want to argue that with intrinsic motivation (and help from others, at times) we can make shit happen.

So, go get them!

View original

Love, Loss, and Lessons

In my 33 years of life, I have been blessed. Aside from so many incredible things in my life from a wonderful family, a new husband, a rad cat, to amazing fitness gigs—up until this point I have not experienced significant loss. I still have 3 of my 4 grandparents alive. My grandfather passed away about 7 years ago but we weren’t close. Just so you have an idea of what “weren’t close” means: I don’t think he could even tell you where I went to college or what I majored in.

My Great Uncle Craig died 2 days before my cousin Michael’s wedding 3 years ago and that was a huge hit to our family. We were close when I was a kid but as time progressed so did distance and I also moved to LA. When Uncle Craig was sick and in hospice, in my visits home to New York I was always “too busy” to drive to New Jersey to visit him. His death was a huge turning point in how I maintain relationships with loved ones and it taught me a painfully valuable lesson. Uncle Craig was the prankster, the jovial spirit of our gatherings. When he died, I think a part of my father and uncles were buried that day too.

But again, I am blessed. Blessed have known these souls and be well into my adulthood with my parents reasonably healthy and my Bubbi (my Jewish grandmother—father’s mother) still alive. My Bubbi is very special to me. I am her first-born grandchild and I am named for her mother. Everyone swears I am my great grandmother’s reincarnate and from what I heard about the woman, that is damn fine with me. She was a firecracker, smart, quick-witted, and couldn’t give two shits what others and the world thought of her. So needless to say, Bubbi and I communicate on a different level—always have. Alas, Bubbi, my parents, and my in-laws are getting older. There’s a pit in my stomach when I hear about this test and that test, this growth, mass, pain, minor procedure, etc. The thought of losing these people overwhelms and reduces me to tears. What on earth will become of me without my mother? Or what’s more, what would become of a mother losing a child?

Yesterday, Greg accompanied me to attend the wake of one of my former students.

Oscar was 23-years-old when we was brutally murdered near his home. Taken from us entirely too soon, Oscar’s legacy is left in the form of a beautiful little girl who will grow up without her beloved father. While meeting Oscar’s mother and aunt, we hugged and they cried on my shoulder. They thanked me for coming and paying my respects to Oscar. As they clung to my body, drawing it closer, I was trembling. How do I look a mother in the face and say, “I’m sorry”? What does that even mean? It just seemed so trite and it was hard to say. The words were like sand paper in my throat and on my lips.

I could never in the wildest depths of my heart and soul imagine what losing a child could and would ever feel like. No, I am not a mother and I was ‘just’ his teacher. But you need to know this about teaching: It is a profession of love. Deep, deep love for the content you impart to kids, but love for the kids in your classroom. So no, I am not a mother. However, as someone who grows and nurtures children at pivotal times in their lives; my heart was heavy and I sobbed while holding my husband’s hand. The overwhelming sense of loss was so stifling and I struggled to catch my breath.

Why Oscar?

Or why any young person for that matter?

When tragedy strikes my students, sometimes I am so overwrought with guilt I ask God, “Why not me? Why did you have to do this to a child?” I often ask God in these darkest corners of my heart to take their pain away—give it to me—I am equipped to handle life’s shit—leave the kids alone. My heart blazes in fury for the suffering Oscar’s family has and will continue to endure without him. The educator in me knows how damaging it is for a young person from a low-income community to grow up without a father. The softness of being a woman and knowing intense love, the love I have for my husband aches so severely it is unfathomable.

With darkness, there is always light.

Though terrible circumstances, I was able to see some of my former students from 2005-2006—my very first group of kids from my first year in Los Angeles. It was so wonderful to see how many of them still maintained friendships. They have grown into incredibly beautiful and articulate adults. So no, I am not a mother, but I could not have been more proud of these young people. And while I still find myself calling them kids or young people, I forget that somewhere along the way they grew up. In particular, Freida quietly said to me,

“When you left teaching to pursue your dreams in fitness, we were proud of you for chasing your dreams. But when you came back, we were happy because you belong in a classroom. We all love you and will never forget you.”

Oscar, I will always recall my first year in Los Angeles as special and you were part of that. Thank you for being part of my growth as a teacher and as a woman. Your mischievous grin and ability to make everyone laugh around you will resound in our hearts. I will never forget the gifts you didn’t even know you left me when you passed:

Both love and loss most certainly can reside together in a beautiful paradox.

Rest In Peace Oscar.

Go and Be Impressive

Settling back into real life and a routine since the wedding has been challenging. My eating and nutrition have been unrestrained and getting in regular workouts with errands and such just hasn’t happened. I’ve been feeling sluggish and out of shape. It’s amazing at how fast that happens, right? While working out today I felt tired but kept pushing. Despite the fact that today’s effort wasn’t my best display of athleticism, it certainly was the best I had in me in those very moments and that’s what really matters—being the best version of ourselves in the present moment.

My runs felt heavy but I kept pushing. I kept thinking to myself that I did this to myself and I can undo this to myself because I am strong and have the power to do it. Running, rowing, running, rowing. My arms no longer felt attached to my body. I battled to pump my arms while on the treadmill and sometimes I even had to straighten them out and whip them around myself because they were so fatigued from the rower. But I kept going. I was tired; no, I was exhausted but I kept going. And then I looked to my right. The guy next to me was losing steam. Normally, when I am working out for me, I turn off the Fitness Instructor so I can be present for me. But I don’t know, today it felt right and something in his face made me to turn to him and offer him simple words, “C’mon, you’ve got this.” I know all too well that a little encouragement can go a long way when you are down and out, so I figured; why not?

The man didn’t seem to hear me because he didn’t respond. I contemplated saying it again or something else but I didn’t. I redirected my energies to my legs that were seemingly still attached to my body and propelling themselves forward on the treadmill. Finally, the workout ended. The same man I ran next to came up to me after class and said “Thank you, I really needed that.” We chatted briefly and he told me he thought I was ‘so impressive’ and that he couldn’t keep up with my speed. He shared that he was inspired by my hard work and that my kind words in class helped him finish the workout.

Impressive, eh? Someone thought I was impressive?! And here it turns out that in order to be considered impressive all I had to do was be me and show a little compassion.

Go be you today. Go be friggen impressive and look over to a stranger tonight in class [yes, even in yoga] or anywhere, and tell them something nice and encouraging.

Featured Image -- 407

5 Truths Behind Those Yoga Photos on Instagram

Arielle:

Our relationship with our physical-selves is an ever-changing dance. Based on how bloated we feel, how many beautiful people surround us, our social media feed, the waitress at that Hollywood hot spot, we then determine our self-worth. Wow, how warped is that? Forget about the fact that I have a Master’s Degree and one glamazon can sometimes make me feel like I am invisible here in LaLa Land. We really must come together to work on how women perceive themselves.

As a yogi, the world of social media is a slippery slope of half-naked and sometimes even naked gorgeous people doing poses I could only dream of. Sponsored ambassadors, speakers, presenters, and teachers, these people flood my newsfeed and are the fodder for talk in my fitness circles. I must say, while I know gawking at such images only harms my own self-image, I cannot help but stare, want, lust, and thirst for their bodies, bendy lumbar spines, long, lean limbs, washboard abs, and oh their clothes—Oh, the things I would do for some sort of active ambassadorship…Coming back to my point, while I cannot pry my watchful eyes from these high-profile yogis I also creep their pictures and know the gross and sometimes sad reality of those images in our IG feed.

As an instructor myself, what you see IS me, my body, my practice but what you don’t see in those images as is pointed out in Pack Your Mat’s post are the falls, the struggles, the poor alignment OR the pose on the other side. Ahhhh, the dreaded ‘other side’. Yogi’s, you know THAT side—the one you ignore or don’t cultivate because it’s your tighter side or the pose just doesn’t work.
How many times have you seen yogis post pictures of their struggles? Their falls? Or better, of them learning the poses? Pack Your Mat does a great job of pointing out the obvious: Yogi’s pose for the camera. They have their make up done, hair styled, and someone dressed them in something fantastic to showcase their rock hard bodies. Many photoshoots last hours and yogi’s spend long hours moving and manipulating their bodies juussssst right so that when you finally see the pose, it has been done and redone countless times until the angle, lighting, and alignment are all perfect. Well, the way I see it—how is that yoga, or even a representation of reality for that matter? Yoga is supposed to bring balance to our lives; water to our fire, calm to our storm, stillness to our clouded hearts and minds…Yoga should never feel or look like someone else. Yoga lives within us and is an outward expression of inward emotions. Let go and stop looking to the people in front of you, next to you, or on a 4-inch screen in your hands, because the real asana are how the poses make YOU feel moving into and out of them, and most of all—the journey to learning the poses. Lest we not forget that—the learning part!

Originally posted on Pack Your Mat:

Many won’t believe this, but I absolutely despised being in front of a camera as an adolescent and wellinto my mid20s. These yearswere filled with the struggles of being overweight. It started off as being chubby, but I endedmy first semester at university with a maxweight of 240 pounds. Now, I’ve always been considered to be big “boned” so I just told myself thatmost of that weight resided in my bones and my gigantic thighs and calves. The reality was I wasexperiencing heart murmursand had high blood pressure and cholesterol. In short, weight has always been an issue I’ve dealt with. At the time coming out as a gay man, an “obese” one especially, was going to be social suicide, I thought. At 19, for both superficial and health reasons, I decided that I needed to do something about my weight. That is about the same time I discovered different…

View original 997 more words

Up Close & Personal

I just came back from a workout after driving home and crying to my mother on the phone. I walked into my apartment, ate the remaining half of Greg’s gluten free marble brownie (sorry, Greg!), and started to feel bad for myself. As a matter of fact, over the course of the last 2 hours, I have mentally and verbally beaten myself up so badly, I am ashamed. I received a work-related email in which my boss would like to speak to me. I should have known better than to read the email 30 seconds before my workout, but I did nonetheless. Thinking my emotions associated with the contents of the email would motivate me, they did the contrary. I completely shut down.

I walked onto my treadmill feeling deflated, worthless, fat, ugly, and hated every fiber of my being. I gazed into the mirror in front of me and the negative self-talk didn’t stop. It was a barrage of fire and I was assaulting myself. As class started and hit its flow, the emotional and mental onslaught didn’t let up. The entire workout, I was distracted, angry, and lacked focus. I was so stuck inside my head that every step while running, every pull while rowing, every weight I lifted was sheer agony. I just wanted to scream in frustration for myself and my emotions that seized control of my mind and now robbed me of my workout [Damn it, there goes my money. Wasted money and a wasted workout].

While working out at Orange Theory Fitness I always run my ass off on the treadmill. I have always logged mileage and speeds in the ‘Runner’s Category’ and I have been happy with my progress. Never walking during a workout, I always push myself by amping up my speed just another .1, then another, then another, and I empower myself. Typically, I am fueled intrinsically but today in the last set of my treadmill work on a 9 incline, I lost all my steam. For the first time ever in one of my OTF workouts, I gave up in the second to last set and walked. As if I hadn’t endured enough of a battle thus far, now I was reduced to walking. Oozing with self-hatred and fuming from my self-perceived defeats of my workout, I came back for the final 30 second all-out push at an incline of 11. While I didn’t succumb to my initial defeat, I spent an entire hour of my workout loathing every minute of it and every part of my physical and emotional-self.

If you’re wondering how this happened, it’s really very simple. I am very sensitive. Yes, me—very sensitive. While I present rough and tough, I am a ball of mush, hormones, tears, and all that gooey shit. I was ‘that’ kid that cried if a teacher yelled at me or if someone hurt my feelings as a kid. So the email that I read before class completely got me off kilter because it played into my insecurities and inadequacies as to what I am offering people as a fitness instructor. At three years into this industry, I have learned lots and lots of things: what I like to teach, where I like to teach, for whom, when, etc. I have also met some amazing people and have great friends as a result of my classes. But there is also a very ugly side to this industry. While I try not to get caught up in the fact that I am short and muscular and will never be a ‘fitness model’ or personality, I have always stayed true the fact that I am a bad ass, period. I work hard, teach hard classes, care deeply about my work and participants in my class and that’s that. BUT when others perceive those efforts differently, or class attendance is low, it hurts and I take it personally because this work IS personal. There is no other way to say it. Each and every song on my playlists are designed to evoke emotion and to enhance class. Every ride is mapped to offer an intense experience and a workout to blow your mind. Every yoga class is taught with my heart to challenge your body and soul. So when someone doesn’t like my work or stops coming to class—it hurts.

You would think that over time, some of the realities of the feedback and people outgrowing me as an instructor would get easier, but it doesn’t. My husband and others have told me for years to stop making everything so personal, but how can I not take it personally? I am responsible for helping people reach goals, get healthier, become fit/more fit, work on challenging asana (yoga poses), empower themselves, cultivate strength and confidence, redefine commitment, help them find the light, and I am not supposed to take this work personally?!?! As a fitness instructor I am entrusted with people most often at their most vulnerable. Subsequently, my work IS personal and I take what I do as instructor very seriously because I care. Every single bit of my work is personal because people trust me to guide them, support them, and keep them safe during a workout. As far as I am concerned, that is a pretty tremendous amount of responsibility I do not take lightly.

IMG_8062So while my skin is certainly not any thicker by working in this industry, I am going to continue to bring love and light to my work. I am going to continue to fight my demons and re-commit to my work and hope that while I am on this path, others will join me. I am going to continue to work on inner-cising to build myself up, the same way I help bring up those around me and own every single bit of my greatness. After all, I do have an obligation to the people who take my classes to be there for them—so this is for you. And though this industry doesn’t love me back because it tells me I’m too short, too fat, too muscular, too purple, too rogue, not yoga enough, too ‘Schwinn’, or don’t focus enough on alignment, and the list goes on, what I am is ME.

I am vibrant. I am real. I am true. I am me.

And whether you want to admit it or not, I am you.

Lifted Up in Love

Greg and I married with fist
We did it folks, we are married! Whoohooooo!

Five short days ago, I got married. It’s so strange, because I feel the same, but so different at the same time. I suppose the best way I could really put it is that everything and nothing has changed simultaneously.

On June 20, 2015, I wed my soul’s beloved and simply put, it was The Best Day of My Life.

wedding over looking patioBefore walking down the aisle to meet Gregory under the chuppah, I was trembling. My butt was shaking like I just had the hardest glute day of my life. I have no clue why all of a sudden every muscle in my body started to seize, but all at once the nerves I was supposed to feel leading up to this moment surged through my body. However, as quickly as the nervous energy coursed through my body, once I stepped out to meet my true love, I was surrounded by hundreds of bright eyes, endearing smiles, and overflowing love from our friends and families.

Enveloped in the warmth of our guests, I couldn’t help be completely mesmerized that all of these people showed up for us. People were sitting, standing, lining up the stairwell, and genuinely happy to share in our celebration of love. As I walked out and stood atop the staircase to gaze upon our guests, I was met with love and joy. The tight quarters on the patio where we wed made it intimate and the energy palpable. All eyes on me, I felt so elated I thought I was going to burst out of my skin.Me and Greg on railing

People traveled from New York and Florida, took off from work, secured childcare, attended while pregnant, some very pregnant, all because they decided to make Greg and I a priority in their lives. After it was all said and done, the things that people say leading up to a wedding don’t really make much sense—it’s after the wedding that it all seems to reveal itself.

Me kassi and Craig
My oldest childhood camp friend Craig flew in from New York to share in my special day
Me on patio before ceremony
Taking in the patio before the guests arrive…simply incredible, I was blown away!

As many of you know, prior to our wedding I wrote about how hurt I was by many people. Both Gregory and myself had long-time friends and family not attend our wedding, avoid responding, claim to have sent the RSVP and gifts (neither of which ever arrived), and just flat out ignored the invite all together claiming “they forgot to respond”. This pre-wedding drama seemed to consume and devastate us. People said focus on those attending, making the trip, and who love you, etc. And while we both desperately tried to remain positive, the hurt of friends and family ran deep. Even the day-of our wedding we received texts and Facebook messages (yes, Facebook messages) from guests who in the last minute were letting us know that they would not be attending…

And you know what? None of that bullshit mattered at 6pm when I walked down that aisle to meet the man who is everything I wanted and didn’t know that I needed at the same time.

Not once did I think about those not in attendance. Not once did I lament in their absence or warrant their poor behavior with even so much as a thought about people not at my wedding. And I imagine that given the disgustingly poor etiquette of some, they didn’t think about us either and I am so OK with that. Now, I know this sounds callous and that’s not the way I want this to come across. My point in saying that I didn’t think about the hurt is because I was so swallowed in love and being present on my wedding day, that all the shit leading up to June 20th simply didn’t matter. None of it mattered. All that mattered was making sure my guests had a great time, kissing my husband, and laughing the night away.

A tender moment with my dad, AKA Abba
A tender moment with my dad, AKA Abba

Our wedding was surely a night to remember: from the chicken and waffles to Frach’s Fried Ice Cream. Both the best and fastest party I have ever attended in my life, I know that we both never stopped smiling and chatting with our guests. Greg keeps asking when we get a ‘do-over’ because it was so fun and went by so fast. The night was a blur. I’m not sure how much of that blur is a result of the libations, but as quickly as it all started, it seemed I looked around the venue and it was empty—the night was over. The decorations of the banister, mason jars, chairs, and space which seemed to be my life over the last month just dissolved into the night as I walked hand-in-hand down Hollywood Blvd. with my husband Gregory back to our hotel. Flashes of hugs and kisses with my family dance across my mind, congratulations from friends, and above all, gratitude floods my heart.

10299526_10100744504364321_7034135333324063737_n
My amazing parents that have been married forever!  I am blessed to have such great role models in love!

On June 20, 2015, I wed my soul’s beloved and simply put, it was The Best Day of My Life.

Thank you for being part of our lives, our celebration, and above all our love. Love lives out loud and it is our hope that through our love we can help spread love to the darkest corners of people’s hearts. And while everyone always seems to think that their love story is ‘The Love Story’ of all love stories, we like to believe that our love story is a reflection of those in our lives who help us be better lovers for one another. Thank you for lifting us up in our love and reflecting love back to us—we love you all.

When Love Just Happens, Part II

As promised, here are my vows to my beloved Gregory. Before posting this, like yesterday, Greg and I re-read our vows to one another. Both times we were emotional and found ourselves in tears. By sharing our love with the world we hope to celebrate all love and spread love. As Greg is my light, I truly hope that we could be the light for others…

Arielle to Greg 6/20/15:

Who would have thought that I would have had to come all the way to Los Angeles to meet and marry a Long Island Jewish boy?!

Greg, just one week into our fledgling romance I knew that you were the man I would spend the rest of my life with.

The instant I left that fateful cycling class, I was smitten—from the way you bob your head when you ride, to your [mostly] impeccable taste in music, your ridiculously infectious personality made you irresistible. Your ability to inspire each and every person with whom you come into contact continually leaves me awestruck.

What is more, I never thought I would find someone who shared the same love of remixes, mash-ups, and indoor cycling the way I did.

Greg, your gift to wake up everyday with a giant smile on your face warms my heart. It still doesn’t make getting up in the morning any easier, but it sure sweetens the whole experience.

You make me a better person.

You make me want to be the best at everything I tackle to honor you…to honor us. Our partnership and union is a reflection of our love. How we conduct ourselves together and while teaching our classes or working, to me is still an extension of our devotion. I promise to always honor us and the passionate, fiery, dedication that you bring to our marriage in all that I do.

I promise to start hanging my clothes up instead of piling them next to my side of the bed. I promise to fold our laundry and put it away in under a week’s time. And lastly, I cannot promise I will do the dishes, but what I can promise is that with each passing day, I do and will continue to fall deeper and deeper in love with you.

Greg, you are my heart and the essence of my spirit. You build me up and ground me while I try to fumble through this world. You are my light. A beacon shining bright, worthy of admiration and respect. I promise to honor you and in the process, I will try to be less cranky when I am waking up in the mornings or when I am hangry.

Now we no longer fumble through this world alone, but we blaze a path, standing side-by-side, leaving an indelible mark upon this world, igniting embers of hope, passion, and inspiration for others.

Thank you for picking me, Greg. For when I am with you, I am part of you and I am privileged to be the woman who stands beside you and gets to wash your sweaty fitness clothes. I love you eternally and will forever cherish you and above all, us.

When Love Just Happens, Part I

Well, you guys here it is: My first blog post as a MARRIED WOMAN!

As I settle into being a wife, later this week I promise that I will share pics and detailed thoughts on our nuptials [which were AMAZING by the way!]. However, to keep you all tantalized, I wanted to start with the first installment of two pieces: Our wedding vows.

Here are Greg’s wedding vows to me. I am sharing them with you and the world so that the non-believers, the cynics, the hurt, the tormented, and the lonely can look within and find that special place knowing that true and beautiful, real love does exist and when you least expect it, it finds you. Enjoy!

Greg to Arielle 6/20/15:

How Do I Know I Love You

Arielle, when sitting down to write my vows I was torn on which way to go. And then it hit me…while I always have told you I love you and what you mean to me you always asked me HOW DO YOU KNOW that YOU LOVE ME. And I always told you I don’t know how to put it into words, I just can’t explain it. My love for you is that feeling you get deep in the pit of your stomach that gives you butterflies. It is looking at the clock when I am at working counting down the minutes for when I can come home and see your face and give you a 20 second hug. It is accepting the fact that all my sheets on the bed will be purple because your hair bleeds on them. It is knowing that I would sacrifice my own happiness and well-being to ensure your happiness and make you feel like you rule the world.   The moment I saw you hobble into my life, since you were on crutches, on November 19th 2013, I knew I was going to be with you. Within a week, I knew deep down inside that you were my other half. And finally, a few weeks later when we went to Howell At The Moon for your friends’ birthday I had fallen in love with you.

Recently when we met with Rabbi Bassin and we read Genesis 2:18 The Partnership of Marriage, it all became clear. Now I can put into words how I know that I love you.   We learned about the concept of Ezer Kenegdo and how G-D intended for partners to be opposite one another in an effort to balance the other. I love you because you are my EZER, my strength, when I am weak and when I need support you are there to lift me up and push me to be the best man I can be. You are my NEGDO, my equal or metaphorical Otherness who stands across from me to watch over me and to love me when I am unable to love myself. And as G-D intended I am those things for you as well.   You are the other half of OUR Awesomeness and that’s why we are a team.

I love you because you are beautiful, your smile is bright and fills my heart with joy. Your laugh warms my spirit and makes me feel whole. I love you because you are YOU. There is no other Arielle Miller and soon to be Arielle Cohen and there is not one ounce of Arielle that I would ever change or make different. I know I love you because I would walk through HELL to find you if you were ever lost. I love you because you ARE my family, you ARE MY reflection and you ARE my other half.

Teacher Feature; Let the Sharing Continue

With so many exciting and awesome things happening this month and this week with my birthday AND wedding; I want to make absolutely certain nothing gets overlooked!

This month at yoga studio where I teach, I am the featured instructor in what we call the #ODDlight. In conjunction with the awesome team at One Down Dog we crafted something where you can learn little known facts about me, what attracted me to yoga, and even check out a baby pic [get your awwwww’s ready]!

Here is a little teaser from the One Down Dog blog:

Why do you teach? What brought you to become an instructor?
I teach yoga to heal and empower others. I teach yoga to share its gifts, joys, and empower others to look inward without fear. I teach yoga because I believe this sacred kind of magic needs to be treated with care and deserves to be upheld in the most noble of ways. I teach because without yoga, I do not know where I would be today.

Yoga found me and saved me from myself. I was depressed, very, very, very depressed and I was angry. I blamed the world for slighting me and being out to get me. I was urged to take yoga classes by my doctor and I fought it. I refused to go under the misguided perception that I’d be sitting on a dirty floor, chanting shit that meant nothing to me, and that just didn’t resonate with me. I am very Type A, always moving and I thought yoga was going to be hell on earth so NO THANK YOU.

And then one day, I just went to yoga. As simple as that, I went to yoga.

I woke up and said, “Today, I am going to try yoga.” From the minute I walked into the studio, I relished the ritual of taking off my shoes, carefully unrolling my mat, and how the yoga made me feel. There was this instantaneous deep connection with my feminism and beauty. This outward expression of moving my body made me feel strong, celebrated, and above all beautiful. Yoga made me feel like I was the only person in the room and that I was of boundless strength. As my practice started to evolve, the initial attraction of yoga’s athleticism progressed into something so much larger than myself filled with trainings, Sanskrit, and even chanting. My body yearned [and still does] for this ancient traditional practice and I was hooked. In darkness, yoga showed me the light but more importantly yoga built me up to find the light—Yoga showed me that I was the light.

To continue reading the post, click here.

Writing a Legacy Worth Leaving Behind

“Those who know, do.

Those that understand, teach.” 
― Aristotle

Joseph and I after the graduation ceremony. Yes, I am in yoga pants, as I hustled my butt over to Westwood after teaching a double. When you care about someone or something, one doesn't make excuses--one makes IT happen!
Joseph and I after the graduation ceremony. Yes, I am in yoga pants, as I hustled my butt over to Westwood after teaching a double. When you care about someone or something, one doesn’t make excuses–one makes IT happen!

Yesterday, I had the distinct privilege and honor to watch my former student Jospeh (whom I taught in 2005-2006 when he was in 8th grade!) graduate from UCLA with a degree in English.

While I’m not a parent, I can only imagine what an overwhelming sensation experiencing such a momentous life event maybe, as I cried like a baby in route to the ceremony and during it. I wept with joy and hope for this young man’s bright future, as it is now HIS time.

Over the last few years, my relationship with my career as an English teacher has been tumultuous. I spent the early years of my career fiercely over-committed to the job by starting my day an hour early and leaving well into the evenings.

I drove students home from school, made home visits, fundraised via a non-profit I created to purchase materials for my classroom, and even owned and operated a website for my students to blog. I made myself fully and completely accessible to my students and their families 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There was no break from my students or my work. I was so dedicated that even on breaks from school, I taught/worked with my students at school in my classroom for FREE to ensure their success!

It was a time in my life that happened in a sort of blur of children, testing, more children, and some great memories. But I also know that during this time while dedicated to my students and school, I had zero life beyond my career, packed on the pounds, and was depressed.

As I dove deeper and deeper into my career, my passion started to fizzle and before I knew it, I hit full out burn out. I cried driving to work in the mornings; I cried when I came home from work. I just couldn’t be at work without wanting to leave the instant I opened my car door. I was lost, angry, and so confused—why was I feeling this way? What happened to me? Wasn’t this my life’s work?!

After months of enduring this horrible vicious cycle, my curiosity got the best of me and I actually mustered the courage to wander into a yoga room. What seems like almost instantly, my life was forever altered for the better. Yoga taught me how to control my breath and how to build the capacity within myself to find balance. And slowly, as I started to regain my footing in life and at work, I started to advocate for myself by ensuring my emotional well-being was always first.

I stopped staying late at school. I immediately left after the last bell to hit a yoga or cycling class, or to play soccer. I did however still arrive early to tackle school work and I also kept my room open to students during recess and lunch times. I knew that in order to continue to serve others in this world, I had to nurture and serve myself first. I learned through my subsequent burn out and revitalization through yoga, that I must do me before I am to be able to truly help others reach their potential.

Yoga and physical movement provided me with the capacity to learn what it meant to value myself and strike some sort of work-life balance. So I am sure you are wondering if my teaching suffered during this journey to reclaiming myself…As a matter of fact, the more I delved into myself, underwent yoga teacher training, and teaching fitness; it made me a better human and an even better teacher. Teaching group fitness helped reawaken my sense of compassion and ability to embrace everyone and meet individuals exactly as they were. So coming back to my sweet Joseph now walking across the stage at UCLA with a degree in English, he hopes to become a teacher. I cannot think of a more powerful way to leave a mark on the world than to inspire someone to go to college, graduate, and essentially follow in my footsteps. I texted my family saying, “My life’s work is complete. I have made my mark, I can die now…

Pauley Pavilion at UCLA, pre-ceremony
Pauley Pavilion at UCLA, pre-ceremony

My years of struggle and heartache seemed to disappear when I saw Joseph’s sweet face emblazoned on the screen. They simply all faded away because today was the day I got to watch in real-time the powerful effect that teachers have upon our youth.

People say that today’s youth are well, you know—technology obsessed and nothing like ‘us’. I mean we played outside and used a card catalog when researching school projects in a place called a library—there was no such thing as Google. But if you look a little deeper, and look a little closer, today’s youth are still children waiting to have the right person come into their lives to ignite that spark. It is up to us as teacher, leaders, instructors, clergy, parents, etc. to harness the youth’s interests and help them reach their full potential.

I will never forget the day I watched Joseph graduate from UCLA. I will also never forget how special it felt to sit amongst his family, beaming with pride. It is the Joseph’s of my life that continue to remind me why I became a teacher and for that gift Joseph, I am eternally grateful.